Documents
Resources
Learning Center
Upload
Plans & pricing Sign in
Sign Out

Tenant handbook

VIEWS: 24 PAGES: 154

									Tenant handbook
If you would like any of this information in large
print, Braille, on a CD or audio tape, or in a
different language, please call 0800 694 0165.
Bengali                    Traditional Chinese




 0800 694 0165              0800 694 0165

French                     Greek




 0800 694 0165              0800 694 0165

Kurdish                    Portuguese




 0800 694 0165              0800 694 0165

Spanish                    Turkish




 0800 694 0165              0800 694 0165

Urdu                       Vietnamese




 0800 694 0165
                            0800 694 0165
Welcome
Welcome to your new home.

We aim to give you the highest possible level of service.
We have produced this handbook to help you. It contains useful
information about us, the services we provide and your rights
and responsibilities.

We, as your landlord, are one of the partners in a group called
Circle Anglia. We are responsible for managing your property,
but we work closely with our partners to make sure that our
services are of a high standard and good value for money.
Section 14 tells you more about us and the way we work.

Here is a quick guide to your handbook
Getting in touch
You can find all of the contact information that you will need in
section 1 - Contacting us. You should also read section 2 so
that you know what to do in an emergency.

Rent and repairs
Section 7 tells you all about your rent and how to pay it.
Sections 10 and 11 go through your rights and responsibilities
in terms of repairs, and help you to find out what has
gone wrong.




Tenant handbook                                       October 2007
Your home
Section 3 has specific information about your home for you to
refer to. Section 4 tells you about things you need to know
while you are moving in. Sections 8 and 9 have lots of useful
information about living in and looking after your home.
Section 12 tells you about areas outside your home.

Your rights and responsibilities
Section 5 outlines the main things that you have signed up to
in your tenancy agreement. Section 16 tells you about our
commitment to you, and section 17 tells you what to do if you
aren’t satisfied with your service.

Other sections also tell you about getting involved (section 15),
getting tenancy support (section 6) and getting on with your
neighbours (section 13). Sections 18 and 19 tell you about
what to do if you want to move out.

We have tried to include as much information as possible in
your handbook, but if you don’t find what you are looking for,
please contact us.

We hope you will be very happy in your new home.




Tenant handbook                                        October 2007
Contents
1 Contacting us                 6 Tenancy support
                                  Extra help if you need it
2 Emergencies                     Other organisations
    Gas leaks
    Accidents                   7 Rent and charges
    Fire                          Your rent explained
    Water leaks or floods         How to pay your rent
    Electricity failure           Housing Benefit
                                  Managing arrears
3 About your home                 Former tenant arrears
4 Moving in                       Other charges
    Standards for letting the   8 Living in your home
    property again
                                  Looking after your home
    Visiting you after your
    tenancy begins                Regular checks
    Being neighbourly             Safety
    Shared areas                  In an emergency
    Costs of running a home       When you are away
    Insurance                     Smoking
    Other responsibilities        Improvements and repairs

5 Your tenancy                  9 Looking after
  agreement                       your home
    Your tenancy                  Condensation and mould
    Types of tenancy              Preventing dampness
    The main parts of your        Frost damage
    tenancy agreement             Pests




Tenant handbook                                     October 2007
Contents (continued)
10 Repairs and                          The toilet
   maintenance                          Drains
    The Circle Anglia standard          The bathroom suite
    How do I report a repair?           Hot- and cold-water system
    What we will do for you             The boiler
    Types of repair you will            Heating
    need to arrange yourself            Resetting a trip switch
    Repairs we can                      Electrical fittings
    charge you for                      Roofs and walls
    How quickly will we                 Stairs and flooring
    complete your repair?
    Arranging an appointment         12 Areas outside of
    How can I let you know              your home
    what I think of the repairs         Abandoned vehicles
    service?                            Bulk refuse
    Repairs for frail, elderly and      Cleaning
    disabled people, and for
    supported housing service           Estate inspections
    users                               Garages
    Your right to repair                Gardening
    Planned repair and                  Graffiti
    maintenance programmes              Parking
    What do I need to do if I           Playground equipment
    want to repair and improve
    my home myself?                  13 Getting on with
    Yearly gas check                    your neighbours
    Adaptations                         Antisocial behaviour
                                        The Respect standard
11 Diagnosing a repair
                                        Domestic violence
    Clearing a blocked
    waste pipe                          Harassment
    Stopping your toilet overflow

Tenant handbook                                         October 2007
Contents (continued)
14 About us                      17 Putting things right
                                    Comments
15 Getting involved                 Complaints
    ‘Customer First’ strategy
                                    Stage 1
    Some of the ways
                                    Stage 2
    you can get involved
                                    Stage 3
16 Our commitment                   Independent services
   to you
                                 18 Moving home
    The customer
    service standard                Transfer
    Equality and diversity          Mutual exchange
    Moving in to your               House Exchange
    new home                     19 Ending your tenancy
    The standard for letting a      When you want to end
    property                        your tenancy
    Managing your                   When we can end
    neighbourhood                   your tenancy
    Rent                            Exceptional circumstances
    Repairs                         Succession
    The Circle Anglia standard
    Adaptations                  20 ...and finally
    The right to improve
    Antisocial behaviour
    Involvement
    Complaints
    Support services provided
    by EPIC Trust




Tenant handbook                                       October 2007
Section 1




Contacting us
Section 1 - Contacting us




How to contact us
You can contact us by:
   phone;
   letter;
   e-mail;
   on our website; or
   in person at one of our offices.
When you contact us we will treat you with respect and offer a
friendly and polite service.

Contacting us by phone
 Where you live             Norfolk or Suffolk Cambridgeshire
 All questions which
                             0800 694 0165   0845 766 0344
 don’t involve repairs,
                            or 01603 703500 or 01223 202700
 including emergencies
 Questions about repairs     0800 694 0165 or 01603 703500
                             0800 013 2327    01223 202700
 Questions about your       or 01603 703583 or 08457 660344
 rent                         (Text: 07797     (Text: 07797
                                805631)          805627)
 Pay your rent:
 automated 24-hour                    0870 243 6040
 payment line
 To report antisocial
                                      0800 013 2328
 behaviour
 Fax                         01603 700404      01223 202701
 Minicom                     01603 703599     01223 202703


Tenant handbook                                       November 2008
                                               Section 1 - Contacting us




If you are responding to a letter we have sent you, it will include
the name of the person you need to contact and a direct-dial
phone number. If you ring that number, you will get straight
through to that person. If they are out of the office, you may
get a voicemail where you can leave a message for them to ring
you back. Or you can ring the customer services number on the
previous page.
When you contact us by phone we will do the following.
  Answer your phone call within 30 seconds and give you the
  name of the person you are speaking to. The longest you
  should ever have to wait for your call to be answered is two
  minutes. (We are aiming to improve to be able to answer
  your call within 20 seconds).
  Have up-to-date voicemail messages that are checked every
  working day.
  Return calls and messages within one working day.
  Provide a 24-hour emergency service every day.
  Arrange an interpreter to translate a conversation over the
  phone if you need it.




Tenant handbook                                           October 2007
Section 1 - Contacting us




Contacting us in writing or in person
If you live in Norfolk or Suffolk you can write to us or
visit us at:
Wherry Housing Association
6 Central Avenue
St Andrews Business Park
Norwich
NR7 0HR
Our Norwich office is open 8.30am to 5pm Monday
to Friday.
You can e-mail us at: wherry.info@circleanglia.org
You can e-mail us about a rent enquiry at:
wherryincometeam@circleanglia.org

If you live in Cambridgeshire you can write to us or
visit us at:
Wherry Housing Association
1 St Catherine's Square
Cambridge
CB4 3XA
Our Cambridge office is open 9am to 1pm, and 2pm to
5pm Monday to Friday.
You can e-mail us at: teamforeastanglia@circleanglia.org
You can e-mail us about a rent enquiry at:
cambridgeincometeam@circleanglia.org


Tenant handbook                                  November 2008
                                              Section 1 - Contacting us




You can also visit our website for more information at:
www.circleanglia.org/customers
We will reply to letters and e-mails within 10 working days.
When you visit our offices we will do the following.
  Treat you with respect and offer a friendly and polite service.
  Introduce ourselves by name and wear name badges.
  Provide offices that are clean, tidy, comfortable and
  accessible to people with disabilities.
  Provide an area where you can speak to us in private.
  See you at the time of your appointment.
  See you within 10 minutes if you do not have an
  appointment.
  Have minicom and hearing loops available for people with
  hearing difficulties.
  We will arrange for a signer or interpreter if you need one for
  your appointment (and you tell us beforehand).
  Have offices and services available from 8.30am to 5pm
  Monday to Friday.




Tenant handbook                                          October 2007
Section 2




Emergencies
   Gas leaks
   Accidents
   Fire
   Water leaks or floods
   Electricity failure
Section 2 - Emergencies



Emergencies
Gas leaks
If you smell gas or think you have a gas leak,
contact Transco immediately – their number is
0800 111999 (in the phone book under Gas)
and take their advice.
  Do not smoke.
  Do not turn any light switches or electrical equipment on or off.
  Open doors and windows.
  Check if a gas appliance has been left on or a pilot light has
  blown out.
  Turn off the gas supply at the meter.

Accidents
If someone has an accident, call 999 immediately
and ask for an ambulance.
Here are some situations where you must call an ambulance.
  If someone is unconscious or slipping in and out of
  unconsciousness.
  If you suspect a stroke.
  If someone is bleeding heavily.
  For suspected broken bones.
  If someone has a deep wound such as a stab wound.
  If you suspect a heart attack.
  If someone has difficulty breathing.
  For severe burns.
  If there is a severe allergic reaction.



Tenant handbook                                         October 2007
                                                  Section 2 - Emergencies




Fire
If you discover a fire in your home:
    call the fire brigade by dialling 999; and
    make sure everyone leaves the property immediately.

Water leaks or floods
If you have a water leak in your home:
    try to catch the water in a container;
    turn off the water at the stop tap
    (see section 11 - Diagnosing a repair); and
    call out our repairs service.
If you are at risk of flooding, call Floodline on 0845 988 1188.

Electricity failure
If water is leaking onto electrical fittings this is dangerous.
If you have an electricity emergency:
    do not touch bare wires, or sockets or switches;
    turn the power off at the mains; and
    call out our repairs service.




Tenant handbook                                            October 2007
Section 3




About your home
Section 3 - About your home



About your home
  The staff member showing you around your new home for                   The hot water is heated by:
  the first time will fill in the following sections.
                                                                          a gas boiler
                                                                          an electric immersion heater
   Heating, hot water and electricity supplies

  Your home is heated by:                                                 If your heating breaks down, we aim to fix it within
                                                                          seven calendar days. We will try to fix it as soon as
   gas central heating
                                                                          we can but we can’t always fix it straight away. You
   electric storage heaters
                                                                          might want to consider getting back-up heaters in
   oil fired central heating                                              case this happens during the winter.h
   other


   Where can you find your water, gas, electricity and                    You can find your electricity meter at:
   heating controls?

   The controls for your heating and hot water are:




                                                                          You can find your gas meter at:

   The temperature of your heating is controlled by:
   a wall thermostat
   individual thermostats




                                                                                                               (continued overleaf)

Tenant handbook                                         October 2007   Tenant handbook                                   October 2007
Section 3 - About your home




   You can find your water meter at:                              These are the keys we handed over when you moved in.
                                                                                                Set 1     Set 2      Set 3
                                                                  Shared entrance
                                                                  Frontdoor yale
                                                                  Frontdoor mortise
                                                                  Backdoor yale
                                                                  Backdoor mortise
   You can find your stop tap (to turn your water on
                                                                  Gas meter cupboard
   and off) at:
                                                                  Electricity meter cupboard
                                                                  Patio door
                                                                  Window locks
                                                                  Garage key
                                                                  Bin-store key
   You can find the main stopcock to the building at:             Other
                                                                  Signed (staff members)
                                                                  Signed (tenant)

                                                                  Equipment and appliance operating manuals

                                                                  We will try as much as possible to give you instructions
   At the time you moved into your new home the                   for all fitted appliances in your home, particularly your
   meter readings were:                                           heating. If your home is not new, the last tenant may
   water                                                          have left these behind. You may find it useful to keep
   gas                                                            these with the manual for the future reference.
   electricity



Tenant handbook                                 October 2007   Tenant handbook                                       October 2007
Section 4




Moving in
   Standards for letting the property again
   Visiting you after your tenancy begins
   Being neighbourly
   Shared areas
   Costs of running a home
   Insurance
   Other responsibilities
Section 4 - Moving in



Moving in
It is important to move into your new home quickly, at the start
of your tenancy. If not, we may think that you do not need it or
have abandoned the property. Also, if you are eligible for
Housing Benefit, you will not be entitled to it when you are
not living in the property.

Standards for letting the property again
After the last resident has moved out and before you move into
your home we will carry out general repairs and maintenance
to make sure that it meets the Decent Homes Standard. The
amount of work that we have to do largely depends on the age
and condition of the property when it is handed back to us, but
we will bring all properties up to the same standard before you
move in.
The Decent Homes Standard is the minimum quality standard
for housing set by central government. The Government has
stated that all rented homes should meet this standard by the
year 2010. Further information on the standard is available at
www.communities.gov.uk
We want you to be happy and comfortable in your new home
and we will provide you with a property that just needs you to
decorate and personalise it to make it your own.
To look at the details of the property letting standard, please
see section 16 – Our commitment to you.




Tenant handbook                                        October 2007
                                                    Section 4 - Moving in




Visiting you after your tenancy begins
Within the first six to 10 weeks of your tenancy beginning an
officer will visit you at home. The visit will take about 30
minutes, and the officer will check that:
   you have settled in and are not having any difficulties,
   for example using the central heating;
   all repairs we agreed when you accepted the tenancy
   have been carried out;
   no further repairs are needed;
   you understand the conditions of your tenancy; and
   you don’t have any problems paying your rent.

