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					Updated spring 2011




Tenants’
handbook

      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.
                                                 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




 To request this information in an alternative
 format or language please call 01395 516551
 or email csc@eastdevon.gov.uk
 We consider requests on an individual basis
                                                 Updated spring 2011
Introduction




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.




www.eastdevon.gov.uk                                                                                3
                                                                                                                                                                                                  1 Your tenancy




 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.
 Secure tenancy                                         Introductory tenants have most of the same          wife succeeds to the tenancy on the death of            You must keep the inside and outside of
  Most of our tenants have a secure tenancy with        rights as secure tenants but there are some         her husband, then on her death the tenancy          your home, including internal decoration,
  us. As a secure tenant we will not interfere with     rights that you do not have during the              cannot pass, by succession, to anyone else who      garage and any outbuildings, in a neat and tidy
  your rights to occupy your home unless you            introductory period. These include the right        may otherwise be eligible.                          condition. You may be asked to repay any costs
  break any of your obligations within the tenancy      to buy your property and the right to take                                                              we have to pay for cleaning your home if you
  agreement.                                            in lodgers.                                         Lodgers and subletting                              allow it to become dirty or infested with vermin.
      We cannot make you leave your home                                                                    A lodger is someone who lives with you and              If you know that you will be leaving the
  without getting a possession order from a             Joint tenancies                                     shares a room, or rooms, and the household          property unoccupied for more than twenty-
  County Court. Reasons why we may seek to              A joint tenancy is a tenancy granted to two or      facilities. Secure tenants may allow people to      eight days please write to let us know of your
  get a possession order would include:                 more (up to a maximum of four) people. If           reside as lodgers at the property. If you do this   future intention to return.
• refusal to pay your rent                              you are a joint tenant you should be aware that     and receive Housing Benefit, you need to notify
• misuse of our property                                each tenant is jointly and separately liable for    the Housing Benefit section, as it may affect         Use of loft space
• not living in the property as your principal home.    the obligations under the tenancy agreement.        your entitlement.                                   In most council homes there will be hatches in
                                                        Also if one of the joint tenants ends the               Subletting means making another tenancy         the ceiling to allow access to the roof space or
 Introductory tenancy                                   tenancy the rights of the other tenant(s) will      from all or part of the property. If you have       loft. These are for authorised use only by
 If you have become a tenant within the last            end and they must leave the property, other         a secure tenancy you may sublet part of the         Council staff and contractors. You must not use
 twelve months you will have an introductory            than in exceptional circumstances.                  property but only with our written consent.         the loft space in the home without our written
 tenancy. Introductory tenancies usually last for                                                           You must not sublet the whole property as this      consent. We accept no liability should you use
 twelve months from the tenancy start date but          Your rights and obligations                         invalidates your tenancy and legal action will be   the loft space and cause damage to any services
 in certain circumstances an introductory tenancy       as a tenant                                         taken against you.                                  such as electric cables, water pipes, insulation or
 will be extended for a further six months.             As a tenant you have certain rights and                                                                 ceilings, or for any damage that may be caused
     After the introductory period your tenancy         obligations which are set out in the tenancy        Living in and looking                               to personal items, personal injury to yourself,
 will automatically become a secure tenancy             agreement. We explain some of these below,          after your home                                     any member of your household or any visitors.
 unless we have begun proceedings to end the            and others are explained within this handbook.      You must use the property only as a private         Any such damage will be recharged to you.
 tenancy due to a breach of the tenancy                                                                     dwelling house (unless you have obtained our             In exceptional circumstances we will give
 agreement.                                             Succeeding to a tenancy                             permission to run a business), and as your only     permission for you to use the loft space but
                                                        when someone dies                                   or principal home.                                  you need to obtain our written permission
  Breaches of the tenancy conditions include:           ‘Succession’ is when a tenant dies and the              You must not use your home for any              beforehand.
• rent arrears                                           tenancy can sometimes be taken over by             improper, illegal, immoral or antisocial purpose.
• antisocial behaviour                                   another member of the household.                   You must not commit an offence in your home,         Looking after your garden
• damage to the property                                                                                    or in the local area, which could lead to a         Gardens and verges must be regularly trimmed,
• noise nuisance                                         To succeed to a tenancy:                           conviction.                                         well maintained and free from rubbish. Hedges
• failure to maintain gardens.                         • you must be a family member


 4                                                                                   Tenants’ Handbook      www.eastdevon.gov.uk                                                                                 5
1 Your tenancy                                                                                                                                                                                1 Your tenancy




should be trimmed at least once a year and kept     consideration to the type and number of pets          Westcountry Consortium Home Contents                we are seeking to possess your home. The
below two metres in height. Any ditches or          you have, and ensure that they are suitable for       Insurance Scheme. This scheme has arranged          tenancy can only be ended if we prove one
water courses should be kept free flowing and        the type of property in which you live.               an affordable home contents insurance policy         of the grounds of possession set out in the
not obstructed in any way.                              If any animal you keep in the property            through which tenants can protect their             Housing Act 1985 and Housing Act 1996, and
    Please do not remove any trees or               causes nuisance, annoyance, damage or a public        belongings. The scheme is open to all tenants       the court considers our action reasonable and
boundary hedges without our written consent,        health risk to anyone in the local area, including    and leaseholders of East Devon District             gives a possession order.
or plant any trees, hedges or large shrubs which    our employees or representatives, we can              Council. If you would like further information          If you are joint tenants, you are both (all)
are likely to become dangerous, cause nuisance      ask you to remove it or take legal action for         about this please call 01395 517453 or email        responsible, individually and together, for
to your neighbours or damage to property. If        breaching the nuisance clause of your tenancy         tenantparticipation@eastdevon.gov.uk.               keeping to all the conditions of your agreement.
you are in doubt please seek our advice.            agreement.                                                                                                This includes paying rent.
                                                                                                          The rights and duties                                   If you are on an introductory tenancy we
Help with your garden                               Access to your home                                   of the Council                                      cannot bring your tenancy to an end without
For a small annual charge, we offer a garden         You must allow our employees or                        Your tenancy agreement gives you the right to      first serving a Notice of Seeking Possession –
maintenance service to tenants who are not          representatives reasonable access to your              live in the property. We will not interfere with   Introductory Tenancy. The court will then
capable of doing the work themselves and who        home to inspect its condition, do repairs or           your rights to occupy your home unless you         consider if our action is reasonable and
meet certain criteria. For further details please   improvements to the property or an adjoining           contravene any of your obligations within your     proportionate, and if they do, give a possession
contact Landlord Services on 01395 516551 or        property, or to deal with any health and safety        tenancy agreement or any of the following          order.
email landlordservices@eastdevon.gov.uk.            issue including the annual safety inspection and       conditions apply:
                                                    servicing of the Council’s gas appliances.           • You are living in a property which is one of a
Parking your car or other vehicles                      We will give you reasonable notice if we           group let to people with special needs, or                Need to get in touch?
You may park a vehicle within the boundaries        require such access. In an emergency we may            which we built or adapted for a person with               Please see Section 16
of your property if you have a properly             have no alternative but to enter your home             a disability, and:
constructed hard standing with a pavement-          without notice by any necessary means.                    • you no longer need that type of home
kerb crossing. If you wish to construct a hard      Emergency means a situation that could cause              • we need the property for someone else
standing please write to us for permission.         personal injury or damage to your home or                   with special needs.
We may be able to provide you with a grant          a neighbouring home.                                 • You find another home or you stop using the
for part of the costs.                                  All our officers and contractors carry               property as your only or main home.
    You may not park a vehicle which is not         identification which you should ask to see. If        • You have given false and misleading
taxed or which is un-roadworthy on the              you are concerned about anyone calling on our          information to get the tenancy.
property or on any council housing land. If you     behalf please telephone us to confirm their           • We need to carry out redevelopment or
wish to park boats, caravans, trailers or small     identity before you allow them access.                 major repairs to the property or surrounding
trade vehicles on the property you must first                                                               area, which we cannot do unless you move out.
get our written permission. Any vehicles larger     Insurance                                            • We have a legal duty to undertake a safety
than a transit size (3.5 tonnes or over) will not   We insure our council dwellings and in the             inspection of the Council’s gas appliances and
be allowed under any circumstances.                 event of fire, lightning, storm or flood we              you fail to give access for this work to be
    You must not do large-scale car repairs on      would claim on our insurance for the cost of           carried out.
the land around the property, on car parking        repairing or rebuilding the property. We do                 We will give you an opportunity to explain
areas or on the road.                               not insure any contents that belong to you or          your actions, and any mitigating circumstances,
                                                    any improvements that you may have carried             and put right any breach of the tenancy
Keeping pets                                        out. We strongly urge that you have your own           conditions, where possible, before we
If you are a secure tenant you may keep a           contents insurance.                                    commence possession proceedings.
domestic pet or pets in your home provided             Contents insurance is available from a                   If you are a secure tenant we cannot bring
they are well cared for and kept under              number of insurance companies. Alternatively,          your tenancy to an end without first serving a
proper control. We ask that you give careful        East Devon District Council is part of the             Notice of Seeking Possession, telling you why


