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REMOVALS _ STORAGE POLICY

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					                                                                            Appendix C

                        WEST DEVON BOROUGH COUNCIL

                   REMOVALS & STORAGE POLICY
1     INTRODUCTION

1.1   The Council has a duty under Section 211 (1) (2) of the Housing Act 1996 to
      protect the personal property of a homeless applicant in the following
      circumstances:-
             Where there is a danger of loss or damage to that property and
             When the Council owes a duty to the applicant to secure accommodation
             under the legislation as follows:-
             a. Interim duty to accommodate before completion of enquiries
             b. Pending possible referral
             c. Intentionally homeless and in priority need
             d. Un-intentionally homeless or threatened with homelessness and in
                priority need
      and no other suitable arrangements can be made by the applicant.

1.2   In practice this means storing the personal property, or moving it to a safe
      location of the applicant’s choice.

1.3   The Council must take reasonable care to protect the property and may
      make a “reasonable charge” for this service. .

1.4   Despite the provision of Government guidance the interpretation of the guidance
      varies between Local Authorities. The intention of this policy is to set down
      clearly the circumstances in which West Devon Borough Council will protect the
      personal property of homeless applicants, in what circumstances charges will be
      made and what those charges will be.

2     KEY OBJECTIVES

2.1   To set out how the Council will discharge its duties under the legislation.
2.2   To ensure all homeless applicants are treated fairly and consistently.
2.3   To protect personal property in the most economic way, having regard to the
      requirement for the council to exercise reasonable care to keep it safe.
2.4   To ensure charges are levied fairly and in line with the policy.

3     POLICY

      Removals

3.1   Where the Council has a duty it will normally arrange removals as follows:-

      a.    Hire of a van – the hiring of a van will be considered in the first instance.
            Applicants will be expected to move their own personal property
            themselves or with the help of family/friends.
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      b.     Hire of a “man and van” - this option will only be considered where the
             applicant is unable to move their own personal property themselves and
             they have no family/friends to assist.

      c.     Removal firm – this will only be considered in very exceptional
             circumstances and only when use of a ‘man and a van’ is totally
             inappropriate.

      Storage

3.2   Where the Council has a duty it will normally arrange storage as follows:-

      a.     Secure storage – the use of secure, containerised and traditional
             depository storage units will be used.

      b.     Self storage – the Council will consider other storage options if the
             applicant so wishes provided that it is satisfied that the storage is secure
             and fully protects the property.

3.3   Where the personal property is not in West Devon, the Council may arrange for it
      be stored near to its current location.

      Pets

3.4   Applicants are not normally able to take pets into temporary
      accommodation. In most cases the applicant will be expected to make their
      own arrangements for the housing of pets. Housing Advisors may provide
      advice and in exceptional circumstances, where the client is unable to
      make arrangements themselves, may arrange for the animals to be housed
      in an appropriate licensed boarding establishment, which the client will
      usually be responsible for paying direct. If the establishment will only
      agree to payment from the Council this must be recharged in full to the
      applicant.

      Charging Policy

3.5   In line with their ability to pay, it is reasonable that an applicant should pay a
      contribution towards costs incurred by the Council for providing removal and
      storage services for their possessions. It is not realistic that services can be
      universally provided free of charge.

3.6   Where an applicant is unable to arrange for his/her property to be moved/stored
      due to illness, but can afford to pay charges in full, then the Council will arrange
      the work and re-charge the full costs accordingly.




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3.7    The following charges will be made for storage:-

Band    Circumstances                       Charges
A       Income Support, JSA (IB),           No charge
        Pension Credit,
B       Working (Household income up        £10 per container per
        to £16,000 per annum)               calendar month
C       Working (Household income in        Full recharge
        excess of £16,000 per annum)

3.8    Interest free loans may be considered if the applicant has difficulty in meeting the
       monthly costs for storage.

3.9    The cost of removing individual items from storage, throughout the storage
       period, will be paid by the applicant in full.