Being neighbourly
Now that you’ve moved in, here are a few do’s and don’ts.
Always be considerate to your neighbours (see section 13 -
Getting on with your neighbours) and remember that
things you do may cause a nuisance – for example:
   noise from DIY;                   shouting and swearing;
   alarms;                           noise from hard flooring;
   revving engines;                  barking dogs; and
   loud music or parties;            untidy gardens.
If you have difficulties with your neighbours, it is best to talk to
them, as they may not be aware that they have disturbed you.
If this is not successful, please contact us for more advice.




Tenant handbook                                            October 2007
Section 4 - Moving in




Shared areas
If you live in a property where you share doors, stairs, gardens
or any areas with other people, they are part of your home.
Please see section 12 - Areas outside your home for
more information.

Costs of running a home
There are quite a lot of expenses associated with running a
home, which you are responsible for. If you feel that you need
some advice about budgeting for these, some of which can be
quite large, please see section 6 - Tenancy support.
If you live in supported or sheltered housing these costs may be
covered by a service charge that you pay.
Some of the charges that you will need to pay, as well as your
rent, are:
   council tax – which you must pay to your local council;
   water and sewerage charges;
   fuel charges – electricity, gas, oil and solid fuel;
   phone and internet usage charges (optional);
   television licence, cable TV or satellite charges; and
   insurance for your personal possessions.
There are many different providers of most of these services,
and it is up to you to decide which suit your needs the best.
One of the ways to do this is to use an internet service like
www.uswitch.com which tells you all about your options.




Tenant handbook                                        October 2007
                                                 Section 4 - Moving in




Gas
To find out who supplies your gas, call the meter number
helpline on 0870 608 1524.
Electricity
To find out who supplies your electricity, contact your local
electricity distribution company – their number should be in
the phone book under electricity. You should ask for the
company’s meter point administration service.
Water
You can’t change your water provider, as it is based on where
you live. You can ring Water UK to find out who your provider is
on 020 7344 1844.
Phone
The phone line should have been disconnected before you
moved in. To connect the phone, you can contact BT. Once you
have a BT line, you can decide which company you want to
provide your phone service.
TV licence
You can ring the TV licensing company on 0870 241 6468.




Tenant handbook                                         October 2007
Section 4 - Moving in




Insurance
What insurance do you need?
There are two types of household insurance policies - buildings
insurance to protect against damage to the structure of your
home together with its fixtures and fittings, and home contents
insurance that protects you against damage or loss of your
possessions.
We arrange buildings insurance but you need to arrange
your own home contents insurance. You need to make sure
you have enough cover for your possessions.
What does home contents insurance do?
This information is general guidance only and will change from
policy to policy. Please read any policy you take out carefully to
make sure it provides the cover you need.
A contents policy covers just about everything you own in your
home – furniture, furnishings, household goods, kitchen
equipment, televisions, video, computers, audio equipment,
clothing, personal belongings and valuables up to certain limits.
There are a wide range of contents policies available which will
provide either replacement as new or new-for-old, or indemnity
cover.




Tenant handbook                                         October 2007
                                                 Section 4 - Moving in




For tenants many policies provide some cover for your liability
for damage to the building.
The policy is a contract between the insurer and you. It places
legal obligations on both you and the insurer. For example, the
insurer agrees to cover you against loss, damage or legal
liability, which may happen during the period of insurance
which you are covered for. In return, you and members of your
household must keep the insured possessions in a good state of
repair and take all reasonable steps to prevent injury, loss or
damage.

Other responsibilities
You are also responsible for:
   replacing broken windows;
   minor repairs, such as replacing keys and so on
   getting rid of fleas, wasps, bees and so on;
   keeping gullies and drains outside free from grease and
   blockages;
   other minor work; and
   repairing any damage (caused by you, your householders or
   visitors) to the property.
If you live in supported housing we will usually do the work for
you and may charge you the cost.




Tenant handbook                                         October 2007
Section 5




Your tenancy
agreement
   Your tenancy
   Types of tenancy
   The main parts of your
   tenancy agreement
Section 5 - Your tenancy agreement



Your tenancy agreement
Your tenancy
The property you are moving into offers you a home as long as
you meet your responsibilities as a tenant.
When you signed your tenancy agreement, you made a legally
binding agreement with us to keep to the terms and accepted
the responsibilities of the agreement.
To meet your responsibilities we will expect you to:
   pay the rent;
   look after your home;
   behave appropriately; and
   be a responsible householder.
The rest of this section explains your tenancy agreement in
more detail.
We also have commitments that we make to you. You can read
more about these in section 16.




Tenant handbook                                        October 2007
                                            Section 5 - Your tenancy agreement




Types of tenancy
Your tenancy agreement forms a legal contract between you
and us. We have a number of different types of agreement
based on when you became a tenant with us and the type of
property you are in. Your tenancy agreement will state at the
front what type of agreement you have. The main types are
shown below:
Secure             If you were a tenant with us before 15 January 1989,
                   you will be a secure tenant.
Protected assured If you had a tenancy with a local authority that was
                   transferred to us you will have an assured tenancy with
                   extra rights.
Assured            Most of our tenants have this type of tenancy.
Assured shorthold These agreements have less security than an assured
                   tenancy. We will only issue these in limited
                   circumstances. For example, if we do not own the
                   property we are letting to you, we may only be able to
                   give you a temporary tenancy. These agreements also
                   apply to some supported housing schemes.
Starter            Starter tenancies have a probationary period of one
                   year and during this time you will be an assured
                   shorthold tenant. This means it is easier for us to end
                   your tenancy if you break its conditions. Your tenancy
                   will normally change to an assured tenancy after 12
                   months although we can extend the probationary
                   period if there have been problems with your tenancy.




Tenant handbook                                                   October 2007
Section 5 - Your tenancy agreement




The main parts of your tenancy agreement
Different agreements give you different rights. This part of
the handbook highlights the main clauses of your tenancy
agreement and how they affect you. You need to check what
agreement you have and see what applies to you. If you are
not sure, you should contact us and we will confirm what
your agreement says.
We have put them in alphabetical order to help you refer
to them.
Antisocial behaviour, domestic violence
and harassment
There are clauses in your tenancy agreement which commit
you to not taking part in antisocial behaviour, including
domestic violence and harassment. There is more information
about this in section 13.

Being away from the property
You must move into the property immediately. If not, we may
think that you do not need it or have abandoned the property.
You must contact us if you are going to be away from the
property for more than three months if you have an assured
tenancy, or 28 days if you have an assured shorthold tenancy.
If you do not tell us that you have gone away, we will assume
that you have abandoned your property and may take action to
repossess your home.
If you are living in supported housing, you must check your
tenancy to see what notice you have to give if you are going to
be away, as each scheme is different.


Tenant handbook                                      October 2007
                                      Section 5 - Your tenancy agreement




Consultation and getting involved
We will consult you about any changes in housing management
or maintenance that are likely to have a substantial effect on
your tenancy. If you ask us, we will send you copies of our
policies that affect your tenancy, for example, allocations,
complaints and dealing with antisocial behaviour. There are lots
of opportunities for you to get involved – please see section
15 for more information.

Data protection
We will only ask you for information we need to know.
You have a right to see the information we hold about you.
We will not provide information to someone else if it is marked
as confidential or relates to legal action against you.

Ending your tenancy
You must give us at least 28 days’ notice in writing when you
want to end your tenancy. This notice must end on a Sunday
(see section 19 - Ending your tenancy).
In certain circumstances, it may be possible for your tenancy to
pass to another member of your family. Different tenancies
have different rights so you need to check what your
agreement says.
You may be able to apply for a transfer or a mutual exchange.
You can move out of your home when you like but you have
to give us at least four weeks’ notice (see section 18 -
Moving home).




Tenant handbook                                           October 2007
Section 5 - Your tenancy agreement




Pets and animals
You may keep an animal, such as a dog, cat, rabbit or bird.
If you do keep a pet, you must:
    always keep it under control;
    not allow it to cause a nuisance or danger to any person;
    not allow it to damage our property; or
    not allow it to foul any shared or public area.
However, in some properties, such as some shared or supported
accommodation, you will not be able to keep a pet. For more
information, please see our pets and animals policy and check
your tenancy agreement.

Rent
You must pay your rent every week for the week to come. It is
very important to do this, and we will take your failure to pay
your rent very seriously. There are full details in section 7 -
Paying your rent, and some ideas for support you can get
with money issues in section 6 - Tenancy support.

Transferring your tenancy (‘assignment’),
lodgers and subletting
You are not allowed to assign your tenancy (transfer your
tenancy rights to another person), without our written
permission or the permission of a court.
Some tenancies forbid lodgers and subtenants so you will need
to check what your agreement says. Before taking in a lodger or
subtenant, you must let us know.
You must not sublet (rent out) or give away, all of your home.



Tenant handbook                                       October 2007
                                       Section 5 - Your tenancy agreement




Using the premises
You must live in the property as your only or main home and
you must not allow any illegal activities to take place in it or
from it.
You must get our written permission if you want to run a
business from your property. In some properties, such as
supported housing or shared accommodation, we will not
allow this.

Work to your property
There is more information about your rights and responsibilities
for making improvements to your property and getting repairs
done in section 10. You must make sure that you keep your
home in good repair and condition.




Tenant handbook                                            October 2007
Section 6




Tenancy support
   Extra help if you need it
   Other organisations
Section 6 - Tenancy support



Tenancy support
Extra help if you need it
Sometimes tenants need a bit of extra support and advice to
help them manage if they get into difficulty with paying rent,
getting on with neighbours or managing other areas of their
tenancy.
If we think that you could benefit from some support, we will
ask a member of staff from our tenancy support team to visit
you. You can also contact us if you think that you need some
help, using section 1 - Contacting us.
We give our support staff special training. They recognise that
there may be problems at times that can affect your ability to
pay your rent and bills and manage your tenancy. If needed
they will meet with you regularly to support you through this
time.
If you live in supported or sheltered housing all these services
will be provided through your support worker. If you feel that
you need more support than you are getting talk to your
support worker about it.




Tenant handbook                                         October 2007
                                           Section 6 - Tenancy support




Other organisations
Staff can also give you information on other organisations who
may be able to help.
   We can refer you to a citizens advice bureau, who provide
   advice about money issues. In some areas we have a special
   agreement which means that you can get priority service
   according to your needs.
   We can refer you to a floating support service, provided by a
   local organisation. Floating support is a type of support you
   can get on a range of housing issues, according to how
   much or little help you need.
There are lots of other organisations which provide support,
depending on your needs. You can contact us for advice about
how to get support for physical or mental problems.




Tenant handbook                                         October 2007
Section 7




Rent and charges
   Your rent explained
   How to pay your rent
   Housing Benefit
   Managing arrears
   Former tenant arrears
   Other charges
Section 7 - Rent and charges



Rent and charges
Your rent explained
The rent covers:
  the cost of providing the building;
  the cost of maintaining the property – repairs, decoration
  outside and so on; and
  our management costs.
It is very important that you pay your rent. There can be
severe consequences to not paying rent. In some serious
situations you could lose your home, and possibly struggle to
be rehoused by another local authority or housing association.
There is more information about managing your rent further
on in this section.
We will review your rent once every year and we will give you
at least 28 days’ notice about any changes. The date of your
rent review depends on the type of tenancy you have.
If you are a secure tenant, you have the right to a registered
(or ‘fair’) rent as set by The Rent Service. We will apply for a
new rent register for your property every two years, at which
time The Rent Service will set the maximum rent you will pay
for the next two years. We will review your rent every year and
any increases will take place no less than 52 weeks after the last
increase. You will receive 28 days’ notice of any changes.




Tenant handbook                                        October 2007
                                             Section 7 - Rent and charges




How to pay your rent
Your rent is due every week for the week to come. You can
arrange to pay this in different ways.
If you miss a payment your account will be in arrears and we
will act in line with our rent arrears management policy.
You can make direct debit payments on any day of the month
(up to the 28th) either every week, every two weeks, every four
weeks or every calendar month, but you must pay in advance
for the full period. If not you will build up arrears. We can also
set up direct debits over the phone so you do not always need
to fill in a form.
In certain circumstances it may be possible to arrange other
payment methods.
Post office or paypoint outlets
We will give you a rent payment card to let you pay at any post
office or outlet showing the ‘Pay Zone’ or ‘PayPoint’ signs.
Payments will normally take three days to reach your account.
Debit or credit card
You can pay over the phone, at our main offices, or by using our
24-hour payment line on 0870 243 6040.
Office payment
You can pay at our main offices. Some local offices cannot take
cash. Please check with your office.
Internet payments
You can pay through ‘allpay’ at www.allpay.net. Payments will
normally take 24 hours to reach your account.




Tenant handbook                                            October 2007
Section 7 - Rent and charges




Housing Benefit
Housing Benefit is available from the council for all tenants
to help with rent payments if you are on a low income or
not working.
You need to make a claim to the Housing Benefit department
at your local council and make sure that they are paying.
In most cases, Housing Benefit is paid every four weeks for the
four weeks just paid. This means that your rent account will
always show between one and four weeks’ arrears due to
Housing Benefit. These are the only arrears that we will allow on
your account.
If you are entitled to only partial Housing Benefit you must pay
the rest of your rent in advance.
If your Housing Benefit stops, your rent may be up to four
weeks in arrears and you must act immediately to bring your
account up to date.
If you are having difficulties making a claim for Housing Benefit,
please contact your local office and we will try to help you.
If you are overpaid Housing Benefit, you will have to pay this back.




