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Tenants Handbook - TENANTS

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Tenants Handbook - TENANTS Powered By Docstoc
					TENANTS              K S H S
                     THE KING STREET HOUSING
                          SOCIETY LIMITED




KING STREET HOUSING SOCIETY
InTroducTIon
To KIng STreeT
HouSIng SocIeTy

We aim to provide you with a first class service. This handbook
aims to provide you with all the information you need to get the
best out of your home.

We aim to treat people fairly and earn the loyalty and respect
of our customers.

We are always trying to improve the way we run our business.


cuSToMer
cAre
STAndArdS

This is what you can expect when you deal with King Street
Housing Society
Our staff will always:

•     Be polite, helpful and well informed
•     respond quickly to your enquiry or request
•     Treat you with respect - and ask that you treat us with
      respect also
•     respect your confidentiality

Phoning the office

•     We will answer your call promptly
•     Staff will give their name and ask how they can help you
•     If we need to take a message we will phone you back as
      soon as we can If you don’t have a phone we will visit or
      write within 5 working days



TENANTS HANDBOOK                                                   1
Visiting the office

•     Staff will wear name badges, so you will know who you are
      talking to
•     generally, you will be seen by our reception staff as soon
      as you enter the office – if we are busy you will not have to
      wait longer than 5 minutes
•     Please let us know if your enquiry or request is confidential
      - we will take you to a private room
•     If you need to see a specific member of staff we will advise
      you to make an appointment in advance

Letters and e-mails

•     We will reply fully to all letters and e-mails within 5 working
      days. If this is not possible, we will write and tell you how
      long it is likely to take.

At your home

•     We will respect your privacy
•     our staff and our contractors will always produce a valid
      form of identification
•     If you ask us to visit you at home, this will be arranged
      within two weeks at a mutually agreed time

Complaints

•     We want to know if we have got things wrong – please do
      not suffer in silence
•     complaints help us to see where we need to improve
•     We therefore welcome complaints from our customers
•     If you are not happy with the service you have received
      – please complain!




TENANTS HANDBOOK                                                    2
1. MOVING INTO YOUR NEW HOME


once you have accepted the property and the paperwork has
been signed you will get two sets of keys. We will hold another
set of keys in case of an emergency. With your permission we will
use these keys to gain access to your home to carry out repairs.

your new home has been inspected and will be in a reasonable
state of repair. Have a good look around the property and check
that nothing is wrong. check the heating controls, the location of
things like stopcocks and fuse boxes and make sure you know
how to make the windows and doors fully secure. If in doubt, ask
us for advice. Let us know immediately if you are unhappy with
anything.



2. YOUR RIGHTS
   AND RESPONSIBILITIES

As a tenant of King Street Housing Society you have a number
of rights. These include the right to live peacefully in your home,
to have certain repairs carried out and so on. You also have
responsibilities – to pay your rent, to look after your property and
to be a good neighbour. These rights and responsibilities are set
out in this section and in your tenancy agreement.

We abide by the government’s Tenants’ charter – this sets out
clear rights and responsibilities for tenants. We have a complaint
policy that allows any complaint to be dealt with promptly and
fairly. We are registered with an ombudsman service that will
allow serious complaints to be looked at independently.

If you want more information about your rights, on how to appeal
against decisions or if you wish to complain about the Society,
you should first contact our office or any of our staff.

TENANTS HANDBOOK                                                     3
When you sign your tenancy you agree to its conditions. It is a
very important document and you should make sure that you
understand it before you sign it.

Joint tenancies

If you have a joint tenancy it means that you and your joint
tenants are individually and jointly responsible. For example,
if your partner leaves, you will remain responsible for the
tenancy, including the payment of rent.

If one joint tenant dies the tenancy is automatically transferred
to the other tenant(s). If a relationship breaks down neither joint
tenant may evict the other. discuss the situation with us for
further advice.

Secure or Assured tenancy?

If your tenancy began after January 1989 you will probably be
an assured tenant. If your tenancy began before that date you
will probably have a secure tenancy. In either case, we cannot
evict you without good reason and without an order from the
courts. If you are a secure tenant you will have even greater
legal protection and you may have a preserved right to buy
your property.

If you are not sure whether your tenancy is an assured or a
secure tenancy please contact the office for advice.

Your right to live in your home

You must occupy the property as your main or principal
home, otherwise you will lose your security of tenancy and you
may be evicted.

We cannot evict you without a court order. To do this we will
need to prove that there has been a breach of the tenancy
agreement or there is an unavoidable reason for your home to
be vacated. The court will listen to both sides before making a
judgement.


