HOW TO CONTACT US London Regional Ofﬁce
AND OTHERS Swan Housing Group
1 How to contact us 10 Chrisp Street
Group Head Ofﬁce
High Street Phone: 0845 612 4700
Billericay Fax: 020 7510 9969
Phone: 0845 612 4700 Exmouth Estate Ofﬁce
Fax: 01277 844 734 39 Cornwood Drive
Email: email@example.com London
Please contact our head ofﬁce You may contact any of our ofﬁces
to speak to your Housing Ofﬁcer, by phoning 0845 612 4700
the Resident Involvement &
Community Development Team
or to be put in touch with one of Internet
our welfare beneﬁts ofﬁcers. Website: www.swan.org.uk
Or you can use our residents’
website at www.web4residents.org
42 Yo ts
To report a repair,
ov phone 0800 783 2768.
in This call is free of charge.
Welcome to Swan’s tenant
handbook. This is your guide
to our services. It includes
information that explains your
Inside we have set out, in clear
sections, what you can expect
of us and what we expect of you.
We hope this will help you make
the most of your tenancy with us
and that you enjoy your new home.
The handbook also includes
contact details for our local
ofﬁces, plus important
information on repairs.
If you need to talk to us, please get
in touch. Our phone numbers and
full addresses are shown on the
inside front cover.
You can also contact us through
our website at www.swan.org.uk
I hope you enjoy living in
At Swan, we aim to provide
a high level of service to all
our customers. This section
sets out our customer-care
standards and explains how
to make a complaint.
u re you
C a for
1 OUR CUSTOMER-CARE • lettings and empty homes;
COMMITMENTS TO YOU • managing tenancies;
• We will always be polite • repairs; and
• supported housing, and
• We will keep all information housing support in the
about you conﬁdential. community.
• We will provide the same level of All of the leaﬂets are available at
service to you, wherever you live. our ofﬁces and on our website at
• We will treat all our customers www.swan.org.uk
fairly, according to their needs.
• We will welcome your views and When you contact us we will:
comments about how we can • answer the phone within 20
improve our services. seconds, clearly stating who
• We have produced leaﬂets that is speaking;
explain our customer-care • arrange to visit you at home
standards relating to: if you ask us to;
• adaptations; • respond to your letters or
• antisocial behaviour and e-mails within 10 working days
harassment; of receiving them;
• comments and complaints; • offer the use of Language Line if
your ﬁrst language is not English;
• collecting rent;
• provide documents in large
• equality; print or in other languages
• estate-management services; if necessary; and
• involving residents; • accept calls from textphones
for people who are deaf or
• leasehold services;
hard of hearing, or have
When you visit us we will: 2 OUR EQUALITY
• display the opening times of our COMMITMENTS
ofﬁces, as well as an emergency We know our communities
out-of-hours phone number; are made up of people from
• make sure our reception areas different backgrounds and with
are clean and tidy, and have a differing needs. We aim to take
variety of information available this into account when developing
for you; our services.
• see you within ﬁve minutes of • We will identify and seek to
the agreed appointment time; remove any problems that
could prevent some people
• tell you how long you will have from having equal access to
to wait if you don’t have an our services.
appointment, or offer you an
appointment in the future; and • We will provide interpretation
and translation services,
• provide an interview room for and information in large print,
the meeting, if one is available. Braille or audio, for you if you
If we visit your home we will: • We will treat everyone fairly,
• show you ID; regardless of their age, race, sex,
disability, sexuality or religion.
• behave professionally and
respect your home at all times; • We will be sensitive about
religious or cultural dates when
• be on time; and
arranging home visits.
• if we’re delayed, call you to let
• We will take action to combat
you know when we will arrive.
harassment, and encourage
you to report any discrimination
in your neighbourhood.
• We will make sure that all our
staff are trained on issues
relating to equality.
If you feel you have been treated How to make a complaint
unfairly, or are experiencing
harassment, contact us on You can make a complaint in a
0845 612 4700. number of ways.
• In person – You can talk to us in
person at one of our ofﬁces.
• By phone – You can phone our
We will do our best to give you Customer Feedback
a good service, but things Co-ordinator on 01277 314 341.
sometimes go wrong. If you are not
happy with any service we have • In writing – Send us your comments
provided, please tell us. This helps by letter or by using the form in
us make our services better. our complaints and compliments
leaﬂet. Please write to:
You may want to make a complaint
if you think that we have: Pilgrim House
• failed to provide a service; Essex
• provided a poor standard CM12 9XY
of service; • Email – You can email us at
• failed to meet our service firstname.lastname@example.org
standards; • Website – You can ﬁll in our online
• treated you unfairly; or form at www.swan.org.uk
• failed to follow our own policies
and procedures. Once you have made a complaint
Complaints about noisy neighbours
are different. Please see page 29 • acknowledge your complaint
for information on how to complain within three working days; and
about a noisy neighbour. • aim to settle your complaint
within 10 working days.
If we cannot give you a full
response within 10 working days,
we will tell you why and keep you
informed of progress.
Our complaints procedure Stage three
Stage one Contact the Customer Feedback
Co-ordinator and ask them to
We will make a note of your arrange for a special appeals panel
complaint and pass it to the to review your case. This panel will
relevant manager for them to include at least one member of our
investigate and settle. They will board of management and, unless
discuss the problem with you, and you do not want them to hear your
ask you how you would like us to complaint, at least one Swan
deal with the matter. Wherever tenant or leaseholder from a
possible, we will settle your different area.
complaint immediately. At the very
least, we will send you a full We will set the date within 10
response within 10 working days. working days for the panel hearing
to be held. You will be able to meet
If you are not happy with the the panel and tell them why you are
manager’s response, you can take still unhappy. We will send you a
your complaint to stage two. full response within ﬁve working
days of this hearing.
Stage two This will be our ﬁnal response
to your complaint.
Phone the Customer Feedback
Co-ordinator on 01277 314341 to
ask for your complaint to be
reviewed by one of our directors.
The director will look at how the
problem has been managed and
decide whether there is more we
can do. The director will then send
you a full response within 10
If you are still not happy, you can
take your complaint to stage three.
