Rent and rent increases in social housing

Your council or housing association landlord sets your rent and any rent increases you must pay.

What is included in your rent

Rent is a regular amount you pay to pay to live in your home.

Your tenancy agreement should set out what's included in your rent and how often it has to be paid.

Rent sometimes includes charges for water rates or services such as heating. Not all of these charges are covered if you claim housing benefit to help pay the rent.

Levels of rent

Most rents charged by councils or housing associations are called social rents. Social rents are usually lower than rents for similar private rented properties.

There are different levels of rent for different types of tenancies.

Some landlords charge a higher rent if you are a high income household. This means if your yearly household income is £60,000 or more.

Council and housing association landlords can also charge up to 80% of market rents on some of their homes, usually new-build properties. This is called affordable rent.

When to pay your rent

Your tenancy agreement sets out when you should pay your rent. This is usually every week or every month. Most tenancy agreements state that you should pay your rent in advance.

If you don't pay your rent by the due date, your rent account goes into rent arrears and you are in breach of your tenancy agreement.

Housing benefit and universal credit are both paid in arrears, not in advance. This means that your rent account might be in arrears even if regular rent payments are being made. Get advice if the council or housing association says this is a problem or serves you with a notice. A housing adviser can help you negotiate.

How to pay your rent

Your landlord may allow you to pay your rent online, over the phone or through your bank.

You could be given an electronic card so you can pay your rent at a post office or in certain shops.

Help with paying your rent

You can usually claim housing benefit or universal credit to help with rent if you have a low income.

If you are a council tenant and claim housing benefit, payments are credited directly to your rent account.

If you are a housing association tenant or claim universal credit, the benefit is usually paid directly to you and you have to pay your landlord.

Housing benefit or universal credit may not cover your full rent. You must pay any rent shortfall which is not covered by these benefits from other income.

Paying rent should be a top priority. You could lose your home if you don't pay. If you are struggling with rent payments speak to an adviser.

Contact a Shelter adviser online or by phone

Rent increases

Council and housing association rents usually go up every April.

From April 2016, most council and housing association rents will go down by 1% each year until 2020.

Your landlord usually has to give you at least four weeks' notice in writing before a rent increase. They don't have to consult you about proposed increases.

Check your tenancy agreement to see what it says about how the rent can be increased.

Last updated 06 Oct 2016 | © Shelter

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