Rent increase

As you may now know, from 5 April, the amount of rent you pay as a Longhurst Group customer will increase. We appreciate that you may have a number of questions about this and so we’ve gathered together a list of queries and provided you with all the information you need to know.

Rent increase - your questions answered

Your questions answered

Page updated: 25 February 2021

Why are you increasing my rent?

We understand that any increase to your rent will not be good news. However, government legislation has changed and because of new legislation introduced last year, we’re allowed to increase customers’ rent by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) plus one percent. We’ve given the rent increase a lot of thought and discussed the issue with our Board at length. We believe that, in order to deliver our commitments to you – as outlined in our Improving Lives 2025 strategy - we need to apply the increase of CPI plus one percent.

By how much are you increasing my rent and how have you calculated this?

Rents will increase by CPI plus one per cent and the letter that was sent out confirms how much this will be for you.

I pay a service charge, do the same increases apply?

Service charges may increase but the same formula of CPI plus one percent will not apply. Please be assured that we will only set service charges in line with our service charge policy. The policy states we’ll set charges appropriately to cover the cost of providing the service to you with no hidden charges. We’ve provided you with a full breakdown of your service charges in the letters that were sent out to customers.

What will you spend the additional rental income on?

In our Improving Lives 2025 strategy, we’ve set out what we want to achieve both between now and 2025 and beyond. The additional money we raise from rents means we are on track to deliver these objectives. We’ll keep you informed regularly on how we are performing against the corporate plan objectives and our Board will scrutinise our performance.

Will I see any benefits in my home and local community?

Absolutely. The reason we are applying the rent increase is so that you’ll benefit both within your own home but also in your wider community and from the services we provide to you. You’ll see that we’ll now be able to do what we said we’d do and deliver further investment in your homes, services and neighbourhood.

Will I expect to see a higher level of service or something additional for the extra money?

You’ll continue to benefit from our excellent level of customer service. In our most recent Group-wide customer survey, over three quarters of respondents told us they were happy with the overall service we provide.

Our Improving Lives strategy outlines how we intend to do even more for our communities and the customers we serve and so everyone will benefit from us being able to deliver these plans. However, most importantly, the increase means that we won’t have to change the services you receive.

What do I do if I can’t afford the increase?

As always, our priority is to support customers to sustain their tenancies and we want to help prevent rent arrears as much as you do. We have a team of dedicated Money Advisors, who are trained to ensure you maximise your benefits, help you manage your finances and support you through changes in circumstances. Please take advantage of this service now to help you prepare well ahead of the rent increase. For more on our Money Advice Team, click here.

What if I refuse to pay?

We appreciate you might be unhappy with the proposed rent increase and consider refusing to pay. If you take this decision, unfortunately, it’ll result in rent arrears building up on your account and we’ll then have to take action to recover the unpaid rent that’s due.

We want to avoid this unnecessary situation as it may end up with you facing more debt and possibly legal fees, which would only make your financial circumstances more difficult. We’d really encourage you to take advantage of our specialist Money Advice service and contact one of our trained advisors to explore how they may be able to help you.

Can I have a breakdown of how you will spend my rent?

We commit to providing a full breakdown of how we will spend your rent over the next 12 months. We’ll do this in our annual report to customers which we’ll share on our website.

I claim Universal Credit. Will I have to re-apply and will this result in weeks of delays in my rent being paid and accumulating rent arrears?

We appreciate that completing a Universal Credit claim can be very stressful and facing weeks of delays for any benefit payment is something we want to avoid. Please be assured you’ll not have to complete a brand-new claim with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). Now that we’ve informed you of the new rent, you’ll simply need to inform them of this via the DWP portal after the rent increase has been applied. It is important that you do this as soon as possible as we’ll then be asked to verify the increase.

What if Universal Credit doesn’t cover the rent increase?

If your Universal Credit allowance isn’t increased to cover the additional rent increase, we strongly recommend that you make an appointment to see one of our specialist Money Advisors who can help you budget for the increase.

I don’t claim benefits; do I have to adjust my Direct Debit with my bank or will you do this automatically for me?