6                                                                                 Tenants’ Handbook       www.eastdevon.gov.uk                                                                               7
                                                                                                                                                                                                    2 Your rent




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
How to pay your rent                               At your bank or building society You can             entitled to Housing Benefit. If you would like to    District Judge, the County Court will be made
Rent is due and payable fortnightly, monthly       pay at the bank or building society where you        find out more information or details on how to       aware of your default and we will request the
or every four weeks in advance. Fortnightly        are a customer, either at the counter or by bank     make a claim, please contact the Benefit Service     Court to issue a Possession Warrant, which the
payments are due on the first Monday of each        standing order.                                      on 01395 517446 or visit our offices at Knowle,       County Court Bailiff will serve and execute to
fortnightly period. Please refer to your rent                                                           Sidmouth, open Monday to Friday 8.30 am to          take possession of your home.
book for these dates. Monthly payments are         By standing order Please check with your             5 pm, or visit www.eastdevon.gov.uk for further
due on or before the eighth day of each month.     bank or building society that your account will      information.                                        We do everything possible to prevent evictions
You can pay your home or garage rent in any        accept this payment method. Contact the                                                                  but, as a last resort, we will evict tenants if they
of the following ways.                             Housing Rents team for more details on how           Garage tenants Garage rents are very                do not pay their rent. Please do not ignore the
                                                   to set up a bank standing order.                     reasonable and we will not tolerate any unpaid      problem. We can try to help you resolve it.
At any Post Office You can pay at any Post                                                                rent on these tenancies. If rent is not paid a
Office using your rent book. You will not have       Pay online through your own bank If you              Notice to Quit will be served and, at the end       Debt advice
to pay any counter fee.                            have an online banking facility with your own        of that period of notice (usually twenty-eight      If your rent is not paid, the money owed is
                                                   bank, please use the Council’s bank details          days), we will change the locks and repossess       called ‘rent arrears’. Rent arrears are priority
By telephone Use your debit or credit card         shown below when making a payment.                   the garage.                                         debts. This means that the consequences of not
when paying by telephone. Please telephone                                                                                                                  dealing with them are serious.
direct line 01395 517444. Alternatively we have       Bank: Lloyds TSB, 234 High Street, Exeter         Recovering unpaid rent If you fail to pay
an automated card payment system twenty-four          Sort code: 30 -93 -14                             your rent, we will take the following actions:                           Important:
hours a day, seven days a week. Just call             Account number: 00365206                        1 You will be sent reminder letters and some                        Not paying your rent
08447 36 96 31 and select option five.                 Ref. number: your own rent ref. number            information about debt advice. You may also                      puts your home at risk
                                                                                                        receive a home visit.
In person If you prefer to make your payment       By Girobank Billpay Through online                 2 If the reminders are ignored we may serve you       In the UK, debt advice is provided free of
in person, you can pay at the Council Offices at     Girobank Billpay you can pay your rent at any        with a Notice of Seeking Possession (if you         charge. If you find yourself in debt do not
Knowle, Sidmouth. You can make your payment        time of the day or night using your debit card       have a secure tenancy), a Notice of Seeking         ignore the problem and try not to panic. You
in cash, with a cheque or with a debit or credit   (Delta, Maestro, etc.). You just need to have        Possession – Introductory Tenancy (if you have      should consider seeking free advice about your
card. The office is open Monday to Friday            your rent reference number ready, which you          an introductory tenancy), or a Notice to Quit (if   financial situation. Help can be given in many
8.30 am to 5 pm.                                   will find on the front of your rent book at the       you have a non-secure tenancy). This is the first    ways such as maximising your income and
                                                   top left of the label. We usually receive the        step of the legal process to obtain possession      benefits, help with filling in forms, looking at
By Direct Debit You can pay your rent by           payment three working days later.                    of the dwelling. The notice gives a period of at    managing your income and expenditure.
Direct Debit on the first day of each month.                                                             least twenty-eight days for you to pay your             Please telephone us on 01395 517444 and
You can set up your Direct Debit by telephone.     By post Send payment to Rentals, East Devon          debt in full or make arrangements to pay by         we can refer you to an independent and free
Just call 01395 517444 and have your bank          District Council, Knowle, Sidmouth, EX10 8HL.        installments.                                       debt advice agency. Alternatively one of the
details ready.                                     If you send cash it must be by registered post.    3 If the debt continues to increase the matter        following organisations may be able to help you.


8                                                                               Tenants’ Handbook       www.eastdevon.gov.uk                                                                                   9
2 Your rent                                                                                                                                                                                     2 Your rent




