Tenants` handbook - Two Rivers Housing

Tenants` handbook - Two Rivers Housing
Tenants’
handbook
www.tworivershousing.org.uk
for you - for your community - not for profit
Introduction and customer services
In your home
Your tenancy
Rent and service charges
Repairs to your home
Your rights
Complaints and compliments
Getting involved
Useful contact numbers
We have tried to write this handbook clearly and simply, but if there is
anything you are still not sure about, please contact us.
If you would like this document in large print, Braille, on audio tape or in
another language, please phone us on 0800 316 0897.
1
We aim to provide the best possible service for our customers and to
treat everyone as an individual.
Either our Customer Service team or one of our Receptionists will
normally be your first point of contact. They will act as a single point of
contact for all your questions and queries.
Our commitment to you is to provide an excellent service that not only
meets, but aims to exceed your expectations. We will always strive to
be courteous, polite, professional, helpful and knowledgeable.
You can contact us via:
Freephone: 0800 316 0897
Email: [email protected]
Our website: www.tworivershousing.org.uk
Letter to or visit our office at:
Rivers Meet,
Cleeve Mill Lane,
Newent,
Gloucestershire,
GL18 1DS
4
Customer Service team: What you can expect from us
1
We will treat you fairly, courteously and respectfully and we expect to be treated the same way.
2
We aim to answer 80% of all incoming calls within 20 seconds (six rings).
3
When we answer your call, we will let you know who you are speaking to.
4
Our office is open for telephone calls or personal visits between 8:30am and 5pm Monday - Friday. The emergency repair line is in operation outside these hours, so you can have peace of mind 24 hours a day. The number is 0800 316 0897.
5
When you raise any issues with us, we will keep you informed about your query at regular intervals, and call you back as promised.
6
We aim to deal with your enquiry or problem as quickly as possible, referring you to someone who can help if we are not able to.
7
When you visit the office, we will provide a private meeting room if you wish.
8
If you have an appointment at our office, we will aim to see you within five minutes of the agreed time.
9
Information leaflets are available in a wide variety of topics. These are easy to read, but we can also provide you with a larger font, Braille or in another language.
10
We will ask your views, opinions and requirements on the services we provide and our standards.
The water system in your new property will have been drained and turned off at the
stopcock. When you open the stopcock allow any water storage tanks to fill up and
once filled, open all taps (hot and cold) including the shower, if fitted, and allow to run
for two minutes. Once you have done this close all taps and use your water as normal.
2
Your stopcock is located
Meter readings
Electricity
Gas
Water
a
Paying your fuel bills
If a gas or electricity bill arrives and you cannot afford to pay it, contact the gas or
electricity company immediately. If you arrange to pay your bill in regular amounts,
they will not cut off your supply. Tell them if:
• you are on Jobseeker’s Allowance;
• you are unemployed or receiving a tax credit;
• you have children under the age of 11; or
• anyone living in your household is a pensioner.
If you need more advice, contact our Welfare and Debt Advisors on 0800 316 0897.
10
There are several easy ways to spread payments so that you do not face a large bill
every three months.
Tokens or cards
You can buy these from most post offices to
help spread the cost of paying your bill. You
can ask your supplier to fit a token or card
meter.
Budget accounts
Many gas and electricity companies have
budget account schemes. They work out your
average bill each year and divide it into 12
equal amounts. You pay this amount through a
bank or post office every month.
Paying weekly
Some gas and electricity companies will give you a payment card so you can pay
before you use the fuel. They will use the amount you pay in to calculate your next bill
and you will only have to pay the difference between what you have used and what
you have paid when the bill arrives. Ask your local gas and electricity company for
details of their various payment schemes and choose the one that most suits your
needs.
b
How to find out who your supplier is and setting up your account
To find out who your current gas supplier is, you can contact the Meter Point Number
Helpline on 0870 608 1524. To find out who your current electricity supplier is, you
can contact your regional electricity supplier.
• Southern Electric (electricity)
General enquiries: 0845 7444 555 (local rate call)
Open 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday and 8am to 2pm Saturday.
• SWALEC (electricity)
General enquiries: 0800 052 5252 (local rate call)
Open 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday and 8am to 2pm Saturday.
The gas supply to your property will be turned off when you move in and the gas
heating system will not work. Once you have a supplier in place, please contact us in
order to arrange for an engineer to visit and uncap the gas supply. This may take up to
48 hours to complete.
Utility supplier telephone numbers
• British Gas: 0800 111 999
• N Power: 0800 073 3000
• Eon: 0800 363 363
• Scottish and Southern Energy: 0800 980 8831
• Scottish Power: 0800 027 0072
c
Saving energy saves money
Energy efficiency is not only good for the environment - it can also help keep your fuel
bills down. Here are some simple ways you can save energy around the home.
•
Control all heating systems properly to make sure that they are only producing
heat when you want it, where you want it.
•
Turning down your thermostat by just 1°C can reduce your heating bill by 10% and
you will be unlikely to notice the difference.
•
Timer switches and thermostatic controls can also help regulate your heating.
•
20% of the average home’s energy bill goes on heating water. You can cut your
bills, while still having enough hot water, by making sure your hot-water tank has
a jacket or foam insulation, and that your hot-water pipes have enough insulation.