3.10   There will be no removal costs charged to households moving into, or between,
       temporary accommodation. Households will only be recharged for removal costs
       associated with a move into permanent, settled accommodation. The charge will
       be the full amount of the removal costs and may be granted as an interest free
       loan if the applicant is unable to pay in one lump sum.

3.11   Where a loan is agreed, the applicant will repay the loan in affordable instalments
       of no less than £2.50 per week.

3.12   All arrangements will be made directly by the Council, invoices will be paid by the
       Council and the applicant recharged in accordance with the charging policy.

3.13   If an applicant arranges their own storage and/or removals without the Council’s
       prior consent, the Council will not pay the costs incurred. In these circumstances
       the applicant will have to make arrangements to pay the full cost themselves.

3.14   This policy will be well publicised and explained in full to all applicants to ensure
       they understand the policy, are aware of any costs they will be incurring and how
       they will be able to pay.

3.15   In exceptional circumstances charges may be waived, but only with the
       authorisation of the Housing Advice Team Leader. All exceptions will be
       recorded, monitored and reported regularly to the Head of Housing and Strategic
       Planning.

3.16   The Council will not accept liability for any damages or loss occurring
       during the removal(s) and/or storage period. The applicant will be
       responsible for arranging their own insurance to cover any such incidents
       and will be expected to be present when a removal takes place and to
       check that items are received in acceptable condition. In the event of
       damage or loss the client may be able to make a claim against the storage
       or removal company who will be required to have appropriate insurance.


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       Recovery of Charges

3.17   Applicants will be informed of the charges at the outset and required to sign an
       agreement accepting responsibility to pay.

3.18   Payments will be closely monitored and departmental debt recovery procedures
       followed for any unpaid amounts.

       Ending of Duty to Protect Property

3.19   The Council’s duty to protect the personal property ends when the Council
       believes that there is no longer any serious risk of loss or damage to it, i.e. when
       the applicant has accommodation where the property can be kept.

3.20   Accordingly the Council will arrange for the property to be moved, in accordance
       with the aforementioned removals policy, to the applicant’s new accommodation
       as soon as it becomes available.

3.21   Should an applicant refuse to accept their personal property then the Council will
       give 14 calendar days written notice to the applicant to remove the property from
       storage themselves and they will charged in full from this date.

3.22   The applicant will be advised that if the property is not removed from the store
       within the 14 days, the Council reserves the right to sell it or dispose of it. Any
       costs incurred will be passed onto the applicant.

3.23   If on completion of enquiries into a homeless application it is found that no duty is
       owed or that the applicant is intentionally homeless a written notice will be sent to
       the applicant giving them 28 calendar days to contact the Council to arrange for
       the removal of items from storage and that the Council will commence charging
       them the full cost of the storage from that date if the property is not removed. At
       the end of this period a second notice will be sent advising the applicant that if
       the property is not removed within a further 14 calendar days the Council
       reserves the right to sell or dispose of the property and charge the applicant any
       costs incurred in doing so.

3.24   It will be made clear to the applicant at the outset that if they do not keep in touch
       with the Council or fail to notify us of a change to their contact details the Council
       reserves the right to sell or dispose of the property. In those cases where an
       applicant subsequently loses contact or changes their contact details without
       informing the Council, attempts will be made to trace the applicant (e.g. by
       contacting partner agencies if appropriate). Where this proves unsuccessful the
       Council will write to the last known address to advise that unless they make
       contact within 28 days their property may be sold or disposed of.

3.25    In exceptional circumstances the Housing Advice Team Leader may agree that
       property will be stored for longer periods than those specified above. All
       exceptions will be recorded and monitored.



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4     DIVERSITY AND EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES

4.1   At West Devon Borough Council we are committed to acknowledging the full
      diversity of our community and to promoting equality of opportunity for everyone
      in policy making, service delivery, employment practice, regulation and
      enforcement.

4.2   This policy and all associated documentation and leaflets can be made available
      in large print, Braille, tape format or in any other languages, on request.

5     MONITORING

5.1   The use of storage, removals, costs and recovery of charges will be monitored
      quarterly.

6     REVIEW

6.1   The policy will be reviewed annually.

December 2008




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