Taking your complaint Our service standards for
further dealing with complaints
If you are still unhappy after stage If we get anything wrong,
three of our complaints procedure, we will:
you can contact the Housing
• send you a response within
Ombudsman Service at the
our agreed targets;
• apologise, and explain
The Independent Housing
81 Aldwych • aim to put the matter right as
London soon as possible, and learn
WC2B 4HN from our mistake;
Tel: 020 7421 3800 • keep you informed at all times;
• let you know if you are entitled
The ombudsman will normally only to compensation;
deal with your case if you have • tell you about any improvements
followed all the stages of our we make as a result of your
complaint procedure ﬁrst. complaint; and
• ask you how well you think
we handled your complaint.
4 COMPLIMENTS You may be able to get
compensation in the
You can pay us a compliment in a
number of ways.
• If you are ending your tenancy
• In person – You can talk to us in
and have made certain
person at one of our ofﬁces.
improvements to the property.
• By phone – You can phone our (See ‘Right to Compensation
Customer Feedback Co-ordinator for Improvements’ in your
on 01277 314 341. tenancy agreement.)
• In writing – Send us your comments • If you do not receive the
by letter or by using the form in standard of service we promise
our complaints and compliments to provide.
leaﬂet. Please write to:
• If you pay a service charge for a
Pilgrim House particular service and we have
Billericay failed to provide that service for
Essex a signiﬁcant period of time,
CM12 9XY unless this is due to
• Email – You can email us at circumstances beyond our
email@example.com control (for example, if a
gardening service is delayed
• Website – You can ﬁll in our online because of bad weather).
form at www.swan.org.uk
• If for any reason we fail to
complete certain repairs
5 COMPENSATION within a speciﬁed timescale
(see ‘Right to Repair
If our level of service drops Compensation’ in your
below the standards we have tenancy agreement).
set ourselves, we may offer
you compensation. We have
a compensation policy which
aims to explain your rights,
and what compensation you
may be entitled to, when we
have delivered services to an
If you think you may be entitled 6 CONFIDENTIALITY
to compensation, or you want
We will keep all information
more information, please:
about you conﬁdential.
• talk to a member of staff, either
We will not pass any information
on the phone or face-to-face;
about you to another person
• write to us; or organisation without asking
• send us an email; or you ﬁrst.
• contact us through our website. If we are asked to provide a
reference for you (for example,
by a bank or building society),
we will not supply it unless you
give us permission in writing.
You have the right to see any
information we hold about you.
However, we cannot show you
any information about you that has
been provided by another person
or organisation, such as your GP
or social services.
If you think any of the information
we hold on you is wrong, please
tell us. If we agree, we will correct
the information. If you still think
the information is wrong, we will
add a note to your ﬁle stating that
We believe that residents
should be at the centre of
everything we do. This section
provides information about
how you can get involved in
your local area and help to
improve our services.
lv n lved
In s get
re to w
1 OUR SERVICE To help you get involved we will:
STANDARDS • support residents who want to
To make sure we consider your form residents’ groups and run
views when we make decisions, them effectively;
we will: • send residents at least four
• consult and involve you on newsletters a year;
issues that affect your home • support and develop community
and local community; projects such as youth activities,
• provide clear information to help football teams, gardening and
you get involved; lunch clubs;
• provide a wide range of • provide training and
opportunities for you to get development for residents; and
involved in improving services; • give ﬁnancial help for
• regularly tell you what we have community projects and
done as a result of your activities led by residents.
suggestions; and We have agreed these standards
• encourage all parts of the with a group of residents. We will
community to get involved. measure our performance against
the standards and let you know
how we are doing.
2 INVOLVEMENT FOR ALL By helping to draw
We provide many opportunities up neighbourhood
for consultation and involvement. agreements
These range from formal These agreements set out the
arrangements set out in our service standards you can expect
governance structure (the in your neighbourhood, and what
framework for the way we are run) we need to do in the year ahead.
to less formal events like fun days,
focus groups and service- By joining a resident group
improvement reviews. These groups aim to improve
We want to give every resident the services in neighbourhoods.
opportunity to contribute to their
neighbourhood and to enjoy where By joining a
they live. It’s important that what resident association
we do meets the needs of all the These are groups of properly
communities we serve. elected residents’ groups who
The following sections show work to improve local areas for all
how you can get involved and the people who live there.
who to contact.
By taking part in a
3 HOW TO GET At these forums you can give us
INVOLVED IN YOUR your opinions on how we can
NEIGHBOURHOOD improve our service and provide
You can get involved in your area value for money.
in the following ways.
On estate inspections
These inspections, which involve
residents, representatives and
housing staff, are carried out every
4 HOW TO GET INVOLVED 5 HOW TO GET INVOLVED
IN IMPROVING SERVICES IN THE MAJOR
You can help us improve our DECISIONS WE MAKE
services by: You can be involved in important
• getting involved in developing decisions about what we do. You
policies, through ‘away days’, can do this in the following ways.
residents’ committees and
focus groups; Through resident
• helping monitor and develop
service standards for customer These are regional assemblies of
care, repairs, lettings and resident representatives who are
empty homes; elected either from their area or
resident associations. Currently
• getting involved in service there are two committees, one in
reviews, to make sure our London and one in Essex.
services meet your needs, are
of high quality and offer value Resident Board Members
for money; and
There are four places for elected
• putting forward your ideas board members on both the
through the residents’ Swan Essex and Swan London
suggestion scheme. We award Regional Boards.
£50 Marks and Spencer gift
vouchers for the best ideas.
6 HOW WE CAN
If you want to get involved,
we can support you by:
• giving you access to our
• providing training to help you
develop skills and expertise;
• paying childcare and travel
• providing funds to cover the
work you need to do as a
If you want to get involved in any
way, please contact our Residents
Involvement and Community
Tel: 0845 612 4700
This section is split into two
main parts. The ﬁrst is about
your responsibilities in your
home and the second is about
your tenancy agreement
and begins on page 30.
The second part also includes
information about estate
services, see page 39.
r cy rights
ou an your
Y n g
1 YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES • If you want to run a business
from your property, you must
Listed below are your responsibilities
get our permission ﬁrst.
in your home and your community.
There are also a series of helpful • If you are convicted of doing
tips for saving money, maintaining something illegal in or around
your home and who to call if you’re your home, you may lose
being harassed. your tenancy.
