Have you tried our Frequently Asked Questions? See www.sarh.co.uk/faq
The rent we charge pays for the services we provide, such as maintaining and improving your home, housing management and the cost of running SARH.
Stafford and Rural Homes (SARH) has to follow government guidelines to decide how much rent should be paid on our properties. Guidelines include the size of the property, the location, the value and how local average earnings compare to national average earnings.
SARH provides a number of rent payment options, including easy online payments, so you can choose the one most suitable for you.
To find out more see Make a Payment.
A service charge covers the cost of additional services provided by SARH including: lighting communal areas, gardening, communal TV aerials, or maintaining equipment such as lifts.
Service charges are calculated by taking the cost of providing each service and dividing the cost between all the SARH homes that receive them. For example if there are ten homes in a block with a communal garden, each customer will pay 1/10th of the landscaping and gardening costs.
We can only change the services provided if all the customers affected have been consulted and agreement reached. If we are planning to introduce any new services we will consult customers first and take their views into account.
You will be advised of any service charges that you have to pay. The charges are collected with your rent.
We will give you one month’s notice of rent increases. Normally increases apply from the first payment week in April.
Housing Benefit is a benefit for people on a low income to help them pay their rent. You may be able to claim Housing Benefit if you are on other benefits, work part-time or work full-time on a low income. This benefit may cover all or part of your rent. You cannot claim Housing Benefit to help with the costs of a mortgage or home loan.
Stafford Borough Council (SBC) can pay your Housing Benefit directly to your rent account with SARH to stop it going into arrears. Changes to benefits may alter this.
SARH can help you to make a claim for Housing Benefit.
It is important that you can pay your rent whilst SBC assesses your claim.
It is your responsibility to follow up your claim with SBC for the payment of your Housing Benefit. You must also inform them of any change in your personal circumstances.
The following information only applies if your statement is for dwelling rent:
If you receive Housing Benefit payments towards your dwelling rent, please note that Housing Benefit payments are only received from Stafford Borough Council every four weeks.
Housing Benefit payments are shown in the “Payment Type” column on your rent statement. The timing of these payments affects your Account Balance.
Your account will show that it is in arrears until your Housing Benefit payment is received by SARH at the end of the 4 weeks period.
If you are not receiving Housing Benefit and you are having difficulties paying your dwelling rent, you may be able to claim Housing Benefit towards the cost of your rent payments.
While it’s understandable that you might be afraid of telling SARH that you are going to be late with the rent, it is far better to get the issue out in the open before you actually fail to pay.
Contact SARH as soon as you think you may have any problems paying your rent.
• Explain why you’re going to be late with the rent and ask for some extra time
• Be clear about what you are doing to address the problem to help ensure it won’t happen again
The following section provides links to sources of free help and advice.
For further help and advice on benefits and money management contact:
• Stafford Borough Council Benefits Customer Services.
• SARH Money Advice Team
• Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB)
• The Money Advice Service
SARH takes prompt action to recover rent arrears, adopting a firm but fair approach.
We realise that circumstances may change and things like illness, unemployment or the birth of a child etc. can sometimes make it more difficult for you to pay your rent.
Where rent arrears occur, we will deal with each case on an individual basis and try to help you to find ways to pay your rent.
We will treat your situation in a sensitive and confidential manner, advising you in advance of the action we need to take. This will enable you to get independent advice if you need it.
When your rent account is in arrears we will:
• Make early personal contact to establish why rent has not been paid
• Enable access to benefits advice and debt counselling in order to help you make the most of your income and reduce debt
• Seek to provide vulnerable customers with advice and support based on your circumstances.
If you are in arrears or are having difficulty in paying your rent please contact us without delay.
If you go into rent arrears, an agreement may be reached for you to pay a regular weekly amount in addition to your weekly rent.
It is important that the agreement is strictly kept to.
If you fail to make the agreed payments and arrears increase, we may consider further steps, which may include legal action.
If there are arrears on your tenancy and particularly if you have not kept to a previously agreed arrangement, we may consider taking court action. This can lead to your eviction.
If you receive a Notice of Seeking Possession (NSP) you have 28 days to pay your arrears or make arrangements for regular payments to be made.
If you receive a NSP it is important that you contact us immediately for advice.
If rent arrears build up again at any time during the next 12 months we can apply to the County Court for an arrears hearing. You will be notified in advance of the date of the court hearing and it is important that you attend.
The County Court will be asked to award SARH a Possession Order. This order may allow us to evict you from your home.
The Court may suspend the order and allow you to remain in your home providing you keep to the payment terms set by the court.
You may be required to pay the costs of the court action, which will vary, but can be a lot of money.
The Court Order will remain until the arrears and the Court costs are paid off.
If you fail to pay as the Court instructed, we can request that the Court sets a date for an eviction.
SARH can, without a further hearing, request the Court Bailiff to take possession of your home. In these circumstances we will not provide you with another home. You will have to leave on the eviction date and will still owe us the rent arrears and court costs.
SARH is moving to paperless rent statements in 2016. To view your latest rent statement please register for SARH Online.