Sections in this guide (click title to view)
- 1. What your rent covers
- 2. Introductory tenancies – Your obligations during this period
- 3. Difficulties paying your rent
- 4. Keeping you informed about your rent account
- 5. Rent credit refunds
1. What your rent covers
Your rent is made up of net rent and service charges.
The net rent covers the general cost of maintaining and managing your home and neighbourhood. The service charges are for services specifically provided to your home or local area, for example, ground maintenance, estate cleaning, or communal facilities such as a concierge and estate lighting.
If you think you're being charged for a service you are not receiving, for example you have had no hot water for several days because your water heater has broken, please contact us on 020 7926 6000.
If you are on a low income, you may be eligible for housing benefit towards your net rent and certain service charges.
However, housing benefit does not cover some other charges that may be added to your rent.
- water charges, which are collected by Lambeth Council on behalf of Thames Water and cover the supply of water to your home
- heating and hot water charges for communal heating and hot water systems.
Other costs relating to your home may be charged separately and not included in your weekly rent, for example the cost of hiring a garage from us.
Changes to your rent and charges We have the right to change your rent and other service charges at any time, but we usually only do this once a year.
We will give you at least four weeks’ written notice if we propose to change your rent or service charges.
We will send you a rent notification letter, which shows the new rent and other charges you will have to pay and the date when your rent will change.
2. Introductory tenancies – Your obligations during this period
As a part of our policy for introductory tenancies you will be contacted by one of our income officers in the first 10 days of your tenancy to ensure that everything is going smoothly with the start of your tenancy.
As per procedure, the Income Officer will check to ensure that you are aware of your rent charges and will check if you have applied for Housing Benefit if you think you are entitled.
This Income Officer will be your port of call should you have any issues regarding your rent within the first year of your tenancy.
As an introductory tenant your rights are much more limited than a secure tenant and as such, failure to pay your rent in this period or resolve any issues in terms of Housing Benefit could result in us refusing your transition to a secure tenancy.
Refusal to pay rent will result in a possession order being taken out on your property and ultimately may result in the termination of your tenancy.
3. Difficulties paying your rent
Our job in the rents team is not only to ensure that your rent is paid but that you have access to all of the support available to enable you to be in a position to do so.
Your Income Officer will make sure you get support in the following areas, should you need it:
- debit advice
- budgeting advice
- benefit support, advice and appeals
- employment support
- advice on welfare reforms and access to support
- financial support for everyday expenses.
If you are having difficulty paying your rent, you should contact us immediately so that we can try to help you find a solution.
Affordable repayment plans
We may be able to help you set up a repayment plan to clear what you owe us.
Repayment plans are flexible and designed to suit your needs, there is a statutory minimum that you can contribute to your arrears which changes per year.
We can also check whether you are claiming the benefits you are entitled to, and can refer you to the right agencies for debt advice, counselling and support.
When we take legal action
If your arrears continue to grow and you do not take reasonable steps to clear them, we may take legal action to recover the money you owe. This could result in a County Court Judgment against you, and you could lose your home.
If you are evicted from your home because of rent arrears, you will be considered intentionally homeless and will not be eligible for re-housing by any council.
As well as the above, if you have rent arrears, you will not be able to:
- exchange your property with another tenant or get a transfer
- rent a garage or parking space and, if you already have one, it may be taken away from you
- keep your right to buy your home
- stand for executive positions on your tenants’ and residents’ association
- get a mortgage - building societies or lenders will ask us for a reference about your rent payment record when you apply for a mortgage.
4. Keeping you informed about your rent account
We send all tenants a rent account statement every three months (quarterly).
This is similar to a bank statement and will show your weekly rent charges, the payments you have made and, if appropriate, any housing benefit payments that have been paid on your behalf.
Your rent statement will also show the balance of your account up to the date the letter was sent.
This will tell you how much you owe us if you are in arrears, or how much your account is in credit.
As well as receiving quarterly statements, you can ask us for extra rent statements at any time or an update on your rent account balance.
We will email you a rent statement within two working days.
If you have any questions about your rent account statements or if you want to request an additional rent statement you can also contact the Central Income Team on the details at the end of this section.
5. Rent credit refunds
If your account balance is significantly in credit, you can ask us to refund you the credit.
We will carry out a series of checks on your account and housing benefit before approving your refund.
We will check the following if:
- you have any outstanding debt with Housing Benefit
- you owe any money on a garage account
- the credit in your account is as result of a discretionary payment intended to support you with your rent.
If any of the above applies, we will use your credit to pay these debts first or may refuse your refund.
If you are entitled to have your rent credit returned, we will pay it back into your bank or building society account.
Alternatively, we can arrange for you to collect the payment from your local post office.
To find out more about getting a refund of credit on your rent account, fill in our rent enquiry form.