Tenant handbook                                          October 2007
                                             Section 7 - Rent and charges




Managing arrears
If for any reason you think that you will have difficulty in paying
your rent, contact us before we contact you. We will be able to
give you advice and support to help you pay the rent and
manage your money. For money advice you can also contact
the Citizens Advice Bureau, who offer free and unbiased advice.
We will not accept rent arrears but we will give you every
opportunity to pay your rent.

Former tenant arrears
If you leave your home owing rent we will insist you pay what
you owe. We will send you one reminder to make arrangements
for payment. If you do not make arrangements to pay or we
do not have an address for you, we will then either use a
tracing agency or sell the debt to a debt-collection agency.
The agency will then take the appropriate action to recover
the debt and you will need to make your payments to the
debt-collection agency.

Other charges
Service charges
In addition to your rent some properties have a service charge
for services provided to your home and not charged for in your
rent. These may be things like:
   lighting and cleaning of communal areas;
   landscape maintenance;
   water rates; and
   heating and hot water.
All service charges are detailed on your tenancy agreement.

Tenant handbook                                            October 2007
Section 7 - Rent and charges




We will review your service charges every year and we will give
you at least 28 days’ notice of any changes.
Secure tenants are entitled to the same level of consultation
about service charge changes as for rent changes. However, as
we increase the rents and service charges at different times, we
will tell The Rent Service what services are being charged for on
any new rent register application to them.

Supporting People charges
These are charges for sheltered and supported schemes and
pay for the extra staff and other support services. If you are
entitled to Housing Benefit you can claim help with this charge.
Your support provider will give you full details of any charges
that apply.




Tenant handbook                                        October 2007
Section 8




Living in your home
   Looking after your home
   Regular checks
   Safety
   In an emergency
   When you are away
   Smoking
   Improvements and repairs
Section 8 - Living in your home



Living in your home
This section has lots of helpful tips for living in your home. If
you live in sheltered or supported housing most of this section
does not apply to you - you can ask your support worker for
more information.

Looking after your home
You have a responsibility to keep your home in good condition by:
  keeping it clean and tidy both inside and outside;
  keeping the inside well decorated;
  keeping gardens cultivated, tidy and free from rubbish;
  keeping the garden and dividing fences, walls and hedges
  (except those next to public footpaths or roads) in good
  condition;
  finding out what the rules are about bonfires before having
  one – the environmental health department at your local
  council will be able to tell you about this;
  putting your rubbish out regularly on the day of the bin
  collection – it is a good idea to recycle as much of your
  rubbish as you can;
  parking appropriately (see section 12 - Areas outside of
  your home);
  repairing, at your own cost, any damage caused by you,
  your family or visitors;
  reporting all repairs promptly; and
  only making alterations with our permission.
During your tenancy we will want to visit your home to make
formal inspections. You can read more about looking after your
home in section 9.


Tenant handbook                                         October 2007
                                            Section 8 - Living in your home




Regular checks
You need to check your property regularly to keep it in good
order. You should:
   test your smoke detector every week and change the battery
   every 12 months;
   check your stop tap and gate valves every six months;
   check the water system (pipes, bathrooms, toilets, kitchens,
   water tanks, radiators) for minor leaks every three months;
   check plugs and flexes every month for wear and tear; and
   allow access for the gas check each year (see section 10 -
   Repairs and maintenance).

Safety
Here are just a few tips to keep you and your home safe.
  Don’t make any alterations to your home without our approval.
  Never run cables under carpets or overload sockets.
  Take care when smoking in your home and make sure you
  put cigarettes out.
  Don’t store products on your premises which catch fire easily.
  Make sure you know who is at your door before you open it.
  If in doubt, ask for identity and check with their office.
  Before you go to bed, turn off all appliances and close
  all doors.

Before you go out make sure that:
  you shut and lock doors and windows;
  you close curtains and leave a light on at night;
  you lock garden sheds; and
  you keep ladders securely locked away.

Tenant handbook                                             October 2007
Section 8 - Living in your home




In an emergency
You need to know where the gas, water and electricity
supplies come into your home and how to turn them off in
an emergency (see section 11 - Diagnosing a repair).
For more information about emergencies look at section 2.

When you are away
If you are an assured tenant it is important that you tell us if
you are going to be away for more than three months (28 days
if you are an assured shorthold tenant). Check your tenancy
agreement to see what applies to you. If you live in supported
or sheltered housing you should tell us before you go away for
any amount of time.
Before you go away you should:
   make sure that all your windows and doors are closed
   and locked;
   adjust the heating so that you don’t have to pay unnecessary
   costs, but also so your pipes don’t freeze (there is more
   information about this in section 9 - Looking after
   your home);
   make sure that all taps are off; and
   cancel all deliveries of milk, newspapers and so on.
You might want to ask a neighbour to clear the post away from
inside the front door and water your plants.
You should also turn off your water at the stop tap and in
winter drain down the water system to prevent flooding and
pipes freezing (see section 11 - Diagnosing a repair).



Tenant handbook                                       October 2007
                                         Section 8 - Living in your home




If you are going to be away for over three weeks, run the taps
for five minutes after turning off the stop tap to prevent the
build up of legionella bacteria.

Smoking
New laws say that you are not allowed to smoke in a public
area. This includes any shared areas, for example, stairways or
entrance halls. You can smoke in your own property, but please
do not smoke for at least an hour before you are expecting a
visit from us or a contractor, or during a visit. Only smoke in
rooms where staff or contractors are not visiting. For more
details you can ask to see our smoke-free policy.

Improvements and repairs
You have different rights and responsibilities about
improvements and repairs that it is important you know about.
You can read section 10 - Repairs and maintenance for
more information.

Insurance
It is very important that you get home insurance. You can read
more about this in section 4 - Moving in.




Tenant handbook                                          October 2007
Section 9




Looking after
your home
   Condensation and mould
   Preventing dampness
   Frost damage
   Pests
Section 9 - Looking after your home



Looking after your home
Condensation and mould
Most of the complaints we receive about dampness turn out to
be a problem with condensation. This is caused when moisture
carried by warm air reaches a cold surface and appears to make
the surface damp. Condensation can cause damage to
decorations, floor coverings, clothes and bedding.
You can limit condensation and mould growth by producing
less moisture. Try to reduce the amount of water in the air by:
   using heating systems according to their design
   recommendations;
   keeping lids on saucepans;
   opening windows for ventilation;
   not using paraffin or portable gas heaters;
   keeping kitchen and bathroom doors closed when these
   rooms are being used;
   trying to keep your home warm enough so you don’t have
   cold surfaces;
   not blocking up any airbricks or vents;
   using extractor fans, where installed, in the kitchen and bathrooms;
   wiping surfaces which have become wet with condensation;
   cleaning off any mould with an anti-fungicidal solution or a
   dilution of household bleach mixed with water;
   properly ventilating tumble dryers to the outside;
   drying clothes outside rather than inside; and
   ventilating behind wardrobes and cupboards by leaving a
   space between the back and the wall.




Tenant handbook                                            October 2007
                                         Section 9 - Looking after your home




Preventing dampness
There are damp proof courses in the brickwork of your home
to stop dampness rising from the ground. There are often air
bricks in walls below suspended ground floors to prevent
moisture building up under the floor.
It is essential that the soil level is below the level of the
dampproof course and you keep air bricks clear.

Frost damage
Cold spells in winter can cause problems such as burst or
frozen pipes. There are things you can do to avoid this.
   Heat your home and try to maintain a minimum
   temperature at all times. If you have central heating with a
   thermostat, set it to at least 10 degrees. If your thermostat is
   in a hallway, use the radiator in the hall or the temperature
   may not reach 10 degrees.
   If you are going away for a few days, try and have the
   heating on for at least a short time every day. If you are
   going away for a longer time you should drain the pipes to
   prevent pipes from bursting (see section 11 - Diagnosing
   a repair).
   Let warm air circulate to unheated parts of your home.

If your pipes freeze:
    turn off the water at the stop tap;
    turn your taps on;
    switch off your immersion heater, if you have one, or turn
    off the boiler; and
    phone customer services for advice and help.


Tenant handbook                                               October 2007
Section 9 - Looking after your home




If you have a burst pipe:
    turn off the water at the stop tap;
    switch off the electricity at the mains if water is coming
    into contact with wiring or fuses;
    switch off your water heaters or central heating;
    turn your taps off;
    phone customer services for advice and help; and
    if you are in a flat, warn your neighbours below that water
    might seep into their home.

Pests
It is your responsibility to deal with pest problems, unless you
live in supported or sheltered housing. In some situations we
may be able to help, such as with infestations of rats, pharaoh
ants, and cockroaches. For more information about how to deal
with pests contact your local environmental health department.




Tenant handbook                                        October 2007
Section 10




Repairs and
maintenance
  The Circle Anglia standard
  How do I report a repair?
  What we will do for you
  Types of repair you will need to
  arrange yourself
  Repairs we can charge you for
  How quickly will we complete your repair?
  Arranging an appointment
  How can I let you know what I think of
  the repairs service?
  Repairs for frail, elderly and disabled
  people, and for supported housing
  service users
  Your right to repair
  Planned repair and maintenance
  programmes
  What do I need to do if I want to repair
  and improve my home myself?
  Yearly gas check
  Adaptations
Section 10 - Repairs and maintenance



Repairs and maintenance
The Circle Anglia standard

Offering so much more
The Circle Anglia standard is the minimum standard to
which we carry out repairs and improvements to your home.
We aim to deliver so much more than the minimum
legal requirements. There is more information about this
standard in section 16 - Our commitment to you.
Our aim is to give you an efficient day-to-day repairs
service that responds to your needs.
How do I report a repair?
Our repairs service operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week,
365 days a year. You can report repairs to us by phone, e-mail,
through our website, or in person at our offices during normal
opening hours. All of our contact details are available in
section 1 – Contacting us.
Don’t worry if you do not speak English as your first language,
as we can arrange for a phone translation within a few minutes.
Outside normal office hours
Outside our normal opening hours an external supplier provides
an emergency phone service. They will send a contractor to
visit you to make safe any fault in your home that is an
immediate danger to any person, or to the fabric of the
building. We will investigate other repairs and book them in the
following working day.




Tenant handbook                                     November 2008
                                     Section 10 - Repairs and maintenance




Our e-mail and website repair-reporting services also operate
24 hours a day. However, please note that these services are
only staffed during our normal opening hours and we cannot
check and carry out any repairs until the next working day.
Please do not use these methods of reporting a repair if it is an
emergency which needs an immediate response.

What we will do for you
As your landlord we must make sure that your home is
structurally sound and weathertight, and that you are provided
with hot water and a means to keep your home warm.
The type of repairs that we will carry out include repairs to:
   heating and hot water;
   electrical wiring, sockets and light fittings;
   plumbing;
   roofs, outside walls, windows and doors;
   drains and gutters;
   inside walls, floors, ceilings and doors;
   kitchen units; and
   baths, basins and toilets.

Types of repair you will need to arrange yourself
You are responsible for carrying out any repairs that are caused
by accidental damage, misuse or neglect. This includes any
damage caused by friends and visitors to your home.
There are different rules if you live in supported or sheltered
housing - please talk to your staff worker for more information.




Tenant handbook                                            October 2007
Section 10 - Repairs and maintenance




You are also responsible for:
    decorations inside;
    replacing light bulbs;
    door handles and latches inside;
    replacing keys and locks if you have lost your key or it has
    broken in the lock;
    clearing blockages to sinks and basins if you have caused the
    blockage; and
    TV aerials (unless you have a shared aerial we have provided),
    phone lines, satellite and cable TV, and broadband.
If we have to lift any laminate flooring that you have fitted
to carry out repairs, you are responsible for refitting it. We
cannot be held responsible for any costs you may have to pay
for re-laying or replacing this type of flooring.

Repairs we can charge you for
We will charge you if we have to carry out a repair to your
home for which you are responsible. You will generally need to
pay before we carry out the work and we will charge you the
full cost of the repair plus an administration fee and VAT.
An adviser will give you more details if this applies.




Tenant handbook                                        October 2007
                                     Section 10 - Repairs and maintenance




How quickly will we complete your repair?
We will always complete every repair as quickly as we can.
We split the types of repair into three main categories
(depending on how urgent the work is). Each has a maximum
target time limit to complete the job.
Emergency repairs are mainly those that have serious effects
on people or damage to your home.
They include, but are not limited to:
  a water leak that cannot be contained;
  total loss of electrics or water;
  fire damage and flooding;
  major structural damage;
  repairs to doors and windows where your property is
  not secure;
  serious blockages to main drains (or blocked toilet if it is your
   only one);
  a complete loss of heating where no temporary heating
  is available;
  a broken-down lift; and
  offensive or discriminatory graffiti.
You will not have to wait more than 24 hours for a
contractor to come to your home and make it safe.
Please note that we may have to return at a later date to
complete a full repair.
Urgent repairs are those that are inconvenient, affect your
comfort and which, if left incomplete, may cause damage to
your home. This includes but is not limited to:



Tenant handbook                                            October 2007
Section 10 - Repairs and maintenance




   heating and hot-water breakdowns (the contractor will
   always try to visit within 24 hours but if parts are needed to
   complete the repair, a second visit may be needed);
   minor leaks and blocked drains and pipes;
   faulty electrical fittings and minor electrical faults; and
   leaking roofs.
You will not have to wait more than seven calendar
days for our contractor to complete this type of repair.
Routine repairs are those that cause inconvenience to you but
are not urgent and do not pose an immediate risk to your
health and safety. This includes but is not limited to:
   repairs to walls outside;
   repairing and replacing individual kitchen units;
   replacing door and window furniture (if there is no safety or
   security risk);
   repairs to plasterwork;
   replacing wall and floor tiles;
   minor plumbing work and replacing taps;
   repairing and clearing guttering and downpipes; and
   minor roof repairs.
You will not have to wait more than 28 calendar days
for our contractor to complete this type of repair.




