Rent information

YOUR RENT

Your rent is extremely important. Not only does it pay for your home but it also ensures that we can provide a high standard of service to all our residents.

You will be given a detailed breakdown of rent and service charges when you sign your tenancy agreement.

How do I pay for my rent and service charges?

We offer many payment options to make paying your rent as easy as possible.

Direct Debit

Our preferred payment method and the easiest way to pay is by Direct Debit. Simply contact us to set up a direct debit and your rent will automatically be taken from your bank account either weekly, fortnightly, four weekly or monthly on a day of your choosing

Debit / Credit Card

You can pay over the phone using your debit or credit card. To make a payment call 0151 343 3870 between 9am and 4pm, Monday to Friday.

Standing Order

Set up a Standing Order to make regular payments through your bank.  Please make sure you quote your tenancy reference number on all standing order payments.

Cash / Cheque

Cash or cheques can be given direct to your Development Manager.  Please check with the Development Manager who the cheque should be made payable to.

Alternatively make cheques payable to Alpha (RSL) Ltd and write your name, address and tenancy reference number on the back. Please post to: Thursby House, 1 Thursby Road, Croft Business Park, Bromborough, Wirral, CH62 3PW.

What does my rent cover?

Your rent pays for as an example:

  • Repairs to your home
  • Improvements to your home, such as new bathrooms and kitchens
  • A contribution towards our head office and staff costs
  • Interest on the loans we have taken out to develop our properties
When will my rent change?

Any changes to your rent are effective from the date specified in your tenancy agreement.

How is my rent increase calculated?

The Government sets out the guidelines on how housing associations calculate rent.

Rent increases are subject to a limit. The limit is at the rate of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) plus 1% each year. The CPI figure used is the figure from September of the year before the increase takes place.

However in July 2015 the Government announced that rents for social housing will be reduced by 1% each year for the four financial years from April 2016. For sheltered housing though this was delayed by one year and therefore only introduced from April 2017.

From April 2020, subject to no further changes in government policy, the calculation will revert to the previous formula of the current rent plus the CPI percentage rise plus 1%.

How will I be told about any change in my rent?

You will be given a minimum notice of 28 days before the change is to take effect.

For rent increases you will be served a rent increase notice that is headed: ‘Section 13(2) of the Housing Act 1988 Form number 4B’.

This notice is the legal notification that your rent is going to increase. It will tell you what your rent is now and how much it will be changing to.

What are service charges?

A service charge is a charge for a service provided to your home that is shared with other properties in a block or on an estate; in some cases it is personal to you.

Your service charges are called ‘variable’ service charges. The expected cost of providing the service is apportioned between a number of properties receiving the service in the development.

What is a variable service charge?

A variable service charge is based on the actual cost of providing the service or services and can go up or down accordingly. Any surplus or deficit will be carried over to the next financial year.

How are service charges calculated?

Service charges are estimated at the beginning of each year based on previous costs and estimated spend. Service charge budgets are prepared carefully to make sure that they are realistic and reasonable.

We send you a summary of the actual expenditure some eight months after the end of the financial period, which shows you if there is an over or under recovery of charges.

What is included within the service charges?

We provide a wide range of services. Here are a few examples of the services that may be included in your service charge:

  • Caretaking
  • Lift maintenance
  • Door entry maintenance
  • Gardening of communal areas
  • Lighting in communal areas
  • TV and digital aerials in communal areas
  • CCTV
  • Fire equipment protection
  • Management fee

Housing benefit should cover these communal charges.

There are some services that may be personal to you such as:

  • Personal heating and hot water
  • Personal water rates
  • Emergency Link line services
  • Personal Support Charge

Housing benefit will NOT cover these charges.

The service charges you pay will depend on where you live and the services you receive. Your tenancy agreement states which services you receive. Your total service charge payable is detailed as part of your annual rent increase pack.

What should I do if I can’t pay my rent and service charges?

