Rent and service charges

All residents in social housing pay a charge to occupy their properties; the way that landlords calculate these charges must be clearly set out to residents and be consistent with government directives on rent setting and statutory provisions for service charges.

Tenants rent

Social housing rents must be set in line with government directions to landlords; these directions are detailed in the Rent Standard. Your landlord can only increase rent once in every year and must give you at least 28 days’ notice of any change to your rent.

There are 3 separate rent definitions (note that rent does not include service charges):

  • social rent – most existing social housing will be let by at social rent levels; from 1 April 2024 to 31 March 2025 the weekly rent of any existing tenant may not be increased by more than CPI + 1% or 7.7% whichever is the lower amount.
  • fair rent – some tenancies will be subject to fair rent protection, the maximum weekly rent will be the social rent or the fair rent set by the Rent Officer whichever is the lower amount.
  • affordable rent – most newly develop social housing will be let at affordable rents which can be an amount up to 80% of local market rents; these rents are set in line with the same limits as for social rents for existing tenants.

If your landlord is a private registered provider it can apply to be exempted from the Rent Standard if it can demonstrate to the Regulator of Social Housing that its financial viability would be threatened by applying it.

The Rent Standard does not apply if your home is:

  • intermediate rent accommodation
  • specialised supported housing
  • relevant local authority accommodation
  • student accommodation
  • Private Finance Initiative social housing
  • temporary social housing
  • a care home
  • let to a high income social tenant

Service charges

Landlords can recharge the costs of providing certain services to residents. These will be the costs of communal services such as electricity.

Service charges are set by the landlord based on an estimate of likely costs in the coming year. At the end of the year the landlord must balance that estimate against their actual costs and either charge a balancing amount for any underpayment or reduce their next estimate by any overspend.

Rent arrears and enforcement

If you get behind with your rent or service charge payments your home could be at risk. Your landlord will have a procedure for managing arrears and should provide you with a copy of it. You should take impartial advice if you fall behind with your payments and speak to your landlord at an early stage about repayment options.

Was this article helpful?