Don’t worry, your Direct Debit will be adjusted automatically by our Finance Team – you don’t have to do anything. We’ve explained this in full in the letters that were sent out.


Here to help

Money Advice Service

Did you know that we have a dedicated team of Money Advisors who are here to help if you’re struggling with your finances? Based across our operational area, the team work closely with our customers to ensure that they’re receiving the benefits they’re entitled to, properly tackling any debt they might have and provide additional support with budgeting.

Meet our advisors

While our advisors are spread across our operational area, depending on your circumstances, they will be happy to visit you at home, speak to you over the phone or arrange for you to visit one of our offices.

Pam Malhi

Pam Malhi - Money AdvisorPam is based at our Birmingham office.

Previously a Welfare Rights Officer at the local authority helping people claim benefits and challenge poor decisions, she became a Money Advisor after taking a secondment to the role from her job as an Income Officer at Longhurst Group.

In total, she has 23 years’ experience in welfare rights work.

Pam says she likes to approach each customer’s case as it comes, depending on individual circumstances.

Angie Noble

Angie is based at our Peterborough office.

She has been a Money Advisor with us for more than 13 years, having previously worked in Supported Housing. Angie prefers to meet customers on a face-to-face basis as she feels it has a more personal feeling and helps her to get to know the customer better. Angie is a firm believer that everyone needs help from time to time and that it is nothing to be ashamed of.

Some of the regular cases Angie comes across include issues with Universal Credit, sorting out new benefit entitlements following the death of a partner and dealing with a range of Housing Benefit enquiries.

Steve Thomas

Steve is based at our Rushden office.

He has 22 years of experience working in this field. He says that benefits dominate a large part of his work, including when they are not paid at the correct rate for a customer’s eligibility.

Steve represents customers through the full process from start to finish, including appeals and hearings. He also says that rent arrears and Council Tax debts are also issues he helps with a lot.

Stuart Dearden

Stuart is based at our Boston office.

He spent more than 20 years working for the Department for Work and Pensions, becoming increasingly disillusioned with the way the benefits system put obstacles in the way of those who needed the support.

He left the DWP and after some time with Citizens Advice, he joined Longhurst Group to take on a fresh challenge and to help improve lives.

Stuart believes in face-to-face meetings with customers and that by seeing them in their home environment helps to give him an idea of what matters to them and what their priorities are. He believes people are more relaxed and open in their own homes.

If this approach doesn’t suit a particular customer, Stuart is happy to talk over the phone but whichever way first contact is made, he is keen to build trust and show the customer that he is there to help them.

Stuart says many customers he sees experience difficulties with the benefit system, so a lot of his time is spent trying to pick a way through the problems of Universal Credit and PIP. This ranges from seeing if somebody is eligible to receive a benefit, right through to claims stages and challenging decisions.

He also helps customers sort out payment arrangements when they have fallen behind on their essential bills such as Council Tax or utility suppliers.

Stuart enjoys the feeling of helping to bring even a few extra pounds into a household so that they can manage life a little easier.

    

  Find out more

  Longhurst Group's free money advice service

  0300 123 1745
Press option 2 for the Income Team, then option 2 to speak to an advisor and ask for the Money Advice Team.

Employment and Training Advice

We can also provide you with tailored support if you are looking for work. With a background in recruitment and career advice, our Employment and Training advisor Rob Friday can help you with the steps you need to take to find work or education opportunities.

This can include training and work experience to suit your needs, as well as CV writing, interview practice and a range of tried-and-tested job-hunting techniques.


Counting cash

‘Money advisor worked miracles to improve my family’s lives’

Mum of two Lisa Anderson had heard so many scare stories about Universal Credit that she had avoided applying, meaning she and her family were living off just £80 a week and facing the very real prospect of losing their home. However, that all changed when she reached out to our Money Advice Service for help. From living on £80 a week, thanks to our help, the family’s income was boosted by an extra £277 a month.

  Read Lisa's story in full

“They’re miracle workers. “It’s really got us sorted and I can’t thank them enough. They genuinely do seem to care and it’s not just as though they’re doing it for a job. To anyone else in my situation, my advice would be to go for it.”


    
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