TENANTS HANDBOOK                                                      4
Gaining Access to your Home

We will not interfere with your right to occupy your home
peacefully, except when:

•      we have to gain access to inspect the condition of the
       property
•      urgent repairs are required to your home or adjoining
       property.

We will give you reasonable notice in these instances.

In an emergency we will make reasonable efforts to contact
you, but sometimes it may be necessary to use our master key
to gain access, or as a last resort to force entry, for example if
your property is on fire or being flooded.

We are required by law to service your heating system every
year. We will give you reasonable notice of this.

Who can live with you?

you have the right to decide who lives with you (including
lodgers) as long as you do not allow your home to become
overcrowded. If you are not sure and want more advice, please
contact the office.

A lodger is someone who lives with you and shares your
facilities and is like a member of your family. Although you do
not need our permission to have a lodger you should inform
us if you do decide to allow someone to lodge with you.

Sub letting

you may not sub let any part of your property. Sub letting
means parting with all or part of your property to another
person, who does not live as part of your family and has sole
possession of all or part of your home.




TENANTS HANDBOOK                                                     5
Business use

you will always need to obtain our permission if you want to
run a business from your home.

Some businesses may need planning permission so you will
need to check with the local council first. We will refuse
permission if your proposal will cause a nuisance, or break
the law. For example if the business could cause noise, fumes,
dust or lots of visitors we will refuse permission.

Illegal use

you must not use your home, garden or any associated
buildings for an illegal purpose.

you are responsible for your own behaviour and that of your
friends, family and visitors when they call to see you in your
home or the neighbourhood.

If any breach of your tenancy occurs as a result of the
behaviour of you, your family, friends and/or visitors, action
may be taken against you as the tenant.

Nuisance

We will investigate allegations of nuisance, but will not become
involved in minor squabbles between neighbours, as this can
often make the problem worse.

If your neighbours are too noisy, you should politely ask them
to reduce the noise level. They may not be aware that their
noise is causing annoyance to you. you should try to sort out
the problem between yourselves before you involve us.

you can contact your council’s environmental Health
department to seek advice on noise or other nuisance. In
some circumstances it may be appropriate to call the police,
for example: a noisy party in the late evening.



TENANTS HANDBOOK                                                   6
If you suffer from a persistent nuisance you should contact us.
We will ask you to keep a record of all dates and times you are
disturbed. We will take further action if we are satisfied that a
breach of tenancy exists and that we have sufficient evidence
to support this. We may need to ask you to give evidence in
court.

you can also take your own legal action against neighbours
causing a nuisance. you should seek advice from a solicitor,
the citizens Advice Bureau or an advice centre. We can
provide you with details of your nearest centre.

Harassment and domestic violence

The Society will not tolerate any forms of harassment or
violence. This includes violence or threats of violence to
friends, relatives, neighbours, staff, contractors or agents while
they are carrying out their work. We may seek to evict you if
you commit an act of harassment or violence.

If you or your family is a victim of harassment or abuse you
should contact us immediately. We take allegations of racial
harassment very seriously and will take prompt action to
investigate and respond. We will take legal action against
anyone who perpetrates racial harassment. The Society has
an equalities policy which is available from the office.

If the harassment or abuse involves violence or threats of
violence, or damage to property, or any other criminal act,
you should contact the police.

We will work closely with other agencies, including the police,
to help victims and take action when appropriate.




TENANTS HANDBOOK                                                     7
When will we take legal action against you?
Where you have broken one or more of the terms of your
tenancy agreement we may ask the courts to end your
tenancy. We will give you a minimum of two weeks’ notice of
our intention to do this. examples include non-payment of rent
or nuisance.

In some cases of nuisance, court action may be commenced
immediately after the service of a notice.

The court will tell you when the hearing is to take place, and
you are able to attend to put your side of the case. If the court
decides that we can evict you from your home you will
receive a notice from the court with the details of the
judgement against you. you should seek advice as soon as
you receive this notice.




TENANTS HANDBOOK                                                    8
3. RENTS AND BENEFITS


How your rent is worked out

The rent you pay is linked to the size and value of your home.
We aim to provide rents that are affordable, even by those on low
incomes. King Street rents are much lower than private sector
rents. details of our rent setting policy are available from the
office.


Changes in your rent

rents are reviewed annually and any increase will take place no
more than once a year. We will give you at least four week’s notice
of your new rent and you will have the chance to end your tenancy
if you do not wish to pay the new rent.