2 YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES We take domestic violence very
IN YOUR HOME seriously. If you or your partner is
forced to leave your home because
Living in your home of violence, we may go to court to
• You must live in your home from take back your home.
the start of your tenancy. If your partner is being violent
• You must not give your home towards you, talk to your housing
to anyone else. ofﬁcer or phone Women’s Aid on
0808 2000 247.
• If you move out, you will lose
your tenancy. Maintaining your home
• If you are going away for more You must do the following.
than 6 weeks, please tell us. You
must let us know who we should • Keep the inside of your home
contact if we need to get into in a good and clean condition.
your home in an emergency. • Pay to repair any damage
caused by you or anyone
living with or visiting you.
• Report any repairs to us
as quickly as possible.
• Keep your garden (if you
have one) in a tidy condition.
• Keep your home safe
– so don’t keep any liquids
that might catch ﬁre in your
home, shed or garage.
How to avoid ﬁres Remember, you must let us
service and maintain your boiler
• Don’t leave chip pans on every year. It may save you money
the cooker when you’re out and your life!
of the room.
• Don’t overload sockets with
too many plugs.
• Keep matches where children
cannot reach them. GAS
• Never dry washing in front If you smell gas:
of an open ﬁre. • don’t smoke or strike matches;
Remember – check and maintain • don’t turn electrical switches
your smoke alarm. You are on or off;
responsible for replacing batteries
in smoke alarms. • put out naked ﬂames;
• open doors and windows;
Top maintenance tips
• turn off the gas supply at the
• Do not put hot fat or tea leaves meter; and
down the sink or drain.
• phone 0800 111 999.
• Use caustic soda from time to
time to unblock drains.
• Don’t block toilets by putting
nappies or sanitary towels
• Keep gutters clear of leaves.
If your home is damp, reduce
condensation. Cut down on
moisture by putting lids on pans
when cooking, opening the window
when you can, and drying clothes
outside when possible.
Our staff Pests
Our staff are trained to be helpful If you have any problems with
and polite at all times. If you have a pests (for example, cockroaches
complaint about our staff or one of or rats), phone your local council’s
our services, please see page 10 environmental health department.
for details of how to complain.
We will not tolerate threatening Insurance
behaviour, or attacks on our staff. We are responsible for insuring
If you behave in this way, we may your building. You are responsible
apply for a court order against you. for insuring your belongings
You must let us into your home so against loss, theft and damage.
we can carry out repairs and We can arrange My Home contents
inspections, or service equipment. insurance for you through the
Whenever possible we will give you National Housing Federation. This
at least 24 hours’ notice. If there is insurance has ﬂexible payment
an emergency, like a water leak, options, is easy to apply for and
we may need to enter your home does not include an excess, so you
immediately. We will try to contact don’t pay the ﬁrst part of the claim.
you, before we enter your home,
by using the contact details you For more information, call your
have given us. If there is an housing ofﬁcer on 0845 612 4700
emergency and we cannot contact or call the National Housing
you, we may have to force entry Federation on 0845 337 2463.
into your home. Any damage caused by contractors
should be covered by the
Making your home How to cut your bills
more secure You can do the following to
• Fit window locks. save energy.
• Lock your windows and doors • Fit energy-saving light bulbs.
whenever you go out. • Switch lights off when you leave
• If you want to ﬁt a stronger lock, the room.
let us know. • Keep doors shut to keep heat in.
• Don’t allow anyone into your • Close your curtains in the
home without seeing proof of ID. evening.
• If you see or hear anything • Set thermostats a little lower,
suspicious, phone the police. and turn down your water
• If you live in a ﬂat, don’t let temperature.
anyone you don’t know into
the building. You can do the following to
• Take showers instead of baths.
You may need to get our written
permission before you keep a dog, • Use your bathwater to clean your
cat or other animal. We will let you car or water your plants.
keep a pet if your home is suitable • Make sure taps are turned off.
and your pet will not cause a
nuisance to your neighbours. • Don’t use a hosepipe.
To check if you need permission
please phone your housing ofﬁcer
on 0845 612 4700.
If you go away on holiday: 3 YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES
• close all your windows IN YOUR COMMUNITY
• turn off water heaters;
We do not tolerate any form of
• in winter leave your heating harassment. If you (or anyone living
on a low setting. with or visiting you) harass anyone
living on or visiting the estate, you
could lose your home.
All our tenants have an equal right
to enjoy their homes in peace.
Harassment can take many
• abusive or threatening talk;
• threatening letters
or phone calls;
• offensive grafﬁti;
• damage to property;
• physical attacks; and
• arson attacks.
We will treat all claims of
harassment very seriously.
If you are being harassed,
phone us straight away on
0845 612 4700.
Antisocial behaviour Shared areas
You and anyone living with You are responsible for:
or visiting you must not cause
• making sure you don’t block
a nuisance or annoy your
any shared areas with your
neighbours. If this happens,
you could lose your home.
• parking your car only
Antisocial behaviour can include:
in the marked spaces;
• loud music or noise from radios
• not allowing your visitors to
or TVs, especially at night;
park badly or in the wrong
• blocking shared hallways; spaces.
• not keeping pets under control;
• thoughtless parking; and
In your home, you should know
• abusive behaviour to neighbours. where to ﬁnd the following.
If a neighbour is causing a • Your water stopcock, in case
nuisance, you should talk to them. there’s a water leak (It’s usually
If that doesn’t work, phone under the kitchen sink, in the
your housing ofﬁcer on airing cupboard or in your cellar.)
0845 612 4700. • Your gas and electricity meters.
If you have a problem with • Your gas stopcock (This is
noise, you can also contact your usually in the kitchen on a wall
local council’s environmental near to the boiler.)
• Your fuse box.
• Your hot-water tank or immersion
heater (if you have one).
• Your central-heating boiler.
Remember to keep a torch handy.
4 YOUR TENANCY Assured
AGREEMENT Most tenancies which started
Your tenancy agreement is a legal after 15 January 1989 are
contract between you, the tenant, assured tenancies.
and us, the landlord. The agreement
sets out your and our rights and Secure
responsibilities. It is an important Most tenancies which started
document so make sure you keep before 15 January 1989 are
it in a safe place. secure tenancies.
