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Tenant handbook



      t ok
   an bo
 en nd
T a
HOW TO CONTACT US                   London Regional Office
AND OTHERS                          Swan Housing Group
                                    Cygnet House
1 How to contact us                 10 Chrisp Street
Group Head Office
                                    E14 6LL
Pilgrim House
High Street                         Phone: 0845 612 4700
Billericay                          Fax: 020 7510 9969
CM12 9XY
                                    Area offices
Phone: 0845 612 4700                Exmouth Estate Office
Fax: 01277 844 734                  39 Cornwood Drive
Email:             London
                                    E1 0PW
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:
                                    Or you can use our residents’
                                    website at

4 Contents

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                                          To report a repair,
                            ov            phone 0800 783 2768.
                                in        This call is free of charge.
5 elcome
Welcome to Swan’s tenant
handbook. This is your guide
to our services. It includes
information that explains your
tenancy agreement.
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
I hope you enjoy living in
your home.

John Synnuck
Chief Executive

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.


  st om
 u re you
C a for
 c ring
1 OUR CUSTOMER-CARE                      • lettings and empty homes;
  COMMITMENTS TO YOU                     • managing tenancies;
• We will always be polite               • repairs; and
  and friendly.
                                         • 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
  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
                                         speech difficulties.
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
                                        need them.
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   
  standards;                           • Website – You can fill in our online
• treated you unfairly; or               form at

• failed to follow our own policies
  and procedures.                      Once you have made a complaint
                                       we will:
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
working days.
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;
following address.
                                       • apologise, and explain
The Independent Housing
                                         what happened;
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
                                        following circumstances.
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                 control (for example, if a
                                          gardening service is delayed
• Website – You can fill in our online     because of bad weather).
  form at
                                        • 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
unsatisfactory standard.
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
                                      you disagree.

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.


       in ts
    lv n lved
  voide invo
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
                                       leaseholders’ forum
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
two months.
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
                                    consultative committees
• 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.
If you want to get involved,
we can support you by:
• giving you access to our
  dedicated resident
  involvement staff;
• providing training to help you
  develop skills and expertise;
• paying childcare and travel
  costs; and
• providing funds to cover the
  work you need to do as a
  resident representative.
If you want to get involved in any
way, please contact our Residents
Involvement and Community
Development Team.
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
 te owin
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.

                                         Domestic violence
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
  down them.
• 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
                                         contractor’s insurance.
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
                                       save water.
                                       • 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
  and doors;
• 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
                                 forms, including:
                                 • 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;
                                     Maintenance checklist
• 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.)
health department.
                                     • 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
                                        housing officer.
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
                                        assured tenancy.
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
Assured shorthold
                                         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
                                           safety test.
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
as compensation.
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
    your home;
                                       • 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
                                        Acquire scheme.
                                      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
your tenancy

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

                                                       No,            Yes,
                                                  but you may   if ‘right to buy’
The ‘right to buy’
your home                  No            No        have the        protected,
                                                    ‘right to   from previous
                                                    acquire’         landlord

The ‘right
to acquire’                No            No          Yes             Yes
your home
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
                                        the rent.
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
                                       our permission.
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
                                      buy protected.
                                      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
might include:
• cleaning the inside and outside
  of all shared areas;
• reporting, photographing and
  removing graffiti;
• making sure lights work
  properly in shared areas
  (such as hallways, corridors
  and stairways);
• 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
                                         contacting us.
• 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
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
                                     Pilgrim House
                                     High Street
                                     CM12 9XY

                                     London office:
                                     Swan Housing Association
                                     Cygnet House South
                                     10 Chrisp Street
                                     E14 6LL

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
your rent.

       nt your

 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
is best for you.
                                      By phone
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.
CM12 9XY
                                     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 and then click       • maintaining lighting, lifts,
on, Make A Payment.                    TV aerials, door-entry systems
                                       and fire equipment;
                                     • electricity;
                                     • 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
• giving you four weeks’ notice in
  writing if we decide to change
  your rent.
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
                                     Benefit separately.
• 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
                                     Benefit department.
  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
against you.
                                        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
  bureau; or
• your local council’s housing
  advice centre.

We want to help people to live
independently. This section
describes the housing and
support services we provide.

      rt ed
     o g
  pp sin live
Su ou yountly
 H ng de i
       lp pen
     He de
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.)
                                      The Supporting
• Give you a support worker who
                                      People programme
  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
  us 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
  with you.
• Help you to find and get access
  to the services of other
  organisations, including health,
  education, training and
  employment opportunities.
• 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 
  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
carried out.

          a irs r hoone

 R   ep    n
              y ou diti
             g on
       e pi od c
     Ke go
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
                                       working days.
                                       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                      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
                                       emergencies only.
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
                                       roofs; and
• flooding;
                                     • repairing floors, doors and
• having no electricity;
• dangerous wiring and lack
                                     We aim to deal with all routine
  of lighting;
                                     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
                                       ID card;
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;
  overflows; and
                                     • 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;
                                     You must:
• 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
                                       at entrances;
• give you a gas-safety certificate
  after the test; and                • putting half steps up to
                                       doors; and
• 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
                                        occupational therapist;
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;
                                        the adaptations.
• 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
                                      planned work.
• 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
                                     important work.
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
                                          is leaking
• 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               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.
priority bands.
                                         Band three
Band one
                                         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
                                         secure tenancy.
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
                                          spare bedroom;
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
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
permission if:
                                           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
                                             living there;
• 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
                                       healthcare companies;
  shared areas;
                                     • 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.

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