Problems in paying your rent?

Paying your rent on time is important. We do not tolerate rent
arrears because it is unfair to those who do pay regularly and
it means that we cannot fund our services such as repairs and
maintenance. We take action against tenants who persistently
fail to pay their rent and this could include eviction. If you find
paying the rent difficult you should contact the office immediately.
We may be able to help.

If there might be a delay in your rent payment, for example if
you have applied for housing benefit, you must let us know
immediately. even where you have applied for housing benefit you
are still responsible for making sure that the rent is paid on time.

If you have been evicted for rent arrears or leave your property
owing rent we will not help with future permanent rehousing until
you have cleared the debt. We will also tell the local council and
other housing associations that you have been evicted for rent
arrears and this could affect your chances of being rehoused.


TENANTS HANDBOOK                                                     9
Service charges

Where additional services are provided - for example
communal lighting, heating, caretaking and cleaning - a
service charge will apply. These charges are calculated
annually and any increases will be made at the same time that
rents are increased.

If for whatever reason we want to increase your service
charges you will be given one calendar month’s notice in
writing. Some service charges are eligible for housing benefit.

Ways to pay your rent

•     At King Street Housing Society’s office – Monday to
      Thursday 8.45 am to 4.45 pm, Fridays 8.45 am to
      4.30 pm. We accept cheque, cash, debit card and
      postal order.

•     By standing order from your bank or building society
      account (forms available from our office).

•     At any Barclays Bank – please ask for the necessary
      paying-in slips.

•     By post. cheques or postal orders can be sent to us,
      payable to “King Street Housing Society”.

•     With a debit or credit card at our office in King Street, or
      over the phone to our office.




TENANTS HANDBOOK                                                     10
Housing Benefit
(Rent and Council Tax rebates)
Housing Benefit is available to help pay your rent if your
income is low. Housing Benefit is means tested – the lower
your income, the more benefit you are entitled to. your local
council is responsible for paying housing benefit. It is possible
for your housing benefit to be paid direct to us, if you prefer.
you are responsible for applying for housing benefit and
providing the council with all the information they need.

If you qualify for Income Support or Job Seeker’s Allowance,
you will need to complete a nHBI form. This must be returned
to the Benefit Agency. They will notify the council’s housing
benefit office of your claim. As long as you return the forms in
time, your claim for housing benefit will be considered from the
Monday following the date of your Income Support/Job
Seekers Allowance entitlement.

If you do not get Income Support/Job Seeker’s Allowance you
may still qualify for housing benefit. don’t be worried about
applying - it will cost you nothing and could save you a lot of
money. But don’t delay – as housing benefit can usually only
be paid from when the council receives your completed
application form.

When you make a claim for housing benefit you will need to
provide the council with two forms of identification and
documents to support your claim.

your local council will review your housing benefit application
from time to time. If you are sent a renewal form, please give
all the information they ask for and return it to the council as
soon as possible. Failure to do so will result in a loss of
benefit.

Keep us informed about your claim, particularly if you are in
dispute with the council about the level of your benefit or your
right to it.

you might also be eligible for one or two types of other welfare
benefits, depending on your circumstances. Ask us for advice.

TENANTS HANDBOOK                                                    11
4. SOME ADVICE ON HOW TO MAKE
   THE MOST OF YOUR HOME

Insurance

We will insure the structure of the property, but you will be
responsible for insuring your personal contents such as clothes,
furniture, electrical equipment and other valuables. To avoid future
distress we would advise you to take out personal insurance for
the contents of your home. Fire, flood and other disasters can be
expensive. Spend a few minutes just adding up the replacement
value of your goods. It may surprise you!

Heaters and fuel

Paraffin heaters, oil and calor gas heaters produce a lot of
moisture that can cause condensation or dampness in your home.

They can also cause fires and even explode if not properly used.
For this reason canister, oil and paraffin heaters are not permitted
in flats.

due to the dangers of fire and explosion, you should not store any
flammable materials in your property.

Preventing fire

•      do test your smoke alarms regularly and change their
       batteries when needed.

•      clean the sensor at least once a year. check the
       instruction leaflet for details.

•      do be careful with electrical equipment. Turn off or unplug
       items when not in use, especially at night.

•      do close kitchen and living room doors when you go to bed
       or when leaving the house. This helps stop fire spreading.

•      don’t plug too many electrical appliances into the same
       socket.
TENANTS HANDBOOK                                                  12
In case of fire – DON’T PANIC!