National Debtline:                               Attachment of Earnings Order We can                  West Water in the near future and the charge          What should I do if my
   Offers free confidential and independent        apply to the County Court for an Attachment          will be removed from the rent at that time.           circumstances change?
   advice on how to deal with debt problems.     of Earnings Order. The Court will order your         These charges are also reviewed annually and           You must tell the Housing Benefit section about
   Call free on 0808 808 4000 or visit           employer to make deductions from your                the costs are divided equally between all service      any change in your circumstances. This could
   www.nationaldebtline.co.uk.                   earnings to pay the outstanding rent debt.           users.                                                 include, but is not limited to:
                                                                                                          Supporting People charges are for support        • changes to your income or savings, or the
Clear Start:                                     We also use the services of a debt collection        services such as the help your Mobile Support          income or savings of anyone living with you
   Offers free consumer debt counselling.         agency to recover any outstanding debt. They         Officer gives you in regularly checking on your        • anyone you live with moving out, or new
   Call free on 0800 988 9345 or visit           are vigorous in their pursuit of debt and have       well-being and responding to emergencies. It           people moving in (temporarily or permanently).
   www.clearstart.co.uk.                         been very successful.                                also covers the cost of your emergency alarm
                                                     It is in your own interest to make an            system and the twenty-four hours a day                 If you have been paid too much Housing
Consumer Credit Counselling Service:             arrangement to pay the debt outstanding rather       emergency call centre.                                Benefit you usually have to pay it back. The
  Charity dedicated to providing confidential,    than have action taken against you.                                                                        sooner you tell the Housing Benefit section
  free counselling and money management              If you subsequently apply for housing with       Housing Benefit and other benefits                      about any change the less the overpayment
  assistance to financially distressed families   any Local Authority or other Registered              Housing Benefit is a government scheme to help         will be.
  and individuals. Call free on 0800 138 1111    Housing Provider (for example, a Housing             people pay their housing costs. If you are a               If you are entitled to more Housing Benefit,
  or visit www.cccs.co.uk.                       Association) any rent outstanding from a             council tenant and on a low income you may be         you must tell us within one month of any
                                                 previous tenancy may affect your application          entitled to benefit. The amount of benefit that         change to make sure that any increase in your
Community Legal Advice:                          for housing.                                         you are entitled to is calculated by the Council’s    benefit entitlement is paid from the date that
  Free and confidential advice service.                                                                Housing Benefit section and is governed by the         the change happened. Otherwise we will only
  Call 0845 345 4345 or visit                    How your rent is set                                 Housing Benefit Regulations. Your Council Tax          pay from the date that you told us of the
  www.communitylegaladvice.org.uk.               Since April 2002 the Government, through             Benefit will be calculated at the same time.           change to your circumstances.
                                                 the Communities and Local Government                                                                            Please make sure that you respond to all
Citizens Advice Bureau:                          Department, has given yearly guidelines to           Housing Benefit                                        correspondence sent to you by the Housing
    Your local Citizens Advice Bureau may be     control and set the levels of council house rents.   Our Housing Benefit section is able to give            Benefit section. If you do not respond it may
    able to help. The Axminster, Honiton and     Rents normally change in April of each year.         you advice about your entitlement. Please ring        result in you getting into rent arrears.
    Sidmouth area bureau can be contacted on         The Government has a rent restructuring          01395 517446 to make a claim or if you want
    01404 44213 and the Exmouth area bureau      policy which is intended to join all council and     some advice. Alternatively you can email us           Other help
    on 01395 264645. Alternatively visit         Registered Housing Provider rents by 2015. To        at benefits@eastdevon.gov.uk or fax us on              If you are on a low income you may be entitled
    www.adviceguide.org.uk.                      find out more about this call 0303 444 0000           01395 517414. You can contact us in person at         to further help. Please see the list of useful
                                                 or visit www.communities.gov.uk.                     the following offices:                                  contacts below.
Former tenants
If you have terminated a council tenancy         Service charges                                         Benefits Reception, East Devon District             Income Support, Jobseekers Allowance,
and left some rent arrears at the end of that    If you live in a block of flats with a communal          Council, Knowle, Sidmouth, EX10 8HL                Incapacity Benefit, and Employment
tenancy we will take the necessary steps to      gas boiler, you may pay a service charge for            (open Monday to Friday, 8.30 am to 5 pm)           Support Allowance:
recover this debt.                               heating and hot water. The service costs                                                                       Jobcentre Plus
                                                 are reviewed on an annual basis and are                 Benefits Reception, Exmouth Town Hall,                  Breakwater Road
County Court Judgments We can apply              non-profitable. The annual cost is then divided          St Andrews Road, Exmouth, EX8 1AW                      Plymouth
to the County Court for a County Court           equally between all the tenants living in that          (open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and                   PL95 8BL
Judgment (CCJ) on the debt and the Court         block.                                                  Friday, 9 am to 4.30 pm).                              Tel. 0845 6060 234 (looking for work),
will set terms for repayment. A CCJ will affect       We have some properties where there is a                                                                   0800 055 6688 (new claims),
your credit rating and you will find it difficult   weekly charge for sewage and a few properties        Benefits surgeries are also held in Axminster,             0800 032 8349 (crisis loans),
to obtain credit, loans, credit cards, etc.      with a charge for water and sewage. Some of          Honiton and Seaton. Please call us for                    0845 603 6095 (benefit enquiries)
                                                 these sewage schemes will be adopted by South        information.


10                                                                            Tenants’ Handbook       www.eastdevon.gov.uk                                                                                11
2 Your rent




Pension Credits:                                    3 Repairs and improvements
   The Pension Service
   PO Box 139
   Swansea
   SA6 8WD
   Tel. 0800 991 234

Tax Credits:
   Tax Credit Office
   Preston
   PR1 0SB
   Tel. 0845 300 3900                                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
       Need to get in touch?                         and bathroom facilities, have adequate heating      01395 516854 outside of office hours if it is
       Please see Section 16                         facilities, and are well insulated. We are          an emergency. You can also email repairs@
                                                     continuing to invest in our housing to ensure       eastdevon.gov.uk 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
                                                                                                          provide:
                                                     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.


12                             Tenants’ Handbook    www.eastdevon.gov.uk                                                                                  13
 3 Repairs and improvements                                                                                                                                                                  3 Repairs and improvements




 Chimney sweeping                                          Planned maintenance includes servicing           Alterations and improvements                             Right to compensation
 You must ensure that chimneys and flues are                and upgrading:                                   You can carry out alterations or improvements            for improvements
 kept free from obstruction and that chimneys,           • central heating systems                          to your home but you must get our written                 Under government legislation, at the end of
 where in use, are swept at least once a year,           • electrical services                              consent first. You need to do this because your            your tenancy, you have the right to claim
 or more frequently if necessary. It is also your        • new roofs                                        tenancy agreement does not allow you to make              compensation from us for improvements you
 responsibility to ensure that the correct fuel is       • replacement windows                              some alterations. For example, you must not               have made to your home with our consent.
 used for the type of heater provided, so that           • kitchens and bathrooms                           artex the internal walls of the property or fix            Evidence of your costs will help us assess the
 the risk of fumes and soot problems are kept            • replacement of external doors.                   polystyrene tiles to ceilings. Other alterations          level of compensation you may be entitled to.
 to a minimum.                                                                                              may need planning permission or building                  You can only apply for compensation for certain
                                                          If we plan to carry out any work in your home     regulations approval. We are happy to advise              kinds of improvement (for example, bathroom
 Repairs to central heating                               we will contact you first. To find out more         you on the required approvals.                            improvements) that started on or after
  Before reporting a faulty central heating system        about planned maintenance contact us on               All such improvements must be carried out             1 April 1994. Please contact us if you would
  please check:                                           01395 517458.                                     to our satisfaction and will normally become              like any more information or see the leaflet
• the time control clock is set correctly – especially                                                      our property when the tenancy is ended.                  ‘A Better Deal for Tenants – Your Right to
  when clocks are put forward or back at the              Adaptations                                       Alternatively we may request that you remove              Compensation for Improvements’ at
  beginning and end of summertime                         If you are having difficulty managing at home       structures at the end of your tenancy at your             www.communties.gov.uk.
• the room thermostat is set correctly (turn it           because of a disability we may be able to help.   own expense.
  right up and if heating comes on, adjust to                                                                   We are not responsible for repairs which
  desired temperature)                                     The types of adaptations that are available      are necessary because of faulty improvements,                      Need to get in touch?
• there are sufficient funds if you have a coin or           include:                                         sub-standard workmanship or defective                              Please see Section 16
  card prepayment meter for gas or electricity.          • hand and grab rails                              materials.
                                                         • lever taps
 We reserve the right to recharge tenants where          • stairlifts
 a visit is made for faulty central heating and one      • level entry showers                              Table of repair categories
 of the above is found to be the cause.                  • access ramps
                                                         • alterations to doorways.                         Category     Response within   Examples
 Right to repair
 In certain circumstances you have the right to           If you think you could benefit from this service   Immediate    One day           Immediate work (where there is danger to life / limb or serious danger to property)
 require us to get a second contractor to do              you may need to contact Social Services at                                       Water supply failure (burst pipe or tank)
 certain small urgent repairs which might affect           Care Direct, Devon County Council, on                                            Blocked drain with serious leak of sewage
 your health, safety or security. This only applies       0845 155 1007. Care Direct will be able to put                                   Dangerous fault or electrical supply failure
 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.                                    Emergency    Three days        A blocked sink, bath or basin
 time. Please contact us for further details.                 Before we can carry out any major work,                                      Faulty heating system and / or hot water supply
                                                          your needs will be assessed by an occupational
 Planned maintenance                                      therapist. Once we receive a request for an       Urgent       Seven days        Leaking roof
 To keep our housing in good condition, we                adaptation from an occupational therapist, we                                    Mechanical extractor fan in internal kitchen not working
 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         Priority     Three weeks       Refit chimney pot or cowl
 into account priority maintenance and tenants’           time when we expect the work to be done.                                         Repair or ease external and internal doors
 views.                                                   Alternatively we may be able to offer you a
                                                          move to a more suitable property.                 Non Urgent   Six weeks         Defective plaster
                                                                                                                                           Repairs to fire surround or back




 14                                                                                     Tenants’ Handbook   www.eastdevon.gov.uk                                                                                           15
                                                                                                                                                              4 About the improvement voucher scheme