Types of tenancy If you are still not sure what type
agreement of tenancy you have, ask your
There are the following four
main types of tenancy. In this section of the handbook we
highlight some important features
Starter tenancies of each type of tenancy to help you
understand some of its terms and
Under the Housing Act of 1996,
conditions. This is to help you
we, like other housing associations,
manage your tenancy.
were given the right to issue starter
tenancies to new tenants. Starter tenancies
Assured shorthold Starter tenancies are one of a
tenancies number of initiatives the
Government brought in to help
These tenancies usually last for a housing providers tackle antisocial
minimum of 6 months and are not behaviour.
as secure as assured tenancies.
A starter tenancy is the tenancy
that you will have for the ﬁrst 12
months. If you keep to all the
conditions of the starter tenancy,
it will automatically become an
We will give starter tenancies As long as you live in the property
to all new tenants of general- as your only home, we cannot evict
needs housing. you unless we get a court order.
The court will only give us an order
While you have a starter tenancy,
to evict you in the situations listed
you will not be allowed to transfer
in your tenancy agreement.
or exchange your home with
another tenant. However, the Head We would normally only get a court
of Allocations and Lettings can order to end your tenancy in the
consider an application from you. following circumstances.
• If you stop living in the property
as your main home.
tenancies (and licences)
• If you owe us rent.
Assured shorthold tenancies are
usually given to tenants in • If you or someone living with
temporary accommodation or to or visiting you have:
workers living in a property that is • damaged or neglected
linked to their job. Assured your home;
shorthold tenancies may be
extended after the initial period. • harassed or caused a
nuisance to your neighbours;
Assured tenancies • been convicted of using your
If you have an assured tenancy, home for an illegal purpose
you have the right to stay in your such as drug dealing;
home for an unlimited period • been violent to someone
of time. living with you;
We may sometimes need to enter • been running a business
your home to inspect it, carry out from your home without
repairs, service gas appliances and our permission; or
so on. You must let our staff and
our contractors into your home to • not let us into your home
carry out this work. to carry out an annual gas
We may also get a court order Secure tenancies
to end your tenancy if:
If you have a secure tenancy which
• we want to make large-scale began before 15 January 1989, the
repairs to your home or knock terms and conditions of your
it down; tenancy are very similar to those
• you are living in a special home of an assured tenancy.
or scheme (such as a home You will stay a secure tenant even if
adapted for disabled or elderly you transfer to another property of
tenants) and your family’s needs ours, or if you exchange your home
have changed; or with another secure tenant (see the
• you have succeeded your section on moving on page 62).
tenancy from another family As a secure tenant, your tenancy
member who has died and your does not have a time limit and you
home is larger than you need. cannot be evicted from your home
without a court order.
In each of these last three
situations we will offer you
another home. If we have to ask
you to move so we can carry
out repairs, you may be entitled
to a home-loss payment
We would normally only get a We may also get a court order
court order to end your tenancy to end your tenancy if:
in the following circumstances.
• we want to make large-scale
• If you stop living in the property repairs to your home or knock
as your main home. it down;
• If you owe us rent. • you are living in a special home
or scheme (such as a home
• If you or someone living with
adapted for disabled or elderly
or visiting you have:
tenants) and your family’s needs
• damaged or neglected have changed; or
• you have taken your tenancy
• harassed or caused a from another family member who
nuisance to your neighbours; has died and your home is larger
• been convicted of using your than you need.
home for an illegal purpose In each of these last three
such as drug dealing; situations we will offer you
• been violent to someone living another home. If we have to ask
with you; you to move so we can carry out
repairs, or because your home is
• been running a business from larger than you need, you may be
your home without our entitled to a home-loss payment
permission; or as compensation.
• not let us into your home As a secure tenant you are charged
to carry out an annual gas a ‘fair rent’. This is set every two
safety test. years by The Rent Service.
Joint tenancies If you leave without giving us
notice, we will go through various
If two or more people sign the legal procedures to end your
tenancy agreement, they are called tenancy. This takes time and you
joint tenants. will still have to pay the rent for as
If you are a joint tenant, you are long as this takes. If you move out
both responsible, together and of your home, without giving notice,
separately, for keeping to the it will make it difﬁcult for you to get
tenancy agreement. For example, further accommodation from any
if one of you breaks a condition of local authority for a long time.
the agreement, we can hold the
other tenant responsible. This section of the handbook
explains your rights to:
Ending your tenancy
• take over a tenancy when the
You have a right to end your
previous tenant dies;
tenancy. You (or any joint tenant)
can end your tenancy by giving us • assign (transfer) your tenancy;
at least four weeks’ notice in • take in lodgers;
writing. If you do not give us this
notice, you will have to go on • sublet part of your home;
paying the rent and other charges • make improvements to your
until we take back your home. home; and
• buy your home through the Right
to Buy scheme or the Right to
Those who have starter or
assured shorthold tenancies do
not have the same rights as tenants
who have secure or assured
tenancies. The following table
shows the differences.
STARTER ASSURED SECURE
LEGAL RIGHT SHORTHOLD
TENANCIES TENANCIES TENANCIES
The right to succeed No,
(take over the but we will
tenancy of a tenant consider any
No Yes Yes
who has died) application
The right to
assign (transfer) No No Yes Yes
The right to take
in lodgers No No Yes Yes
The right to sublet
part of your home No No Yes Yes
The right to make
improvements No No Yes Yes
to your home
but you may if ‘right to buy’
The ‘right to buy’
your home No No have the protected,
‘right to from previous
to acquire’ No No Yes Yes
Here are some of your legal We may also let you take over
rights explained: the tenancy if you are another
member of the tenant’s family
The right to succeed and you lived with the tenant for
When a tenant dies, their tenancy the year before their death.
can pass on to someone else living However, we will only give you
in their home, unless the tenant the tenancy if:
who has died took over the tenancy • the tenant who died did not take
in that way. over the tenancy in this way;
The new tenant is known as a • this is your only home; and
• you have lived there for at least
You have the legal right to take over one year.
the tenancy if you were living with
If the home you are living in is now
the tenant when they died and you
too large for your family, we may
were their husband, wife or civil
ask you to move somewhere
partner, or were living with them as
if you were their husband, wife or
civil partner. You can also take over the tenancy
in just your name if you are a joint
tenant and the other person has
moved out. If this happens, you
should both contact us. Until you
both end the joint tenancy you
are both responsible for keeping
to all the conditions of the tenancy
agreement, including paying
Assigning your tenancy If you are receiving state beneﬁts,
you will also need to let the beneﬁt
You have the right to assign agencies know.