Tenant handbook                                        October 2007
                                    Section 10 - Repairs and maintenance




Arranging an appointment
Wherever possible we will agree an appointment that is
convenient for you and us. This will normally be either a
morning or afternoon appointment but if there are certain
times that you are not able to be at home (for example, if you
are taking or collecting children from school) do let us know
and we will do our best to help.
If your circumstances change and you are unable to keep your
appointment please let us know as soon as possible. We can
then rearrange your appointment and give your old
appointment slot to someone else.
If you have an emergency repair, we will try to give you an idea
of when you can expect someone to visit you but we may not
be able to give you a precise time.

How can I let you know what I think of the
repairs service?
After the repair has been carried out we will call you to ask a
couple of questions to make sure that you are happy with the
work we have done. We really do appreciate your views on our
services and we do make changes to our service based on the
feedback you give us.




Tenant handbook                                           October 2007
Section 10 - Repairs and maintenance




Repairs for frail, elderly and disabled people, and
for supported housing service users
We understand that if you are frail, elderly or disabled or are a
supported housing service user things that go wrong in your
home can be more than just an inconvenience. We will always
prioritise repairs for frail, elderly or disabled customers and
supported housing service users, particularly for things like
broken heating systems where your health may quickly be
affected if the system is out of action.
If you live in a care home or in sheltered housing we will
automatically give your repair request a higher priority.
Emergency repairs: We will aim to visit your home and make
safe an emergency repair within four hours of you reporting it
to us.
Urgent repairs: We will aim to complete your repair within 24
hours of you reporting it to us.
Routine repairs: We will aim to complete your repair within
seven days of you reporting it to us.




Tenant handbook                                         October 2007
                                      Section 10 - Repairs and maintenance




Your right to repair
If we fail in our duty to have a ‘qualifying repair’ carried out
within the set period, and (after a further request) fail to
complete the work within the second set period, we will pay
you compensation.
A qualifying repair is one which does not cost more than £500
and which, if not carried out within a set period, is likely to put
your health, safety or security at risk. It is the type of repair
listed under Emergency and Urgent.
You need to report repairs in the normal way. When the repair
order is issued we will send you a letter showing the date it is
due to be completed. If the repair is not completed within the
time shown and you consider it to be a qualifying repair, you
should report the fault again stating that you consider it a
qualifying repair. If this is agreed, we will send you a second
letter confirming that the repair qualifies and give you a new
date for completion.
If a qualifying repair has not been carried out within the second
set period we will pay you £10, plus £2 a day for every day the
repair is still not done (up to a maximum of £50).
There is no right to compensation if you do not co-operate
with us in providing reasonable access to inspect or carry out
a repair.
Normally we will pay you the compensation by cheque.
However, we may use any compensation towards any money
you owe us, for example outstanding rent payments.




Tenant handbook                                             October 2007
Section 10 - Repairs and maintenance




Planned repair and maintenance programmes
We regularly carry out planned repair, maintenance and
improvement work to all of our homes. We aim to carry out this
type of work to make sure that we replace areas like your
kitchen and bathroom at the end of their natural lifespan.
The types of work that are often carried out as part of this
programme include:
   replacing kitchens and bathrooms;
   replacing gas central-heating boilers;
   yearly gas servicing;
   decorations and repairs outside;
   replacing roofs and windows;
   replacing fencing; and
   electrical testing and rewiring.
We will write to you to advise you when your home is due to
receive planned maintenance as part of one of these
programmes of work.
You can read more about our planned repair programmes in
section 16 - Our commitment to you.




Tenant handbook                                        October 2007
                                    Section 10 - Repairs and maintenance




What do I need to do if I want to repair and
improve my home myself?
You can carry out minor repairs to your home without
our permission.
Examples of a minor repair are:
   unblocking a drain or toilet;
   replacing light bulbs;
   replacing a toilet seat;
   replacing a tap washer;
   changing internal door handles; and
   changing a tap.
If you want to carry out any other type of improvement, you
need to write to your local office to ask permission. You will
need to give details of the work that you want to do and tell us
who will be carrying out the work.
You need to make sure that anyone carrying out work in your
home is suitably qualified and competent to carry out the work.
In particular, gas installers must be registered with
CORGI and anyone carrying out electrical work needs to
be a ‘competent person’.
We will write to you and confirm whether we have given our
permission for you to go ahead with this work.
Some improvement work, particularly if it involves electrical or
heating improvements, will need building regulations approval.
You will need to discuss this with your local council and make
sure that copies of any final certificates are sent to us.



Tenant handbook                                           October 2007
Section 10 - Repairs and maintenance




Whenever you are carrying out any home-improvement work
yourself, please remember to limit any noisy work to times that
will not cause your neighbours any inconvenience.
Asbestos
It is very important that you are aware of the risks of asbestos
when carrying out work. You cannot tell whether a product
contains asbestos simply by looking at it. The greatest risk arises
when asbestos is damaged or drilled, sawn, scrubbed or
sanded. When damaged, asbestos releases fibres that can
cause serious lung disease. DIY work can result in brief but high
levels of exposure. If you think a material might contain
asbestos, don’t work on it - get expert advice.
Satellite dishes
Before you put up a satellite dish you should contact us to
check whether you need planning permission. In some
situations you may not be able to put up a satellite dish.
Compensation
If the improvement you are carrying out is a qualifying
improvement, you may be entitled to compensation when
you move.
Qualifying improvements are those to:
  baths;
  washbasins;
  toilets;
  kitchen sinks;
  kitchen units and worktops;
  room or water heating;


Tenant handbook                                         October 2007
                                      Section 10 - Repairs and maintenance




   pipe insulation, water tanks or cylinders;
   loft insulation;
   windows (replacement);
   draughtproofing;
   rewiring; and
   security features (not security gates and burglar alarms).

We will only pay compensation if there is evidence that we gave
you permission to do the work. The amount of compensation is
based on:
  the original cost;
  the condition of the item when you are leaving the property;
  and
  how long it is since the work was done and how long that
  item would normally be expected to last.




Tenant handbook                                               March 2008
Section 10 - Repairs and maintenance




Yearly gas check
Every year around 30 people in the UK die because of poorly
maintained gas appliances.
If you have any gas appliances in your home we will visit you
once a year to inspect and service them. By law we have to
carry out this work every year to make sure that the gas
appliances in your home are safe to use.
We take this duty very seriously and will take legal action
against any residents who do not provide access for us to carry
out this vital work. We may also claim back our legal costs from
you if we have to issue court proceedings.
Please look out for the letters that we will send you to arrange
an appointment for this work. We will normally contact you
between six and eight weeks before the anniversary date of
your last inspection to arrange a visit.




Tenant handbook                                        October 2007
                                      Section 10 - Repairs and maintenance




Adaptations
We are committed to providing adaptations to the homes of
residents who are disabled or have problems moving round so
they can live safely and independently for as long as it is
possible.
We provide in-house funding for minor adaptations, and will
assist you to apply for a Disabled Facilities Grant from a Local
Authority for major adaptation.
Adaptations do not include the following work.
  Work outside unless it is necessary to allow access to
  the property.
  Supplying or installing mobility scooter ramps or
  storage space.
  Portable aids and equipment, and adaptations which are not
  fixed or fitted to any part of the building - these are the
  responsibility of the local authority.
  Sound insulation, double glazing and central heating.
  Like-for-like replacements.
If you would like to request an application please get in touch
using section 1 - Contacting us.
There is a very high demand for major adaptations. If there is
funding available and there isn’t a need to apply for a DFG, we
will add your details to the adaptations programme waiting list.




Tenant handbook                                             October 2007
Section 11




Diagnosing a repair
   Clearing a blocked waste pipe
   Stopping your toilet overflow
   The toilet
   Drains
   The bathroom suite
   Hot- and cold-water system
   The boiler
   Heating
   Resetting a trip switch
   Electrical fittings
   Roofs and walls
   Stairs and flooring
Section 11 - Diagnosing a repair



Diagnosing a repair
Before contacting us please have a look at the information in
this section so that you can tell us more about the problem.
The clearer you can be, the more likely we will be able to fix the
problem first time.
The advice below is intended for people living in self-contained
accommodation only.

Clearing a blocked waste pipe (see diagram 1)
General advice
  Blockages are usually caused by the build-up of waste such
  as fat, tea leaves, hair and so on in the trap. It is a good idea
  to clear wastepipes and traps at least once a month,
  preferably with a suitable product available from DIY stores
  and supermarkets.
  The trap is under the bath, basin or sink.
  The trap always holds some water which stops air or foul
  smells coming up the drain. However, waste can build up
  and become stuck in it.
  If more than one bath, basin or sink is blocked, the blockage
  may be in the soil stack or main drain. This will need to be
  cleared by a plumber. If this is the case contact us.

What to do
You need:
  a bowl;
  a jug or cup;
  a rag or dishcloth;
  a plunger; and
  rubber gloves.

Tenant handbook                                         October 2007
                                         Section 11 - Diagnosing a repair




Unblocking a bath, basin or sink
  Remove most of the water.
  Hold the rag tightly over the overflow opening.
  Place the plunger over the plughole and pump up and
  down rapidly.
  After clearing the blockage unscrew the trap and clean it out.
  Thoroughly wash your hands and all the equipment after you
  have finished.

Unblocking a toilet
  If the toilet is already full, remove some of the water into a
  bucket using some form of scoop, for example a jug or bowl.
  Push the brush or plunger to the bottom of the pan.
  Pump it up and down vigorously about 10 times.
  This creates a vacuum and pressure which may shift
  the blockage.
  Flush the toilet to see whether the blockage has gone.
  Thoroughly wash your hands and all equipment after you
  have finished.
  You may need to repeat this process several times before
  the toilet flushes normally. If there is no improvement after a
  couple of tries you should contact us.




Tenant handbook                                           October 2007
Section 11 - Diagrams



Diagram 1 - Clearing a blocked waste pipe




Tenant handbook                         October 2007
                                          Section 11 - Diagnosing a repair




Stopping your toilet overflow (see diagram 2)
General advice
  Check if a service valve is fitted, so that you can turn off the
  water supply to the cistern temporarily. To turn the water
  supply off, turn the screw on the valve a quarter turn using
  a screwdriver.
  If the ball float does not float, a plumber needs to replace it
  and you need to contact us.

Check what the problem is
  Remove the cistern lid and flush the toilet.
  Lift the ball float up and check if the waterflow stops.
  If the waterflow does not stop, the ball valve or washer may
  need to be replaced. If the waterflow stops, the ball float
  needs adjusting. Contact us to arrange for this work to be
  carried out.

What to do
You can stop the water temporarily by placing a piece of wood
across the top of the cistern and tying the float arm to it.
You need:
   a piece of wood; and
   a piece of strong string.

To stop or limit the flow until a repair is carried out:
   tie the string around the float arm, close to the ball float;
   place the piece of wood across the cistern and tie the other
   end of the string to it; and
   tighten the string to pull the ball float up (see diagram 2).


Tenant handbook                                            October 2007
Section 11 - Diagrams



Diagram 2 - Stopping your toilet overflow




Tenant handbook                         October 2007
                                           Section 11 - Diagnosing a repair




The toilet (see diagram 3).
You are responsible for:
  cleaning and de-scaling the toilet pan;
  making good any damage caused by you, a member of your
  family or a visitor to your home; and
  trying to clear blocked toilets.
  If a blockage is caused by unusual items such as toys, we will
  charge you for clearing it.

Advice
  We cannot guarantee an exact colour match when replacing
  toilets, but we will try to match as closely as possible.
  Do not use the toilet while it is blocked.
  If the flush is broken, you can use a bucket of water to flush
  the toilet while you are waiting for the repair to be carried out.

When you call we need to know the following
 Leaking
 Where is the leak coming from?
 If the cistern is leaking, could it be condensation?
 (The top of cistern would be dry and the bottom wet.)
 Has the toilet pan come away from the floor, soil pipe or
 flush pipe?
 Blockage
 How did this happen?
 If you are in a flat, are other flats affected?
 Have you tried clearing the blockage yourself?




Tenant handbook                                             October 2007
Section 11 - Diagnosing a repair




   Damaged or faulty flush
   What part is damaged?
   Is it the cistern, toilet pan, seat or flush? (see diagram 3).
   How did this happen?
   What type of cistern is it? (see diagram 3)
   What type of flushing mechanism is it: chain, handle or push
   button? (see diagram 3)
   If it is a faulty flush; is it trickling, continuously running or not
   flushing at all?
   Has the toilet pan come away from the floor?




Tenant handbook                                             October 2007
                         Section 11 - Diagrams



Diagram 3 - The toilet




Tenant handbook                 October 2007
Section 11 - Diagnosing a repair




Drains (see diagram 4).
You are responsible for:
  trying to clear blocked waste pipes;
  clearing leaves and rubbish from gully grids; and
  making good any damage caused by you, a member of your
  family or a visitor to your home.

Advice
  Make sure you know where your stop tap is in order to turn
  off the water in an emergency.
  If any damage is caused by water or waste leaking, you may
  be able to make a claim on your contents insurance.
  If you caused the damage we will charge you for the
  repair work.

When you call we need to know the following
(see diagram 4)
   What is the problem?
   Is a waste pipe blocked?
   Is a gutter or downpipe loose, leaking or blocked?
   Is a bracket, joint or shoe loose or broken?
   Is a manhole cover missing or broken?
   Is a drain smelling or blocked?
   Is a gully blocked or grid missing?
   If a waste pipe is blocked, is it the bath, basin, sink or shower?
   Is more than one fitting blocked?
   Do you know what is causing the problem?
   If your property is a flat, are other flats in the block affected?
   Have you tried clearing the blockage yourself?