 4 About the improvement                                                                                  • any specifications for products/items
                                                                                                          • any guarantees for the products/items.
 voucher scheme
                                                                                                           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
 As well as the Government’s legislation             • heating improvements                                agreement and have no rent arrears. If you
 on tenants’ rights to compensation for              • replacement external doors and frames               wish to make a claim please write in to us with
 improvements (see page 15), we provide a            • renewable energy efficiency improvements.             all the information listed above. Please address
 tenant improvement voucher scheme.                                                                        all correspondence to the Property and Asset
     If you plan to carry out, or have recently       What can I claim                                     Manager. We will acknowledge receipt of your
 undertaken, improvements to your council             financial assistance for?                             request within five days.
 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              Need to get in touch?
 in which they are received and only for work         labour). You will need to give us a written                  Please see Section 16
 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       www.eastdevon.gov.uk                                                                  17
                                                                                                                                                                               5 Don’t get caught with unexpected costs




5 Don’t get caught with                                                                                         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
unexpected costs                                                                                                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.)
Information about charging                              service, where provided. We will keep                 • the cost of any court fees, injunctions and legal      6 We will contact former tenants by sending
for repairs which are your                              communal entrances, halls and stairways in flats,        fees incurred by us in relation to rechargeable          a letter to their last known home address or
responsibility                                          as well as any other areas for use by all tenants       repairs and costs.                                       work address.
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             If you are the tenant of any property where we
standard. Thank you.                                    of flats and maisonettes will be decorated and           incur such costs then we will write to you telling               Need to get in touch?
    Unfortunately there are a number of tenants         kept in good repair by the Council.                     you of the costs of any rechargeable repairs                     Please see Section 16
who do not. Repairs to council dwellings are                                                                    which are your responsibility. If you do not
paid for from the rent account and it is unfair         What you should do as                                   repay these costs legal action will be taken to
that responsible tenants should have to pay for         a responsible tenant                                    recover the costs.
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          Stages of the recharge process
work for which they are responsible.                    clean condition, clear of all rubbish, and free of    1 We will advise you as early as possible if we
    The number of occasions when we are                 your furniture and possessions. You must leave          judge that any work required is a ‘rechargeable
required to recover these costs in a year are           all fixtures and fittings intact and in the condition     repair’ for which you are liable.
relatively few. But we need to inform all tenants       they were in at the start of the tenancy, except      2 You will be given the opportunity to make your
of our procedures if properties are not looked          for fair wear and tear. You are responsible for         own arrangements to undertake this work
after. This section ensures that you are aware of       the cost of repairs that are a result of neglect,       within an agreed timescale.
your responsibilities and possible liabilities and      misuse, or deliberate, malicious, criminal or         3 If the work is not undertaken within this time,
that our policy is applied in a clear, consistent       accidental damage by you, people living with            or it is not carried out to a satisfactory standard,
and fair manner at all times.                           you, or people visiting your home.                      we will issue an order for the work to be

Items which we will repair                              What action can we take
Your tenancy agreement sets out the repairs             to recover our costs?                                     Don’t forget
for which we, the Council, are responsible. We           We will take steps to recover any reasonable              Report repairs promptly and keep your
will keep in good repair and proper working              costs we incur in:                                         property in a good state of repair.
order our installations for supplying water, gas,      • replacing or repairing any missing or damaged             Know your responsibilities as explained
electricity and sanitation including basins, sinks,      items                                                      in your tenancy agreement.
baths, and toilet fittings, and our installations for   • replacing or repairing any alterations which do           Seek written permission from us before
room and water heating.                                  not comply with relevant regulations                       making any alterations to your property.
    We will keep the structure and exterior of         • replacing or repairing any alterations for which          Clean and clear your property before
the property in good repair, including drains,           we did not give written consent                            moving out.
gutters, and external pipes, as well as the lift       • meeting all reasonable removal and storage


18                                                                                    Tenants’ Handbook         www.eastdevon.gov.uk                                                                                  19
                                                                                                                                                                                 6 Safety and security in your home




6 Safety and security                                                                                       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.
in your home                                                                                                (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.
Each year more people are killed or injured by       Gas safety                                            • do not smoke or use matches or a lighter                 Don’t smoke in bed.
accidents in the home than any other type of           Never use a gas appliance that you think may        • do not use electrical switches (doorbells or             Make sure all cigarettes and ash are fully
accident. We hope that this section will give you    be dangerous (signs can include stains around           light switches)                                       extinguished and that ashtray contents are cold
some useful information and advice to stay safe      the gas fire or boiler pilot light, or a yellow        • open doors and windows to let the gas out             before emptying.
and secure in your home.                             flame).                                                • call the National Gas Emergency Service on               Don’t dry clothes over any type of heater.
                                                       Remember, gas appliances need fresh air to            0800 111 999 – do the same if you smell gas              Don’t remove any fire doors or door closers
Electrical safety                                    work properly. Sometimes air is provided by             in the street.                                        in your home.
Make sure you always follow these simple rules       ventilators in doors, walls and windows. Always                                                                  Don’t store motorcycles in sheds.
when using electricity in your home:                 ensure that all ventilators are free and clear         Solid fuel safety
   Never use plugs or switches with wet hands –      and not blocked or obstructed.                            Do not draw a fire with a newspaper or use           Fire guards The law requires you to use
water and electricity are dangerous together.          Never sleep in a room containing an open             petrol, paraffin or any oil to start it.                 a fireguard to protect children under 12 in a
   If there is a water leak in your home do not      flued back boiler.                                         Sweep your chimney or flue at least once a           room with an open fire, radiant fire or other
touch any electrical fittings – if necessary, turn      Never dry clothes over free standing gas             year – if your fire is not burning as well as usual     dangerous heating appliance. You should use a
off electricity at the fuse box.                      heaters.                                               it may be a sign that your chimney needs              ‘nursery’ fireguard made to British Standards.
   Always switch off and unplug appliances not          Gas appliances need regular servicing if they        sweeping.                                              Never rest clothes or other items on the guard.
in use, particularly before going to bed.            are to work safely and efficiently.                         If you have an enclosed room heater or
   Only use good quality plugs made to the                                                                  boiler, follow the manufacturer’s instructions         If you live in flats with communal areas
correct safety standard (BS1363).                    Gas servicing                                          and brush the smoke outlet every month.                   Don’t put anything in the communal areas –
   Make sure plugs are wired correctly and           As a landlord, we have a statutory duty to                Burn only the recommended fuels.                    it may be flammable and may restrict escape
always fitted with the right fuse for the             undertake an annual safety inspection of gas              Ensure there is adequate ventilation, and do        routes in the case of fire.
appliance you are using. If in doubt consult a       appliances, flues and associated pipework that          not block or obstruct fresh air ventilators.              Don’t leave rubbish bags in communal
qualified electrician.                                we are responsible for. This includes gas central         Draught proofing helps cut fuel bills but do         landings or corridors.
   Do not overload sockets – to be safe use          heating and fixed gas fires (see below), but not         not seal off the air supply to the room in which           Report any self-closing doors that are not
one plug to one socket.                              gas ovens.                                             the fire is located. Fumes may build up and             operating properly.
   Check the condition of electrical flexes               We will give you reasonable notice of when         cause you to become ill.
regularly. Never run flexes under carpets or          our contractors will carry out this work. Please          When using a solid fuel or room heater for          If your home catches fire
rugs as this could start a fire.                      advise the gas servicing contractor if this time is    the first time each year check that the chimney       1 Close the door of the room where the fire
   Make sure you know where the main switch          not convenient to you so that they can arrange         has been swept and that the chimney flue has            started. This will contain the fire and restrict
and fuse box are located.                            for an alternative visit. If you fail to give them     not become obstructed.                                 the spread of poisonous fumes.
   Always contact us on 01395 517458 if you          access to the property you are in breach of               If you are concerned that the equipment is        2 Make sure everyone leaves the building.
feel that there is any problem with the electrical   your tenancy conditions.                               not working properly please let us know.             3 Call the Fire Brigade by dialling 999, giving your
safety of your home.                                     If you have had gas central heating or gas                                                                exact address.




