From April, your weekly rent will be increasing in line with your tenancy agreement and government guidance. We use the income from your rent payments to manage and maintain our properties, and this increase will allow us to continue keeping your home at its best and offering all our services. You will be receiving a letter from us explaining this in more detail during the week beginning 21 February, but we've created these frequently asked questions which we hope will answer any queries you may still have.
Why has my weekly rent changed?
The weekly rent has been changed in line with the terms of your tenancy agreement.
The basic rent element and service charges have been changed in accordance with guidance from the Government and the Regulator of Social Housing. This allows us to increase the basic rent element by 4.1%. This is based on a formula of the annual change in Consumer Price Index (CPI) in September last year (which was 3.1%) plus an additional 1%. The only exception is if your service charge includes any amenity charge, this has been increased by 3.1% plus an additional 5%.
We have increased the support charges 4.9%: this was the annual change in Retail Price Index (RPI) in September last year.
What is my Amenity Charge for?
The amenity charge applies to all Assured Tenancies. The charge covers maintenance on generic land that Futures is responsible for across its entire operating area.
Can I use and see my rent account on the internet?
Yes, many people are familiar with internet or electronic banking and we have something similar for your rent account. If you go to our website and click the ‘My Account’ button you can pay your rent, see your current rent balance and all the other transactions that have gone on - like any housing benefit payments received and/or any individual payments you have made. You can even print a rent statement. Click here to visit My Account.
This service is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
My Account can also be used to update your personal details, raise and see updates on your repairs as well as receive news from Futures.
How does Futures use the rent it charges?
The income we receive from rent is used to manage and maintain your home and help us to offer services that support customers.
Do I need to pay my rent in advance?
Yes, your agreement with us states that your rent should be one week in advance. This means that your rent account balance should never be less than £0.00. We encourage customers to pay four weeks (or one month) ahead with their rent. This helps to maintain your tenancy conditions if you have a change in circumstances.
What can I do if am struggling to pay my rent or other bills?
We offer a free, confidential money advice service. This service can help you to make sure you are claiming all the benefits you are entitled to, provide debt advice, information about priority payments and household budgeting.
Click here to find out more about money advice, or for more information contact Customer Services on 0300 456 2531.
How are Direct Debit payments calculated?
Direct Debits are automatically calculated by our system to take an equal amount each month. In a full year this will be 12 monthly payments. If you receive part Housing Benefit this is taken into account before the Direct Debit amount is calculated.
The calculation for the rent year 2022-23 will start on 4 April 2022 (or 1 April 2022 if you have a monthly tenancy). The calculation may change if there are arrears on your account or if you join the Direct Debit scheme later in the year.
Do I get a letter if my Direct Debit changes?
Yes, if your Direct Debit changes we will write to you again with the new monthly amount. Your Direct Debit may change if the amount of Housing Benefit you receive alters or you fall into arrears. If the amount you need to pay changes regularly, then you must always check that your rent commitments are being met.
What do I do if I get Universal Credit?
If you receive help with your housing costs through Universal Credit, you will need to report your rent increase on your journal. However, Universal Credit will only accept the change on or after the date your rent increases (4 April 2022). Please don’t update your rent details until your new rent charge is effective. If you have already advised Universal Credit of this, we won't be able to verify the new rent charge and you'll need to update these details again on 4 April.
How can I influence services at Futures?
We have a wide variety of opportunities for our customers to get involved and help shape our services. Visit our Get Involved page for more information.
Why do customers need to know?
Our customers have a right to be consulted about any legal changes such as this, both under the terms and conditions of their tenancy and to meet the standards issued by the Regulator of Social Housing. Customer feedback is important when making business decisions such as this, even when there will be little or no significant change to tenancies or services.
Will my landlord or freeholder change?
No, your landlord will not change. This is simply a change to our legal structure change. Both FHL and FHW will continue to be registered providers of social housing regulated by the Regulator of Social Housing.
Who makes the decision and, if approved, when will the change happen?
The decision sits with our Board, and they will take customer feedback into consideration. If they approve the change we are aiming to do it in the Autumn.
Will rent or service charges be affected?
No, the new structure will not affect rent or service charges. We would continue to review charges every year as we do now and in line with current tenancy agreements or leases.
Will customers' rights as a tenant change?
No. Our customers legal rights will not be changed or reduced.
Why are you making the change?
A community benefit society is just a legal alternative to a ‘company’. It is specifically designed for organisations set up to improve and support communities. A lot of registered providers of social housing are community benefit society. We think that making the change will better reflect what we do. It will also help us to improve our administration of the organisation.