Tenant handbook                                          October 2007
                                             Section 11 - Diagnosing a repair




   Manhole cover
   Is it loose, damaged or missing?
   Where is it?
   What shape is it - square or round?
   Drain
   If it is blocked, is it overflowing?
   Gully or grid
   What shape is the grid? (see diagram 4)




Tenant handbook                                               October 2007
Section 11 - Diagrams



Diagram 4 - Drains




Tenant handbook         October 2007
                                        Section 11 - Diagnosing a repair




The bathroom suite (see diagram 5)
You are responsible for:
  cleaning baths, sinks and basins;
  repairing or replacing bathroom cabinets, towel rails and
  mirrors;
  repairing showers or shower fittings that have not been
  installed by us;
  replacing plugs and chains to baths, basins and sinks;
  making good any damage caused by you, a member of your
  family or a visitor to your home;
  repairing any improvements you have made yourself; and
  clearing blocked waste pipes.
  If a blockage is caused by unusual items such as toys, we will
  charge you for clearing it.

Advice
  We cannot guarantee an exact colour match when replacing
  bathroom fittings or tiles. However, we will try to match as
  closely as possible.
  Do not use the bath or sink if the waste pipe is blocked -
  wait until the blockage has been cleared.

When you call we need to know the following
 What is the problem?
 Are bathroom fittings loose or broken?
 Is a waste pipe leaking or blocked?
 Are tiles cracked or broken?
 Is a tap dripping or faulty?




Tenant handbook                                          October 2007
Section 11 - Diagnosing a repair




   Taps
   What type of taps are they? (see diagram 5)
   Is it the hot or cold tap?
   Panels
   Is it a side or end panel?
   Is it made of plastic, metal or hardboard?
   Bath or basin
   What is it made of, plastic, metal or porcelain?
   Shower
   Is it a part that is broken, for example a shower head
   or hose?
   Is there any water coming through?
   How is the shower operated - is it electrical or connected
   to the hot-water system?
   What make is the shower unit? If it is an electrical shower
   you can find this on the casing.
   Blockage
   Have you tried clearing it yourself?
   What is blocked?
   Is it the bath, basin, sink, shower or toilet?




Tenant handbook                                        October 2007
                                 Section 11 - Diagrams



Diagram 5 - The bathroom suite




Tenant handbook                         October 2007
Section 11 - Diagnosing a repair




Hot- and cold-water system (see diagram 6).
You are responsible for:
  turning off water at the stop tap and opening all taps if a
  water pipe has burst;
  taking steps to prevent water in pipes and taps freezing; and
  making good any damage caused by you, a member of your
  family or a visitor to your home.
Advice
  Make sure you know where your stop tap is so you can turn
  off the water in an emergency.
  If any damage is caused by water leaking, you may be able
  to make a claim on your contents insurance.
  If you caused the damage, we will charge you for the repair
  work.

When you call we need to know the following.
 What is the problem?
 Is it a waterpipe which has burst or is leaking?
 Is an overflow running or broken?
 If water is leaking into the property is it coming from the flat
 above? If yes, what is the address?
 Is it coming from the roof into the loft?
 Is it dripping or pouring through a ceiling?
 If yes, is the ceiling bulging?
 Is the water coming from the bath, basin, kitchen sink, toilet,
 leaking pipe or joint, seal between tiles, wastepipe, trap,
 supply or from a radiator?
 Is it causing any other damage for example to electrical



Tenant handbook                                       October 2007
                                        Section 11 - Diagnosing a repair




   fittings or walls?
   Radiator leaking
   Is the radiator loose or coming away from the wall?
   If yes, how did this happen?
   Is the leak coming from a joint, valve, hole or pipe?
   If the damage has been caused by misuse, we will charge
   you for carrying out the repair.
   Overflow
   Is the overflow coming from the bathroom or loft?
   If yes, is it dripping or gushing from the pipe?
   Are there any other problems connected to any of the above?




Tenant handbook                                          October 2007
Section 11 - Diagrams



Diagram 6 - Hot- and cold-water system




Tenant handbook                          October 2007
                                         Section 11 - Diagnosing a repair




The boiler (see diagram 7)
You are responsible for:
  checking the water timer or programmer is set correctly;
  making sure that your electricity or gas bill has been paid or
  your meter credit does not run out; and
  making good any damage caused by you, a member of your
  family or a visitor to your home.

Advice
  If you suspect a gas leak, call Transco immediately on
  0800 111 999. Always check if you have left on any unlit gas
  appliances or if a pilot light has gone out. Turn off the gas at
  the mains and open windows. Do not smoke or switch
  anything electrical on or off until the problem is sorted out.

When you call we need to know the following.
 What is the problem?
 Is it heating, hot water, cold water, or the immersion heater?
 No hot water
 Are you getting any water from the hot tap and is it warm
 at all?
 Have you checked that the timer or programmer is
 set correctly?
 Is the water heated by electric immersion heater or
 gas boiler?
 If you have a ‘pay as you go’ meter for electricity or gas,
 have you checked that there is credit on the meter?




Tenant handbook                                           October 2007
Section 11 - Diagnosing a repair




   Immersion heater
   What is the problem?
   If it is an economy-7 heater (usually where the heating is
   electric), have you checked if the booster button works on
   the immersion?
   Is it tripping the electrics?
   No cold water or low pressure
   Do you know if your neighbours are affected?
   If pressure is low, is it just through the hot tap or the cold tap
   as well?
   Are you getting any water through the kitchen tap?




Tenant handbook                                            October 2007
                         Section 11 - Diagrams



Diagram 7 - The boiler




Tenant handbook                 October 2007
Section 11 - Diagnosing a repair




Heating (see diagram 8)
You are responsible for:
  checking the heating timer or programmer is set correctly;
  checking the room thermostat is set to the correct
  temperature; and
  making good any damage caused by you, a member of your
  family or a visitor to your home.

Advice
  If you suspect a gas leak, call Transco immediately on
  0800 111 999. Always check if you have left an appliance
  on and unlit or if a pilot light has gone out. Turn off the gas
  at the mains and open windows. Do not smoke or switch
  anything electrical on or off until the problem is sorted out.

When you call we need to know the following.
 What is the problem?
 Is it gas or solid-fuel heating?
 What kind of system is it, back- or wall-mounted boiler?
   (see diagram 8)
   Do you know the make and model of the boiler (normally on
   the front of the boiler)?
   Are any radiators getting warm?
   Are the radiators just cold at the top? If yes, have you tried
   bleeding them?




Tenant handbook                                        October 2007
                      Section 11 - Diagrams



Diagram 8 - Heating




Tenant handbook              October 2007
Section 11 - Diagnosing a repair




Resetting a trip switch (see diagram 9).
General advice
  Modern electric circuits are fitted with circuit breakers called
  trip switches. If a fault develops, a switch is tripped and the
  circuit is broken.
  All of the fuses and trip switches are in the consumer unit (fuse
  box). The consumer unit may be next to the electricity meter
  (unless the meter is in an outside cupboard).
  Trip switches usually operate because:
  - there are too many fittings or appliances on a circuit and it
    has been overloaded;
  - an appliance is faulty or misused;
  - leads to appliances such as televisions, hairdryers and
    stereos are loose or badly connected;
  - water has leaked into a circuit;
  - light bulbs have blown;
  - immersion heaters are faulty; or
  - kettles have been overfilled.
  If an appliance is faulty, leave it unplugged and get a
  qualified electrician or service engineer to check it.

Emergency action (see diagram 9).
  Open the cover on the consumer unit so you can see the
  trip switches.
  Check which switches have tripped to the ‘off’ position.
  Depending on your type of unit, it may just be one mini
  circuit breaker (MCB), or the residual current device (RCD)
  which protects the MCBs.



Tenant handbook                                         October 2007
                                           Section 11 - Diagnosing a repair




   Put these switches back to the ‘on’ position. On a square
   consumer unit, take care to press the ‘tripped’ switch down
   until you hear a click before flicking it up again.

If the trip goes again:
If it trips again it is probably being caused by a faulty appliance.
You need to identify which circuit is being affected and which
appliance on that circuit is causing the problem.
To identify the appliance with the problem you need to:
   check all the rooms in the house and note which set of lights
   or sockets is not working;
   unplug all appliances on that problem circuit and switch off
   the immersion heater;
   switch the ‘tripped’ MCB (and RCD where appropriate) to the
   ’on’ position;
   plug in the appliances one at a time;
   do not use double adaptors when testing appliances - test
   one appliance per socket, until the trip goes again, to
   identify which appliance is faulty;
   leave the faulty appliance unplugged until it has been
   repaired by a qualified electrician;
   make sure your hands are dry when you work with electricity;
   and
   never tamper with the electricity company’s fuses and seals.




Tenant handbook                                             October 2007
Section 11 - Diagrams



Diagram 9 - Resetting a trip switch




Tenant handbook                       October 2007
                                           Section 11 - Diagnosing a repair




Electrical fittings (lights, sockets and smoke
alarms) (see diagram 10)
You are responsible for:
  resetting trip switches and, if necessary, turning off the
  mains supply;
  replacing bulbs, fuses, fluorescent tubes and starters (except
  in shared areas); and
  making sure that your electricity bill has been paid or your
  meter credit does not run out.

Advice
  Do not touch bare wires, sockets or switches if wet.
  If water is leaking onto electrical fittings, this is dangerous.
  You should turn the power off at the mains.
  If damage is caused by you or a faulty appliance, we will
  charge you for the repair.




Tenant handbook                                             October 2007
Section 11 - Diagrams



Diagram 10 - Electrical fittings (lights, sockets
and smoke alarms)




Tenant handbook                             October 2007
                                          Section 11 - Diagnosing a repair




Roofs and walls (see diagram 11).
You are responsible for:
  securing television or radio aerials and satellite dishes (if we
  have given written permission);
  decorating walls and ceilings inside your home;
  repairing minor cracks and holes in walls or ceiling plaster;
  and
  making good any damage caused by you, a member of your
  family or a visitor to your home.

Advice
  Do not use electrical fittings if the roof is leaking and they
  are getting wet. Turn off the electricity supply at the mains.
  In newly-built homes, plaster may show signs of settlement.
  The building contractor will cover cracks and decorative
  faults usually during the first year (the defects liability
  period). You should not carry out any decorating work until
  the end of this period.
  If damage is caused by water leaking, you may be able to
  claim on your own contents insurance.
  If you caused the damage, we will charge you for the
  repair work.




Tenant handbook                                            October 2007
Section 11 - Diagrams



Diagram 11 - Roofs and walls




Tenant handbook                October 2007
                                           Section 11 - Diagnosing a repair




Stairs and flooring (see diagram 12)
You are responsible for:
  repairing or replacing damaged skirting;
  repairing or renewing any floor tiles or vinyl flooring that we
  did not fit; and
  making good any damage caused by you, a member of your
  family or a visitor to your home.

Advice
  We will not accept responsibility for damage to carpets or
  floor coverings unless it is a result of our neglect.
  If you caused the damage we will charge you for the
  repair work.

When you call we need to know the following (see diagram 11).
  What is the problem?
  Is a floorboard or skirting board loose, rotten or damaged?
  Is a tread or riser broken?
  Is the handrail loose or broken? Is the floor covering lifting
  or damaged?
  Floor covering
  What type is it?
  Is it floorboards, quarry tiles, plastic tiles, vinyl or laminate?
  What is the problem with the floor covering?
  How many boards or tiles are affected?
  Skirting
  Which room is it in?
  About what length is affected?




Tenant handbook                                             October 2007
Section 11 - Diagnosing a repair




   Stairs
   Is it the stair tread, riser or handrail?
   If it is the stairs, how many are affected?
   If it is the stair rail, is it the handrail, spindles or newel post
   that is damaged or missing?
   How big is the problem and is there a danger of
   tripping over?
   Is it in a shared area?




Tenant handbook                                              October 2007
                                   Section 11 - Diagrams



Diagram 12 - Stairs and flooring




Tenant handbook                           October 2007
Section 12




Areas outside of
your home
  Abandoned vehicles
  Bulk refuse
  Cleaning
  Estate inspections
  Garages
  Gardening
  Graffiti
  Parking
  Playground equipment
Section 12 - Areas outside your home



Areas outside of your home
We always aim to make sure that the shared areas of your
home and any gardens that we are responsible for are
maintained to a high standard. We want your home to be a
nice place to live.
How do I know if I should be receiving this service?
Many of our residents who live in flats or on an estate receive a
cleaning or gardening service (or both) from us. If you are
entitled to receive this service you will already be paying a
service charge for this on top of your weekly rent.
If you pay a service charge we will write to you every year and
give you a breakdown of the different services that you are
paying for in your service charge. We will also provide a full
specification of the estate services that you should be receiving
when you move in. However, if you do want to check on the
estate services that you should be receiving, please contact us.
What we will do
Abandoned vehicles
We will deal with nuisance caused by abandoned and illegal
vehicles for the benefit of all residents and the wider
community. These vehicles are often in an unsafe condition and
may pose a health and safety risk. They can also be a target for
vandalism.
From 1 January 2007 vehicle manufacturers are responsible for
providing the last owners of vehicles with a free ‘take-back’
service. The UK’s two main authorised treatment facilities (ATF)
providers are:
   Cartakeback (www.cartakeback.com); and
   Autogreen (www.autogreen.org).