(transfer) your tenancy to
someone else. To do this you will Subletting your home
need a legal document called
a ‘deed of assignment’. You may sublet part of your home,
You can only do this if: but only with our permission.
The person you sublet to is known
• a court order made during family as a sub tenant.
proceedings says you can or
must assign the tenancy; A sub tenant is someone who lives
in his or her own part of your home.
• you are exchanging your home They may share your home but you
with another tenant (mutual can’t go into their rooms.
Before you sublet part of your
Taking in lodgers home, you must write to ask
You have the right to take in a
lodger as long as they do not make
your home overcrowded. A lodger We will usually give our
is someone who lives with you and permission unless:
shares your home but who can’t • your home will be overcrowded;
stop you from going into any of the
rooms they use. • you do not still live there.
If you want to take in a lodger, you You must not sublet all of your
should write to us ﬁrst and tell us home and your subtenant must
the lodger’s name, age and sex. move out before you do.
Your lodger must move out before
you do, and they do not have any
rights to your tenancy.
Making improvements The improvements you make
to your home may increase the value of your
home, but we will not charge you
You have the right to improve more rent. We may even give
your home, but you must get our you compensation for the
permission in writing ﬁrst. improvement work when you
Improvements include: move out. This will depend on:
• putting up a TV aerial or • whether the improvement
satellite dish; qualiﬁes for compensation;
• decorating the outside of your • how much the improvement
home; and cost you;
• adding to or replacing any of the • how long the improvement
ﬁxtures inside your home (such is likely to last; and
as kitchen units, the central
heating or a bathroom suite). • whether you got our
permission before you made
We will not refuse permission the improvement.
without a good reason. However,
we will expect you to get the work The ‘right to buy’ your
carried out to a reasonable home
standard. You must also get any
other approval you need for the If you have the right to buy your
work, such as planning permission. home under the Right to Buy
scheme, you can buy your home
Work which involves gas must be at a lower price than normal,
carried out by a contractor on the depending on how long you have
Gas Safe Register. For electrical been a tenant. You have the right
work, the contractor must be to buy your home if you have
NICEIC-approved. transferred to us from a local
authority with your right to
For more details, phone the Shared
Ownership/Right to Buy Ofﬁcer on
0845 612 4700.
The ‘right to acquire’ The service we provide for
your home your estate will depend on
where you live.
If you moved into one of our new
homes that was built with public Our estate-services staff wear
money after April 1997, you may be uniforms and carry ID cards.
able to buy it through the Right to They will have been trained in skills
Acquire scheme. relevant to their work (for example,
For more details, phone the Shared customer care and dealing with
Ownership/Right to Buy Ofﬁcer on domestic violence and antisocial
0845 612 4700. behaviour).
We work with other agencies like
the police and the ﬁre service to
ESTATE SERVICES create a safe environment for you
We think that a clean and tidy and your family. Every year, we
estate is just as important as carry out a resident satisfaction
the home you live in. We provide survey to ﬁnd out how we can
estate services to some of the improve the services we provide.
estates we manage. On the
estates we manage, our services
• cleaning the inside and outside
of all shared areas;
• reporting, photographing and
• making sure lights work
properly in shared areas
(such as hallways, corridors
• keeping lawns tidy, and
removing weeds; and
• maintaining hedges and bushes.
Standards for our • Remove racist or sexist
estate service grafﬁti within 24 hours of
you contacting us.
In the areas where we provide a
caretaking service our Estates • Remove other grafﬁti within
Services Team will do the following. ﬁve working days of you
• Clean all blocks each week.
• Remove abandoned vehicles
• Agree the caretaker’s duties within seven to 21 days of you
on a particular estate with the contacting us.
residents of that estate.
• Make all vandalised property
• Invite you to monitor the safe within 24 hours of you
standards of cleanliness contacting us, and organise a
by joining us on our regular repair as soon as possible.
inspections. (We do these
every two months.) • Remove ﬂy-tipped rubbish within
24 hours of you contacting us.
• Keep noticeboards up to
date with schedules and • Remove safety risks (such as
speciﬁcations (when we plan used needles) within 12 hours
to clean and with what of you contacting us.
equipment), staff photographs
and contact details.
Agreed service standards CONTACT US
We have agreed each of our If you would like to talk to us,
service standards with a group of phone us 0845 612 4700.
residents. The service standards If you have a repair that you
tell you what level of service you need to report, please phone
can expect from us. 0800 783 2768.
We will regularly measure our You can also contact us through
performance against these service our website at www.swan.org.uk
standards and let you know how or visit us at either of the
we are doing. If you feel that we following ofﬁces.
are not meeting these standards,
phone us on 0845 612 4700 or Head ofﬁce:
phone the caretaking direct line
on 020 7510 9952. Swan Housing Association
Swan Housing Association
Cygnet House South
10 Chrisp Street
You must pay your rent on
time as this money pays
for the services we provide.
This section looks at how you
can pay your rent, what to
do if you’re having money
problems, and what would
happen if you failed to pay
R e ng
1 HOW TO PAY YOUR RENT Online
You can pay your rent in a number You can pay online at
of different ways. You decide which www.allpayments.net
is best for you.
By direct debit To pay over the phone by
A direct debit is a payment we take credit or debit card, call us
direct from your bank or building on 0845 612 4700.
society account. You can choose
to pay every week or every month, By text message
and on any working day of the week. To pay by text message, you will
ﬁrst need to register with Allpay by
By using PayPoint phoning 01432 852 499. You will
We have given you an Allpay swipe be given more information after
card that holds your tenancy you have done this.
reference number. You can use the
card to pay your rent at any shop At a local ofﬁce
or outlet displaying the PayPoint You can pay your rent by cheque,
symbol or logo. You can only pay credit card or debit card at any of
with cash using this method. Take our ofﬁces. You will need your rent
your rent payment card with you and payment card. We will give you a
ask for a receipt for your payment. receipt for your payment.
By cash or cheque By post
You can pay by cash or cheque at You can send a cheque by post.
any post ofﬁce using your rent When you send your cheque, give
payment card. If you want to pay us your name, address and tenant
by cheque, staff at the post ofﬁce reference number. Post your cheque
will tell you who you should make to one of the following addresses.
the cheque out to.