20                                                                                 Tenants’ Handbook        www.eastdevon.gov.uk                                                                                    21
6 Safety and security in your home                                                                                                                                      6 Safety and security in your home




Accidents in the home                               your home unless you have seen their personal      been carried out by you. We strongly urge               The service does not deal with birds or
Falls Sixty per cent of deaths from accidents       identity card.                                     that you have your own contents insurance.          large wild animals. In this instance you will need
in the home are the result of falls.                   If you are suspicious about a caller contact    For further details please see Section 1.           to contact Defra by telephoning 08459 33 55 77
   Do not polish under carpets or rugs.             the Police on 0845 277 7444.                                                                           or by emailing helpline@defra.gsi.gov.uk. You
   Make sure stairs and landings are well lit and      When you go away you may want to ask a          Pest control                                        may wish to contact a pest control contractor
kept clear.                                         trusted neighbour or friend to keep an eye on      We offer a pest control service for dealing          of your own by looking in Yellow Pages or at
   If you have small children use stairguards       your home. Leave them a contact address.           with rats in people's homes, for which there        www.yell.com listed under ‘Pest Control’.
and guards on upper floor windows.                      If you plan to be away from your property       is a small charge. The service can also deal
   Wipe up any spilt liquids immediately.           for more than twenty-eight days we ask that        with other pests including mice, wasps, flies,
   Repair or cover any holes in your floor           you let us know and tell us when you plan to       fleas, insects and squirrels, for which a variable           Need to get in touch?
covering (for example, carpet, lino or vinylay)     return. It would be useful for us to have a        fee is charged depending upon the species.                  Please see Section 16
to avoid tripping.                                  contact number in case of emergencies. Please      If you would like a visit or more information
   Make sure your stair carpets are fixed            contact Estate Management on 01395 516551          please contact 01395 571517 for pest control
securely.                                           ext. 2381 or 2396.                                 in East Devon. There is also a lot of useful
                                                       When going away during cold weather, turn       information, including a section about seagulls,
Poisoning The second major cause of death           off main water stopcock and leave your heating      at www.eastdevon.gov.uk/animals_and_ pests.
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     www.eastdevon.gov.uk                                                                                23
                                                                                                                                                           7 Running a business from your council home




7 Running a business from                                                                              consent where possible but should we have to
                                                                                                       refuse permission to run the business we will
your council home                                                                                      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.

                                                                                                       Insurance
We recognise that many of our tenants may            Obtaining permission                              You should also consider your insurance
wish to work from their homes and aim to             If you are thinking of starting a business from   position, including home contents policies and
encourage this where possible, with our              your home you need to obtain our written          whether you need to have any public liability or
written permission.                                  permission first. We will not unreasonably         professional indemnity insurance. We will ask
                                                     withhold permission, but we are likely to         to see a copy of your insurance before giving
What ‘running a business’ means                      refuse permission if it will cause a nuisance     our permission.
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             Need to get in touch?
payment for your product, produce or service.        do not have our written permission to do so,              Please see Section 16
                                                     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
neighbours.
                                                       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 (www.nfea.com),                  other necessary permissions from
the Federation of Small Businesses                       other agencies.
(www.fsb.org.uk), and Business Link                     Let us know, in writing, of any changes
(www.businesslink.gov.uk) helpful.                       to your business activites.




24                                                                               Tenants’ Handbook     www.eastdevon.gov.uk                                                                        25
                                                                                                                                                                 8 Neighbour nuisance and antisocial behaviour




 8 Neighbour nuisance and                                                                                       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
 antisocial behaviour                                                                                      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
 What is antisocial behaviour?                       Estate Management who will investigate the                 Where there is a dispute between
 A broad definition is ‘behaviour which impacts       situation and advise you of what action can be        neighbours we may recommend mediation
 negatively on a resident’s or visitor’s quality     taken. You may be asked to complete a log             to resolve the differences. This is paid for by
 of life in and around their home’. It can be        giving dates and times of nuisance, which could       us, but carried out by independent trained
 caused by anyone who acts in a manner which         be used in any future legal proceedings.              mediators who will work to find common
 may cause alarm, distress or harassment to                                                                ground between neighbours.
 someone else.                                       Loud music and other amplified noise                        In the case of loud music, we can take
     Our tenants should act in a reasonable          after 6 pm You may wish to contact our                action for a breach of the tenancy agreement.
 manner at all times and have respect for            Out of Hours service on 01395 516854. All             In addition where the noise is deemed to be
 their property, their surroundings and their        complaints will be logged for action on the           a statutory nuisance, Environmental Health
 neighbours. Tenants are also responsible for        next working day and in some cases an                 Officers can serve an Abatement Notice, and
 the actions of their family, others who live        Environmental Health Officer may also be                if this is breached, can apply to the Magistrates
 with them, and their visitors.                      able to respond on the night.                         Court for a warrant to seize the offending
                                                                                                           equipment.
  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            Don’t forget
• vandalism                                          has made the complaint. We will visit or write           Speak to your neighbour in a courteous
• graffiti                                             to the person causing the nuisance, and keep              manner to see whether the problem
• noisy neighbours, late night parties or            you informed of the action we are taking, or              can be sorted out – remember that
  loud music                                         give you advice as necessary.                             they may not realise they are causing
• drug dealing or drug related behaviour.                 If the nuisance behaviour persists, we may           a noise or nuisance.
                                                     take legal action for a breach of the conditions         Allow a reasonable time (say two
 What can you do?                                    of the tenancy agreement (if a council tenant             weeks) for an improvement in the
 Rubbish, graffiti and untaxed vehicles                is involved). However we will always try to               situation.
 Please report these issues to Estate Management     persuade the other party to behave reasonably            If nothing has changed, consider
 on 01395 516551 ext. 2381 or 2396.                  before any court action is taken for possession.          whether you should speak again to
                                                          Anyone who is evicted for antisocial                 your neighbour, or contact us for
 Neighbours Neighbour nuisance or disputes           behaviour is likely to be classed as ‘intentionally       further advice.
 are initially best sorted out by speaking to your   homeless’ and so would be unlikely to be                 Contact the police about harassment,
 neighbour and having consideration for each         re-housed by the Council or other Registered              assault or criminal damage.
 other. If problems continue you should contact      Providers of social housing.




 26                                                                                Tenants’ Handbook       www.eastdevon.gov.uk                                                                               27
 9 Right to Buy                                                                                             10 Services for the
                                                                                                            elderly and disabled