•     If you discover a fire in your home that cannot be put
      out immediately or safely the first priority is to get
      everyone out of the property. Make sure that escape
      routes such as corridors and patio windows are not
      blocked.

•     dial 999 and ask for the Fire Service. Make sure
      everyone in your family knows how to do this.

•     When you have called the Fire Brigade you can try to
      put the fire out – but only if there is no danger to life.
      do not try to rescue belongings or other items from the
      property.

IF YOU ARE TRAPPED BY FIRE

•     Try to get into a room where there is no fire – preferably
      one looking onto the street. Shut the door behind you.

•     Put a blanket or rug at the bottom of the door to keep
      the smoke out. Shout for help from the window.

•     Avoid needless injury – don’t jump out of the window
      unless you are forced to.

Condensation

•     Provide adequate ventilation when cooking or using
      washing machines and similar appliances.

•     Keep your home reasonably warm all day and at night.

•     Allow plenty of air to circulate within your home. Fresh
      air prevents condensation.

•     open night vents in windows to improve ventilation.




TENANTS HANDBOOK                                                   13
Frost precautions

•     Try to keep your home warm day and night.

•     remember it is often cheaper to have a constant level
      of heating than switching the heating on and off.

•     check all exposed water pipes, particularly in the roof
      space, and wrap them with insulation. If you have a
      problem doing this we might be able to help.

•     reduce draughts wherever you can while maintaining
      a flow of air through the home to prevent condensation.

•     Turn off the water stop tap if you go away during winter.
      Make a point now of finding out where it is! contact us
      if you cannot find it. Turn it on and off a few times
      during the year to make sure it works when needed.
      Keep some lubricant such as Wd40 on hand.

•     do keep some constant background heating on if you
      go away during winter. Alternatively, drain both hot and
      cold water systems (ask for advice if you need it). If
      your pipes burst when you are away you may be liable
      for any damage caused to either your own or your
      neighbour’s property as a result.

If your water pipes freeze up

•     Turn off the water stop tap (often found beneath the
      sink).

•     Turn on all taps to the sink, basin and bath until the tank
      has been drained.

•     Telephone the office or our emergency number if
      outside office hours.

•     Try to gently unfreeze the pipe by applying warmth from
      a hairdryer or with warm rags.


TENANTS HANDBOOK                                                    14
•      If you have an open fire with a back boiler the fire should not
       be lit while the water is turned off.

Floors and carpets

•      do not use carpet tacks or nail fixing rods directly into the
       floor tiles – you may damage them and possibly the damp
       proof membrane. you will have to pay for replacement or
       repair.

•      do not damage plastic tiles by putting hot objects on or
       close to them.

•      do not use soda, caustic materials or harsh scouring
       compounds on tiled floors.

•      do not fit laminate flooring in flats as it causes noise problems

Ventilation

•      do not cover any airbricks.

•      do not cover wall airbricks or disconnect or block electrical
       ventilators.

•      do not seal up unused fireplaces without leaving adequate
       ventilation.

Damp proof courses

The damp proof course can be found by looking for a slightly wider
course of mortar in the brickwork just above ground level.

Keep the soil at least six inches below the damp proof course or
moisture could get past it and make your walls damp.

If you go away for a long period

•      Let us know if you have to be away more than six weeks.
•      Turn off the water, gas and electricity at the mains.
•      get a friend or neighbour to check your house from time to time.

TENANTS HANDBOOK                                                           15
5. IN YOUR NEIGHBOURHOOD


Everyone wants to live in a neighbourhood that is clean,
friendly and safe. If you see damage, graffiti, abandoned
vehicles or misuse of the area, please report it to the office
or your caretaker.

Parking

Poorly maintained and carelessly parked vehicles are a nuisance.
careless parking across grass verges and footpaths can be
dangerous and cause damage.

you may park a car or small van:

•      At your home if, you have a parking space or have our
       written permission to use part of your garden as a parking
       space.
•      In an authorized marked parking space or garage.

you must only park a vehicle that is used for your own domestic
purposes. It must have a current valid tax disc, any required test
certificate and insurance policy. If you want to park any other
vehicle, for example a caravan, commercial vehicle, trailer or boat,
you will need our written permission.

If you think a vehicle is abandoned or is dangerous you should
contact the office. If it is not on our property, contact cambridge
city rangers.

If you need to dispose of a vehicle yourself, look in the yellow
Pages for details of local car breakers or contact your local
council.

you should not carry out any extensive vehicle repairs or services
anywhere at your home, garden or in the area.