Swan Housing Association We know you might sometimes
Pilgrim House have problems paying your rent.
High Street If you do, let us know as soon as
Billericay possible so we can try to help you.
3 SERVICE CHARGES
Swan Housing Association
Cygnet House South You may have to pay a service
10 Chrisp Street charge on top of your rent.
London A service charge is a payment
E14 6LL you make to cover the areas
and services you share with your
If you’ve got a question about
neighbours. For example, if you live
how to pay your rent, phone
in a block of ﬂats and share a hall
your housing ofﬁcer on
and stairway with other people,
0845 612 4700.
the cost of cleaning this area is
For more information about ways to covered by your service charge.
pay, managing your rent payments,
A service charge may cover the
and our procedures for collecting
cost of things such as:
overdue rent, visit our website at
www.swan.org.uk and then click • maintaining lighting, lifts,
on, Make A Payment. TV aerials, door-entry systems
and ﬁre equipment;
2 YOUR RENT ACCOUNT
• rubbish chutes and
We will keep you informed of
wheeled bins; and
how much rent you have paid us,
and whether you owe us any • caretaking.
money, by: Full details of our service
• sending you a rent statement charges are given on our
each month; and website at www.swan.org.uk
• giving you four weeks’ notice in
writing if we decide to change
4 SUPPORT AND ADVICE 5 HOUSING BENEFIT
If you think you’re entitled to If you are on a low income,
Housing Beneﬁt to help you pay you may be entitled to Housing
your rent, or you want advice on Beneﬁt that may pay all or part
managing your money, we can: of your rent.
• talk to you in private, at You will not get this automatically,
a housing ofﬁce, housing even if you are on other beneﬁts.
surgery or at your home; You must apply for Housing
• give you support so you can get
the beneﬁts you’re entitled to; You should make your claim as
soon as possible. If your situation
• put you in touch with other
changes after you claim, you must
organisations that will help
tell your local authority’s Housing
you get beneﬁts or give you
independent advice on
managing your money and Do not forget that you must pay
dealing with debts; any part of your rent that is not
covered by Housing Beneﬁt.
• agree a reasonable payment
arrangement for you to clear Your housing ofﬁcer and our
any rent you owe to us; and welfare beneﬁts ofﬁcers can
give you advice on and help with
• take no further action while
applying for Housing Beneﬁt and
you keep to this payment
other beneﬁts. See the section on
the Welfare Beneﬁts Team below.
Remember, we all have money
problems from time to time. If you
are having difﬁculty paying your
rent, please talk to us as soon as
you can. Don’t ignore our letters,
phone calls or visits. We want to
help you and can give you advice.
6 IF YOU DON’T PAY 7 WELFARE
YOUR RENT BENEFITS TEAM
If you do not pay your rent, we will We set up this team to give you
talk to you about Housing Beneﬁt money advice and help you claim
and how to manage your money. beneﬁts you may be entitled to.
If you continue to fall behind with If you are worried about debt,
your rent, or if you ignore our they can suggest ways for you
letters, phone calls and visits, to deal with it.
we may have to take court action
The Welfare Beneﬁts Team can:
We don’t want to evict anyone, but
• help you to claim state beneﬁts;
if you don’t pay your rent, and don’t
try to sort out the problem with us,
we will have no option but seek to • agree a payment arrangement
evict you from your home. with you to help you bring your
rent payments up to date.
If you have problems paying your You can speak to a member of the
rent, you can talk to: team by phoning 0845 612 4700.
• us (phone our housing ofﬁcers
or welfare beneﬁts ofﬁcers
on 0845 612 4700);
• your local citizens advice
• your local council’s housing
We want to help people to live
independently. This section
describes the housing and
support services we provide.
pp sin live
Su ou yountly
H ng de i
SUPPORTED HOUSING Floating Support
We have a Supported Housing Our ﬂoating support is free of
Team which offers specialist charge to people living in the
housing and support services community and not just to our
within Essex. own residents.
We aim to help people get
We specialise in the following the skills they need to live
support services. independently. This will help
• Accommodation for people you to live in your own home
with learning disabilities. and encourage you to become
involved in the local community.
• Accommodation for people
with mental-health conditions.
The support we provide includes
• Accommodation for young single the following.
people (16-to 24-year-olds).
• Helping you to ﬁnd somewhere
• Accommodation for single to live.
parents with children.
• Supporting you when you are
• Sheltered accommodation. ready to leave the family home.
• Sheltered accommodation • Helping you to understand
for people who are very frail. your obligations under your
• Move on accommodation tenancy agreement, licence
(this service helps people or a mortgage so that you
move from intensive support keep your home and don’t
to living independently). become homeless.
• Housing support in the • Setting up gas, electricity and
community (known as water supplies.
ﬂoating support). • Managing money and claiming
• Floating support to help the beneﬁts you are entitled to.
people with learning disabilities
to live independently.
If you receive any of our support • Support you with drug, alcohol
services, you can expect us to or other addiction problems.
do the following.
• Deal with nuisance and
• Work with you to decide a antisocial behaviour that
support plan. (A support plan is affecting you or is caused
sets out what you would like us by you.
to support you with.)
• Give you a support worker who
will meet you regularly, usually
every week. If you live in one of our London
properties and you need supported
• Update your support plan at
accommodation or ﬂoating support,
least every six months, or sooner
contact your local Supporting
if your needs change or you ask
People team. They will be able to
give you a list of services within
• Make sure all our support staff your area and how to get access
are fully trained and security to them.
checked before working alone
• Help you to ﬁnd and get access
to the services of other
organisations, including health,
education, training and
• Ask you to help us make any
decisions about the services we
provide and to tell us what you
think about the service and how
we can make it even better.