Tenant handbook                                        October 2007
                                      Section 12 - Areas outside your home




These organisations have been set up to make sure that a
vehicle is got rid of in a responsible and lawful way, and that all
necessary paperwork is completed. To qualify for this service a
vehicle has to have all its important parts, including the engine,
coachwork, transmission, catalytic converter (if fitted) and
wheels, and must not contain any rubbish.
Bulk refuse
If you have any large items of furniture or domestic appliances
(for example beds, fridges or wardrobes) that you want to get
rid of, you should contact your local council to arrange for
them to collect it and get rid of it properly. Most local
authorities offer either a free or low-cost bulk-refuse removal
service.
Do not use shared areas of your property for storing personal
items. If we find personal belongings stored in shared areas we
will write to you and give notice that we will remove these
items as they may be a hazard if there is a fire.
We will:
  remove all abandoned bulk refuse within five days of you
  telling us about it - any abandoned bulk refuse that may be
  a fire hazard will be removed within 24 hours;
  add the costs of removing the refuse to the overall cost of
  your service charge unless we are able to find out who is
  responsible for dumping the refuse (if we are able to identify
  the person responsible, we can charge them the full cost of
  removing the refuse, and an administration fee); and
  normally take photographic evidence when arranging to
  clear abandoned bulk refuse.



Tenant handbook                                             October 2007
Section 12 - Areas outside your home




Cleaning
Members of staff will visit regularly to check the quality of the
cleaning work. We will often take photographs as part of this
inspection, particularly if we want to draw our contractors’
attention to areas that need further attention. We will:
   make sure that we have an appropriate arrangement in
   place for a contractor to carry out this work;
   treat you and your home (including any shared areas and
   gardens) with respect at all times;
   visit regularly to clean shared areas; and
   leave a notice in the shared areas detailing exactly what
   work the cleaners should be carrying out and how often,
   with space for the cleaner to sign and date when they have
   carried out the work.
Estate inspections
We will do inspections on our estates at least every six
weeks to:
  identify repairs that need to be done in shared areas;
  make sure that there are no health and safety issues; and
  generally make sure that the area is being looked after and
  cleaned to a satisfactory standard.
You will be given the opportunity to join in estate inspections at
least twice a year. Some of the problems on estates are not our
responsibility, but are the responsibility of a local council or
another landlord. We report any problems to them and they will
take further action if necessary.




Tenant handbook                                         October 2007
                                      Section 12 - Areas outside your home




As part of our Customer Strategy we have an Excellent Estates
project. The project began in April 2007 and will run for four
years. It is designed to invest in all of our estates by working
closely with residents. For more information about Excellent
Estates, please contact us (see section 1 – Contacting us).
Garages
We have a number of garages that are available for letting to
both our residents and non-residents. There is usually a waiting
list and priority will be given to our residents. At the moment
the garage rent is set in line with the group’s Rent Setting policy.
The rents will be different in different places and non-residents
will be charged VAT as well as the rent. You should only use your
garage to store a vehicle, unless we give you written permission
to store other things in it. You cannot use it for business
purposes and you must keep it clean and tidy.
Gardening
Members of staff will visit regularly to check the quality of the
gardening work that is being carried out. We will often take
photographs as part of this inspection, particularly if we want to
show our contractors areas that need further attention. We will:
   mow any lawn areas regularly and keep them at an
   appropriate height during the growing season (normally
   between March and September);
   make sure that any flowerbeds are planted with shrubs that
   are appropriate to the local environment and that will not
   normally need extra watering to grow well;
   remove or treat weeds on paths and other paved areas with
   an approved weedkiller;



Tenant handbook                                             October 2007
Section 12 - Areas outside your home




   clear leaves from paths and paved areas during the autumn
   months to reduce the risk of slips and falls;
   prune hedges to keep them at an appropriate height and to
   stop branches from blocking footpaths;
   check for and remove litter on each visit;
   set up community composting areas to recycle garden waste
   (where there is enough space) and use the resulting
   compost on our gardens; and
   encourage wildlife where possible by installing bird and bat
   boxes and log piles for insects and hedgehogs.
Graffiti
We will remove all graffiti as soon as possible after we have
been told about it. Priority will be given to removing racist,
sexist or other particularly offensive graffiti. We aim to remove
this type of graffiti within 24 hours of it being reported.

Parking
If you own a car or motorbike and park it in a car park or bay
we have provided, you must make sure it is roadworthy,
properly taxed, licensed and insured.
You must not park commercial vehicles, caravans, boats,
trailers and so on on any of our properties unless you have our
written permission.
You must also not:
  repair vehicles in a way that damages the premises or
  damages parking areas;
  park in places that are not authorised spaces;



Tenant handbook                                        October 2007
                                     Section 12 - Areas outside your home




   block roadways, access areas, footpaths or cause any other
   obstruction; or
   leave untaxed, unlicensed or unroadworthy vehicles,
   including those holding a ‘SORN’ (statutory off-road
   notification) on the premises, within parking areas set aside
   for tenants or on the public highway.
We will consult residents and choose a reputable company to
run any parking schemes that we set up, so that we can avoid
careless parking on estates, arguments between neighbours
about parking, vehicles being dumped illegally and problems
for emergency vehicles if routes are blocked.
Playground equipment
As part of our inspections we will make sure that all play
equipment we own on our sites is safe to use, and maintained.




Tenant handbook                                            October 2007
Section 13




Getting on with your
neighbours
  Antisocial behaviour
  The Respect standard
  Domestic violence
  Harassment
Section 13 - Getting on with your neighbours



Getting on with your neighbours
Antisocial behaviour
We expect you, your household and your visitors to behave in a
responsible way and to respect other tenants and residents in
your local area.
We will act if you or your household do not behave
appropriately, cause nuisance or annoy anyone else, or act in an
antisocial way.
Unacceptable behaviour includes:
  vandalism or damage to property;
  rowdy or drunken behaviour;
  drug dealing or drug use;
  noisy behaviour or loud parties;
  rubbish or litter on the streets;
  intimidating or insulting other people on the street;
  abandoning or burning cars;
  attacking or harassing people; or
  any other behaviour that causes or is likely to cause
  harassment, alarm or distress.
We want to prevent antisocial behaviour. If you feel that you are
suffering as a result of this type of behaviour, you should report
it to us immediately and we will work with you and other
agencies to sort out the problem.
There are no instant solutions but we do have a procedure for
dealing quickly with situations as they happen.




Tenant handbook                                        October 2007
                               Section 13 - Getting on with your neighbours




There are a number of different approaches we may take,
involving you and other agencies:
   mediation;
   ABCs (acceptable behaviour contracts);
   PCAs (parental control agreements);
   ASBOs (antisocial behaviour orders);
   injunctions;
   tenancy demotions; and
   possession action to evict the tenant.
In appropriate cases we will work with the police on closure
orders and disbursement orders.
You can get more information about these approaches from
customer services, or by reading our antisocial behaviour policy.

The Respect standard
The Respect programme was set up by the government to
tackle antisocial behaviour and encourage respect. The aim is
to create communities where people can live together,
showing acceptance and politeness towards each other.
We have signed up to the Respect standard. This means that
we will respond quickly to tackle antisocial behaviour. We are
working with the police, councils and other groups to prevent
problems. We are committed to giving advice and helping to
find solutions for residents.
We have put in place new ways of dealing with reports and
incidents of antisocial behaviour. We are also providing more
and better support for residents who are affected.



Tenant handbook                                              October 2007
Section 13 - Getting on with your neighbours




We will:
  use a range of preventative measures to reduce antisocial
  behaviour;
  put the victim at the centre of anything we do;
  investigate all complaints of antisocial behaviour; and
  always have someone available during office hours to deal
  with antisocial behaviour.
You can read more about the Respect standard at
www.circleangliarespect.org

Domestic violence
Every person has the right to be safe from abuse and fear.
Domestic violence is a crime and will not be accepted.
We define domestic violence as an actual or threatened act
of harassment, assault or abuse (mental, physical or sexual)
against any person living in the same property.
To support and protect residents experiencing domestic
violence, we will:
   provide a supportive environment to encourage people to
   report it;
   give information and advice to help support victims;
   take action against those responsible where possible;
   provide a range of options to support victims;
   work with relevant agencies if we cannot help;
   always make sure residents are safe and keep all information
   confidential; and
   respect the resident’s choice.



Tenant handbook                                       October 2007
                                Section 13 - Getting on with your neighbours




Our tenancy agreements contain a domestic violence clause.
There are a number of legal tools we can use against those
who carry out domestic violence.
After the first report of domestic violence a member of staff
will contact you within 24 hours. We will work with you to
agree an action plan for managing your case. This will include
agreeing on how (and how often) we will communicate with
you throughout the case.

Harassment
We recognise that harassment may take place as a result of
someone’s (or a group’s) race, religion, sex, disability, sexuality
or age. Sometimes harassment can be for other reasons as well.
To support and protect customers experiencing harassment, we
will:
   provide a supportive environment to encourage you to
   report it;
   give you information and advice;
   take action against those responsible if possible;
   provide a range of options to support you;
   work with relevant agencies if we cannot help; and
   always make sure you are safe and we keep all
   information confidential.
We have a harassment clause in the tenancy agreement.
There are a number of ways we can take action against those
who carry out harassment.




Tenant handbook                                               October 2007
Section 13 - Getting on with your neighbours




In harassment cases, we will contact you within 24 hours.
We will work with you to agree an action plan for managing
your case. This will include agreeing on how (and how often)
we will communicate with you throughout the case.
For more information on these issues you can ask to see
our policies on antisocial behaviour, harassment and domestic
violence.




Tenant handbook                                      October 2007
Section 14




About us
  About us
Section 14 - About us



About us
Wherry Housing Association
Wherry Housing Association was formed in 1990 following a
transfer of housing from Broadland District Council. It also runs
sheltered-housing schemes for elderly people, homes for
people with learning difficulties and physical disabilities and a
‘foyer’ offering accommodation and training for young people.
Wherry’s main offices are in Norwich. However, we have
properties across Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire. There
are teams which are responsible for rent, repairs, managing
neighbourhood, sheltered and supported housing, and involving
residents. If you want to contact any of them, you can use the
Contacting us section at the beginning of this handbook.
Wherry is part of a group called Circle Anglia which formed in
2005. You can find out more about us and what we do on the
following pages.




Tenant handbook                                        October 2007
Section 14 - About us



Circle Anglia
Who we are
We are one of the largest housing groups in the UK, formed in
July 2005 from the merger of two housing groups, Circle 33
and Anglia. We are a partnership of housing associations, a
specialist care provider and a commercial services division.
Our slogan is so much more and we aim to provide:
  great homes;
  reliable services; and
  local solutions.
What we do
We manage over 25,000 standard rented properties across
London, East and South-East England. These are aimed at
individuals, couples and families who need affordable
accommodation but don't need extra support to maintain their
tenancy. Managing these properties includes dealing with rent,
repairs, and managing neighbourhoods - for example estate
inspections, looking after communal areas and dealing with
antisocial behaviour.
Some of the other types of accommodation we provide are
outlined below. If you would like more information, please
contact us, or visit www.circleanglia.org/customers.




Tenant handbook                                     October 2007
                                                 Section 14 - About us




Sheltered and supported housing
We manage over 2000 sheltered-housing schemes. These are
aimed at older members of the community who want to live
independently but like the added reassurance of knowing that
they can get help in an emergency or receive support from a
visiting or live-in sheltered-scheme co-ordinator.
We also manage over 1000 supported-housing units for people
who need extra help to keep their tenancy. These include
people with mental-health problems, learning difficulties,
physical disabilities, young people, single homeless people,
ex-offenders, people with drug or alcohol problems and women
at risk of domestic violence.

Other types of properties
We provide a number of properties at market rent (which is
higher than normal housing-association rent) for people who
don't qualify for affordable housing, but like renting from a
housing association. Often these properties are on our new
developments, and bring in extra money to support our
affordable-housing projects.
We share the Government's concern that key workers such as
nurses and teachers can't afford to live in the areas where they
work. That's why we're working with local authorities to find
long-term solutions to housing for key workers. They are also a
priority when it comes to providing homes in our market rent
and shared-ownership schemes.




Tenant handbook                                         October 2007
Section 14 - About us




Shared ownership - New Build HomeBuy
If you cannot buy a property outright on the open market,
New Build HomeBuy (formerly known as shared ownership or
part-buy, part-rent) is a scheme designed to help you buy a
home in stages.
At first, you will buy a share you can afford (the most that you
pay at the beginning is 75%) while paying a subsidised rent on
the rest that you do not own.
As long as you can afford to do so (whether from your own
money or extra borrowing) you may buy further shares at any
time in the future, so you can own all of the property. However,
we do build some properties, particularly in rural areas, where
you can only ever own 80% of the property value. This is to
make sure that these homes are always affordable housing.
Wherever possible, in the case of these rural schemes, we will
give priority for housing to local residents.
Each year we will build new properties for people to buy
through New Build HomeBuy. Although each scheme can vary,
you can buy initial shares from as little as 25%, and pay a
monthly rent and service charge on the rest.
For more information on New Build HomeBuy, please phone the
Sales and Marketing Team on 0845 304 1007 or e-mail
marketingteam@circleanglia.org




Tenant handbook                                       October 2007
                                                 Section 14 - About us




Developing housing
We have an exciting and fast-moving development programme
that provides high-quality new schemes.
We have proved that affordable housing and great design can
go together. Our aim is to provide attractive, high-quality
designs that reduce crime and fit in with their existing
surroundings. New types of construction, energy-efficiency
and lifetime homes also have an important role to play.
We are also committed to providing homes that make a
positive contribution to the environment and to residents' fuel
bills. Building homes that can also be adapted to meet people's
changing needs, as they get older or less mobile, also makes
good sense.

Where we’re heading
Over the next five years we aim to be one of the leading
developing housing groups, delivering 2000 new affordable
homes a year by 2010.
As well as meeting the Government’s Decent Homes standard
by 2010, we aim to take the concept one step further with
Decent Homes Plus, which will identify and tackle any issues not
covered by the Government's current strategy.
We also aim to be a landlord and employer of choice -
providing the first-class services our residents deserve and being
recognised as a first-class employer that quality staff want to
work for.