 If your tenancy started before 18 January 2005       buy it back. This is called the ‘right of first        What is sheltered housing?                         • responding to emergencies (if they are on site
 and you have been a public sector tenant             refusal’ and is a requirement of the Housing          Sheltered housing is the name given to               at the time)
 continuously since that time, you may have the       Act 1985. This does not apply to properties           properties specifically for people who are older    • encouraging social activities
 right to buy your home. If not, you do not have      in areas designated as ‘rural areas’ or ‘Areas        or have a disability and would benefit from the     • liaising with, and signposting to, other agencies,
 the right to buy until you have spent at least five   of Outstanding Natural Beauty’ which are              support of a mobile support officer.                   for example making referrals to Social Services
 years as a public sector secure tenant.              subject to the stricter regulations contained                                                              for adaptations to your home.
                                                      within the Devon Covenant.                             Sheltered housing can provide:
 The discount rules                                                                                        • support, enabling you to live independently        The Mobile Support Officer will also agree and
 The Right to Buy scheme gives tenants a              Devon Covenant East Devon District                     at home                                            organise a level of support for you so that you
 discount on the market value of their homes.         Council properties situated outside the              • your own self contained accommodation              receive the assistance and help needed to meet
 The longer you have been a tenant the more           urban areas of Exmouth, Sidmouth, Seaton             • security through an alarm system for help in an    your individual requirements. This is done by
 discount you get – up to a maximum limit of          and Honiton are sold subject to a restriction          emergency                                          completing an assessment form within six
 £30,000 in the South West of England.                imposed under Section 157 of the Housing             • safe and secure surroundings as many of            weeks of your move into your new home.
                                                      Act 1985. We have resolved to impose the               our schemes have door entry systems                The support services provided do not include
  The discount is calculated from the beginning       restriction to ensure as far as possible that        • a Mobile Support Officer who provides regular        handling finances, administering medicines,
  of your tenancy:                                    properties remain part of the general housing          support                                            housework or help with shopping.
• 30 per cent for houses and bungalows plus           stock available for local people.                    • social activities with local people
  1 per cent for each additional year up to a             The restriction is that there shall be no        • a range of social activities in our community      Alarm services within our
  maximum limit of 60 per cent                        further resale of these properties without             centres on some of our sheltered schemes.          sheltered accommodation
• 40 per cent for flats and maisonettes plus           our written consent. However, we cannot                                                                   All sheltered accommodation within East
  2 per cent for each additional year up to a         withhold our consent if the person purchasing         You live independently but have the peace of        Devon is fitted with alarm systems. The alarms
  maximum limit of 70 per cent.                       the property has lived or worked within the           mind that you can quickly access help in an         are linked to the Home Safeguard Community
                                                      administrative County of Devon for the last           emergency.                                          Alarm Centre in Sidmouth. The alarm is
 Valuation                                            three years before the application for consent.                                                           activated by a pull-cord fitted in each room of
 The market value of the property is assessed                                                               What support can I expect?                          the property, or there is an option of a pendant
 by an independent valuer disregarding any            Exceptions to the Right to Buy                        In East Devon our sheltered housing residents       alarm which you can wear around your neck or
 improvements you have carried out.                   We may refuse to let you buy on the grounds           are supported by Mobile Support Officers. They        wrist, or carry with you.
                                                      that your home is particularly suitable for           are available to give residents housing related         The smoke alarms in your property are also
 Future sale of your property                         occupation by elderly people or that it is classed    support on a regular basis Monday to Friday.        linked to Home Safeguard. So in the event of
 ‘Right of first refusal’ If you sell your             as sheltered housing for the elderly or disabled.                                                         a fire the smoke alarm will be activated and
  property within ten years from the date of              There are other exceptions to the Right to         Mobile Support Officers can offer help with:          automatically call Home Safeguard. There is a
  purchase, then you must first give us, East          Buy, listed in the booklet ‘Your Right to Buy        • housing related support issues (for example        two-way speech unit and trained operators
  Devon District Council, the opportunity to          your Home’. Call 01395 517533 for information.         filling in forms)                                   are available in an emergency at all times.


 28                                                                                 Tenants’ Handbook       www.eastdevon.gov.uk                                                                                  29
10 Services for the elderly and disabled                                                                                                                              10 Services for the elderly and disabled




How much does it cost?                               ensure that all groups using the centres are        (2006) identified a need to decommission, reuse,      of providing a support service to people living
The cost of the support and alarm service is         sensitive to the residents living on site.          redevelop or dispose of some of our sheltered        in general purpose and private accommodation,
included within the rent and support charges             Some of our sheltered schemes also have         housing which cannot be made ‘fit for purpose’        similar to that provided by our Mobile Support
and will be clearly stated on the tenancy            guest bedrooms which can be used by your            at a reasonable cost. We estimate that up to         Officers on our sheltered schemes.
agreement.                                           relatives or friends. Guests may stay up to a       25 per cent of our current sheltered housing
    The exact charge depends on where you            maximum of two weeks. Guests must pay a             may need to be decommissioned and have               Advances in alarm
live in East Devon and which type of property        nightly charge to the Mobile Support Officer          allocated £4.3 million to fund work to bring         service technology
you occupy. Service charges are on average £10       at the beginning of their stay. A receipt will be   our schemes up to a standard which will meet         Both our residents living within sheltered
to £15 per week. Depending on your financial          issued. Cups and a kettle are provided but no       future expectations.                                 accommodation and those who have alarms
circumstances, Supporting People may pay some        cooking facilities. Pets are not allowed.               ‘Decommissioning’ sheltered housing is           fitted in general purpose or private housing
or all of these costs. Supporting People is the          To book one of our community centres            about changing its current designated use and        may now benefit from advances in technology
Government organisation set up to monitor the        or guest bedrooms please contact the Mobile         removing the housing related support from the        which will allow us to install additional sensors
quality of housing support services and simplify     Support Officer covering the scheme or call           scheme or units of accommodation. It will give       attached to the alarm equipment. There may be
the way these services are funded.                   Home Safeguard on 01395 519162.                     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
What eligibility criteria                            Who should I contact if I want                      decommissioned properties for older people           alarms, carbon monoxide alarms, intruder
do I have to fulfil?                                  to talk about the service?                          who do not require support, or we could use          alarms, bed exit alarms and many more. When
To live in our sheltered housing you will need       Please contact either our Support Services          them for non elderly households. Each scheme         activated these sensors automatically raise an
to complete forms to identify whether you            Manager on 01395 519162 or Housing Needs            will be considered carefully taking into account     alarm through to the Home Safeguard call
have a support need. Sheltered housing can           on 01395 517469.                                    the needs of current tenants, the demand for         centre. There is no requirement to press a call
be available to people with support needs or                                                             accommodation there and the design of the            button. These additional sensors will provide
anyone over the age of 60.                           How do I apply for sheltered                        properties.                                          added security for people who wish to remain
                                                     accommodation?                                                                                           independent while living at home.
Is it just for single people?                        You need to register with Devon Home Choice         Support services in general                              If you would like further information about
No, both one and two bedroom properties are          online at www.devonhomechoice.com. Please           purpose council housing                              these sensors please call Home Safeguard on
available for single people and couples. You can     contact Housing Needs on 01395 517469 for           You do not have to live in one of our sheltered      01395 578237.
also apply if you require a carer to live with you   further information, or visit our website.          properties to benefit from some of our support
to help you to live independently.                                                                       services. We are able to fit dispersed alarms in
                                                     The future of sheltered                             any property which has a phone line.                         Need to get in touch?
Are there any organised                              accommodation in East Devon                             Individual alarm units are available to older            Please see Section 16
social activities?                                   Our overarching aim is to ensure that older         or vulnerable people who would benefit from
Some schemes have a Social Club which will           and vulnerable people are well housed, enjoy        the system provided by Home Safeguard
organise activities such as coffee mornings and       a good quality of life and are seen as an           twenty-four hours a day. We have Mobile
trips. The Mobile Support Officer will support         important part of achieving thriving, balanced      Support Officers who are dedicated to installing
social activities on the scheme or advise you of     communities.                                        alarm equipment in customers’ homes. There
other social activities within the local area.           Over a quarter of our housing stock is          is a charge for this service.
                                                     currently designated as ‘sheltered’. However            To have an individual alarm fitted you will
Community centres and                                there are some tenants living in sheltered          need to complete an application form which is
guest bedrooms                                       housing who have no support needs or choose         available from the Home Safeguard Community
Some of our schemes have a community centre          not to accept support.                              Alarm Service. This service is also available to
for use by residents. Outside groups can also            Also some of our current sheltered housing      private customers, so please tell your friends
book to use the community centres when they          does not meet the Supporting People criteria        and family about it.
are not being used by residents. We try to           and the Housing Stock Options Appraisal                 We are currently investigating the feasibility




30                                                                                 Tenants’ Handbook     www.eastdevon.gov.uk                                                                               31
                                                                                                                                                                                  11 Changing your home