If you can’t pay your rent for any reason, you should contact us as soon as possible. We understand that some residents might experience financial difficulty during their tenancy and we are here to help.

If you fall behind with your payments and do not keep to your agreed payment plan, we will take action against you which could eventually result in the loss of your home.

We offer free and confidential money advice to help you manage your money, debts, grant applications and make sure you are claiming the benefits you are entitled to, including:

  • Universal Credit
  • Housing Benefit
  • Claiming additional benefits

We can work with you over the phone or one of our Alpha colleagues can make a home visit at a time convenient for you.

What should I do if I think there is a mistake on my rent account?

If you think there has been a mistake, you should contact us so we can check your rent account and resolve any problems.

For any payments given to our Development Managers and for whatever reason is not showing on your account, you will need to provide us with a copy of the receipt issued to you by the Development Manager.

What should I do if I am waiting for Housing Benefit or Universal Credit to be paid?

If you are waiting for Housing Benefit or Universal Credit to be paid, you should contact us and let us know.

What happens if I am a joint tenant and one of us leaves the property?

As joint tenants, you are both responsible for paying the rent until the tenancy becomes a sole tenancy. If you receive Housing Benefit or Universal Credit, you must inform the Housing Benefit or DWP office as soon as the changes have been made to your account.

About rent arrears

It is your responsibility to make sure your rent and service charges are paid. If you don’t pay your rent on time and in full, your account will fall into arrears and we will contact you asking for payment.

If you can’t pay your rent for any reason, you should contact us as soon as possible.

If necessary, we will put you in touch with various support services, who can help you manage your money, debts and grant applications, and make sure you are claiming the benefits you are entitled to.

If your account remains in arrears and you do not make a reasonable offer to pay off your debts, we will take legal action against you which could eventually result in the loss of your home.

What happens if Alpha takes legal action?

If we begin legal action, we will serve you with a Notice of Seeking Possession. This is a legal document stating that if you do not pay the rent you owe or make a reasonable offer to pay off your debts, we will apply to court to take possession of your home.

If you receive a Notice of Seeking Possession, you should contact us immediately to discuss your account and prevent any further action.

If you ignore the letter and your account remains in arrears, we will apply to court for an Order for Possession of your property.

What happens if I have to go to court?

If you have to go to court, you will receive a letter confirming the date of your court hearing.  It is in your best interest to attend this hearing as we will be asking the County Court to give us possession of your home.

The court can:

  • Decide evicting you isn’t justified and stop eviction proceedings.
  • Issue a possession order giving us permission to evict you.
  • Issue a suspended possession order giving you a final chance to avoid eviction.
What happens after court?

If you receive a Suspended Possession Order this means that the County Court has given us possession of your home, but it has been suspended on the condition that you pay an ordered amount towards your arrears by a specific date.

You must continue to pay this amount and any court costs until the arrears are clear. If you fail to do so, we can ask the County Court to issue a warrant to evict you from your home.

If you have any questions about the Suspended Possession Order then please contact us or seek legal advice.

What happens if I receive an eviction notice?

If you receive an Eviction Notice, do not ignore it, it will not go away. You can stop the eviction from going ahead if you pay all the money that you owe to us right away.

If you are not able to pay the outstanding debt, you should contact Alpha housing team and speak to your Area Manager or seek legal advice.

If you don’t leave the property by the date given on your eviction notice, we will ask the court to send a bailiff to remove you and your belongings.

UNIVERSAL CREDIT

What is Universal Credit?

Universal Credit is a benefit for people of working age. It’s being introduced in stages across the country.

It’s a single monthly payment and replaces some of the benefits and tax credits that you might be getting now. If you get help paying your rent, this will be included in your monthly payment and you will be responsible for paying your rent directly to us.

