What can I do if I am worried about paying my rent or other bills?

We understand that some residents will be experiencing increased financial pressure over the coming months.

Hightown is here to help. If you are concerned about paying your bills or have any other concerns, we have specialist teams on standby to provide support. If you would like to speak to someone, please contact us and we can talk through any issues. To get in touch please call the Income Recovery Team on 01442 292280. You can also request a call back by filling out the call back form on our website.

You can also read about further support available on our website.

What do I need to do if I receive Universal Credit for my housing costs?

You will need to log into your UC journal to 'Confirm your housing costs'. You can find this in your to-do section within your online account.

You MUST complete the 'Confirm your housing costs' to-do, on Monday 1 April 2024 (not before).

You will need to complete the to-do by the end of your current assessment period, to ensure you get the correct housing payment. A delay could result in an underpayment and you will have to pay any shortfall.

Why is my rent going up?

Our rents are set by government legislation, called The Rent Standard. Between April 2015 and March 2020 social housing providers like Hightown had to decrease rents by 1% each year. In April 2020, the Rent Standard changed to allow Hightown to increase rents every 12 months from April 2020 until March 2025 by 1% plus the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

The Government expects us to follow this specific formula to calculate and set our rents. The relevant CPI measure is taken from September the previous year, and in September 2023 CPI was 6.7%. This is why your rent will go up by 7.7% from April (1% plus 6.7% CPI).

Where does my rent money go?

The majority of your rent goes towards paying for the management and maintenance of your home.

Other significant areas of expenditure include the funding of longer-term improvements in homes and neighbourhoods, the development of new homes, and significant investment in improving the fire safety of some of our homes and improving energy efficiency.

Hightown is a not for profit organisation and any surplus made is reinvested into our core objectives of providing homes and supporting our residents.

Due to rising inflation and supply chain issues, Hightown, like many other landlords is facing higher costs such as an increase in the costs of materials and parts to maintain our buildings. The costs of building much needed new homes is also increasing.

Do I need to change my direct debit?

Hightown will not be automatically amending tenants’ direct debits in line with the annual rent increase. Therefore we advise you to contact us to amend your direct debit amount once you have been notified of your new housing benefit award by your Local Authority (if you receive housing benefit).

If you have not informed your Local Authority of the new rent charges, please ensure you do this before 1st April 2024 or you may not receive your full entitlement.

To amend your direct debit or to discuss your rent account, please contact us on 01442 292 280.

What do service charges cover, and how are they set?

Service charges are the amounts paid by tenants for communal services in your block and/or on the estate, for example cleaning and grounds maintenance.

If you live in an Affordable Rent home, any service charges are included in the overall rent figure. If you live in a Social Rent home, the service charges are shown on your rent increase notification letter as separate from the rent figure.

Service Charges are calculated by taking into consideration the actual expenditure on services over the last two and a half financial years, contract costs, any expected costs that we have been notified of, and also takes Retail Price Index inflation into account. Every effort is made to get the budgets as accurate as possible but costs can vary significantly from year to year depending on expenditure.

Why there is a charge for electricity or water?

This is for communal services such as heating and lighting in corridors. You need to continue to pay your own supplier for your electricity and water in your home as well as service charges.