TENANTS HANDBOOK                                                   16
Parking at Manor Place

Parking at Manor Place is only permitted in marked bays, a fee
is payable and the required permit displayed. If you rent an
undercroft space you should make sure that the automatic
door is always left shut when you enter or leave. If you rent a
bollard space, always leave the bollard up if it is not in use. do
not park in other people’s spaces. To rent a bollard space you
will need a permit available from reception.

Shared parts

If you live in a flat you may share the hall and stairs with other
residents. Please keep the shared areas clean and tidy.

use refuse collection and clothes drying facilities for their
proper purpose.

dry clothes within your flat or in the drying areas, keeping the
area well ventilated. drying them on the balcony can make
your home and the surrounding area look untidy.

Where you share hallways and stairs with other residents, you
should not store items such as bikes and prams in these areas,
as this may be a health and safety risk or break fire regulations.

you, your family or visitors must not throw anything from any
landing, balcony or window.




TENANTS HANDBOOK                                                     17
Caretakers

We employ a team of caretakers to help keep our schemes
clean and tidy. They also deal with minor repairs.

Pets in flats

We do not allow pets in flats, other than very small mammals,
such as hamsters, or fish. cats and dogs are not suited to
living in flats because they need space to exercise and to
roam.

If you live in a house you may keep a larger pet, subject to
normal rules of behaviour. you will be expected to control your
pet and you must not allow it to cause a nuisance or
annoyance to neighbours.

Gardens

If you have a garden, you must keep it tidy by clearing any
rubbish, cutting any grass and ensuring plants, trees and
shrubs do not become overgrown.

We do not expect all gardens to be perfectly landscaped, but
if it is a mess we may consider taking action. For example, if
you refuse to tidy it up we may employ someone to do it and
charge you for the work.




TENANTS HANDBOOK                                                  18
 6. REPAIRS AND MAINTENANCE


The Society’s responsibilities

King Street Housing Society is responsible for most repairs to the
structure of your home and essential services. Some repairs inside
your home are your responsibility.

We ensure the property is kept in good order by:

•      repairing empty properties quickly and to a decent
       standard before new tenants move in.
•      Providing a reliable day-to-day repairs service.
•      carrying out regular maintenance work – for example
       central heating servicing and external painting.

repair requests can be ordered by telephoning or calling at our
office. The repair will be given a priority category to indicate its
urgency, as follows:

•      1. emergencies – 24 hours (e.g. flooding, dangerous
       electrics etc)
•      2. urgent – 5 working days
•      3. routine – 20 working days
We provide an emergency call out service that operates overnight
and at weekends. The telephone number is given on the back
page.

“emergencies” means what it says. It covers any danger to life
or limb, flooding or where the property is insecure. Total loss of
heating and hot water will only be treated as an emergency in the
winter months. Please do not call the emergency service unless it
is a genuine emergency.

When you report a repair we will ask you how we can gain
access to your home. A specific appointment can be arranged if
you need it. If you are happy for us to gain access to your home


TENANTS HANDBOOK                                                       19
using our key we will do so, but only with your express
permission. Sometimes we will carry out an inspection to
check what works are needed.

What repairs are you responsible for?

you are responsible for:

•     Testing the installed smoke alarms regularly and
      changing the battery when required
•     repairing any damage caused by you, your family or
      visitors – this includes glazing
•     replacing light bulbs
•     replacing or obtaining extra door keys
•     All internal decorations and curtain rails
•     Tap washers - cambridge Water company will rewasher
      taps for a reasonable fee with reductions for people on
      benefits. Telephone number 01223 706050
•     Plumbing to washing machines and dishwashers
•     Sink and bath chains and plugs
•     Toilet seats and lids
•     Any items or improvements installed by yourself
•     Hat and coat hooks and rails
•     Keeping drain gratings clear and ensuring damp proof
      membranes are not bridged
•     cleaning toilets, hand basins, baths and showers,
      windows and doors
•     upkeep of private gardens, including shrubs and
      hedges
•     Washing lines and rotary dryers, unless these are for
      communal use
•     dealing with vermin, including wasp nests and insect
      infestations

Although all the above repairs are the tenant’s responsibility
this list may change from time to time. Please contact our
office if you want more details.

In some circumstances we can arrange to do the repair and
recharge you if required.


TENANTS HANDBOOK                                                 20
Damaged property

Tell us soon as possible if fire, frost, flood or other incidents
damage your home. Phone our emergency number if
emergency repairs are needed outside office hours. do not
abuse this service. An emergency means that there is a danger
to life or limb or that the property is at risk. Minor leaks and
heating breakdowns are not emergencies. Wait until the next
working day and we will deal with it.