Preparing for Universal Credit

To prepare for the changes you should:

  • Set up or switch to a bank or building society account that allows you to receive automated payments and set up regular payments for things like rent and bills.
  • Plan to budget monthly, rather than weekly, by working out very carefully how much money you have coming in each month and what you need to spend it on.
  • Make sure you have access to the internet (so you can manage your account online) either at home, your local library or Job Centre Plus. You will need an email address in order to claim.
When is Universal Credit coming to you?

The rollout of the Universal Credit full service (Digital Service) will run until 2023. After the rollout is complete, Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) will then begin to move all remaining existing benefit claimants to Universal Credit.

Universal Credit free telephone numbers

There are now free telephone numbers for you to call if you have any questions or need support with Universal Credit.

Service LineFreephone number
Universal Credit Live Service0800 328 9344
Universal Credit Full Service0800 328 5644
Universal Credit Housing Line0800 328 3844
Universal Credit Sanctions Line (not currently in use)0800 328 9744
Universal Credit Live to Full Service transfers0800 328 7844
Universal Credit / Work Age Welsh line0800 328 1744
Universal Credit text phone0800 328 1344

PENSION CREDIT

Pension Credit is a tax free income-related benefit for people on lower incomes who have reached the Pension Credit qualifying age.

It comes in two parts, and you may be eligible for one or both:

Guaranteed Credit

  • Tops up your weekly income to a minimum level.

Savings Credit

  • Extra money if you have some savings or if your income is higher than the basic state pension.
  • There will be no new claims for Saving Pension Credit, unless you've reached State Pension age before 6 April 2016. To qualify for the extra Savings Credit, you or your partner must be aged 65 or over.

Even if you find out you are only entitled to a small amount of Pension Credit, it is worth claiming. This is because it can help you qualify for other benefits, like Housing Benefit and help with Council Tax.

You can claim Pension Credit through the DWP.

The Pension Credit age is increasing over time. Use the below table to work out when you will reach Pension Credit age.

Pension Age Calculator

Your date of birthPension Credit age
Born before 6 August 1953Already reached Pension Credit age
06/08/53 - 05/09/53Already reached Pension Credit age
06/09/53 - 05/10/53Already reached Pension Credit age
06/10/53 - 05/11/53Already reached Pension Credit age
06/11/53 - 05/12/53Already reached Pension Credit age
06/12/53 - 05/01/546 March 2019
06/01/54 - 05/02/546 May 2019
06/02/54 - 05/03/546 July 2019
06/03/54 - 05/04/546 September 2019
06/04/54 - 05/05/546 November 2019
06/05/54 - 05/06/546 January 2020
06/06/54 - 05/07/546 March 2020
06/07/54 - 05/08/546 May 2020
06/08/54 - 05/09/546 July 2020
06/09/54 - 05/10/546 September 2020
06/10/54 - 05/04/60On your 66th birthday
06/04/60 - 05/05/60When you turn 66 and one month
06/05/60 - 05/06/60When you turn 66 and two months
06/06/60 - 05/07/60When you turn 66 and three months
06/07/60 - 05/08/60When you turn 66 and four months
06/08/60 - 05/09/60When you turn 66 and five months
06/09/60 - 05/10/60When you turn 66 and six months
06/10/60 - 05/11/60When you turn 66 and seven months
06/11/60 - 05/12/60When you turn 66 and eight months
06/12/60 - 05/01/61When you turn 66 and nine months
06/01/61 - 05/02/61When you turn 66 and ten months
06/02/61 - 05/03/61When you turn 66 and eleven months
06/03/61 - 05/04/70 On your 67th birthday
06/04/70 - 05/04/78Between your 67th and 68th birthday - not yet finalised
6 April 1978 onwardsOn your 68th birthday

PERSONAL INDEPENDENCE PAYMENT

Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is a new benefit, replacing Disability Living Allowance, for people of working age who need help with some of the extra costs caused by long-term ill-health or a disability.

It is tax free and you can get it whether you’re in or out of work.

It is made up of two components:

  • A daily living component – for help with everyday life.
  • A mobility component – for help getting around.

You can claim PIP through the DWP.