The Board meets in early February 2023 and will, among other matters, approve Zebra’s 2023/24 annual budget, including the annual (payable from April) rent increase to tenants. The Board will be recommended to approve a base rent increase for our student housing of 7%, which is the same figure by which other Housing Associations will be raising their rents. This is well below the average rate of inflation in the UK. We now make a separate charge for fuel (electricity and gas) when it’s included in your rent, and this will reflect real costs to Zebra and will be above 7%. We unfortunately have to make these sorts of rent increases to cover our costs which have increased considerably in the last year. Zebra is a not-for-profit organisation and any surpluses are ploughed back into our work of providing value for money housing for international post graduate housing. And our rents are on average about 20% lower than the equivalent in the private rented sector.
The Board will also be considering some slight changes to our Allocations and Lettings policy.
Please help us to conserve energy
It goes without saying that we urge all our international student tenants to conserve energy wherever they can. We are doing all we can. Most residents of our student housing pay a rent that is inclusive of gas heating and hot water. We’ve been able to absorb some costs and haven’t increased our charges during the last year where they have increased considerably. However they will increase from April although we only pass on the real cost of providing energy to you.
Please turn off lights and appliances when not in use, including chargers for electrical equipment. Don’t waste heat in your flats. Of course, you need ventilation, but don’t fully open or leave windows open. If you have your own central heating boiler turn the room thermostat or radiator thermostats down to 19C and reduce the time the heating left on. If you are out during the day, make sure the heating is turned off and make sure it’s turned off at night.
If you pay for your electricity through a pre-payment meter, get a smart meter that can be topped up electronically and allows you to monitor your use of electricity.
Ensure you are registered for your pre-payment meter with your supplier so that you are eligible to receive the government support payments available.
This does not apply to those residents who are supplied via our communal systems.
Zebra is playing its part in combatting climate change in its student housing and making it more resilient to changing heat and weather patterns. This is a thirty-year programme to reduce carbon usage to zero by 2050. Our priority is to improve the fabric of our student housing primarily by looking at insulation, windows and lighting. We are prioritising the student accommodation that performs most poorly in terms of energy usage.
Whilst some of our stock of student accommodation is old and poorly insulated it’s better to insulate and improve old housing rather than build new homes which uses a lot of carbon. Our student housing is located in beautiful buildings in lovely locations, and we want to preserve these for future generations of international students.
We’ve made excellent progress at Jerome House, where we are insulating flats on the top floor as they become vacant. We will also plan to replace some windows, re-cover the roof, insulate the roof space, replace lighting with LED and fit photovoltaics. We also hope to re-decorate the front of the building and see if we can provide some bike storage in the cellarage in the basement at the front. We will consult all those affected by this work when we have clearer dates and this is likely to be spring/summer 2023.
Please use our web portal MyHome (https://myhome.zebrahousing.com/) to improve your communication with Zebra. MyHome allows you to report & track repairs, amend your contact details, submit student letters and check your rent account. You have already received information on how to use MyHome, but if you need further assistance, please contact David Morrow (email@example.com).
A new programme of Social Events will be emailed to all residents during the week beginning 22nd January 2023.