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.
                                                                                                                                                          HomeBuy
                                                                                                      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
Over the course of your tenancy your housing       placed in the Emergency Housing Need band          housing association tenant providing both           ladder. It is the Government’s low cost home
requirements may change and you may wish to        (a). If you would like to know more about the      landlords agree.                                    ownership scheme. For many people, HomeBuy
move to a larger or smaller property, or to a      banding system please visit the Devon Home                                                             provides the best opportunity to own a home
different area. There are several ways by which     Choice website.                                    How to register for Mutual                          in the area in which they want to live and work.
you can do this.                                                                                      Exchange in East Devon or                           They have schemes which enable you to both
                                                   Transfer to a smaller property                     anywhere in the UK                                  rent and buy a home.
Transfer to another council or                     We have a shortage of family housing in East       To add your home to the register you need               In the south west the HomeBuy schemes
housing association property                       Devon. So if you are prepared to move from a       to visit the HomeSwapper website on                 are managed by South West Homes. To contact
within East Devon                                  three or four bedroom property to a smaller        www.homeswapper.co.uk and complete the              them for further information call 0300 100 0021,
If you wish to be considered for another council   property then you may be eligible for financial     online application.                                 email info@southwesthomes.org.uk or visit
or housing association property you will need      assistance with your moving expenses and given         It is up to you to find someone who is also      www.southwesthomes.org.uk.
to complete an online application form which is    priority over other people on the waiting list.    looking to swap. Once you have found another
available on the Devon Home Choice website         Please speak to Housing Needs for further          tenant and agreed the move in principle, then
at www.devonhomechoice.com. It is important        information.                                       you must seek permission from us. It is very                Need to get in touch?
that you answer every question as this will help                                                      important that you do not move until you have               Please see Section 16
decide your housing need and your banding.         Allocation of properties                           approval in writing. Once a formal application
    Most requests to transfer will be accepted     We let the majority of council housing through     has been received we have six weeks to make
but you must have no rent arrears and not be       Devon Home Choice. This gives you a greater        the decision.
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,       An exchange may be refused if:
has been placed in, your application date and      settled communities.                              • one of the tenants is in rent arrears
registration number.                                   Devon Home Choice allows you to bid for       • one of the tenants is under notice to leave
                                                   an advertised property that you would like to       the property
There are four main bands into which               live in. You can bid for any property that you    • the properties are too big or too small for
applications are placed:                           are eligible for. Offers of accommodation are        the people intending to move there
                                                   made to those in highest housing need and then    • one of the properties is designated for elderly
     High Housing Need (B)                         on a date order basis and let to the bidder who     or disabled persons.
     Medium Housing Need (C)                       has been on the register longest. If you would
     Low Housing Need (d)                          like more information about this system please     With a mutual exchange, you will be asked to
     No Housing Need (e)                           see the Devon Home Choice website to view          accept the property in the condition it has been
                                                   the policy.                                        left in by the previous tenant. We will carry out
In some circumstances your need for housing            The average waiting time to be rehoused        routine repairs in accordance with the tenancy
may be assessed as so urgent that you may be       for those in the B band is two to three years.     agreement, but no demand can be made for


32                                                                             Tenants’ Handbook      www.eastdevon.gov.uk                                                                               33
                                                                                                                                                            12 Ending your tenancy




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
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                                                                  Don’t forget
a Termination of Tenancy form which you             At the end of the tenancy                               Remove all your belongings and
need to complete and return to us. The four         You need to make sure that everyone living               any rubbish.
week notice period will start on the Monday         with you in the property leaves when you                Leave the property in a clean and
following the date we receive your letter or        move out. This includes any member of your               tidy condition.
completed form.                                     household or a lodger, subtenant, child, visitor        Cancel any regular deliveries you may
    If you go to court because of a divorce, a      or pet.                                                  have for milk, newspapers, etc.
domestic dispute, or a relationship breakdown,          The property must be left in a clean                Read your gas, electric and water
the court will decide whether to order the          condition, clear of all rubbish, and free of your        meters (if installed) and tell your
transfer of the tenancy to one or other of the      furniture and possessions. You must leave all            supplier that you are moving, so that
partners. The tenancy rights will end for the       fixtures and fittings intact and in the condition          you won’t be charged for services
other person who must leave the property.           they were in at the start of the tenancy, except         used by the next tenant.
                                                    for fair wear and tear.                                 If you have a prepayment meter, leave
What if I am a joint tenant?                                                                                 the key or tokens in the meter.
If you are joint tenants, either, or any, of you     We will take steps to recover from you any             Make arrangements to have your post
can end the tenancy. Please note that this will      reasonable costs we incur in:                           redirected. (We are not able to send
end the rights of the other tenant(s) and they     • replacing or repairing any missing or damaged           post on to you, so any mail that comes
must leave the property, other than in               items                                                   for you once you have left will be
exceptional circumstances.                         • replacing or repairing any alterations which do         returned to Royal Mail.)
                                                     not comply with relevant regulations                   Arrange to have your telephone
During the notice period                           • replacing or repairing any alterations for which        disconnected.
Before the end of the tenancy our Tenancy            we did not give our written consent                    Advise the Council Tax office that you
Sustainment Officer or Technical Officer will          • meeting all reasonable removal and/or storage           are moving.
visit the property. We may wish to show new          charges when items are left in the premises after      Let us have a forwarding address.
tenants around your home during the notice           the termination date.


34                                                                                Tenants’ Handbook      www.eastdevon.gov.uk                                                  35
                                                                                                                                                                  13 Getting involved with the Housing service




   Getting involved with                                                                               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
the Housing Service                                                                                    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 200 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.
We are keen for our tenants to be involved, at      Attend our Annual                                      The Board considers matters relating to
all levels, in decisions regarding the management   Residents’ Conference                              the Council’s landlord and housing management                   Need to get in touch?
of the housing service. Some of the main ways       Once a year the Tenant Representative Group        functions. It advises the Council’s Executive                   Please see Section 1
to get involved are listed below and more are       organises a Residents’ Conference which is         Board on housing policy and operational
given in the leaflet ‘Getting involved with the      open to all tenants and leaseholders. The          practice where this affects the Council’s tenants
housing service’ which is sent to all new tenants   conference is held in a different venue each        and leaseholders. It monitors service delivery
about five weeks after moving to a new               year, with the Group selecting a topical theme.    and promotes good practice.
property.
                                                    Join a tenant/resident association                 Apply for a Community
Add your name and contact details                   or start an association yourself                   Initiative Grant
to the Key Players register                         Through resident associations tenants can come     If you have a project that benefits a number
We have a register of ‘interested’ tenants who      together to consider issues of common concern      of our tenants you can apply for a grant from
are prepared to be consulted on various topics.     relating to their housing, community and general   the Community Initiative Fund. You don’t
This may involve reading and commenting on          environment. For more information about            need to be part of a recognised group to
various documents, filling out questionnaires,       the existing groups, or to discuss starting your   apply. The fund is managed by the Tenant
taking part in review group discussions or          own group, contact Tenant Participation on         Representative Group. For further details
telephone surveys.                                  01395 517453 or email tenantparticipation@         contact Tenant Participation.
    You may also be interested in joining one of    eastdevon.gov.uk.
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                               So you’d like to get involved – how much time have you got?
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        I have less time       •                                (once a year)
                                                    six weeks at different venues. We are always                                  •                             (about two hours every three months)
Take part in our annual                             keen to hear from new tenants who would like                                 •          -                      (about half an hour every two months)
garden competition                                  to be involved.                                                              •                                (about half an hour every two months)
Each year we organise a garden competition,                                                                                      •                            (about half an hour every two months)
open to council tenants old and young. The          Find out about the Scrutiny Panel                                            •                        (about two hours every two months)
competition is advertised in the spring edition     We have an Accountability and Scrutiny Panel                                 •                                       (about three hours every six weeks)
of the Housing Standard newsletter. Judging         for tenants to influence and hold us to account       I have more time        •                                       (at least three hours once a month)
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




3                                                                               Tenants’ Handbook     www.eastdevon.gov.uk                                                                                    37
                                                                                                                                                                                       14 Customer care




