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Support available to Housing Tenants and Leaseholders

Published: 15 March 2023

We know the next few months will continue to be hard for our residents with the ongoing cost of living crisis and rising energy costs. We are writing to all our tenants and leaseholders on the support available to help with the recent increase in rents, service charge, insurance, and major works.

Information for Tenants

Rent Increase 2023/2024

If you’re a social housing resident, we follow rules set by the government when we calculate any changes to your rent each year. 

Due to inflation hitting a record high, in Westminster your rent will increase by 7% from 03 April 2023

Despite this, for most tenants who are claiming full benefit, the rent increase will be mitigated by increases in Housing Benefit or the housing element of Universal Credit.

£1m Rent Support Fund for tenants

We have set aside £1m to support Council tenants who are not entitled to Universal Credit or Housing Benefit who may need support with paying their rent. If you are entitled to full or partial Universal Credit or Housing Benefit the rent increase should be covered in full or partially by your benefit.

If you are not claiming benefit and would like to speak to someone about this fund, please register your interest below and an income officer will contact you.

Find out more and apply

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Energy Price Increase, district or communal heating system

Leaseholders and tenants on a district or communal heating system will pay higher energy charges because of the significant rise in costs due to the energy crisis. This also affects the increase in communal electricity costs.

We are aware that high energy prices are still a big concern for households and businesses across Westminster. However, our ability to bulk buy gas means that the cost of energy to our residents on district heating networks is still approximately half that of the market rate.

If you are finding it difficult to pay your rent and service charge then it is important to contact us as soon as possible, our friendly income team are here to help. The sooner you contact us, the sooner we can help you.

You can contact us by phone on 0800 358 3783 or email: [email protected]

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Information for Leaseholders

Service charges

If you are a leaseholder you may see an increase in some areas of your service charges this period for a variety of reasons. We have outlined some of the reasons why below.

The overall increase in service charges, excluding energy and insurance, is 8.6%, which is below the rate of inflation.

  • Buildings Insurance
    Leaseholders must also contribute to the cost of insuring the buildings. The insurance market along with energy is in crisis, which has led to a large increase in costs. Westminster City Council’s current insurer, Avid, has withdrawn from the insurance market. Protector is now the sole provider of residential leasehold buildings insurance. This has led to a 30% increase in the buildings insurance this year.
  • Communal Electricity
    Supply and demand issues are pushing up wholesale energy prices. This has driven the increase in the charges for communal electricity to your blocks and estates.
  • Heating and Hot Water
    The nationwide increases in gas and electricity costs will affect the charge for heating and hot water to your home if you are on a communal heating system. We know increases in energy costs are worrying for our residents, but we would like to reassure you that the gas charges for communal energy systems are still cheaper than for residents with individual boilers not on a communal system.

Service Charge Support available

If you are finding it difficult to pay your service charge then it is important to contact us as soon as possible, our friendly Service Charge Collections Team are here to help.

Help and support with your service charge

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Leaseholders who have had major works

Some leaseholders will be charged for major works as well. These charges are for necessary repairs, renewals, and in some cases, improvements to specific homes and blocks which we can't do under the normal day‐to‐day repairs due to the amount of work involved. Those leaseholders who are receiving these charges will have been consulted and will have received more information about the works.

What if I am struggling to pay the major works service charges?

From January 2023 we have made a significant change to our major works service charges payment options. These changes make Westminster’s payment options the best in London.

  • We have extended the current 60-month interest free payment option to include a further option of up to 60 additional months (120 months in total) for service charges of £20k or more for our resident leaseholders. No interest will be charged on months 1-60. Interest is charged on the balance at month 60 for months 61-120.
  • We now offer a new Discretionary Service Charge loan which could extend loans, with payment terms up to 25 years.

To see our payment plan options visit Major Works service charges payment plan.

Our cost of living support hub

The cost of living crisis is affecting us all. We have found that around a quarter of households in Westminster, more than 31,000, face a serious reduction in living standards due to rising costs, such as fuel, energy bills and food.

The information provided here can help you with everything from accessing government financial aid to finding local advice services.

More information on our Cost of Living hub

What other help is available

You can also call the following for advice: