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Tenants' handbook


									Updated spring

Information about your tenancy,
your home, and our services
This handbook has been produced by the
East Devon District Council Housing Service.
All information correct at time of printing.

 To request this information in an alternative
 format or language please call 01395 516551
 or email
 We consider requests on an individual basis
Tenants’ handbook
Information about your tenancy,
your home, and our services

Page    3             Introduction
        4        1    Your tenancy
        8        2    Your rent
       13        3    Repairs and improvements
       16        4    About the improvement voucher scheme
       18        5    Don’t get caught with unexpected costs
       20        6    Safety and security in your home
       24        7    Running a business from your council home
       26        8    Neighbour nuisance and antisocial behaviour
       28        9    Right to Buy
       29       10    Services for the elderly and disabled
       32       11    Changing your home
       34       12    Ending your tenancy
       36       13    Getting involved with the Housing Service
       38       14    Customer care
       40       15    Accessing our services
       42       16    List of council contacts
       44       17    How the Housing Service is organised

Updated spring 2011

By John GoldinG, head of housinG

I am pleased to introduce you to this handbook.    It also tells you how you can get involved in
It provides you with some useful information       helping to make some of the decisions on
about your tenancy, your home, your rights and     how the housing service is organised and run.
responsibilities as a tenant, and our rights and        As the Head of the Housing Service for
responsibilities as your landlord.                 East Devon District Council, I am committed
    By working together we can make sure that      to making sure that an affordable home of
these rights and responsibilities are respected.   good quality is available to all households in the
This will help us to maintain a high quality of    district, and that our tenants and leaseholders
service and allow you to enjoy a comfortable       receive an efficient and effective housing
home.                                              management service.
    This handbook is designed so that you can           East Devon District Council is keen to
quickly and easily look up what you need to        work in partnership with you to ensure that
do in different situations, for instance when you   we continue to deliver good services and
need to pay your rent, or if you need to report    that all of our tenants are satisfied with their
a repair. It provides information about the        homes. We want you to enjoy living in your
services you can expect from us, for example       home and in your neighbourhood. I hope you
if you report a problem with your neighbours.      find this handbook useful.                                                                                3
 1 Your tenancy

 Secure tenancy                                         Introductory tenants have most of the same
  Most of our tenants have a secure tenancy with        rights as secure tenants but there are some
  us. As a secure tenant we will not interfere with     rights that you do not have during the
  your rights to occupy your home unless you            introductory period. These include the right
  break any of your obligations within the tenancy      to buy your property and the right to take
  agreement.                                            in lodgers.
      We cannot make you leave your home
  without getting a possession order from a             Joint tenancies
  County Court. Reasons why we may seek to              A joint tenancy is a tenancy granted to two or
  get a possession order would include:                 more (up to a maximum of four) people. If
• refusal to pay your rent                              you are a joint tenant you should be aware that
• misuse of our property                                each tenant is jointly and separately liable for
• not living in the property as your principal home.    the obligations under the tenancy agreement.
                                                        Also if one of the joint tenants ends the
 Introductory tenancy                                   tenancy the rights of the other tenant(s) will
 If you have become a tenant within the last            end and they must leave the property, other
 twelve months you will have an introductory            than in exceptional circumstances.
 tenancy. Introductory tenancies usually last for
 twelve months from the tenancy start date but          Your rights and obligations
 in certain circumstances an introductory tenancy       as a tenant
 will be extended for a further six months.             As a tenant you have certain rights and
     After the introductory period your tenancy         obligations which are set out in the tenancy
 will automatically become a secure tenancy             agreement. We explain some of these below,
 unless we have begun proceedings to end the            and others are explained within this handbook.
 tenancy due to a breach of the tenancy
 agreement.                                             Succeeding to a tenancy
                                                        when someone dies
  Breaches of the tenancy conditions include:           ‘Succession’ is when a tenant dies and the
• rent arrears                                           tenancy can sometimes be taken over by
• antisocial behaviour                                   another member of the household.
• damage to the property
• noise nuisance                                         To succeed to a tenancy:
• failure to maintain gardens.                         • you must be a family member

 4                                                                                   Tenants’ Handbook
                                                                                       1 Your tenancy

• unless you are the tenant’s spouse or civil            We expect our tenants to act in a
  partner, you must have resided at the property     responsible manner at all times and to have
  for the last twelve months and be able to          respect for the property, the surroundings
  provide proof of this                              and the neighbours. These responsibilities
• you must not be in rent arrears                    and obligations apply to you, members of
• there must have been no previous succession        your household and any other person living
• the size of your family must be appropriate to     or visiting your home including children.
  the size of the property.                              If you wish to run a business from your
                                                     home you will need to get our prior written
 Only one succession is allowed by the Housing       consent beforehand. More information is
 Act 1985. This means, for example, that if a        available in Section 7.
 wife succeeds to the tenancy on the death of            You must keep the inside and outside of
 her husband, then on her death the tenancy          your home, including internal decoration,
 cannot pass, by succession, to anyone else who      garage and any outbuildings, in a neat and tidy
 may otherwise be eligible.                          condition. You may be asked to repay any costs
                                                     we have to pay for cleaning your home if you
 Lodgers and subletting                              allow it to become dirty or infested with vermin.
 A lodger is someone who lives with you and              If you know that you will be leaving the
 shares a room, or rooms, and the household          property unoccupied for more than twenty-
 facilities. Secure tenants may allow people to      eight days please write to let us know of your
 reside as lodgers at the property. If you do this   future intention to return.
 and receive Housing Benefit, you need to notify
 the Housing Benefit section, as it may affect         Use of loft space
 your entitlement.                                   In most council homes there will be hatches in
     Subletting means making another tenancy         the ceiling to allow access to the roof space or
 from all or part of the property. If you have       loft. These are for authorised use only by
 a secure tenancy you may sublet part of the         Council staff and contractors. You must not use
 property but only with our written consent.         the loft space in the home without our written
 You must not sublet the whole property as this      consent. We accept no liability should you use
 invalidates your tenancy and legal action will be   the loft space and cause damage to any services
 taken against you.                                  such as electric cables, water pipes, insulation or
                                                     ceilings, or for any damage that may be caused
 Living in and looking                               to personal items, personal injury to yourself,
 after your home                                     any member of your household or any visitors.
 You must use the property only as a private         Any such damage will be recharged to you.
 dwelling house (unless you have obtained our             In exceptional circumstances we will give
 permission to run a business), and as your only     permission for you to use the loft space but
 or principal home.                                  you need to obtain our written permission
     You must not use your home for any              beforehand.
 improper, illegal, immoral or antisocial purpose.
 You must not commit an offence in your home,         Looking after your garden
 or in the local area, which could lead to a         Gardens and verges must be regularly trimmed,
 conviction.                                         well maintained and free from rubbish. Hedges                                                                                 5
1 Your tenancy

should be trimmed at least once a year and kept     consideration to the type and number of pets
below two metres in height. Any ditches or          you have, and ensure that they are suitable for
water courses should be kept free flowing and        the type of property in which you live.
not obstructed in any way.                              If any animal you keep in the property
    Please do not remove any trees or               causes nuisance, annoyance, damage or a public
boundary hedges without our written consent,        health risk to anyone in the local area, including
or plant any trees, hedges or large shrubs which    our employees or representatives, we can
are likely to become dangerous, cause nuisance      ask you to remove it or take legal action for
to your neighbours or damage to property. If        breaching the nuisance clause of your tenancy
you are in doubt please seek our advice.            agreement.

Help with your garden                               Access to your home
For a small annual charge, we offer a garden         You must allow our employees or
maintenance service to tenants who are not          representatives reasonable access to your
capable of doing the work themselves and who        home to inspect its condition, do repairs or
meet certain criteria. For further details please   improvements to the property or an adjoining
contact Landlord Services on 01395 516551 or        property, or to deal with any health and safety
email            issue including the annual safety inspection and
                                                    servicing of the Council’s gas appliances.
Parking your car or other vehicles                      We will give you reasonable notice if we
You may park a vehicle within the boundaries        require such access. In an emergency we may
of your property if you have a properly             have no alternative but to enter your home
constructed hard standing with a pavement-          without notice by any necessary means.
kerb crossing. If you wish to construct a hard      Emergency means a situation that could cause
standing please write to us for permission.         personal injury or damage to your home or
We may be able to provide you with a grant          a neighbouring home.
for part of the costs.                                  All our officers and contractors carry
    You may not park a vehicle which is not         identification which you should ask to see. If
taxed or which is un-roadworthy on the              you are concerned about anyone calling on our
property or on any council housing land. If you     behalf please telephone us to confirm their
wish to park boats, caravans, trailers or small     identity before you allow them access.
trade vehicles on the property you must first
get our written permission. Any vehicles larger     Insurance
than a transit size (3.5 tonnes or over) will not   We insure our council dwellings and in the
be allowed under any circumstances.                 event of fire, lightning, storm or flood we
    You must not do large-scale car repairs on      would claim on our insurance for the cost of
the land around the property, on car parking        repairing or rebuilding the property. We do
areas or on the road.                               not insure any contents that belong to you or
                                                    any improvements that you may have carried
Keeping pets                                        out. We strongly urge that you have your own
If you are a secure tenant you may keep a           contents insurance.
domestic pet or pets in your home provided             Contents insurance is available from a
they are well cared for and kept under              number of insurance companies. Alternatively,
proper control. We ask that you give careful        East Devon District Council is part of the

6                                                                                 Tenants’ Handbook
                                                                                     1 Your tenancy

 Westcountry Consortium Home Contents                we are seeking to possess your home. The
 Insurance Scheme. This scheme has arranged          tenancy can only be ended if we prove one
 an affordable home contents insurance policy         of the grounds of possession set out in the
 through which tenants can protect their             Housing Act 1985 and Housing Act 1996, and
 belongings. The scheme is open to all tenants       the court considers our action reasonable and
 and leaseholders of East Devon District             gives a possession order.
 Council. If you would like further information          If you are joint tenants, you are both (all)
 about this please call 01395 517453 or email        responsible, individually and together, for               keeping to all the conditions of your agreement.
                                                     This includes paying rent.
 The rights and duties                                   If you are on an introductory tenancy we
 of the Council                                      cannot bring your tenancy to an end without
  Your tenancy agreement gives you the right to      first serving a Notice of Seeking Possession –
  live in the property. We will not interfere with   Introductory Tenancy. The court will then
  your rights to occupy your home unless you         consider if our action is reasonable and
  contravene any of your obligations within your     proportionate, and if they do, give a possession
  tenancy agreement or any of the following          order.
  conditions apply:
• You are living in a property which is one of a
  group let to people with special needs, or                Need to get in touch?
  which we built or adapted for a person with               Please see Section 16
  a disability, and:
     • you no longer need that type of home
     • we need the property for someone else
       with special needs.
• You find another home or you stop using the
  property as your only or main home.
• You have given false and misleading
  information to get the tenancy.
• We need to carry out redevelopment or
  major repairs to the property or surrounding
  area, which we cannot do unless you move out.
• We have a legal duty to undertake a safety
  inspection of the Council’s gas appliances and
  you fail to give access for this work to be
  carried out.
       We will give you an opportunity to explain
  your actions, and any mitigating circumstances,
  and put right any breach of the tenancy
  conditions, where possible, before we
  commence possession proceedings.
       If you are a secure tenant we cannot bring
  your tenancy to an end without first serving a
  Notice of Seeking Possession, telling you why                                                                               7
2 Your rent

How to pay your rent                               At your bank or building society You can
Rent is due and payable fortnightly, monthly       pay at the bank or building society where you
or every four weeks in advance. Fortnightly        are a customer, either at the counter or by bank
payments are due on the first Monday of each        standing order.
fortnightly period. Please refer to your rent
book for these dates. Monthly payments are         By standing order Please check with your
due on or before the eighth day of each month.     bank or building society that your account will
You can pay your home or garage rent in any        accept this payment method. Contact the
of the following ways.                             Housing Rents team for more details on how
                                                   to set up a bank standing order.
At any Post Office You can pay at any Post
Office using your rent book. You will not have       Pay online through your own bank If you
to pay any counter fee.                            have an online banking facility with your own
                                                   bank, please use the Council’s bank details
By telephone Use your debit or credit card         shown below when making a payment.
when paying by telephone. Please telephone
direct line 01395 517444. Alternatively we have       Bank: Lloyds TSB, 234 High Street, Exeter
an automated card payment system twenty-four          Sort code: 30 -93 -14
hours a day, seven days a week. Just call             Account number: 00365206
08447 36 96 31 and select option five.                 Ref. number: your own rent ref. number

In person If you prefer to make your payment       By Girobank Billpay Through online
in person, you can pay at the Council Offices at     Girobank Billpay you can pay your rent at any
Knowle, Sidmouth. You can make your payment        time of the day or night using your debit card
in cash, with a cheque or with a debit or credit   (Delta, Maestro, etc.). You just need to have
card. The office is open Monday to Friday            your rent reference number ready, which you
8.30 am to 5 pm.                                   will find on the front of your rent book at the
                                                   top left of the label. We usually receive the
By Direct Debit You can pay your rent by           payment three working days later.
Direct Debit on the first day of each month.
You can set up your Direct Debit by telephone.     By post Send payment to Rentals, East Devon
Just call 01395 517444 and have your bank          District Council, Knowle, Sidmouth, EX10 8HL.
details ready.                                     If you send cash it must be by registered post.

8                                                                               Tenants’ Handbook
                                                                                              2 Your rent

  What should I do if I                               will be referred to the County Court to seek
  have rent arrears?                                  a Possession Order on your home.
  Dwelling tenants If you are having problems 4 At the Court Hearing the District Judge will
  paying your rent please contact us. A member        normally grant a Suspended Possession Order,
  of staff will be pleased to discuss your problems    which means that you will be required to pay
  in confidence. We can give advice and assistance     the rent as it falls due plus a fixed sum each
  to prevent and resolve rent arrears. If necessary   week towards your arrears of rent. At the
  we can visit you at your home. A home visit can     hearing we will also seek an order for costs,
  be arranged within two working days. Please         which can vary between £150 and £230. These
  telephone 01395 517444 to arrange this visit.       costs will be added to your arrears of rent.
       If you are on a low income, you may be       5 If you do not keep to the terms ordered by the
  entitled to Housing Benefit. If you would like to    District Judge, the County Court will be made
  find out more information or details on how to       aware of your default and we will request the
  make a claim, please contact the Benefit Service     Court to issue a Possession Warrant, which the
  on 01395 517446 or visit our offices at Knowle,       County Court Bailiff will serve and execute to
  Sidmouth, open Monday to Friday 8.30 am to          take possession of your home.
  5 pm, or visit for further
  information.                                        We do everything possible to prevent evictions
                                                      but, as a last resort, we will evict tenants if they
  Garage tenants Garage rents are very                do not pay their rent. Please do not ignore the
  reasonable and we will not tolerate any unpaid      problem. We can try to help you resolve it.
  rent on these tenancies. If rent is not paid a
  Notice to Quit will be served and, at the end       Debt advice
  of that period of notice (usually twenty-eight      If your rent is not paid, the money owed is
  days), we will change the locks and repossess       called ‘rent arrears’. Rent arrears are priority
  the garage.                                         debts. This means that the consequences of not
                                                      dealing with them are serious.
  Recovering unpaid rent If you fail to pay
  your rent, we will take the following actions:                           Important:
1 You will be sent reminder letters and some                        Not paying your rent
  information about debt advice. You may also                      puts your home at risk
  receive a home visit.
2 If the reminders are ignored we may serve you       In the UK, debt advice is provided free of
  with a Notice of Seeking Possession (if you         charge. If you find yourself in debt do not
  have a secure tenancy), a Notice of Seeking         ignore the problem and try not to panic. You
  Possession – Introductory Tenancy (if you have      should consider seeking free advice about your
  an introductory tenancy), or a Notice to Quit (if   financial situation. Help can be given in many
  you have a non-secure tenancy). This is the first    ways such as maximising your income and
  step of the legal process to obtain possession      benefits, help with filling in forms, looking at
  of the dwelling. The notice gives a period of at    managing your income and expenditure.
  least twenty-eight days for you to pay your             Please telephone us on 01395 517444 and
  debt in full or make arrangements to pay by         we can refer you to an independent and free
  installments.                                       debt advice agency. Alternatively one of the
3 If the debt continues to increase the matter        following organisations may be able to help you.                                                                                   9
2 Your rent

National Debtline:                               Attachment of Earnings Order We can
   Offers free confidential and independent        apply to the County Court for an Attachment
   advice on how to deal with debt problems.     of Earnings Order. The Court will order your
   Call free on 0808 808 4000 or visit           employer to make deductions from your                   earnings to pay the outstanding rent debt.

Clear Start:                                     We also use the services of a debt collection
   Offers free consumer debt counselling.         agency to recover any outstanding debt. They
   Call free on 0800 988 9345 or visit           are vigorous in their pursuit of debt and have                         been very successful.
                                                     It is in your own interest to make an
Consumer Credit Counselling Service:             arrangement to pay the debt outstanding rather
  Charity dedicated to providing confidential,    than have action taken against you.
  free counselling and money management              If you subsequently apply for housing with
  assistance to financially distressed families   any Local Authority or other Registered
  and individuals. Call free on 0800 138 1111    Housing Provider (for example, a Housing
  or visit                       Association) any rent outstanding from a
                                                 previous tenancy may affect your application
Community Legal Advice:                          for housing.
  Free and confidential advice service.
  Call 0845 345 4345 or visit                    How your rent is set               Since April 2002 the Government, through
                                                 the Communities and Local Government
Citizens Advice Bureau:                          Department, has given yearly guidelines to
    Your local Citizens Advice Bureau may be     control and set the levels of council house rents.
    able to help. The Axminster, Honiton and     Rents normally change in April of each year.
    Sidmouth area bureau can be contacted on         The Government has a rent restructuring
    01404 44213 and the Exmouth area bureau      policy which is intended to join all council and
    on 01395 264645. Alternatively visit         Registered Housing Provider rents by 2015. To                      find out more about this call 0303 444 0000
                                                 or visit
Former tenants
If you have terminated a council tenancy         Service charges
and left some rent arrears at the end of that    If you live in a block of flats with a communal
tenancy we will take the necessary steps to      gas boiler, you may pay a service charge for
recover this debt.                               heating and hot water. The service costs
                                                 are reviewed on an annual basis and are
County Court Judgments We can apply              non-profitable. The annual cost is then divided
to the County Court for a County Court           equally between all the tenants living in that
Judgment (CCJ) on the debt and the Court         block.
will set terms for repayment. A CCJ will affect       We have some properties where there is a
your credit rating and you will find it difficult   weekly charge for sewage and a few properties
to obtain credit, loans, credit cards, etc.      with a charge for water and sewage. Some of
                                                 these sewage schemes will be adopted by South

10                                                                            Tenants’ Handbook
                                                                                          2 Your rent

West Water in the near future and the charge          What should I do if my
will be removed from the rent at that time.           circumstances change?
These charges are also reviewed annually and           You must tell the Housing Benefit section about
the costs are divided equally between all service      any change in your circumstances. This could
users.                                                 include, but is not limited to:
    Supporting People charges are for support        • changes to your income or savings, or the
services such as the help your Mobile Support          income or savings of anyone living with you
Officer gives you in regularly checking on your        • anyone you live with moving out, or new
well-being and responding to emergencies. It           people moving in (temporarily or permanently).
also covers the cost of your emergency alarm
system and the twenty-four hours a day                 If you have been paid too much Housing
emergency call centre.                                Benefit you usually have to pay it back. The
                                                      sooner you tell the Housing Benefit section
Housing Benefit and other benefits                      about any change the less the overpayment
Housing Benefit is a government scheme to help         will be.
people pay their housing costs. If you are a               If you are entitled to more Housing Benefit,
council tenant and on a low income you may be         you must tell us within one month of any
entitled to benefit. The amount of benefit that         change to make sure that any increase in your
you are entitled to is calculated by the Council’s    benefit entitlement is paid from the date that
Housing Benefit section and is governed by the         the change happened. Otherwise we will only
Housing Benefit Regulations. Your Council Tax          pay from the date that you told us of the
Benefit will be calculated at the same time.           change to your circumstances.
                                                           Please make sure that you respond to all
Housing Benefit                                        correspondence sent to you by the Housing
Our Housing Benefit section is able to give            Benefit section. If you do not respond it may
you advice about your entitlement. Please ring        result in you getting into rent arrears.
01395 517446 to make a claim or if you want
some advice. Alternatively you can email us           Other help
at or fax us on              If you are on a low income you may be entitled
01395 517414. You can contact us in person at         to further help. Please see the list of useful
the following offices:                                  contacts below.

   Benefits Reception, East Devon District             Income Support, Jobseekers Allowance,
   Council, Knowle, Sidmouth, EX10 8HL                Incapacity Benefit, and Employment
   (open Monday to Friday, 8.30 am to 5 pm)           Support Allowance:
                                                          Jobcentre Plus
   Benefits Reception, Exmouth Town Hall,                  Breakwater Road
   St Andrews Road, Exmouth, EX8 1AW                      Plymouth
   (open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and                   PL95 8BL
   Friday, 9 am to 4.30 pm).                              Tel. 0845 6060 234 (looking for work),
                                                          0800 055 6688 (new claims),
Benefits surgeries are also held in Axminster,             0800 032 8349 (crisis loans),
Honiton and Seaton. Please call us for                    0845 603 6095 (benefit enquiries)
information.                                                                                11
2 Your rent

Pension Credits:
   The Pension Service
   PO Box 139
   SA6 8WD
   Tel. 0800 991 234

Tax Credits:
   Tax Credit Office
   PR1 0SB
   Tel. 0845 300 3900

       Need to get in touch?
       Please see Section 16

12                             Tenants’ Handbook
 3 Repairs and improvements

  The majority of our properties meet the             How to report a repair
 ‘Decent Homes Standard’ which means that             You can report a repair by telephoning us
  they are in good repair, have adequate kitchen      on 01395 517458 during working hours or
  and bathroom facilities, have adequate heating      01395 516854 outside of office hours if it is
  facilities, and are well insulated. We are          an emergency. You can also email repairs@
  continuing to invest in our housing to ensure or write to the Housing
  that these standards are maintained, and            Property and Asset Manager, East Devon
  improved.                                           District Council, Knowle, Sidmouth, EX10 8HL.
      Your tenancy agreement explains which
  repairs we are responsible for, and which are        To help us provide you with the best possible
  your responsibility.                                 service, when you report a repair please
  Some of the repairs we undertake are:              • your name
• repairs to the structure and exterior of the       • your address
  building, for example the roof, walls, and floor    • a daytime telephone number
• the upkeep of gutters, pipes and drains            • as many details as you can about the repair
• the repair of baths, toilets, sinks and basins     • times it is convenient for workmen to call.
• electrical wiring, gas piping, fitted heaters,
  radiators and water heaters.                        When repairs are reported to us we categorise
                                                      them according to their urgency. The five
 You must inform us promptly of any defects to        categories of repairs we use are listed in the
 the property that are our responsibility. You are    table on page 15. We will tell you the category
 responsible for the cost of repairs that are the     that we have given to your repair and send you
 result of neglect or misuse, or deliberate,          a copy of the works order for all jobs with a
 malicious, criminal or accidental damage by you,     time scale of more than seventy-two hours.
 people living in your home or people visiting
 your home. Please see Section 5 for more details     Decorations
 about charging for repairs which are your            You are responsible for the internal decoration
 responsibility.                                      of your home, which should be maintained to
     Where a mutual exchange has taken place,         a reasonable standard. We are responsible for
 you take on responsibility for any fixtures and       decorating the outside of your home and
 fittings put in by the previous tenant unless we      communal areas of flats and maisonettes.
 have agreed otherwise.                                                                                  13
 3 Repairs and improvements

 Chimney sweeping                                          Planned maintenance includes servicing
 You must ensure that chimneys and flues are                and upgrading:
 kept free from obstruction and that chimneys,           • central heating systems
 where in use, are swept at least once a year,           • electrical services
 or more frequently if necessary. It is also your        • new roofs
 responsibility to ensure that the correct fuel is       • replacement windows
 used for the type of heater provided, so that           • kitchens and bathrooms
 the risk of fumes and soot problems are kept            • replacement of external doors.
 to a minimum.
                                                          If we plan to carry out any work in your home
 Repairs to central heating                               we will contact you first. To find out more
  Before reporting a faulty central heating system        about planned maintenance contact us on
  please check:                                           01395 517458.
• the time control clock is set correctly – especially
  when clocks are put forward or back at the              Adaptations
  beginning and end of summertime                         If you are having difficulty managing at home
• the room thermostat is set correctly (turn it           because of a disability we may be able to help.
  right up and if heating comes on, adjust to
  desired temperature)                                     The types of adaptations that are available
• there are sufficient funds if you have a coin or           include:
  card prepayment meter for gas or electricity.          • hand and grab rails
                                                         • lever taps
 We reserve the right to recharge tenants where          • stairlifts
 a visit is made for faulty central heating and one      • level entry showers
 of the above is found to be the cause.                  • access ramps
                                                         • alterations to doorways.
 Right to repair
 In certain circumstances you have the right to           If you think you could benefit from this service
 require us to get a second contractor to do              you may need to contact Social Services at
 certain small urgent repairs which might affect           Care Direct, Devon County Council, on
 your health, safety or security. This only applies       0845 155 1007. Care Direct will be able to put
 to repairs that are our responsibility and which         you in contact with the referral co-ordinator
 we have not completed within a prescribed                for your area.
 time. Please contact us for further details.                 Before we can carry out any major work,
                                                          your needs will be assessed by an occupational
 Planned maintenance                                      therapist. Once we receive a request for an
 To keep our housing in good condition, we                adaptation from an occupational therapist, we
 carry out a programme of planned maintenance.            will consider them within fifteen working days.
 This programme is reviewed every year to take            We will inform you of the outcome and the
 into account priority maintenance and tenants’           time when we expect the work to be done.
 views.                                                   Alternatively we may be able to offer you a
                                                          move to a more suitable property.

 14                                                                                     Tenants’ Handbook
                                                                                 3 Repairs and improvements

Alterations and improvements                             Right to compensation
You can carry out alterations or improvements            for improvements
to your home but you must get our written                 Under government legislation, at the end of
consent first. You need to do this because your            your tenancy, you have the right to claim
tenancy agreement does not allow you to make              compensation from us for improvements you
some alterations. For example, you must not               have made to your home with our consent.
artex the internal walls of the property or fix            Evidence of your costs will help us assess the
polystyrene tiles to ceilings. Other alterations          level of compensation you may be entitled to.
may need planning permission or building                  You can only apply for compensation for certain
regulations approval. We are happy to advise              kinds of improvement (for example, bathroom
you on the required approvals.                            improvements) that started on or after
    All such improvements must be carried out             1 April 1994. Please contact us if you would
to our satisfaction and will normally become              like any more information or see the leaflet
our property when the tenancy is ended.                  ‘A Better Deal for Tenants – Your Right to
Alternatively we may request that you remove              Compensation for Improvements’ at
structures at the end of your tenancy at your   
own expense.
    We are not responsible for repairs which
are necessary because of faulty improvements,                      Need to get in touch?
sub-standard workmanship or defective                              Please see Section 16

Table of repair categories

Category     Response within   Examples

Immediate    One day           Immediate work (where there is danger to life / limb or serious danger to property)
                               Water supply failure (burst pipe or tank)
                               Blocked drain with serious leak of sewage
                               Dangerous fault or electrical supply failure

Emergency    Three days        A blocked sink, bath or basin
                               Faulty heating system and / or hot water supply

Urgent       Seven days        Leaking roof
                               Mechanical extractor fan in internal kitchen not working

Priority     Three weeks       Refit chimney pot or cowl
                               Repair or ease external and internal doors

Non Urgent   Six weeks         Defective plaster
                               Repairs to fire surround or back                                                                                           15
 4 About the improvement
 voucher scheme

 As well as the Government’s legislation             • heating improvements
 on tenants’ rights to compensation for              • replacement external doors and frames
 improvements (see page 15), we provide a            • renewable energy efficiency improvements.
 tenant improvement voucher scheme.
     If you plan to carry out, or have recently       What can I claim
 undertaken, improvements to your council             financial assistance for?
 home you may be able to get some financial            You can claim financial assistance for the cost
 assistance towards the cost of the works.            of materials (but not appliances such as cookers
     Applications will be considered in the order     and fridges) and labour costs (but not your own
 in which they are received and only for work         labour). You will need to give us a written
 about to be undertaken or undertaken within          estimate or quotation to show how much your
 the previous six months. We have a limited           improvements cost.
 budget for this work and once it has has been
 used up no further grants will be available until    How is the financial
 the new financial year.                               contribution worked out?
                                                      We will look at the quotation or estimated cost
 Do I need permission to                              of your improvements. We may value the
 make improvements?                                   improvements at a lesser sum if we think the
 Yes. You need to obtain our written permission       cost of the proposed improvement is too much,
 before you make the improvements. If you             or the quality is higher, than we would normally
 didn’t get permission first, you can apply for it     provide. You may get up to 33 per cent of the
 when you claim financial assistance through the       total costs, up to a maximum of £1,500.
 voucher scheme. However in some cases we                 You will be advised of the amount of
 do refuse permission. In these cases any work        contribution the Council will make prior to
 will not be eligible for this scheme.                the work starting, and we will try to make a
                                                      decision on the value of your contribution
 What kind of improvements can                        within thirty days of receiving all the necessary
 I get financial assistance for?                       information.
  The voucher scheme applies to the following
  improvements:                                        We require:
• bath or shower, wash-hand basin or toilet          • details of the improvement
• kitchen sink and work surfaces                     • a quotation or estimate for the cost of the work
• storage cupboards in bathroom or kitchen           • the date when work was undertaken/will begin

 16                                                                                Tenants’ Handbook
                                                    4 About the improvement voucher scheme

• any specifications for products/items
• any guarantees for the products/items.

 When will I receive payment?
 Payment will be made when the work has been
 completed and when we have inspected the
 work to check it is satisfactory. Sufficient time
 should be allowed for the cheque issuing
 process and delivery by the postal services.
      Please note that this scheme is only
 open to tenants who have a secure tenancy
 agreement and have no rent arrears. If you
 wish to make a claim please write in to us with
 all the information listed above. Please address
 all correspondence to the Property and Asset
 Manager. We will acknowledge receipt of your
 request within five days.

         Need to get in touch?
         Please see Section 16                                                                  17
5 Don’t get caught with
unexpected costs

Information about charging                              service, where provided. We will keep
for repairs which are your                              communal entrances, halls and stairways in flats,
responsibility                                          as well as any other areas for use by all tenants
The large majority of our tenants look after            and their families and visitors in good repair.
their properties and maintain them to a good            The outside of your home and communal areas
standard. Thank you.                                    of flats and maisonettes will be decorated and
    Unfortunately there are a number of tenants         kept in good repair by the Council.
who do not. Repairs to council dwellings are
paid for from the rent account and it is unfair         What you should do as
that responsible tenants should have to pay for         a responsible tenant
wilful damage caused by others. So in some              Your tenancy agreement states that at the end
circumstances tenants will be recharged for             of the tenancy, the property must be left in a
work for which they are responsible.                    clean condition, clear of all rubbish, and free of
    The number of occasions when we are                 your furniture and possessions. You must leave
required to recover these costs in a year are           all fixtures and fittings intact and in the condition
relatively few. But we need to inform all tenants       they were in at the start of the tenancy, except
of our procedures if properties are not looked          for fair wear and tear. You are responsible for
after. This section ensures that you are aware of       the cost of repairs that are a result of neglect,
your responsibilities and possible liabilities and      misuse, or deliberate, malicious, criminal or
that our policy is applied in a clear, consistent       accidental damage by you, people living with
and fair manner at all times.                           you, or people visiting your home.

Items which we will repair                              What action can we take
Your tenancy agreement sets out the repairs             to recover our costs?
for which we, the Council, are responsible. We           We will take steps to recover any reasonable
will keep in good repair and proper working              costs we incur in:
order our installations for supplying water, gas,      • replacing or repairing any missing or damaged
electricity and sanitation including basins, sinks,      items
baths, and toilet fittings, and our installations for   • replacing or repairing any alterations which do
room and water heating.                                  not comply with relevant regulations
    We will keep the structure and exterior of         • replacing or repairing any alterations for which
the property in good repair, including drains,           we did not give written consent
gutters, and external pipes, as well as the lift       • meeting all reasonable removal and storage

18                                                                                    Tenants’ Handbook
                                                                 5 Don’t get caught with unexpected costs

  charges when items are left in the premises              carried out. A copy of this order will be sent
  after the termination date. These are known              to you. This will indicate the repairs and the
  as ‘rechargeable’ repairs and costs.                     extent of the work which will be recharged.
                                                         4 On completion of the work we will send you
  Other rechargeable costs may include:                    a letter detailing the work undertaken and the
• the cost of removing rubbish and extensive               costs for which you are liable.
  cleaning, both inside and outside the property         5 You will need to pay these costs within twenty-
• the cost of replacing lost or stolen keys and the        eight days, or contact us to make arrangements
  costs incurred in gaining entry to change locks,         to pay. (If you are unable to pay in full at one
  including garage keys and locks                          time please speak to us as we may be able to
• the cost of removing graffiti                              arrange for payment to be made in instalments.)
• the cost of any court fees, injunctions and legal      6 We will contact former tenants by sending
  fees incurred by us in relation to rechargeable          a letter to their last known home address or
  repairs and costs.                                       work address.

  If you are the tenant of any property where we
  incur such costs then we will write to you telling               Need to get in touch?
  you of the costs of any rechargeable repairs                     Please see Section 16
  which are your responsibility. If you do not
  repay these costs legal action will be taken to
  recover the costs.

  Stages of the recharge process
1 We will advise you as early as possible if we
  judge that any work required is a ‘rechargeable
  repair’ for which you are liable.
2 You will be given the opportunity to make your
  own arrangements to undertake this work
  within an agreed timescale.
3 If the work is not undertaken within this time,
  or it is not carried out to a satisfactory standard,
  we will issue an order for the work to be

    Don’t forget
     Report repairs promptly and keep your
      property in a good state of repair.
     Know your responsibilities as explained
      in your tenancy agreement.
     Seek written permission from us before
      making any alterations to your property.
     Clean and clear your property before
      moving out.                                                                                  19
6 Safety and security
in your home

Each year more people are killed or injured by       Gas safety
accidents in the home than any other type of           Never use a gas appliance that you think may
accident. We hope that this section will give you    be dangerous (signs can include stains around
some useful information and advice to stay safe      the gas fire or boiler pilot light, or a yellow
and secure in your home.                             flame).
                                                       Remember, gas appliances need fresh air to
Electrical safety                                    work properly. Sometimes air is provided by
Make sure you always follow these simple rules       ventilators in doors, walls and windows. Always
when using electricity in your home:                 ensure that all ventilators are free and clear
   Never use plugs or switches with wet hands –      and not blocked or obstructed.
water and electricity are dangerous together.          Never sleep in a room containing an open
   If there is a water leak in your home do not      flued back boiler.
touch any electrical fittings – if necessary, turn      Never dry clothes over free standing gas
off electricity at the fuse box.                      heaters.
   Always switch off and unplug appliances not          Gas appliances need regular servicing if they
in use, particularly before going to bed.            are to work safely and efficiently.
   Only use good quality plugs made to the
correct safety standard (BS1363).                    Gas servicing
   Make sure plugs are wired correctly and           As a landlord, we have a statutory duty to
always fitted with the right fuse for the             undertake an annual safety inspection of gas
appliance you are using. If in doubt consult a       appliances, flues and associated pipework that
qualified electrician.                                we are responsible for. This includes gas central
   Do not overload sockets – to be safe use          heating and fixed gas fires (see below), but not
one plug to one socket.                              gas ovens.
   Check the condition of electrical flexes               We will give you reasonable notice of when
regularly. Never run flexes under carpets or          our contractors will carry out this work. Please
rugs as this could start a fire.                      advise the gas servicing contractor if this time is
   Make sure you know where the main switch          not convenient to you so that they can arrange
and fuse box are located.                            for an alternative visit. If you fail to give them
   Always contact us on 01395 517458 if you          access to the property you are in breach of
feel that there is any problem with the electrical   your tenancy conditions.
safety of your home.                                     If you have had gas central heating or gas

20                                                                                 Tenants’ Handbook
                                                                      6 Safety and security in your home

 fires fitted at your own expense the work                Fire safety
 must have been carried out by a Gas Safe                  Test your smoke detector(s) regularly.
 (previously CoRGi) registered installer and a             Know the quickest way out of your home
 gas installation certificate and safety certificate      and consider alternative routes out in the event
 must be forwarded to us. We will take over             of your main exit being blocked.
 the responsibility for maintaining these after            Keep matches away from children.
 any guarantee has run out.                                Don’t leave lit candles unattended.
                                                           Don’t use or store any explosive or
 Gas leaks                                              flammable substances on the premises.
  If you suspect a gas leak:                               Use fire guards around any open fires.
• turn off your gas supply at the meter                     Don’t leave chip pans unattended.
• do not smoke or use matches or a lighter                 Don’t smoke in bed.
• do not use electrical switches (doorbells or             Make sure all cigarettes and ash are fully
  light switches)                                       extinguished and that ashtray contents are cold
• open doors and windows to let the gas out             before emptying.
• call the National Gas Emergency Service on               Don’t dry clothes over any type of heater.
  0800 111 999 – do the same if you smell gas              Don’t remove any fire doors or door closers
  in the street.                                        in your home.
                                                           Don’t store motorcycles in sheds.
 Solid fuel safety
    Do not draw a fire with a newspaper or use           Fire guards The law requires you to use
 petrol, paraffin or any oil to start it.                 a fireguard to protect children under 12 in a
    Sweep your chimney or flue at least once a           room with an open fire, radiant fire or other
 year – if your fire is not burning as well as usual     dangerous heating appliance. You should use a
 it may be a sign that your chimney needs              ‘nursery’ fireguard made to British Standards.
 sweeping.                                              Never rest clothes or other items on the guard.
    If you have an enclosed room heater or
 boiler, follow the manufacturer’s instructions         If you live in flats with communal areas
 and brush the smoke outlet every month.                   Don’t put anything in the communal areas –
    Burn only the recommended fuels.                    it may be flammable and may restrict escape
    Ensure there is adequate ventilation, and do        routes in the case of fire.
 not block or obstruct fresh air ventilators.              Don’t leave rubbish bags in communal
    Draught proofing helps cut fuel bills but do         landings or corridors.
 not seal off the air supply to the room in which           Report any self-closing doors that are not
 the fire is located. Fumes may build up and             operating properly.
 cause you to become ill.
    When using a solid fuel or room heater for          If your home catches fire
 the first time each year check that the chimney       1 Close the door of the room where the fire
 has been swept and that the chimney flue has            started. This will contain the fire and restrict
 not become obstructed.                                 the spread of poisonous fumes.
    If you are concerned that the equipment is        2 Make sure everyone leaves the building.
 not working properly please let us know.             3 Call the Fire Brigade by dialling 999, giving your
                                                        exact address.                                                                                    21
6 Safety and security in your home

Accidents in the home                               your home unless you have seen their personal
Falls Sixty per cent of deaths from accidents       identity card.
in the home are the result of falls.                   If you are suspicious about a caller contact
   Do not polish under carpets or rugs.             the Police on 0845 277 7444.
   Make sure stairs and landings are well lit and      When you go away you may want to ask a
kept clear.                                         trusted neighbour or friend to keep an eye on
   If you have small children use stairguards       your home. Leave them a contact address.
and guards on upper floor windows.                      If you plan to be away from your property
   Wipe up any spilt liquids immediately.           for more than twenty-eight days we ask that
   Repair or cover any holes in your floor           you let us know and tell us when you plan to
covering (for example, carpet, lino or vinylay)     return. It would be useful for us to have a
to avoid tripping.                                  contact number in case of emergencies. Please
   Make sure your stair carpets are fixed            contact Estate Management on 01395 516551
securely.                                           ext. 2381 or 2396.
                                                       When going away during cold weather, turn
Poisoning The second major cause of death           off main water stopcock and leave your heating
in the home is poisoning.                           on a low setting.
   Keep all medicines in a locked cabinet.
   Keep all household or garden chemicals out       Asbestos in the home
of reach of children.                               Building materials containing asbestos were
   Do not store household or garden chemicals       widely used from 1930 to around 1980. So
in any container other than the one they            homes and flats built or refurbished at this time
came in (do not use soft drinks bottles or any      may contain asbestos materials. Asbestos
container that would confuse someone about          cement products are the most widely used
the contents).                                      asbestos material.
   Return unused medicines to the chemist.            Asbestos materials in good condition that
                                                    cannot readily be damaged are often best left
Security and crime prevention                       where they are.
The following advice may be useful to help            Avoid disturbing or damaging materials in
protect you against crime.                          good condition.
   Close all windows and lock front and back          Do not drill, cut or disturb any materials
doors when you go out.                              which you believe may contain asbestos.
   At night close windows on the ground floor,         If you damage or have deteriorating asbestos
or near pipes or flat roofs.                         materials in your home please contact us to
   Consider fitting security locks to doors.         seek advice and assistance.
   Do not leave keys under a mat or on a string
inside the letterbox.                               Home insurance
   Never leave notes outside for callers or         We insure our council dwellings and in the
friends.                                            event of fire, lightning, storm or flood we would
   Cancel regular deliveries, such as milk or       claim on our insurance for the cost of repairing
newspapers, when you go away.                       or rebuilding the property.
   Always ask for proof of identity from callers        We do not insure any contents that belong
before you let them in. Never let anyone into       to you or any improvements that may have

22                                                                               Tenants’ Handbook
                                                                 6 Safety and security in your home

been carried out by you. We strongly urge               The service does not deal with birds or
that you have your own contents insurance.          large wild animals. In this instance you will need
For further details please see Section 1.           to contact Defra by telephoning 08459 33 55 77
                                                    or by emailing You
Pest control                                        may wish to contact a pest control contractor
We offer a pest control service for dealing          of your own by looking in Yellow Pages or at
with rats in people's homes, for which there listed under ‘Pest Control’.
is a small charge. The service can also deal
with other pests including mice, wasps, flies,
fleas, insects and squirrels, for which a variable           Need to get in touch?
fee is charged depending upon the species.                  Please see Section 16
If you would like a visit or more information
please contact 01395 571517 for pest control
in East Devon. There is also a lot of useful
information, including a section about seagulls,
at pests.                                                                                23
7 Running a business from
your council home

We recognise that many of our tenants may            Obtaining permission
wish to work from their homes and aim to             If you are thinking of starting a business from
encourage this where possible, with our              your home you need to obtain our written
written permission.                                  permission first. We will not unreasonably
                                                     withhold permission, but we are likely to
What ‘running a business’ means                      refuse permission if it will cause a nuisance
This usually means that you produce something        to neighbours, damage the property, or does
or provide a service which is not for your own       not meet the requirements of other agencies.
or your family’s use, and you get some kind of           If you are already running a business and
payment for your product, produce or service.        do not have our written permission to do so,
                                                     you must write to us immediately and ask for
Appropriate types of work                            our permission. If we have to refuse permission
There are a variety of businesses which you          we will explain why and you will have to cease
could consider running from home such as child       running the business from your property
minding services, part-time typing or cleaning       immediately.
services. We are likely to refuse permission for         Please write to Estate Management, East
any businesses which involve repairing motor         Devon District Council, Knowle, Sidmouth,
vehicles, storing hazardous materials, or involve    EX10 8HL. We will reply to your letter within
customers or clients visiting or delivering to the   ten working days. Our intention is to give
home in such numbers that will disturb your
                                                       Don’t forget
Organisations that can                                  Write to us to ask permission to run a
help you get started                                     business from your home.
Some local banks will have sections specialising        Ensure that we have written back giving
in helping people to set up a small business.            you permission.
You may find the websites of the national                Make sure that you have obtained all
enterprise network nfea (,                  other necessary permissions from
the Federation of Small Businesses                       other agencies.
(, and Business Link                     Let us know, in writing, of any changes
( helpful.                       to your business activites.

24                                                                               Tenants’ Handbook
                                                    7 Running a business from your council home

consent where possible but should we have to
refuse permission to run the business we will
explain the reasons why.
    You must obtain any necessary permission
from other agencies such as planning permission
or a CRB (Criminal Records Bureau) check. You
must meet any health and safety requirements.
You should notify our Council Tax and Business
Rates sections and if applicable Housing Benefits.

You should also consider your insurance
position, including home contents policies and
whether you need to have any public liability or
professional indemnity insurance. We will ask
to see a copy of your insurance before giving
our permission.

        Need to get in touch?
        Please see Section 16                                                                        25
 8 Neighbour nuisance and
 antisocial behaviour

 What is antisocial behaviour?                       Estate Management who will investigate the
 A broad definition is ‘behaviour which impacts       situation and advise you of what action can be
 negatively on a resident’s or visitor’s quality     taken. You may be asked to complete a log
 of life in and around their home’. It can be        giving dates and times of nuisance, which could
 caused by anyone who acts in a manner which         be used in any future legal proceedings.
 may cause alarm, distress or harassment to
 someone else.                                       Loud music and other amplified noise
     Our tenants should act in a reasonable          after 6 pm You may wish to contact our
 manner at all times and have respect for            Out of Hours service on 01395 516854. All
 their property, their surroundings and their        complaints will be logged for action on the
 neighbours. Tenants are also responsible for        next working day and in some cases an
 the actions of their family, others who live        Environmental Health Officer may also be
 with them, and their visitors.                      able to respond on the night.

  Examples of antisocial behaviour can include:      What can we do?
• abandoned vehicles                                 Your report to us is confidential and we will
• rubbish                                            not tell the person causing the nuisance who
• vandalism                                          has made the complaint. We will visit or write
• graffiti                                             to the person causing the nuisance, and keep
• noisy neighbours, late night parties or            you informed of the action we are taking, or
  loud music                                         give you advice as necessary.
• drug dealing or drug related behaviour.                 If the nuisance behaviour persists, we may
                                                     take legal action for a breach of the conditions
 What can you do?                                    of the tenancy agreement (if a council tenant
 Rubbish, graffiti and untaxed vehicles                is involved). However we will always try to
 Please report these issues to Estate Management     persuade the other party to behave reasonably
 on 01395 516551 ext. 2381 or 2396.                  before any court action is taken for possession.
                                                          Anyone who is evicted for antisocial
 Neighbours Neighbour nuisance or disputes           behaviour is likely to be classed as ‘intentionally
 are initially best sorted out by speaking to your   homeless’ and so would be unlikely to be
 neighbour and having consideration for each         re-housed by the Council or other Registered
 other. If problems continue you should contact      Providers of social housing.

 26                                                                                Tenants’ Handbook
                                                      8 Neighbour nuisance and antisocial behaviour

     Where we consider taking legal action, we       What can the police do?
will need on going evidence, such as log sheets,     Please report all cases of harassment, physical
giving precise details of incidents which have       assault, stolen property or criminal damage to
occurred, to enable us to build up a case to         your property to the police. They will advise
present to the court.                                you about the action they can take, which will
     In cases of continuing nuisance or antisocial   depend on the circumstances of the incident.
behaviour, we will work closely with the police      Please ask for a log number for the incident.
and other agencies to resolve the problem. We
may also take enforcement action under the
Antisocial Behaviour legislation, or a Housing               Need to get in touch?
Act Injunction to prohibit undesirable behaviour.            Please see Section 16
     Where there is a dispute between
neighbours we may recommend mediation
to resolve the differences. This is paid for by
us, but carried out by independent trained
mediators who will work to find common
ground between neighbours.
     In the case of loud music, we can take
action for a breach of the tenancy agreement.
In addition where the noise is deemed to be
a statutory nuisance, Environmental Health
Officers can serve an Abatement Notice, and
if this is breached, can apply to the Magistrates
Court for a warrant to seize the offending

  Don’t forget
   Speak to your neighbour in a courteous
    manner to see whether the problem
    can be sorted out – remember that
    they may not realise they are causing
    a noise or nuisance.
   Allow a reasonable time (say two
    weeks) for an improvement in the
   If nothing has changed, consider
    whether you should speak again to
    your neighbour, or contact us for
    further advice.
   Contact the police about harassment,
    assault or criminal damage.                                                                               27
 9 Right to Buy

 If your tenancy started before 18 January 2005       buy it back. This is called the ‘right of first
 and you have been a public sector tenant             refusal’ and is a requirement of the Housing
 continuously since that time, you may have the       Act 1985. This does not apply to properties
 right to buy your home. If not, you do not have      in areas designated as ‘rural areas’ or ‘Areas
 the right to buy until you have spent at least five   of Outstanding Natural Beauty’ which are
 years as a public sector secure tenant.              subject to the stricter regulations contained
                                                      within the Devon Covenant.
 The discount rules
 The Right to Buy scheme gives tenants a              Devon Covenant East Devon District
 discount on the market value of their homes.         Council properties situated outside the
 The longer you have been a tenant the more           urban areas of Exmouth, Sidmouth, Seaton
 discount you get – up to a maximum limit of          and Honiton are sold subject to a restriction
 £30,000 in the South West of England.                imposed under Section 157 of the Housing
                                                      Act 1985. We have resolved to impose the
  The discount is calculated from the beginning       restriction to ensure as far as possible that
  of your tenancy:                                    properties remain part of the general housing
• 30 per cent for houses and bungalows plus           stock available for local people.
  1 per cent for each additional year up to a             The restriction is that there shall be no
  maximum limit of 60 per cent                        further resale of these properties without
• 40 per cent for flats and maisonettes plus           our written consent. However, we cannot
  2 per cent for each additional year up to a         withhold our consent if the person purchasing
  maximum limit of 70 per cent.                       the property has lived or worked within the
                                                      administrative County of Devon for the last
 Valuation                                            three years before the application for consent.
 The market value of the property is assessed
 by an independent valuer disregarding any            Exceptions to the Right to Buy
 improvements you have carried out.                   We may refuse to let you buy on the grounds
                                                      that your home is particularly suitable for
 Future sale of your property                         occupation by elderly people or that it is classed
 ‘Right of first refusal’ If you sell your             as sheltered housing for the elderly or disabled.
  property within ten years from the date of              There are other exceptions to the Right to
  purchase, then you must first give us, East          Buy, listed in the booklet ‘Your Right to Buy
  Devon District Council, the opportunity to          your Home’. Call 01395 517533 for information.

 28                                                                                 Tenants’ Handbook
 10 Services for the
 elderly and disabled

 What is sheltered housing?                         • responding to emergencies (if they are on site
 Sheltered housing is the name given to               at the time)
 properties specifically for people who are older    • encouraging social activities
 or have a disability and would benefit from the     • liaising with, and signposting to, other agencies,
 support of a mobile support officer.                   for example making referrals to Social Services
                                                      for adaptations to your home.
  Sheltered housing can provide:
• support, enabling you to live independently        The Mobile Support Officer will also agree and
  at home                                            organise a level of support for you so that you
• your own self contained accommodation              receive the assistance and help needed to meet
• security through an alarm system for help in an    your individual requirements. This is done by
  emergency                                          completing an assessment form within six
• safe and secure surroundings as many of            weeks of your move into your new home.
  our schemes have door entry systems                The support services provided do not include
• a Mobile Support Officer who provides regular        handling finances, administering medicines,
  support                                            housework or help with shopping.
• social activities with local people
• a range of social activities in our community      Alarm services within our
  centres on some of our sheltered schemes.          sheltered accommodation
                                                     All sheltered accommodation within East
 You live independently but have the peace of        Devon is fitted with alarm systems. The alarms
 mind that you can quickly access help in an         are linked to the Home Safeguard Community
 emergency.                                          Alarm Centre in Sidmouth. The alarm is
                                                     activated by a pull-cord fitted in each room of
 What support can I expect?                          the property, or there is an option of a pendant
 In East Devon our sheltered housing residents       alarm which you can wear around your neck or
 are supported by Mobile Support Officers. They        wrist, or carry with you.
 are available to give residents housing related         The smoke alarms in your property are also
 support on a regular basis Monday to Friday.        linked to Home Safeguard. So in the event of
                                                     a fire the smoke alarm will be activated and
  Mobile Support Officers can offer help with:          automatically call Home Safeguard. There is a
• housing related support issues (for example        two-way speech unit and trained operators
  filling in forms)                                   are available in an emergency at all times.                                                                                  29
10 Services for the elderly and disabled

How much does it cost?                               ensure that all groups using the centres are
The cost of the support and alarm service is         sensitive to the residents living on site.
included within the rent and support charges             Some of our sheltered schemes also have
and will be clearly stated on the tenancy            guest bedrooms which can be used by your
agreement.                                           relatives or friends. Guests may stay up to a
    The exact charge depends on where you            maximum of two weeks. Guests must pay a
live in East Devon and which type of property        nightly charge to the Mobile Support Officer
you occupy. Service charges are on average £10       at the beginning of their stay. A receipt will be
to £15 per week. Depending on your financial          issued. Cups and a kettle are provided but no
circumstances, Supporting People may pay some        cooking facilities. Pets are not allowed.
or all of these costs. Supporting People is the          To book one of our community centres
Government organisation set up to monitor the        or guest bedrooms please contact the Mobile
quality of housing support services and simplify     Support Officer covering the scheme or call
the way these services are funded.                   Home Safeguard on 01395 519162.

What eligibility criteria                            Who should I contact if I want
do I have to fulfil?                                  to talk about the service?
To live in our sheltered housing you will need       Please contact either our Support Services
to complete forms to identify whether you            Manager on 01395 519162 or Housing Needs
have a support need. Sheltered housing can           on 01395 517469.
be available to people with support needs or
anyone over the age of 60.                           How do I apply for sheltered
Is it just for single people?                        You need to register with Devon Home Choice
No, both one and two bedroom properties are          online at Please
available for single people and couples. You can     contact Housing Needs on 01395 517469 for
also apply if you require a carer to live with you   further information, or visit our website.
to help you to live independently.
                                                     The future of sheltered
Are there any organised                              accommodation in East Devon
social activities?                                   Our overarching aim is to ensure that older
Some schemes have a Social Club which will           and vulnerable people are well housed, enjoy
organise activities such as coffee mornings and       a good quality of life and are seen as an
trips. The Mobile Support Officer will support         important part of achieving thriving, balanced
social activities on the scheme or advise you of     communities.
other social activities within the local area.           Over a quarter of our housing stock is
                                                     currently designated as ‘sheltered’. However
Community centres and                                there are some tenants living in sheltered
guest bedrooms                                       housing who have no support needs or choose
Some of our schemes have a community centre          not to accept support.
for use by residents. Outside groups can also            Also some of our current sheltered housing
book to use the community centres when they          does not meet the Supporting People criteria
are not being used by residents. We try to           and the Housing Stock Options Appraisal

30                                                                                 Tenants’ Handbook
                                                             10 Services for the elderly and disabled

(2006) identified a need to decommission, reuse,      of providing a support service to people living
redevelop or dispose of some of our sheltered        in general purpose and private accommodation,
housing which cannot be made ‘fit for purpose’        similar to that provided by our Mobile Support
at a reasonable cost. We estimate that up to         Officers on our sheltered schemes.
25 per cent of our current sheltered housing
may need to be decommissioned and have               Advances in alarm
allocated £4.3 million to fund work to bring         service technology
our schemes up to a standard which will meet         Both our residents living within sheltered
future expectations.                                 accommodation and those who have alarms
    ‘Decommissioning’ sheltered housing is           fitted in general purpose or private housing
about changing its current designated use and        may now benefit from advances in technology
removing the housing related support from the        which will allow us to install additional sensors
scheme or units of accommodation. It will give       attached to the alarm equipment. There may be
greater flexibility in allocating the property to     a charge for this service.
different client groups. We could still use the           These sensors include fall detectors, smoke
decommissioned properties for older people           alarms, carbon monoxide alarms, intruder
who do not require support, or we could use          alarms, bed exit alarms and many more. When
them for non elderly households. Each scheme         activated these sensors automatically raise an
will be considered carefully taking into account     alarm through to the Home Safeguard call
the needs of current tenants, the demand for         centre. There is no requirement to press a call
accommodation there and the design of the            button. These additional sensors will provide
properties.                                          added security for people who wish to remain
                                                     independent while living at home.
Support services in general                              If you would like further information about
purpose council housing                              these sensors please call Home Safeguard on
You do not have to live in one of our sheltered      01395 578237.
properties to benefit from some of our support
services. We are able to fit dispersed alarms in
any property which has a phone line.                         Need to get in touch?
    Individual alarm units are available to older            Please see Section 16
or vulnerable people who would benefit from
the system provided by Home Safeguard
twenty-four hours a day. We have Mobile
Support Officers who are dedicated to installing
alarm equipment in customers’ homes. There
is a charge for this service.
    To have an individual alarm fitted you will
need to complete an application form which is
available from the Home Safeguard Community
Alarm Service. This service is also available to
private customers, so please tell your friends
and family about it.
    We are currently investigating the feasibility                                                                               31
11 Changing your home

Over the course of your tenancy your housing       placed in the Emergency Housing Need band
requirements may change and you may wish to        (a). If you would like to know more about the
move to a larger or smaller property, or to a      banding system please visit the Devon Home
different area. There are several ways by which     Choice website.
you can do this.
                                                   Transfer to a smaller property
Transfer to another council or                     We have a shortage of family housing in East
housing association property                       Devon. So if you are prepared to move from a
within East Devon                                  three or four bedroom property to a smaller
If you wish to be considered for another council   property then you may be eligible for financial
or housing association property you will need      assistance with your moving expenses and given
to complete an online application form which is    priority over other people on the waiting list.
available on the Devon Home Choice website         Please speak to Housing Needs for further
at It is important        information.
that you answer every question as this will help
decide your housing need and your banding.         Allocation of properties
    Most requests to transfer will be accepted     We let the majority of council housing through
but you must have no rent arrears and not be       Devon Home Choice. This gives you a greater
subject to a Possession Order. We will write to    choice of where to live, while continuing to
you to tell you which banding your application     meet housing needs, and ensuring sustainable,
has been placed in, your application date and      settled communities.
registration number.                                   Devon Home Choice allows you to bid for
                                                   an advertised property that you would like to
There are four main bands into which               live in. You can bid for any property that you
applications are placed:                           are eligible for. Offers of accommodation are
                                                   made to those in highest housing need and then
     High Housing Need (B)                         on a date order basis and let to the bidder who
     Medium Housing Need (C)                       has been on the register longest. If you would
     Low Housing Need (d)                          like more information about this system please
     No Housing Need (e)                           see the Devon Home Choice website to view
                                                   the policy.
In some circumstances your need for housing            The average waiting time to be rehoused
may be assessed as so urgent that you may be       for those in the B band is two to three years.

32                                                                             Tenants’ Handbook
                                                                             11 Changing your home

 This will depend on the size and type of            specific work to be undertaken as a condition
 accommodation you are requesting given              of accepting the exchange. We do carry out
 the location you choose. We have very high          health and safety checks as part of the approval
 demand for accommodation in the seven main          process but it is your responsibility to undertake
 market towns, and you may have to wait              any repairs not covered by the agreement.
 longer to be housed in these areas.
 Mutual exchange                                     HomeBuy is the Government initiative to
 You may find that a mutual exchange may be           help those with a household income of under
 quicker than waiting for a transfer. You can        £60,000. It enables first time buyers to buy a
 swap your home with another council or              share of a home and get onto the housing
 housing association tenant providing both           ladder. It is the Government’s low cost home
 landlords agree.                                    ownership scheme. For many people, HomeBuy
                                                     provides the best opportunity to own a home
 How to register for Mutual                          in the area in which they want to live and work.
 Exchange in East Devon or                           They have schemes which enable you to both
 anywhere in the UK                                  rent and buy a home.
 To add your home to the register you need               In the south west the HomeBuy schemes
 to visit the HomeSwapper website on                 are managed by South West Homes. To contact and complete the              them for further information call 0300 100 0021,
 online application.                                 email or visit
     It is up to you to find someone who is also
 looking to swap. Once you have found another
 tenant and agreed the move in principle, then
 you must seek permission from us. It is very                Need to get in touch?
 important that you do not move until you have               Please see Section 16
 approval in writing. Once a formal application
 has been received we have six weeks to make
 the decision.

  An exchange may be refused if:
• one of the tenants is in rent arrears
• one of the tenants is under notice to leave
  the property
• the properties are too big or too small for
  the people intending to move there
• one of the properties is designated for elderly
  or disabled persons.

 With a mutual exchange, you will be asked to
 accept the property in the condition it has been
 left in by the previous tenant. We will carry out
 routine repairs in accordance with the tenancy
 agreement, but no demand can be made for                                                                               33
12 Ending your tenancy

If you wish to give up your tenancy, you must       period. If we need to do this, we will write to
give us four weeks written notice, ending on a      you to ask for your permission.
Sunday. Only a named tenant can end the
tenancy, or in the event of the death of a          Giving back your keys
tenant the next of kin or executor must notify      All tenancies end on a Sunday. All keys to the
us in writing and terminate the tenancy.            property must be handed in to the Council
    You can give us notice by writing to us at      Offices at Knowle, Sidmouth before 12 noon
Housing Needs, East Devon District Council,         on the next day (Monday).
Knowle, Sidmouth, EX10 8HL, or asking for
a Termination of Tenancy form which you             At the end of the tenancy
need to complete and return to us. The four         You need to make sure that everyone living
week notice period will start on the Monday         with you in the property leaves when you
following the date we receive your letter or        move out. This includes any member of your
completed form.                                     household or a lodger, subtenant, child, visitor
    If you go to court because of a divorce, a      or pet.
domestic dispute, or a relationship breakdown,          The property must be left in a clean
the court will decide whether to order the          condition, clear of all rubbish, and free of your
transfer of the tenancy to one or other of the      furniture and possessions. You must leave all
partners. The tenancy rights will end for the       fixtures and fittings intact and in the condition
other person who must leave the property.           they were in at the start of the tenancy, except
                                                    for fair wear and tear.
What if I am a joint tenant?
If you are joint tenants, either, or any, of you     We will take steps to recover from you any
can end the tenancy. Please note that this will      reasonable costs we incur in:
end the rights of the other tenant(s) and they     • replacing or repairing any missing or damaged
must leave the property, other than in               items
exceptional circumstances.                         • replacing or repairing any alterations which do
                                                     not comply with relevant regulations
During the notice period                           • replacing or repairing any alterations for which
Before the end of the tenancy our Tenancy            we did not give our written consent
Sustainment Officer or Technical Officer will          • meeting all reasonable removal and/or storage
visit the property. We may wish to show new          charges when items are left in the premises after
tenants around your home during the notice           the termination date.

34                                                                                Tenants’ Handbook
                                                   12 Ending your tenancy

We may remove and store any items left in
the premises after the termination date for a
maximum of three months. We will notify you
of this at your last known address. If the items
are not collected within three months we will
dispose of them and you will be liable for our
reasonable costs of disposal.

        Need to get in touch?
        Please see Section 16

  Don’t forget
   Remove all your belongings and
    any rubbish.
   Leave the property in a clean and
    tidy condition.
   Cancel any regular deliveries you may
    have for milk, newspapers, etc.
   Read your gas, electric and water
    meters (if installed) and tell your
    supplier that you are moving, so that
    you won’t be charged for services
    used by the next tenant.
   If you have a prepayment meter, leave
    the key or tokens in the meter.
   Make arrangements to have your post
    redirected. (We are not able to send
    post on to you, so any mail that comes
    for you once you have left will be
    returned to Royal Mail.)
   Arrange to have your telephone
   Advise the Council Tax office that you
    are moving.
   Let us have a forwarding address.                                                  35
13 Getting involved with
the Housing Service

We are keen for our tenants to be involved, at      Attend our Annual
all levels, in decisions regarding the management   Residents’ Conference
of the housing service. Some of the main ways       Once a year the Tenant Representative Group
to get involved are listed below and more are       organises a Residents’ Conference which is
given in the leaflet ‘Getting involved with the      open to all tenants and leaseholders. The
housing service’ which is sent to all new tenants   conference is held in a different venue each
about five weeks after moving to a new               year, with the Group selecting a topical theme.
                                                    Join a tenant/resident association
Add your name and contact details                   or start an association yourself
to the Key Players register                         Through resident associations tenants can come
We have a register of ‘interested’ tenants who      together to consider issues of common concern
are prepared to be consulted on various topics.     relating to their housing, community and general
This may involve reading and commenting on          environment. For more information about
various documents, filling out questionnaires,       the existing groups, or to discuss starting your
taking part in review group discussions or          own group, contact Tenant Participation on
telephone surveys.                                  01395 517453 or email tenantparticipation@
    You may also be interested in joining one of
our review groups that look at different parts of
our service. These groups are made up of both       Become a member of the Tenant
tenants and staff and we currently have four         Representative Group
groups focusing on repairs, sheltered housing,      The Group considers issues affecting tenants
estate management, and customer care.               across the district and meets about once every
                                                    six weeks at different venues. We are always
Take part in our annual                             keen to hear from new tenants who would like
garden competition                                  to be involved.
Each year we organise a garden competition,
open to council tenants old and young. The          Find out about the Scrutiny Panel
competition is advertised in the spring edition     We have an Accountability and Scrutiny Panel
of the Housing Standard newsletter. Judging         for tenants to influence and hold us to account
usually takes place in July or August with a        for our management and performance in the
prize-giving ceremony in September.                 delivery of services. This voluntary role needs

36                                                                               Tenants’ Handbook
                                                             13 Getting involved with the Housing service

tenants who are fairly confident, can say their           Request a copy of our Tenant and
piece in a constructive way, can work with               Council Partnership Agreement
others, and understand services and priorities           or Tenant Involvement Strategy
for tenants.                                             We have drawn up an agreement with our
                                                         tenants setting out our commitment to tenant
Find out about the work of                               involvement called the Tenant and Council
the Housing Review Board                                 Partnership Agreement. We also have a
The Board was set up in 2006 and consists                comprehensive Tenant Involvement Strategy.
of five Council members, five tenant and                   To see either of these documents please
leaseholder representatives, and two                     contact Tenant Participation on 01395 517453.
independent community representatives.
    The Board considers matters relating to
the Council’s landlord and housing management                     Need to get in touch?
functions. It advises the Council’s Executive                     Please see Section 16
Board on housing policy and operational
practice where this affects the Council’s tenants
and leaseholders. It monitors service delivery
and promotes good practice.

Apply for a Community
Initiative Grant
If you have a project that benefits a number
of our tenants you can apply for a grant from
the Community Initiative Fund. You don’t
need to be part of a recognised group to
apply. The fund is managed by the Tenant
Representative Group. For further details
contact Tenant Participation.

So you’d like to get involved – how much time have you got?

   I have less time       •   Enter the Garden Competition (once a year)
                          •   Join a Residents Association (about two hours every three months)
                          •   Join the e-consultation group (about half an hour every two months)
                          •   Take part in telephone surveys (about half an hour every two months)
                          •   Take part in postal surveys (about half an hour every two months)
                          •   Join the Reading Panel (about two hours every two months)
                          •   Join the Tenant Representative Group (about three hours every six weeks)
  I have more time        •   Stand for the Housing Review Board (at least three hours once a month)                                                                                     37
14 Customer care

From April 2011 we are introducing ‘Local          Calling at our offices
Standards’ which set the service level you can     If you have a specified appointment time you
expect from us for some of the services we         will be attended to within five minutes of
provide to you. These are produced following       arriving at the office. If you call without an
consultation with our tenants and will be          appointment, you will be attended to within
reviewed and updated annually. Each year           twenty minutes, or we will offer you an
we provide tenants with information on the         appointment.
housing standards in the document ‘Our                 If your enquiry is confidential, the interview
commitments to you’.                               can be conducted in private in an interview
                                                   room or office (if available), or we will offer
How we will deliver our service                    you an appointment for a private interview.
When you contact us, you can expect to be
treated courteously and politely. We will deal     Letters and emails
with all enquiries in a confidential manner. We     We aim to reply to all letters and emails within
will provide a professional service through        ten working days. If a detailed investigation is
experienced and trained staff.                      required this may take longer, but we will write
    We will treat all tenants, leaseholders and    and explain this to you and give the expected
those who use our services with respect, listen    date of reply.
to your needs, and provide assistance as quickly      Letters will be written in plain English,
as we can. We may, on occasions, have to say       avoiding the use of jargon. We will confirm the
no to your request. If so, we will explain why.    name of the member of staff dealing with your
    We are comitted to consulting with groups      enquiry, their phone number and email address.
and individual tenants, leaseholders, and other
customers on key issues and encourage regular      Visits to your home
feedback on services provided.                     If we cannot assist you over the phone and you
    Telephone calls, letters, and emails will be   are unable to come into either of our offices
answered promptly. In turn we expect our           we will be happy to organise a home visit.
customers to be polite and courteous, treating         If we visit you at home, we will make an
staff with respect.                                 appointment before calling. We will show you
    We ask that you keep us informed of any        identification. If you are unsure of the identity
changes that affect your tenancy or housing         of the caller, please contact our office at
needs.                                             Sidmouth. We will make every effort to be

38                                                                               Tenants’ Handbook
                                                                                14 Customer care

punctual and will contact you if for any reason   How to complain
an appointment cannot be kept.                    If we make a mistake we will apologise and
                                                  put it right as quickly as possible. If you are
Our Housing Strategy                              dissatisfied with the service you received
We publish a Housing Strategy, setting out our    please talk to one of our service managers.
housing plans and priorities for the district,        If you remain dissatisfied we have a
which can be found on our website. You can        complaints procedure, details of which we
also ask for a printed copy.                      will supply on request. If you would like
                                                  any information on this please contact the
Issues regarding your tenancy                     Complaints Officer on 01395 516551. Please
If you have a query about your tenancy please     let us have details of your complaint in person,
contact us either by telephone or in writing.     by letter, telephone, or email. We will log
We will explain the conditions of your tenancy    and investigate it according to our agreed
and carry out an accompanied viewing before       procedure.
you sign the tenancy agreement. We will               Only after following the Council’s
provide new tenants with a Tenants’ Handbook      complaints procedure, and if you are still
and advice on how to conduct your tenancy.        dissatisfied, you can approach the Local
We aim to let our empty homes as soon as          Government Ombudsman for an independent
possible.                                         review by calling 0300 061 0614. Alternatively
                                                  you can email
Tenant Support Committee
If you are experiencing problems with the
housing service and don’t know where to turn,             Need to get in touch?
contact the Tenant Support Committee to get               Please see Section 16
some support from fellow tenants who can help
you through the process. For more information
please contact 01395 517453 and ask for the
Tenant Support Committee.                                                                             39
15 Accessing our services

Equal opportunities and diversity                    everyone the right to their opinion and
Equal opportunities means that everyone is           to stand for election to a committee.
treated fairly, and has equal access to services.        We will deal seriously with anyone who
Diversity means respecting everyone as an            deliberately discriminates against you. You
individual, irrespective of any group they may       should let us know if you feel you have been
belong to because of their race, religion,           treated unfairly or discriminated against in
disability or for any other reason.                  any way.
    The Housing Service of East Devon District           The Council has a policy of monitoring and
Council is committed to fairness and equality        investigating incidents of prejudice. If you feel
for all, operating with professionalism, integrity   that you have good reason to believe you are
and openness. We believe that everyone is            receiving a different level of service specifically
entitled to be treated with dignity, respect         because of your race, age, gender, religion or
and fairness, regardless of their race, ethnic       disability, or that you are the victim of a ‘hate’
or national origin, nationality, gender, sexual      incident, please call the Complaints Officer on
orientation, marital status, disability, age,        01395 516551.
religion or belief, or political beliefs.
    We aim to make sure that we do not               Accessing our services
knowingly create an unfair disadvantage for          We try to ensure that our services are equally
anyone, directly or indirectly, and by law we        accessible to all, no matter what your age,
must make sure that we do not discriminate           health, gender, race, religion, ethnic background,
against anyone for any reason. Every member          sexuality, mobility, work or family circumstances.
of staff has a responsibility to ensure that              Our main offices are at Knowle, Sidmouth.
our Equality and Diversity Policy is put into        We have tried to make these offices suitable for
practice. We give training to all staff on their      everyone, including those with disabilities. There
responsibilities under this policy. We also have     is seating in the reception area, some toys for
drawn up Equality and Diversity Commitments          children who are accompanying you, easy access
for the Housing Service. These can be seen on        to toilet facilities, and private interview rooms.
our website.                                         We are also able to offer a translation service
    The Tenant Representative Group has              by Applied Language Solutions if English is not
drawn up an Equal Opportunities Statement            your first language.
which its members must work to. All of our               Although not all bus services run to the
tenant or resident associations must operate         Knowle there is a bus stop immediately outside
under an equal opportunities policy, giving          our grounds, but please note that there is a

40                                                                                 Tenants’ Handbook
                                                                           15 Accessing our services

steep hill that you have to then walk up. If       Contacting us
you drive to Knowle there are visitor parking      Please contact us either in person, by phone
spaces immediately outside our reception           or by email. Overleaf is a list of departments
area, including disabled parking. We also have     within the Council with their phone numbers
a housing office at Exmouth Town Hall and            and email addresses, arranged by the reason
housing advice can be obtained from your           you may wish to contact them.
local Citizens Advice Bureau.
    We are always prepared to give advice by       Write to us or visit us at:
phone. Alternatively you can visit our website
at             East Devon District Council
for further information.                              Knowle, Sidmouth
    If for whatever reason you find it difficult to      EX10 8HL
access information by any of these ways, we are       (open Monday –Friday 8.30 am–5 pm)
also able to offer home visits.
                                                   Alternatively, visit the Housing Office at:

                                                      Exmouth Town Hall
       Need to get in touch?                          St Andrews Road
       Please see Section 16                          Exmouth
                                                      EX8 1AW
                                                      (open Monday –Friday 9 am –1 pm
                                                      and 2 pm–4.30 pm)

                                                   You can visit our website at

                                                   For details of location and opening hours for
                                                   your local Citizens Advice Bureau please call
                                                   01404 44213 or 01395 264645.                                                                                41
16 List of council contacts

Adaptations                            Community Initiative Grant
   Contact: Property and Assets          Contact: Tenant Participation
   01395 517458                          01395 517453    
Alarms in non-sheltered properties     Council Tax
   Contact: Home Safeguard               Contact: Council Tax and Housing Benefit
   01395 578237                          01395 517446
Alterations and improvements           Customer care
   Contact: Property and Assets          Contact: Housing Needs and Strategy Unit
   01395 517458                          01395 516551    
Antisocial behaviour                   Debt
   Contact: Estate Management            Contact: Rental
   01395 516551 ext. 2381/2396           01395 517444
Applying for sheltered housing         Emergencies
   Contact: Housing Needs                Contact: Out of hours
   01395 517469                          01395 516854       Ending your tenancy
Buying your home                         Contact: Housing Needs
   Contact: Landlord Services            01395 517469
   01395 517533                   Garden maintenance scheme
Changing your home (transfers/           Contact: Landlord Services
mutual exchanges)                        01395 516551
   Contact: Housing Needs      
   01395 517469                        Getting involved with the housing service         Contact: Tenant Participation
Cleaning of communal areas               01395 517453
   Contact: Landlord Services  
   01395 516551

42                                                              Tenants’ Handbook
                                                                  16 List of council contacts

Hire of community centres                     Rechargeable repairs
   Contact: Landlord Services                    Contact: Property and Assets
   01395 519162                                  01395 517458   
Hire of guest bedrooms                        Refuse and recycling
   Contact: Landlord Services                    Contact: Streetscene
   01395 519162                                  01395 517528   
Home contents insurance                       Renting a garage
   Contact: Tenant Participation                 Contact: Housing Needs
   01395 517453                                  01395 517469
Housing Benefit                               Report a repair
   Contact: Council Tax and Housing Benefit      Contact: Property and Assets
   01395 517446                                  01395 517458           
Improvement voucher scheme                    Running a business
   Contact: Property and Assets                  Contact: Estate Management
   01395 517458                                  01395 516551 ext. 2381/2396            
Key Players Register                          Sheltered housing and Mobile
   Contact: Tenant Participation              Support Officers
   01395 517453                                  Contact: Landlord Services          01395 578237
Making a complaint                     
   Contact: Complaints Officer                Tenancy conditions
   01395 516551                                  Contact: Estate Management _a_complaint      01395 516551 ext. 2381/2396
Neighbour nuisance                     
   Contact: Estate Management                 Tenant Representative Group
   01395 516551 ext. 2381/2396                   Contact: Tenant Participation             01395 517453
Parks and gardens                      
   Contact: StreetScene                       Untidy council gardens
   01395 517528                                  Contact: Estate Management                  01395 516551 ext. 2381/2396
Paying your rent                       
   Contact: Rental
   01395 517444
Pest control
   Contact: Environmental Health
   01395 571517                                                                      43
17 How the Housing Service
is organised

To deliver a modern housing service, we are         funded from the Housing Revenue Account,
split into three teams. The Landlord Services       such as homeless prevention and housing advice.
and Property and Asset teams are mainly                The diagram below shows how the Housing
operational. The third team, Housing Needs          Service is made up, and what each team within
and Strategy, includes those functions not          the service is responsible for.

                                          head of housinG

      housinG needs and                  housinG landloRd                  pRopeRty and
      stRateGy manaGeR                    seRviCes manaGeR                 asset manaGeR

      housinG needs and                  housinG landloRd                  pRopeRty and
        stRateGy team                      seRviCes team                    asset team

          Homelessness                   Estate management            Repairs and maintenance
   Housing advice and options           Tenancy sustainment       Programme/modernisation work
         Housing register               Income management            Annual and cyclical works
Allocations/lettings/nominations       (rents, service charges)              Gas safety
Tenancy termination and ‘sign up’        Tenant involvement              Lift maintenance
        Housing enabling                     Right to Buy                   Adaptations
        Council own build             Community development                Procurement
        Housing strategy                  Support services             Contract management
        Housing projects              (Mobile Support Officers)             Stock condition
     Housing research and                 Home Safeguard                Asset management
           information                  The hRa business plan

44                                                                             Tenants’ Handbook
Houses on front cover: new council homes that have
sustainable features at Waggs Plot, All Saints

Below: opening of the Millwey Play Area in Axminster,
a project where local people have been involved right
from the beginning                                    Published March 2011   X0852


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