Service providers in your area CONTACT
may be able to provide housing-
To contact your local Supporting
related support and help relating
People team please phone the
to other issues, such as:
relevant number below:
• drug or alcohol problems;
London Borough of Havering:
• leaving prison; 01708 432126
• HIV or Aids; London Borough of Tower Hamlets:
• learning disabilities; 020 7364 7016
• mental-health problems; London Borough of Barking &
Dagenham: 020 8227 2209
• physical disabilities;
London Borough of Redbridge:
• being a refugees or traveller; and 020 8708 5141
• being homeless. London Borough of Newham:
020 8430 2000 extension 4438
They are also able to help:
• older people who need support; If you would like to know more
about our supported housing
• young people leaving care; services please contact us:
• young parents; and Email – general ﬂoating support:
• women who have experienced firstname.lastname@example.org
domestic violence. Email – ﬂoating support for
people with learning disabilities:
Email – supported housing:
Phone: 0845 612 2551
Text message: 07710 728 011
We want to keep your home
in a good condition so you
can enjoy living there. This
section explains how to report
a repair, who is responsible for
different types of repairs, and
how quickly the work will be
a irs r hoone
R ep n
y ou diti
e pi od c
You are responsible for some If we are responsible for the repair
repairs to your home, including we will put it into one of the
decorating inside your home, following four categories.
gardening, and minor repairs such
Immediate – these repairs are to
as clearing blocked sinks and
make your home safe. They will be
toilets, and replacing your toilet
carried out within four hours.
seat and shower curtain.
Emergency – these are repairs
Your tenancy agreement gives you
such as when you have lost the use
more information about who is
of a hot-water system. They will be
responsible for different repairs.
carried out within 24 hours.
In all cases, the earlier you report
Urgent – these repairs include
a repair, the better.
when taps, valves or stopcocks
are not working properly. They
will be completed within ﬁve
1 HOW TO REPORT
Routine – these repairs include
You can report a repair to us by:
things like ﬁxing kitchen units,
• visiting your local ofﬁce bath panels and fencing panels.
(see page 5 for addresses); They will be carried out within
20 working days.
• phoning us on 0800 783 2768;
or If you have an emergency outside
ofﬁce hours, phone 0800 783 2768.
• visiting our website at
www.swan.org.uk Our out-of-hours team will try
and correct any emergency and
will make sure that your home is
left safe. However, they might not
be able to complete the full repair
until the next day.
It is important to remember
that this service is for
2 EMERGENCY REPAIRS 4 ROUTINE REPAIRS
These repairs include work Routine repairs include:
carried out after an immediate
• repairing electrical sockets;
repair needed as a result of
things such as: • mending minor leaks in
• repairing ﬂoors, doors and
• having no electricity;
• dangerous wiring and lack
We aim to deal with all routine
repairs within 20 working days.
• making your home secure
(for example, after a break-in);
5 WHO DOES THE REPAIR?
• a broken heating system
(only during the winter). Your repair will be carried out by
our partnering contractor, Axis.
We aim to deal with all emergency
The contractor will:
repairs within 24 hours.
• carry and show you their photo
3 URGENT REPAIRS • be happy to wait while you
Urgent repairs include: phone and check who they
are (phone on 0800 783 2768
• replacing missing roof tiles;
if you’re worried);
• repairing faulty guttering;
• respect you and your
• stopping minor leaks and water belongings;
• be polite; and
• broken heating systems
• clean up at the end of the day.
(March to November only).
We aim to deal with all urgent
repairs within ﬁve working days.
They will not: • carry out any other work to
make sure the boiler remains
• use or move your belongings
safe to use.
without asking you ﬁrst;
• smoke in your home;
• use a radio or personal stereo;
• let us in on the day we said
• use your toilet or sink without we’d carry out the test;
asking you ﬁrst;
• make other arrangements
• use your phone; with us if the appointment
• leave materials in your home or is a problem for you;
areas you share with your • keep the area around your boiler
neighbours; free from clutter so the test can
• eat or drink in your home; or be done quickly; and
• enter your home when the only • keep a copy of the gas-safety
people there are under 16. certiﬁcate in your home.
If you are not satisﬁed with the
way a contractor behaves in your 7 ADAPTATIONS
home, please contact us on
If someone in your home is elderly,
0800 783 2768.
disabled or has a long-term
illness, we may be able to help
6 GAS you by improving or adapting
your home. We carry out minor
By law we must carry out a adaptations, including:
gas-safety test every 12 months.
• installing grab rails
Our responsibilities are to: in the bathroom;
• make an appointment with • installing extra stair rails;
you for the test;
• installing lever taps;
• be ﬂexible when agreeing
the appointment time; • providing level access
• give you a gas-safety certiﬁcate
after the test; and • putting half steps up to
• installing ﬂashing or vibrating • service mechanical equipment
smoke alarms for customers (for example, stairlifts) that we
who are blind, partially sighted, have installed;
deaf or hard of hearing.
• work with your
We will be able to help you with
• ﬁt low-cost (under £1000) and
major adaptations such as;
simple adaptations quickly under
• ﬁtting a shower over a bath; our fast-track process; and
• putting in a ramp; • check the completed work and
ask you if you are happy with
• installing a stairlift;
• building a ‘hardstanding’
(a concrete area for parking
a car); and 8 PLANNED WORK AND
• providing a ground-ﬂoor LARGE-SCALE REPAIRS
bedroom or bathroom facilities. We aim to decorate the outside of
your home every seven years.
To make sure we treat you fairly We will also regularly service and
and in line with your individual replace parts of your home before
needs, we will: they wear out. This is called
• visit your home within 15 days
of an occupational therapist
referring you to us for major
work to your home;
• tell you how long the work is
likely to take and keep you up
to date with our progress;
Sometimes, we have to carry 10 SATISFACTION
out large-scale repairs to homes
When you have a repair done,
or estates. When this happens,
we will ask you whether you were
we will talk to you at least eight
happy with the work. For routine
weeks before the work starts.
repairs, we may phone you or visit
At least three weeks before it
you to assess the quality of the
begins, we will tell you:
work. For planned work, we will
• the type of work we will visit to check the work and will also
be doing; leave a questionnaire for you to
• the contractor who will be send back to us. By giving us your
doing the work; views, we can improve the repairs
service where necessary.
• how long the work will take;
Every year we do a gas-safety
• who you can talk to if you check to make sure your
have any questions. appliances are safe. You must let
the contractor in to carry out this
If our partnering contractor, What to do if you
Axis, breaks an appointment smell gas
with you, let them know as soon • Turn off the gas supply
as possible. You might be able at the meter.
to get compensation.
• Open doors and windows.
Please let them know if you are
cannot keep an appointment. • Put out any ﬂames.