Tenants’ Right to Repair

In some cases you have the right to arrange to carry out the
repair yourself if we have failed to carry out our repair
responsibility or the repair is not to an acceptable standard.
We hope you do not need to do this, as our policy is to ensure
all repairs are carried out within the period stated. If you want
more information you should contact the office.

Alterations and improvements

We are flexible in allowing you to make alterations to your
home but you will need written permission from us before
you start any work. Failure to obtain written permission could
mean we have to put right the alteration when you leave and
charge you our costs.

We may set conditions before we give you permission for an
alteration. These will ensure that work is carried out safely and
to a good standard. For example, structural work will often
require Building regulation approvals and sometimes planning
permission.

Failure to comply with our conditions may involve a recharge to
you if we have to employ a contractor to make good the work.




TENANTS HANDBOOK                                                    21
If in doubt check with us first. Some examples of where
permission is required:

•      Tree planting (trees can cause damage to the
       foundations of houses)
•      Television aerials
•      greenhouses or sheds
•      Internal decoration of anything formerly undecorated or
       using a textured coating for any walls, such as Artex
•      external decorations
•      Knocking down internal walls
Keys

We hold keys to all of our properties. Whenever you order a
repair, we will ask you about access arrangements. If you are
happy for us to “carry a key” this means that we will use our
key to access your property and do the repair. We will only do
this with your permission. otherwise, the keys that we hold
are kept in a secure place and would only be used in cases
of emergency, for example if you were away and your home
was being flooded. If you change the keys to your property,
for whatever reason, please provide us with a copy of the new
keys so that we can gain access in the event of an emergency,
or to carry out repairs with your permission.

Satellite TV dishes/sheds/greenhouses etc

The fitting of a satellite dish counts as a tenant’s improvement.
contact the office for permission before you fit the satellite
dish. If you already have an alternative way of getting
satellite TV channels this will normally be regarded as a
reasonable ground for refusing permission for a dish. WE DO
NOT ALLOW SATELLITE DISHES ON BLOCKS OF FLATS.

contact your Housing officer for permission if you want to
install a shed or other outbuilding. It will need to be built
properly, not be too big, and sited in a position that will not
cause an annoyance to other residents.



TENANTS HANDBOOK                                                    22
Glazing

We will repair broken and cracked windows as part of our
normal service. But you will have to pay if they were damaged
deliberately or accidentally. check if your insurance covers
this.

Breakages through vandalism or burglaries are, fortunately
rare. We will give fast and sympathetic help in such cases.
First tell the police, then us.

Redecorating

We will redecorate the outside of the property as part of our
external maintenance and painting programme. This
programme is designed to ensure that all dwellings are
redecorated externally at least once every five years. If you
think we have missed you out please let us know.

Identification

remember all of our staff and our contractors will have an
identity card with them when they visit your home. If you are
unsure contact us. don’t allow strangers into your home
unless they can prove their identity.




TENANTS HANDBOOK                                                23
7. IF YOU WANT TO MOVE ON


If you decide that you want to leave your present home, for
whatever reason, there are a number of options open to you.
These are set out below.

Assignment

Assignment means transferring your tenancy to someone else.
you have a right to assign the tenancy if…

•     A court order made in Family Proceedings says you must/
      can assign your tenancy when there is a marriage
      breakdown or similar crisis.
•     you are using your right to carry out a mutual exchange.

In some situations we may allow you to assign your tenancy to
someone who has the right to take over your tenancy if you die.

The person who takes over your tenancy “steps into your shoes”.
This means that they would become liable for any rent arrears that
you had at the time of any assignment, or any credit that was on
the rent account. If you require any further details about
assignment, please contact your Housing officer.

Exchange

This means that you “swap” your home with the tenant of another
local authority or housing association. They would move into your
property and you would move into theirs.

Approval can normally be given very quickly, providing the
history of both tenants has been satisfactory. Both we and the
other landlord need to agree to the exchange. If one side does
not agree, then the exchange cannot happen.




TENANTS HANDBOOK                                                  24
We will only refuse on specific grounds. For example:

•     you have been served with a legal possession notice,
      and it is still in force.
•     your current home is too big or too small for the person/
      family you wish to exchange with.
•     your home has been specially adapted for a disabled
      person, and the person/family that you intend to
      exchange with has no need for those adaptations.
•     If we would be breaking our rules by providing a home
      for the person you want to exchange with.
Applying for an exchange

you can apply for an exchange from the very start of your
tenancy, and there are two systems that can help you identify
someone that you would like to swap with.