Tenant handbook                                         October 2007
Section 14 - About us




Involving residents and regenerating communities are an
important part of our approach to building new schemes and
maintaining existing developments. We see involving residents
as a top priority, whether it's involving people in decisions about
new developments, community facilities or service changes or
working with them to tackle local issues like antisocial
behaviour. Residents’ associations and organisations have an
important role to play. So do local consultations, regular
satisfaction surveys and focus groups on specific subjects like
improving services. We want to help people get involved at a
level they feel comfortable with. There is more information
about getting involved in section 15 of this handbook.

More information
If you want to know anything more about us or what we’re doing,
you can visit our website at www.circleanglia.org/customers,
or contact us using the details in section 1.




Tenant handbook                                         October 2007
Section 15




Getting involved
  ‘Customer First’ strategy
  Some of the ways you can get involved
Section 15 - Getting involved



Getting involved
We welcome tenants getting involved in the way we work, in
managing their homes and the neighbourhood where they live.
There are many ways and opportunities for you to have your say
and influence decisions that we take.
Many people do not get involved because they worry they will
have a lot of work to do, but there are many different ways to
be involved which need different levels of commitment.
Getting involved could make a real difference both for you and
other people living in your area.

Customer First strategy
The Customer First strategy sets out how you as a resident or
service user can be involved with us. The purpose of involving
residents and service users is to make sure we are giving you
the services that you want, by listening to you and making
changes that suit your needs.
Involving residents and service users is really important to our
future success and helps us to continuously improve quality and
value to existing customers and attract potential customers to
share those standards.
Each partner will develop their own ways to deliver our strategy
based on local conditions and local needs. Each partner will
publish a leaflet each year showing you how you can get
involved and what each type of involvement offers. This way
you will be able to see which is the best way for you to get
involved. If you want to know more about the Customer First
strategy, you can ask for a copy of it.




Tenant handbook                                       October 2007
                                            Section 15 - Getting involved




Some of the ways you can get involved
Some of the ways you can get involved include:
  joining a residents’ association or helping to set one up;
  joining a focus group for tenants interested in a particular
  area (for example residents meet to discuss, plan, and
  monitor the development of the residents’ website);
  joining a tenant group;
  joining a committee of elected tenants which meets six times
  a year and is the voice of the residents;
  e-mailing us with your ideas;
  visiting our website to learn about the different activities that
  will be happening;
  completing phone and postal surveys and questionnaires; or
  contacting us to keep us informed of activities that you want
  to see happening or would like to help with
For more information about how to get involved, contact us
using section 1.
Don’t forget to take a look at the residents’ pages of the Circle
Anglia website for more information about what is going on in
your area, and for ways you can get articles posted on-line
www.circleanglia.org/customers




Tenant handbook                                           October 2007
Section 16




Our commitment
to you
  The customer service standard
  Equality and diversity
  Moving in to your new home
  The standard for letting a property
  Managing your neighbourhood
  Rent
  Repairs
  The Circle Anglia standard
  Adaptations
  The right to improve
  Antisocial behaviour
  Involvement
  Complaints
  Support services provided by EPIC Trust
Section 16 - Our commitment to you



Our commitment to you
We aim to provide you with a consistently high level of service.
To do this we have agreed some minimum service standards
that we will deliver. This means you can be clear about what
you can expect from us. We developed these standards by
consulting residents.
The customer service standard
We will do the following.
  Treat you with respect and offer a friendly and polite service.
  Have offices and services available from 8.30am to 5pm
  Monday to Friday.
  Provide a 24-hour emergency service every day.
  Answer your phone call within 30 seconds and give you the
  name of the person you are speaking to. The longest you
  should ever have to wait for your call to be answered is two
  minutes. (We are aiming to improve to be able to answer
  your call within 20 seconds).
  Have up-to-date voicemail messages that are checked every
  working day.
  Return calls and messages within one working day.
  Introduce ourselves by name and wear name badges.
  Provide offices that are clean, tidy, comfortable and
  accessible to people with disabilities.
  Provide an area where you can speak to us in private.
  Have minicom and hearing loops available for people with
  hearing difficulties.
  See you at the time of your appointment.




Tenant handbook                                       October 2007
                                     Section 16 - Our commitment to you




   See you within 10 minutes if you do not have
   an appointment.
   Arrange for an interpreter to translate a conversation over
   the phone if you need it.
   Arrange for a signer or interpreter if you need one for your
   appointment (and you tell us beforehand).
   Reply to letters and e-mails within 10 working days.
   Get information from you about your language needs or
   other needs and use this to provide our services to you.
   Send you leaflets on our main policies if you ask for them.
   Give you information in other languages or formats, such as
   Braille or large print, if you ask for it.
   Make sure our website contains useful up-to-date
   information for customers.


Equality and diversity
We will provide all of our publications in other languages and
formats when requested. For more information you can ask for
a copy of our translation policy. We gather information about
our residents in terms of ethnicity, age, gender, sexual
orientation and disability to ensure our services are accessible
and fair, and so that we can make any changes people need.




Tenant handbook                                           October 2007
Section 16 - Our commitment to you




Moving into your new home
We will do the following.
  Come with you to view your new home.
  Tell you when your viewing date is likely to be when we offer
  you a property.
  Provide a home that is safe, clean and ready for you to
  move into.
  Make sure all our properties meet our lettable homes
  standard (details on next page).
  Give you a copy of your tenancy agreement and a tenant
  handbook, containing useful information about your tenancy,
  your home and the services you can expect from us.
  Tell you how you can pay your rent and help you with your
  Housing Benefit form if you need us to.
  Make sure all equipment in your home comes with
  instruction manuals.
  Give you local information when you move in.
  Introduce you to neighbours (if you want) and local
  residents’ associations or other local resident contacts.




Tenant handbook                                     October 2007
                                      Section 16 - Our commitment to you




The standard for letting a property
General
   The property will be secure and weathertight.
   We will make sure that the property and any gardens or
   outbuildings are clear of rubbish and the previous resident’s
   unwanted belongings and is ready for you to move in and
   decorate.
   We will clean the property after we have finished carrying
   out any repair work.
   The property will have adequate heating and hot water.
   All external doors and windows will be secure, lockable and
   weathertight.
   There will be at least two sets of keys for front and back
   doors, and keys for window locks.
   We will fit all final exit doors from your home with insurance-
   quality five-lever mortice locks. A new barrel will be fitted on
   any Yale-type locks.
   All drains and wastes will be free of blockages.
   Any water tanks or cisterns will have a lid.
   We will fit hot- and cold-water supplies with stopcocks so
   they can be maintained and any leaks can be dealt with.
   All ceramic tiling will be clean, free of cracks and with proper
   grouting.
   We will leave a leaflet in your new home which sets out
   where the services are, for example, gas, electric and water
   meters, fuse board, main water stopcock and so on.




Tenant handbook                                            October 2007
Section 16 - Our commitment to you




Cleaning
   We will sweep all hard floor surfaces and mop all vinyl floor
   coverings.
   We will vacuum all carpeted areas.
   We will wipe all fixtures, fittings, window sills and ledges.
   We will clean walls and ceilings and remove cobwebs.
   The bathroom suite, tiles and other surfaces will be clean
   and free of grease and dirt and free of lime scale. We will
   fully clean and disinfect the toilet.
   We will fully clean the kitchen, and remove grease from all
   worktops, tiles, floor, units, walls and ceilings.
Electrics and gas
   We will make sure all fixed electrical systems have been
   checked and that they are working safely.
   There will be at least three double sockets in the kitchen and
   living room and two double sockets in each bedroom.
   All gas installations will be serviced and given a landlord’s gas
   safety certificate. This certificate is valid for one year. By law
   we must visit you at least once a year to carry out your
   gas service.
   We will take meter readings before you move in to make
   sure you are not paying for someone else’s electricity or gas.
Kitchen
   The kitchen will have suitable cupboards and work surfaces
   suitable for preparing food. Cupboard doors will work
   properly and work surfaces will be free of splits, burn marks
   or holes.


Tenant handbook                                           October 2007
                                      Section 16 - Our commitment to you




   There will be a secure storage area for cleaning products and
   other potentially harmful substances.
   The kitchen cupboards, surfaces and sink will be clean and
   free of grease and dirt. The sink will be free of limescale.
   There should be enough space to allow for a fridge, cooker
   and washing machine.
   There will be a gas or electric point for a cooker.
   Please remember that if you are installing a gas cooker you
   must, by law, employ a CORGI-registered gas engineer to
   do this.
   There will be plumbing connections available for a washing
   machine.
   There will be at least three rows of tiles as a splashback to
   the worktops.
   There will be a vinyl floor covering in place that is free of
   tears or other damage.
Bathroom
  Sinks and baths will have a plug and chain.
  The toilet will have a new seat.
  There will be a tiled splashback, at least three rows high
  around the bath and basin.
  There will be a secure storage area for medicines and other
  potentially harmful substances.
  There will be a vinyl floor covering in place that is free of
  tears or other damage.
We will not do major works or replace kitchens and bathrooms
while the property is empty. Instead, this will be done as part of
a future planned replacement programme.

Tenant handbook                                            October 2007
Section 16 - Our commitment to you




Woodwork and joinery
  All architraves, sills and skirting boards will be securely in
  place and not have splits or nails or fixings sticking out.
  The floors and stairs will be in good condition with no loose
  floorboards or treads.
  We will fit open-plan staircases with a suitable handrail or
  banister.
  Internal doors will be undamaged, open and close correctly
  and have appropriate handles and fittings.
Internal decorations
   We will not normally decorate your new home for you.
   Any existing wallpaper will be left in place.
   We may be able to offer you decoration vouchers or an
   allowance to help you meet the cost of decorating your new
   home to your own taste.
   If you are frail, elderly or disabled we may carry out some
   internal decoration for you rather than offer vouchers as we
   recognise you may find it difficult to do the work yourself.
   We will remove any unusual decorative features, such as
   polystyrene ceiling tiles.




Tenant handbook                                       October 2007
                                    Section 16 - Our commitment to you




Managing your neighbourhood
We will do the following.
   Provide a named member of staff for you and your home
   and give you their phone number and e-mail address.
   Visit you within six weeks of you moving in.
   Inspect each estate at least every six weeks.
   Give you the opportunity to take part in your estate
   inspection at least twice a year.
   Tell you about the outcomes of estate inspections.
   Remove rubbish that has been dumped on our estates within
   two working days of it being reported.
   Remove offensive or discriminatory graffiti from our property
   within 24 hours of it being reported.
   Investigate properties reported as abandoned within three
   working days to make them safe and secure.




Tenant handbook                                          October 2007
Section 16 - Our commitment to you




Rent
We will do the following.
   Provide you with a named member of staff to manage your
   rent account and give you their phone number and
   e-mail address.
   Give you a rent card within five days of your tenancy starting.
   Give you information about your rent and how it is set.
   Consult you about changes to service charges.
   Offer a range of ways for you to pay your rent including:
        flexible direct debits that can be set up over the phone;
        a payment card that you can use at the post office and
        in PayPoint and PayZone outlets;
        a phone payment line so that you can pay your rent by
        credit or debit card 24 hours a day, seven days a week;
        and
        an internet payment service for paying using your credit
        or debit card.
   Help you apply for Housing Benefit.
   Make sure all your payments are showing on your account
   within 72 hours of us receiving them.
   Send you a statement at least once every three months and
   when you ask for one. You can also look at your rent
   statement at any time through our website.
   Give you the opportunity to get advice about debt
   and benefits.




Tenant handbook                                        October 2007
                                    Section 16 - Our commitment to you




Repairs
We will do the following.
   Agree an appointment that is convenient for you and us. This
   will normally be either a morning or afternoon appointment.
   Treat your home with respect.
   Show you proof of our identity before we enter your home.
   Make sure our contractors keep to our code of conduct.
   Aim to complete the work in one visit or let you know when
   it will be finished.
   Check with you that the work has been completed.
   Tell you beforehand if we are sending contractors to your
   home.
About the day-to-day repairs service
  We promise that we will treat you and your home with
  respect at all times.
  We will only use professional staff who take pride in their
  work and are suitably qualified and experienced to complete
  the work they have been asked to do.
  Our staff and contractors carry photo identification and will
  always provide proof of identity before entering your home.
  We will respond quickly when you tell us that a repair needs
  to be carried out.
  We want you to be happy with the work we do and the way
  we go about it. We will ask for your views on the quality of
  our day-to-day repairs service and act on the results.
  We will always try to fully complete the repair on the first
  visit and be clear about what will happen next if a second
  visit is needed.

Tenant handbook                                          October 2007
Section 16 - Our commitment to you




Arranging for a repair to be completed
When you contact us to report a repair, we will:
   tell you whether we will deal with your repair as an
   emergency, urgent or routine repair;
   agree an appointment that is convenient for you and us;
   give you the job reference number that relates to your
   repair; and
   send you written confirmation that we have received your
   repair request.
The Circle Anglia standard
We will do the following
  Publicise the details of our major work standard, (for
  example in customer leaflets and the tenant handbook).
  Tell you when your property is due for improvements.
  Offer you even more choice about improvements to your
  home if you have kept to your tenancy agreement.
  Provide you with a named liaison officer before, during and
  after the work.
  Keep you informed throughout the work.

This is the minimum standard to which we carry out repairs and
improvements. Our Standard is higher than Government’s
Decent Homes standard, delivering so much more to all of our
residents.
We will offer benefits for residents if you have not been served
with a notice of seeking possession (NOSP) within the last
12 months.