Appointments can be made for • Do not smoke, strike matches,
any time between 8am and 8pm light a lighter or turn electrical
on weekdays, and between 8am switches on or off.
and 2pm on Saturdays. • Report the leak by calling
You can phone Axis on 0800 111 999.
0800 783 2768.
What to do if your • Turn off the gas-ﬁred
electricity doesn’t work central heating.
• Check your trip switches on the • If water is pouring through the
main fuse board. ceiling, don’t turn the ceiling
lights on in that room.
• If all the trip switches are on,
check with your neighbours. • Phone us on 0800 783 2768
If they don’t have any to report the problem.
electricity either, contact
your electricity company. What to do if your roof
• If all the trip switches are on, but
your neighbours have electricity, • Move things that could be
phone us on 0800 783 2768. damaged, such as furniture
and carpet, out of the way.
• If a trip switch is off, turn off the Place a bucket under the leak.
last appliance you used before
the electricity went off. • Don’t touch anything electrical
in that room.
• Reset the trip switch on the main
fuse board. If your electricity • Phone us on 0800 783 2768
comes back on, it’s probably to report the problem.
a faulty appliance.
What to do if you’re going
• If your electricity still won’t away in winter or for
come on, phone us on longer than a month
0800 783 2768.
• Leave the heating on very low
What to do if you have a if it is winter. Otherwise, turn the
serious water leak gas off.
• Turn off the water at the • Make sure we have details
stopcock. (It’s usually under of who we can contact in
the kitchen sink, in the airing an emergency.
cupboard or in your cellar.)
• Open all your taps to drain
the water system.
If you want or need to move
home, there are several options
available to you. This section
explains the different ways
you can move, what beneﬁts
you can expect to receive by
moving into a smaller property,
how to exchange your home
with someone else, and what
to do when you move out.
i ng sier
ov g it emove
M akin u to
M r yo
1 TRANSFERS People wanting to move from a
three-or four-bedroom home into
If you want to move home, you
a one-bedroom home will also be
should put your name on your local
placed in this band.
authority’s waiting list and our
transfer list. You can put your Band two
name on our transfer list by ﬁlling in
a transfer form or visiting our This is for people with a high level of
website at www.swan.org.uk housing need, such as households
where a child over 11 is sharing a
We will assess your application bedroom with a brother or sister
and place it into one of four who is a different sex to them.
This is for people with a moderate
This is for people who need level of housing need (that is,
housing the most and need to people who need housing, but are
move urgently, usually because of not in urgent need for any reason).
a medical reason or because they Most people are in this band.
have been given a management
priority. A management priority is Band four
where the case has been given
priority by a senior manager. This is for people with a low level of
housing need, or no need to move.
You can put your name on the
transfer list, regardless of the type
of tenancy you have, but we will
only consider you for a transfer if
you have an assured tenancy or a
In some areas there is a high To be eligible for our downsizing
demand for properties. In those scheme, you must:
areas you may have to wait a very
• have at least one
long time before you would be
considered for a transfer. The more
areas and property types you are • want to move into a
willing to accept, the more likely smaller property; and
you are to be offered a move. • have an assured tenancy
If you owe us rent or have been or a secure tenancy.
found guilty of antisocial behaviour,
we will not normally offer you
a transfer. 3 EXCHANGING
If you want to move, the quickest
way is often through a mutual
2 DOWNSIZING exchange. This is where you
Under our downsizing scheme, exchange your home with that of
we will give you a cash payment another housing association tenant
of up to £4,500 if you move to a or council tenant, as long as you
smaller property (the maximum both have an assured tenancy
payment is for people moving or a secure tenancy.
from a four-bedroom house to a You can ﬁnd someone to
one-bedroom home). You will also exchange your home with
be given higher priority on the through websites such as
transfer list, depending on how www.homeswapper.co.uk
many bedrooms you are
downsizing from. Once you have found someone to
exchange your home with, you
must ask us for permission to
exchange. We will make a decision
on your application within 42 days.
If the person you are exchanging
homes with is not a tenant of ours,
we will have to contact their
landlord for a reference.
We will only refuse to give you 4 MOVING OUT
If you want to move out and end
• we have started legal action your tenancy, you must give us at
against you because you have least four weeks’ notice in writing.
not paid your rent or you have After receiving notice, we will
broken a condition of your inspect your home and identify
tenancy agreement; any work you have to do before
• one of the properties is you leave.
too big or too small for the You must leave the property
other household; or and garden in a clean and tidy
• one of the properties has been condition. We will charge you for
adapted and the household us doing any repairs, cleaning or
moving into that property does clearing that you did not do before
not need that adaptation. you moved out.
If we give you written permission At the end of the four weeks’
to exchange homes, you will have notice, you must return your keys
to sign a legal document called a to us no later than midday on the
‘deed of assignment’. This will transfer Monday you want your tenancy to
your rights and responsibilities end. If you don’t, you may have to
to the new tenant. When you pay another week’s rent. You must
exchange, you may lose some make sure that nobody is left living
rights, such as the Right to Buy. in the property.
You will also have to take When you move out, we will pay
responsibility for any damage or you up to £150 if you meet a
alterations the person you are number of conditions. These
exchanging with has made to the conditions include:
property you are moving into.
• giving us details of the address
You may also be charged for any
you are moving to and your gas
damage you have caused to the
and electricity suppliers there;
property you are leaving.
• allowing the new tenant to view
the property while you are still
• doing all repairs that you When you move out, you should
are responsible for; also inform:
• leaving the property • your bank, building society and
well decorated; credit-card companies;
• removing all your belongings • your phone company
and rubbish from the property, (landline and mobile);
including the loft, sheds,
• any insurance, pension and
outhouses, gardens and
• the DVLA;
• leaving the property in a
clean and tidy condition; • your dentist and doctor;
• leaving the garden neat, • TV licensing;
tidy and not overgrown; • the Department for Work and
• having your rent up to date Pensions;
and not owing us any amount; • HM Revenue & Customs;
• leaving curtains or blinds • your local authority’s council tax
in the windows. department and Housing Beneﬁt
There are a number of things you department;
must do before you move out, • any catalogue or mail order
including telling your gas, companies you use; and
electricity, phone and water
suppliers that you are moving out, • your children’s schools.
and taking meter readings on the You should also contact the post
day you move. ofﬁce and have your mail
redirected to your new address.