Our exchange scheme

We operate an exchange scheme free of charge. By
contacting the Society we can send you an exchange form.
details of all tenants who want to exchange are held in
reception. This is a useful way of finding a move locally. We
recommend that you come to our reception and have a look
as it is frequently updated. The scheme is also used by
tenants of other housing associations, and can be a useful way
of finding a move. you cannot exchange if you are in breach of
your tenancy agreement.

The Tenants Exchange Scheme (HOMESWAPPER)

This is a national scheme that matches tenants’ property
details against each other and contacts those who may wish to
swap. contact the office for details or look at
www.homeswapper.co.uk.




TENANTS HANDBOOK                                                  25
What if my marriage or relationship falls apart?

We would normally want the tenancy to be granted to the
partner given custody of the children. We will listen fairly to
both sides and will not act before giving the courts the chance
to decide who gets the tenancy.

In the event of your death

If you die, it may be possible for the tenancy to be passed
on to a close family member who has been living with you
for twelve months or more. contact the office for details.

Shared ownership schemes

Shared ownership properties allow you to buy an interest in
part of a property and rent the rest. This is a good way to get
onto the property ladder and helps people who cannot afford
the scandalously high prices of property in cambridge. Shared
ownership homes are provided by a number of housing
associations and councils in the area.




TENANTS HANDBOOK                                                  26
    8. ENDING YOUR TENANCY


When you want to end your tenancy and move out

you must give us at least four weeks’ notice in writing before
moving out. A standard notice to quit form is available from your
Housing officer. you are responsible for paying rent until the notice
ends and vacant possession is given to us by handing over the keys.

The keys must be returned to us on or before the date your notice
expires. If you move out without telling us you will be charged four
weeks’ rent from the time it is discovered you have moved out or
until we have gained access to the property.

If you want to give us a shorter notice period before you leave, you
must obtain our agreement in advance to avoid being charged for
the whole 4-week period.

If you are giving notice after the death of a tenant, we will normally
accept less than four weeks’ notice. Where a tenant is in hospital
and unsure what to do about giving up the tenancy we can advise.
Leaving your home

When you move out of your home, you must:

•      give us “Vacant Possession”. This means you must not allow
       anyone to stay in your home after you move out.
•      remove all your furniture and personal belongings.
•      clear rubbish from both the inside and outside, including the
       garden, garages and other outbuildings.
•      Leave your home clean and tidy.
•      Arrange with the local council to collect any large items of
       furniture you do not want.
•      don’t damage the property or decorations when moving out,
       particularly when removing screws, pictures, carpets, etc.
•      Leave fixtures and fittings such as gas fires and kitchen cup
       boards that are the Society’s property.
•      Turn off the water stop tap before leaving.

TENANTS HANDBOOK                                                   27
•      don’t leave live exposed wires or open gas pipes. Always use
       an expert or consult us before removing any of your own gas
       or fixed electrical appliances. you may be liable if there is an
       accident.
•      Leave a forwarding address.
•      Tell the gas and electricity companies you are moving – or you
       might have to pay the bills of the tenant moving in after you.
•      Inform your telephone provider if you want to be
       disconnected or connected.
•      Tell your council so it can assess your new council tax and if
       appropriate cancel your Housing Benefit.
•      Advise other people of the move – schools, your doctor, your
       employer etc.
•      Arrange for your mail to be redirected to your new address.
Before you vacate the property one of our staff will visit to check that
everything is in order.

Remember: We are not required to store any of your possessions
after you leave. We will clear and dispose of any personal property
you leave behind. These will be held for six weeks and then
disposed of. We will recharge you the cost of this work.

If any work is required when you leave that is your responsibility,
including a rubbish clearance, we will recharge you the cost of
employing a contractor.

Returning the keys

A minimum of two keys for each lock, including garages, sheds and
any outbuildings, must be returned to us directly by mid-day on the
day your notice to quit ends.

you should not give the keys to anyone else to hand in on your
behalf. As the tenant it is your responsibility to ensure we receive
the keys.

remember – you will continue to be charged rent until we have the
keys and “vacant possession”.

Outstanding debts
We will charge you any reasonable amount for repairs that are your
responsibility or for replacing any missing fixtures that belong to us,
but you have removed.
TENANTS HANDBOOK                                                   28
 9. GETTING INVOLVED


We encourage tenants and residents to get involved in helping
to run the Society. you have certain rights to be consulted about
the way matters that affect you and these are set out in the
Tenants’ charter. But there are other ways that you can get
involved as well.