Tenant handbook                                       October 2007
                                       Section 16 - Our commitment to you




There are different standards for shared supported or
sheltered accommodation.
Bathrooms
We will replace your bathroom at least every 30 years. We will
give you a choice of bathroom styles and designs.
We will:
   offer a shower instead of a bath if you prefer;
   help you save water by installing a double flush toilet; and
   install an extractor fan in your bathroom to help provide
   improved ventilation and reduce condensation.
We will also offer the extra benefits of:
   painting your bathroom walls and ceilings or give you £50 of
   DIY vouchers so you can do this work yourself;
   letting you choose from an increased range of wall tiles and
   floor coverings; and
   giving you a choice of tap styles.

Decoration and repair
We will:
   survey your home and carry out decorations outside and
   repairs to your home about every six years;
   fit extra loft insulation and draughtproofing if needed;
   give you a choice of colours for all painted surfaces
   (walls, window frames, doors, and so on).
We will also offer the extra benefit of fitting five lever mortice
locks, spyholes and security chains to flat or house doors.




Tenant handbook                                             October 2007
Section 16 - Our commitment to you




Testing your electrics
We will:
  inspect and carry out repairs to electrical systems at least
  every 10 years; and
  rewire your home every 30 years.
When rewiring your home we will provide extra electrical
sockets to make sure they have three double sockets in your
kitchen and living room and two double sockets in each bedroom.
We can also offer a free pack of four low energy light bulbs.

Gas boilers
We will replace gas central heating boilers every 10 to 15 years.
To help keep fuel bills down, we will fit energy-efficient boilers
and thermostatically controlled radiator valves.
We can also offer these extra benefits:
   we will paint the pipework and carry out minor decoration or
   give you £50 of DIY vouchers so you can do this work
   yourself; and
   we will provide a digital, programmable timer instead of a
   standard mechanical time clock.

Gas heating
We will replace existing gas central-heating systems about
every 30 years. To help keep fuel bills down, we will fit energy-
efficient boilers, thermostatically controlled radiator valves and
reflective panels behind new radiators.
We will make sure that you have a radiator in every room that
needs one.



Tenant handbook                                         October 2007
                                     Section 16 - Our commitment to you




We can also offer these extra benefits:
  we will paint the pipework and carry out minor decoration or
  give residents £50 of DIY vouchers so you can do this work
  yourself;
  we will provide a digital, programmable timer instead of a
  standard mechanical time clock; and
  we will provide a heated towel radiator in your bathroom.

Kitchens
We will replace your kitchen at least every 20 years.
We will give you a choice of kitchen styles and designs.
We will:
   install extra electrical sockets if needed to make sure there
   are enough electrical sockets in the new kitchen;
   plumb in your existing appliances and provide extra points to
   allow you to plumb in a dishwasher (if there is space);
   design recycling facilities if available; and
   we can arrange for your local water company to assess your
   water usage to see if a water meter may save you money.

We can also offer these extra benefits:
  we will paint kitchen walls and ceilings or give you £75 of
  DIY vouchers so you can do this work yourself; and
  you can choose from an increased range of kitchen styles,
  wall tiles and floor coverings.




Tenant handbook                                           October 2007
Section 16 - Our commitment to you




Adaptations
We will do the following.
  Tell you how the adaptations process works and keep you
  informed throughout.
  Give you clear information about any work we will carry out
  in your home, including target dates.

The right to improve
The minimum you can expect from us is that we will:
  give you information about the right to improve in the
  tenant handbook;
  give you accurate information when you ask;
  reply to applications to carry out alterations and
  improvements within 28 days of the application;
  not refuse permission unreasonably; and
  process claims for compensation for qualifying repairs within
  28 days of the claim.

Antisocial behaviour
We will do the following.
  Always have someone available to deal with antisocial
  behaviour during office hours.
  Investigate all complaints of antisocial behaviour.
  Respond to reports of harassment and domestic violence
  within one working day.
  Offer clear advice and support when you report an incident.
  Agree an action plan with you within two weeks of you
  reporting an incident and review this every month.



Tenant handbook                                      October 2007
                                     Section 16 - Our commitment to you




   Work with you to try to sort out your complaint of antisocial
   behaviour.
   If we close your complaint (that is, we decide not to take any
   more action), we will write to you to explain why.
   Use measures to prevent and reduce antisocial behaviour.
   Use appropriate legal and non-legal solutions to deal with
   antisocial behaviour.

Involvement
We will do the following.
  Give you clear information about how you can become
  involved with us.
  Provide a range of opportunities for you to get involved.
  Offer relevant training that helps you get involved.
  Pay any expenses we have agreed with you to make sure you
  are not out of pocket as a result of being involved.
  Recognise and value your involvement.
  Consult you and publish the results in newsletters.
  Publish a yearly statement of what involving you has
  achieved.

Complaints
We will do the following.
  Let you know how you can make a complaint.
  Try to sort out your issue with you when you first tell us.
  Respond in full within 10 working days if we cannot sort out
  your complaint when you first contact us.
  Look at complaints so that we can learn from them.


Tenant handbook                                           October 2007
Section 16 - Our commitment to you




Support services provided by EPIC Trust
If you receive support from our partner, EPIC Trust, we will do
the following.
    Provide you with a named support worker and a support
    contract, which provides details of your rights and
    responsibilities, when you take up a service.
    Agree a personal support plan with you within two weeks of
    you taking up a service.
    Review your support plan at least every six months.
    Send you an organisational report each year.




Tenant handbook                                      October 2007
Section 17




Putting things right
  Comments
  Complaints
  Stage 1
  Stage 2
  Stage 3
  Independent services
Section 17 - Putting things right



Putting things right
We hope that the services you receive from us are of the
quality you would expect. However, we realise there will be
times when you will want to complain, tell us how we can
improve our services, or perhaps compliment us on something we
have done well.

Comments
Your complaints, comments and compliments are important to
us as they help us improve our services. You do not need to fill
in a form to make a complaint - you can contact us:
   in person;
   by phone;
   by e-mail;
   from our website;
   by writing to us; or
   by fax.




Tenant handbook                                       October 2007
                                          Section 17 - Putting things right




Complaints
Sometimes things go wrong with our service. If this happens,
we have a simple three-stage procedure to put things right.
You can get Putting things right, our complaints leaflet, from
customer services. We treat the following as complaints:
   failure to achieve service standards;
   failure to meet legal or contractual obligations;
   dissatisfaction with a decision or action (if this falls outside
   our agreed policy to provide a service); and
   dissatisfaction with the attitudes of our staff or contractors.
We will not log a formal complaint if the incident happened
more than six months ago and this is the first time you have
told us about it.
If you are reporting something for the first time, like a new
repair or a problem with a neighbour, we will not log it as a
complaint but as a request for service. When you contact us
with a complaint, we will try and fix it straight away. If we
cannot fix it immediately and you want to make a formal
complaint, please tell us so that we can log your complaint.
The more information you provide the easier it is for us to help.
Please tell us what your complaint is about, who you have
contacted and what you would like us to do to put it right.

Stage 1
At this stage your complaint will be formally recorded and the
relevant team manager will investigate your case. Within three
working days we will acknowledge your complaint, including a
leaflet explaining the procedure and details of the staff
member who is doing the investigation.
Tenant handbook                                             October 2007
Section 17 - Putting things right




They will speak to you to try and come up with the right
solutions. They will make sure that the problem is fixed.
They will write to you within 10 days to confirm the details.

Stage 2
If you are not satisfied with our response to stage 1, please
contact us within 28 days of receiving our response and
explain why. Within three working days, we will acknowledge
your complaint.
The head of department will review your complaint and the
previous investigation. They will speak to you to try and come
up with the right solutions. They will make sure that the
problem is fixed. They will write to you within 10 days to
confirm the details.

Stage 3
In the unlikely event of you still not being satisfied, please
contact us within 28 days of receiving our response and explain
why. We will arrange for an independent panel of board and
committee members to hear your complaint. We will invite you
to come to the meeting to present your complaint in person.
The panel will decide whether the complaint has been handled
correctly and decide what further action is needed.
We will write to tell you their decision within 10 working days
of the panel hearing.




Tenant handbook                                        October 2007
                                         Section 17 - Putting things right




Independent services
If you are not satisfied with the decision of the panel, you may
refer your case to another organisation. This is a free service.
If you are a tenant, leaseholder or someone applying for
housing you should contact the Housing Ombudsman Service.
The Ombudsman will only investigate your complaint after it
has been through all the stages of our complaints procedure.
You can get information and forms from customer services or
you may contact the Ombudsman at:
The Independent Housing Ombudsman Service
81 Aldwych
London
WC2B 4HN.
Phone: 020 7421 3800
www.ihos.org.uk
If your complaint is about a support service, you should contact
the relevant local authority Supporting People team. We can
tell you who this is.
If your complaint is about a registered care service provided by
EPIC Trust, you can contact:
Commission for Care Inspection
33 Greycoat Street
London
SW1P 2QF
Phone: 0207 972 000




Tenant handbook                                            October 2007
Section 18




Moving home
  Transfer
  Mutual exchange
  House Exchange
Section 18 - Moving home



Moving home
Transfer
A transfer is when you move to another home we own, or one
owned by another housing association or local authority. You
may be eligible for a transfer, and can contact us to find out
more. Our policy on transfers varies from area to area.
There are a lot of people who want to transfer their properties,
and it is important to understand that there is often a long
waiting time before you can transfer. We prioritise applications
according to your needs.
If you want to move urgently, you can look into other options
rather than transferring. You can look at the possibilities of
private renting, or join a local-authority waiting list. One of the
best options could be mutual exchange.

Mutual exchange
When two or more tenants swap their homes, it is called a
mutual exchange. This can be a good option for tenants
wanting to move to a new place but not wanting to spend time
on a waiting list. Any tenants who have a secure or assured
tenancy can apply for a mutual exchange.
You can swap your property with:
   another tenant of your current landlord;
   a tenant of a local authority; or
   a tenant of another housing association.
You can find an exchange partner by:
  using the House Exchange website;
  using other website services;



Tenant handbook                                          October 2007
                                            Section 18 - Moving home




   placing advertisements in local newsagent and other shop
   windows;
   advertising in local or national newspapers or on websites
   such as www.loot.com; and
   asking friends and people that you know.
When you have found a tenant to exchange with, this is
what needs to happen.
  You should fill in a mutual-exchange application form.
  We will check your tenancy to make sure you do not owe
  any rent.
  We will inspect your property.
  Both landlords will write a report on their tenant.
  Both landlords must agree on whether the exchange can
  take place. We may refuse an exchange if the property is
  too big or too small for the tenant moving in. We will write
  to you to confirm the decision we make.
  If agreed, both tenants will need to sign an
  ‘assignment’. These are the legal papers needed
  to make the exchange legal.
There are other conditions around mutual exchange.
If you want to find out more, you can ask us for our mutual
exchange leaflet, or the detailed policy.

House Exchange
All of our partner housing associations subscribe to House
Exchange, which is a website designed to help people who
want to swap their homes. There are people on there from lots
of different housing associations and councils across the



Tenant handbook                                        October 2007
Section 18 - Moving home




country. The site allows you to:
  search for a property to move to;
  search for people who are interested in your property; and
  search for two-way or three-way exchange possibilities.
You can register for this free service at
www.houseexchange.org.uk




Tenant handbook                                     October 2007
Section 19




Ending your tenancy
  When you want to end your tenancy
  When we can end your tenancy
  Exceptional circumstances
  Succession
Section 19 - Ending your tenancy



Ending your tenancy
You may decide to end your tenancy. If you do, you should
follow the instructions in this section. In some cases we may
want to end your tenancy. We can only do this in certain
circumstances and we need to follow a set of rules.
If we want to end your tenancy we will serve a ‘notice of
seeking possession’. If you do not leave we will apply to the
county court for a possession order to repossess your home.
When you want to end your tenancy
When you want to end your tenancy you should do it properly
to avoid extra costs.
To end your tenancy you need to:
    give four full weeks’ notice in writing ending on a Sunday –
    you can get a termination form from customer services;
    allow us access for a property inspection before your
    tenancy ends - we will tell you if you need to do any repairs
    before you move out;
    arrange to return the keys to us by 10am on the
    Monday following the termination date;
    make sure your rent account is up to date - see section 7 -
    Paying your rent;
    remove all your belongings and rubbish from the
    property and garden;
    repair any damage you are responsible for;
    fix any holes in walls and leave the decoration in a
    reasonable condition; and
    leave the property and garden clean and tidy.
If you do not return your keys on time or some are missing,
we will charge you for lock replacements.


Tenant handbook                                        October 2007
                                        Section 19 - Ending your tenancy




If you do not leave the property in a clean and tidy condition,
we will charge you what it costs us to do the work. Customer
services can give you more information.
We will not buy any carpets, curtains or other household items
from you. Nor can we get involved if you want to sell any items
to the tenant who is moving in.

When we can end your tenancy
The Housing Act 1988 (as amended) gives the situations when
an assured tenancy may be ended.
The main reasons are:
   not paying your rent;
   breaking the conditions of your tenancy;
   causing damage to the property;
   being involved in antisocial behaviour;
   the tenant dying; or
   if you are not living in your home.
This is not a full list and only outlines the main points.

Exceptional circumstances
In exceptional circumstances, for example if your property
is redeveloped, we may need to end your tenancy.
In these circumstances, under the Housing Act 1988 we have to
make sure that suitable alternative accommodation is available
for you or will be available for you when the order for
possession comes into effect.




Tenant handbook                                           October 2007
Section 19 - Ending your tenancy




Succession
Succession allows a tenant, when they die, to pass on their
tenancy to their husband, wife, partner or other close family
member. Not everyone is able to succeed to a tenancy.
We can give you more information on this.




Tenant handbook                                       October 2007
Section 20




...and finally
Section 20 - ...and finally



...and finally
We hope you will be happy in your new home, and also
that you have found this handbook useful.
Please keep it safe as it provides a handy reference guide.
If you need more information about anything to do with your
tenancy, please contact us. Our staff will be happy to help.




Tenant handbook                                        October 2007

								
To top