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,
From April 2011 we are introducing ‘Local          Calling at our offices                                contact us either by telephone or in writing.     by letter, telephone, or email. We will log
Standards’ which set the service level you can     If you have a specified appointment time you         We will explain the conditions of your tenancy    and investigate it according to our agreed
expect from us for some of the services we         will be attended to within five minutes of           and carry out an accompanied viewing before       procedure.
provide to you. These are produced following       arriving at the office. If you call without an        you sign the tenancy agreement. We will               Only after following the Council’s
consultation with our tenants and will be          appointment, you will be attended to within         provide new tenants with a Tenants’ Handbook      complaints procedure, and if you are still
reviewed and updated annually. Each year           twenty minutes, or we will offer you an              and advice on how to conduct your tenancy.        dissatisfied, you can approach the Local
we provide tenants with information on the         appointment.                                        We aim to let our empty homes as soon as          Government Ombudsman for an independent
housing standards in the document ‘Our                 If your enquiry is confidential, the interview   possible.                                         review by calling 0300 061 0614. Alternatively
commitments to you’.                               can be conducted in private in an interview                                                           you can email advice@lgo.org.uk.
                                                   room or office (if available), or we will offer        Tenant Support Committee
How we will deliver our service                    you an appointment for a private interview.         If you are experiencing problems with the
When you contact us, you can expect to be                                                              housing service and don’t know where to turn,             Need to get in touch?
treated courteously and politely. We will deal     Letters and emails                                  contact the Tenant Support Committee to get               Please see Section 16
with all enquiries in a confidential manner. We     We aim to reply to all letters and emails within    some support from fellow tenants who can help
will provide a professional service through        ten working days. If a detailed investigation is    you through the process. For more information
experienced and trained staff.                      required this may take longer, but we will write    please contact 01395 517453 and ask for the
    We will treat all tenants, leaseholders and    and explain this to you and give the expected       Tenant Support Committee.
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     www.eastdevon.gov.uk                                                                             39
                                                                                                                                                                                     15 Accessing our services




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 www.eastdevon.gov.uk/homes_and_housing             East Devon District Council
                                                                                                          for further information.                              Knowle, Sidmouth
Equal opportunities and diversity                    everyone the right to their opinion and                  If for whatever reason you find it difficult to      EX10 8HL
Equal opportunities means that everyone is           to stand for election to a committee.                access information by any of these ways, we are       (open Monday –Friday 8.30 am–5 pm)
treated fairly, and has equal access to services.        We will deal seriously with anyone who           also able to offer home visits.
Diversity means respecting everyone as an            deliberately discriminates against you. You                                                             Alternatively, visit the Housing Office at:
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                                                               Exmouth Town Hall
disability or for any other reason.                  any way.                                                    Need to get in touch?                          St Andrews Road
    The Housing Service of East Devon District           The Council has a policy of monitoring and              Please see Section 16                          Exmouth
Council is committed to fairness and equality        investigating incidents of prejudice. If you feel                                                          EX8 1AW
for all, operating with professionalism, integrity   that you have good reason to believe you are                                                               (open Monday –Friday 9 am –1 pm
and openness. We believe that everyone is            receiving a different level of service specifically                                                          and 2 pm–4.30 pm)
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’                                                      You can visit our website at
or national origin, nationality, gender, sexual      incident, please call the Complaints Officer on                                                           www.eastdevon.gov.uk.
orientation, marital status, disability, age,        01395 516551.
religion or belief, or political beliefs.                                                                                                                    For details of location and opening hours for
    We aim to make sure that we do not               Accessing our services                                                                                  your local Citizens Advice Bureau please call
knowingly create an unfair disadvantage for          We try to ensure that our services are equally                                                          01404 44213 or 01395 264645.
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      www.eastdevon.gov.uk                                                                                41
                                                                                                                                                      16 List of council contacts




16 List of council contacts                                                         Hire of community centres                     Rechargeable repairs
                                                                                       Contact: Landlord Services                    Contact: Property and Assets
                                                                                       01395 519162                                  01395 517458
                                                                                       landlordservices@eastdevon.gov.uk             repairs@eastdevon.gov.uk
                                                                                    Hire of guest bedrooms                        Refuse and recycling
                                                                                       Contact: Landlord Services                    Contact: Streetscene
                                                                                       01395 519162                                  01395 517528
                                                                                       landlordservices@eastdevon.gov.uk             streetscene@eastdevon.gov.uk
                                                                                    Home contents insurance                       Renting a garage
                                                                                       Contact: Tenant Participation                 Contact: Housing Needs
                                                                                       01395 517453                                  01395 517469
Adaptations                            Community Initiative Grant                      tenantparticipation@eastdevon.gov.uk          housingneeds@eastdevon.gov.uk
   Contact: Property and Assets          Contact: Tenant Participation              Housing Benefit                               Report a repair
   01395 517458                          01395 517453                                  Contact: Council Tax and Housing Benefit      Contact: Property and Assets
   repairs@eastdevon.gov.uk              tenantparticipation@eastdevon.gov.uk          01395 517446                                  01395 517458
Alarms in non-sheltered properties     Council Tax                                     benefits@eastdevon.gov.uk                     repairs@eastdevon.gov.uk
   Contact: Home Safeguard               Contact: Council Tax and Housing Benefit   Improvement voucher scheme                    Running a business
   01395 578237                          01395 517446                                  Contact: Property and Assets                  Contact: Estate Management
   landlordservices@eastdevon.gov.uk     benefits@eastdevon.gov.uk                     01395 517458                                  01395 516551 ext. 2381/2396
Alterations and improvements           Customer care                                   repairs@eastdevon.gov.uk                      estatemanagement@eastdevon.gov.uk
   Contact: Property and Assets          Contact: Housing Needs and Strategy Unit   Key Players Register                          Sheltered housing and Mobile
   01395 517458                          01395 516551                                  Contact: Tenant Participation              Support Officers
   repairs@eastdevon.gov.uk              housingstrategy@eastdevon.gov.uk              01395 517453                                  Contact: Landlord Services
Antisocial behaviour                   Debt                                            tenantparticipation@eastdevon.gov.uk          01395 578237
   Contact: Estate Management            Contact: Rental                            Making a complaint                               landlordservices@eastdevon.gov.uk
   01395 516551 ext. 2381/2396           01395 517444                                  Contact: Complaints Officer                Tenancy conditions
   estatemanagement@eastdevon.gov.uk     housingrental@eastdevon.gov.uk                01395 516551                                  Contact: Estate Management
Applying for sheltered housing         Emergencies                                     www.eastdevon.gov.uk/making _a_complaint      01395 516551 ext. 2381/2396
   Contact: Housing Needs                Contact: Out of hours                      Neighbour nuisance                               estatemanagement@eastdevon.gov.uk
   01395 517469                          01395 516854                                  Contact: Estate Management                 Tenant Representative Group
   housingneeds@eastdevon.gov.uk       Ending your tenancy                             01395 516551 ext. 2381/2396                   Contact: Tenant Participation
Buying your home                         Contact: Housing Needs                        estatemanagement@eastdevon.gov.uk             01395 517453
   Contact: Landlord Services            01395 517469                               Parks and gardens                                tenantparticipation@eastdevon.gov.uk
   01395 517533                          housingneeds@eastdevon.gov.uk                 Contact: StreetScene                       Untidy council gardens
   landlordservices@eastdevon.gov.uk   Garden maintenance scheme                       01395 517528                                  Contact: Estate Management
Changing your home (transfers/           Contact: Landlord Services                    streetscene@eastdevon.gov.uk                  01395 516551 ext. 2381/2396
mutual exchanges)                        01395 516551                               Paying your rent                                 estatemanagement@eastdevon.gov.uk
   Contact: Housing Needs                landlordservices@eastdevon.gov.uk             Contact: Rental
   01395 517469                        Getting involved with the housing service       01395 517444
   housingneeds@eastdevon.gov.uk         Contact: Tenant Participation                 housingrental@eastdevon.gov.uk
Cleaning of communal areas               01395 517453                               Pest control
   Contact: Landlord Services            tenantparticipation@eastdevon.gov.uk          Contact: Environmental Health
   01395 516551                                                                        01395 571517
   landlordservices@eastdevon.gov.uk                                                   environmentalhealth@eastdevon.gov.uk


42                                                              Tenants’ Handbook   www.eastdevon.gov.uk                                                                      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




www.eastdevon.gov.uk                                    Published March 2011   X0852

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