Tenants’ and Residents’ Associations

you can form a tenants’ or residents’ association covering your
area. This will be a group that represents the consensus view on
the best way to deal with issues in your neighbourhood. groups
can also organise social events or community projects, such as
neighbourhood watch. We provide funding for tenants’
associations. contact the office for details.

Consultation

you can drop into the office at any time for a consultation or to
seek advice. We also hold regular surgery sessions on estates
and in our office.We routinely consult tenants about any changes
we propose which are likely to affect you or your home.

If the change affects only a few tenants then we might write to you
individually. Surveys or public meetings may be called to explain
proposals and give you the chance to have your say. you also
have the right to contact us to comment directly on our plans.

Committee of management

Two places on the Society’s governing body, the committee of
management, are reserved for tenants and residents. If you are
interested in getting involved in this way please contact the office.

Surveys

We carry out regular telephone and other surveys to check on our
standard of service. The results are reported to our committee and
they will take action if our performance is slipping.
TENANTS HANDBOOK                                                   29
Be a good neighbour

Keep an eye on any frail or elderly neighbour – particularly
during cold spells. Telltale trouble signs are milk left on the
doorstep and uncollected papers.

An occasional call can sometimes help pinpoint health or care
problems, cheer the person up and combat his or her feelings
of loneliness and isolation.

remember – the elderly may not be able to shop or care for
themselves when ill. They may cut down on heating to save
bills. cold is a common killer of the old.

your occasional call may prove a lifesaver!

Access to files

you have the right to see information that we hold about you.
contact the office for details. In general, we will retain the
minimum amount of personal information about you and your
family to allow us to carry out our work effectively.

Complaints and appeals

We have a complaints policy that involves a number of steps.

•      Speak to a member of staff – if they cannot resolve your
       complaint, an official form will be filled and this will be
       referred to a manager. Provide as much information as
       possible.

•      The manager should respond within 5 working days.
       If this is not possible he or she will contact you to tell
       you when a full response will be made. The manager
       may wish to speak to you to discuss the complaint. If
       you are unhappy with the response it will be referred to
       the chair of the committee of Management.

•      The chair will respond to you within 10 working days. If
       you are still unhappy we cannot help you further – you
       can seek legal advice or make a complaint to the
       housing ombudsman. We will provide you with details of
       the ombudsman’s address.
TENANTS HANDBOOK                                                     30
CONTACT US


King Street Housing Society
89 King Street,
cambridge,
cB1 1Ld

Tel: 01223 312294 Fax: 01223 355394
Website: www.kingshs.org.uk

E–mail: info@kingstreeths.org.uk
or to contact a specific member of staff
firstname@kingstreeths.org.uk



EMERGENCY OUT OF HOURS SERVICE

Heating and plumbing 07725678725
Structural repairs 01223 457457
gas leak – Transco 0800 111 999



USEFUL NUMBERS: LOCAL AUTHORITIES

South cambridgeshire district council: 08450 450 500

cambridge city council: 01223 457000

cambridgeshire county council: 01223 717111 - Freephone
0800 243916

dSS: 01223 371700




TENANTS HANDBOOK                                          31
IndeX



Access to your home          5    Harassment                    7
Alterations & Improvements   21   Heating and fuel              12
Assignment                   24   Homeswap                      25
Assured tenancies            4    Housing benefit               11
Benefits                     9    Illegal use of property       6
Burst pipes                  14   Insurance                     12
Business use                 6    Joint tenancies               4
car Parking                  16   Keys                          28
caretakers                   18   Legal action                  8
complaints                   30   Moving in                     3
condensation                 13   nuisance                      6
consultation                 29   Parking                       16
customer care standards      1    Pets                          18
decorations                  23   relationship breakdown        26
domestic violence            7    rents                         9
elderly people               30   rent changes                  9
ending your tenancy          27   repairs and maintenance       19
exchanging your home         24   right to repair               21
Fire                         12   rights and responsibilities   3
Floors and carpets           15   Satellite dishes              22
Frost precautions            14   Secure tenancies              4
gardens                      18   Service charges               10
getting involved             29   Shared ownership              26
glazing                      23   Sub letting and lodgers       5
going away                   15   Tenant Associations           29
good neighbours              30   useful numbers                31
89 KIng STreeT,                       www.kingshs.org.uk
cAMBrIdge,                            info@kingsteeths.org.uk
cB1 1Ld

TEL: 01223 312294 FAx: 01223 355394

				
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