Please contact us if this is not the case as we may be able to help.
•
When you buy new domestic appliances, you should check their energy-efficiency
rating or look for the green energy-efficiency label on fridges and freezers. Those
with good ratings will be cheaper to run. Washing your clothes at the 40°C cycle
will cost you a quarter of the amount of the hottest cycle, and this is fine for most
fabrics.
2
•
When you buy new domestic appliances, you should check their energy-efficiency rating or look for the green energy-efficiency label on fridges and freezers. Those
with good ratings will be cheaper to run. Washing your clothes at the 40°C cycle
will cost you a quarter of the amount of the hottest cycle, and this is fine for most
fabrics.
•
Energy-saving light bulbs cost more than ordinary filament bulbs, but can pay for
themselves in lower fuel bills within two years. They are as bright as ordinary light
bulbs but only use 25% as much electricity and last eight times longer. They fit in
ordinary bulb-holders but you cannot use them with dimmer switches, some timer
switches or electronic lighting controls.
•
Make sure that you only use the amount of water you
need each time you boil the kettle.
Your gas central heating system
Central heating is designed to keep all or most of the
house warm from a single central source o f heat, such as
a gas boiler. There are some important controls to help
you manage the central heating and hot water supply as
efficiently as possible. Heating controls are about getting
the right temperature.
How does gas central heating work?
Most gas central heating systems have the following parts:
•
A boiler to heat the water system
•
Pipes to take the hot water to the radiators and the hot water storage cylinders
•
A pump to help the water get around the whole system.
Boiler thermostat
This is mainly for safety, to make sure that the hot water coming out of the boiler is
not too hot. Not all thermostats are visible when the boiler cover is closed. In winter,
it is advisable to have the boiler thermostat set between medium and maximum.
Adjust down to a safe level if the radiator gets too hot.
Cylinder thermostat
This controls the temperature of the hot water coming out of the hot water storage
cylinder. When the water in the cylinder has reached the set temperature, the
thermostat will switch off the supply of hot water from the boiler, and will not switch it
back on again until the temperature drops.
The cylinder thermostat should ideally be set to 60°C (140F). This protects against
scalding as well as saving energy.
Combination boilers
If you have a combination boiler (sometimes called a ‘combi’), water will be heated as
it passes through the boiler whenever you turn on a hot water tap. This means that
you will not have a hot water cylinder or a timer for heating your water.
The wall thermostat
This switches the heating off when the
set temperature is reached. You can alter
this to suit your household. Turning up the
thermostat will not make the house heat up
faster, it just means the heating will switch off
at a higher temperature (wasting you energy
and money). When sitting still, most people
are comfortable at around 20 or 21°C. If you
are happy with it slightly lower then it will save
you money.
2
When the weather changes, it is the programmer (timer) rather than the thermostat
you should adjust. This sets the time for the heating and the hot water to switch on
and off. Most programmers have a mechanical or digital clock which allows you to set
the times which you want the heating and hot water to come on and go off. You will
normally be able to set two or three times per two hours for the heating and hot water
to come on and go off.
The programmer may have some or all of the following programmes settings:
•
OFF - off permanently, ignoring programmed times.
•
ON/Continuous/Constant - On permanently, ignoring programmed times.
•
Twice/Timed/Auto/All - Two heating periods at the times you have set on the
clock. Some programmers allow more than two periods in which case this might
be called ‘all’.
•
Once/All day - One heating period, from the first ‘ON’ setting to the last ‘OFF’
setting in the day, as set on the clock. Note that this is a longer heating time than
‘twice’.
The ‘Boost’, ‘override’ or ‘advance’ functions is a useful function that allows you to turn
the heating on or off temporarily. It is useful when you have a change in your usual
routine. The system will revert to the existing programme setting afterwards, which
avoids the risk of you forgetting to do so yourself.
Thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs)
These are found on individual radiators (in place of the ordinary manual valves)
allowing you to adjust the temperature in the room.
A TRV will control the hot water that goes into the radiators. It measures the
temperature of the air in the room, and when the set temperature is reached, it will
stop any more hot water flowing into the radiator.
TRVs allow you to set some rooms to be warmer than others - for example, many
people have the living room and bathroom warmer than their hallways and bedrooms.
To set the right temperature for each room, set the TRVs to the middle setting and
then gradually alter the setting until the room is warm enough. It is worth spending a
few days to find a comfortable temperature for each room.
You can set each TRV by turning the white outer shell round. The settings are marked
on the outer shell, and indicated by a marker on the inner ring.
Heating with electricity
If electric night storage heaters are the main means of heating your home, you should
be on an Economy 7 tariff. This means that you benefit from a cheaper tariff for the
electricity you use at night.
It is important to use this cheap rate to heat up your storage heaters and heat up your
hot water with your immersion heater. The low tariff applies for seven hours overnight.
The exact times vary so check with your supplier to confirm. The low tariff is less than
half the price of the daytime normal rate.
Electric water heating
If you heat your water using Economy 7 electricity, you will have a hot water storage
cylinder fitted with an immersion heater. This is an electrical element which works like
the element in a kettle to heat up the water in the cylinder.
The water heats up at night and is stored for use during the following day and evening.
Thermostat
A Thermostat in the immersion heater prevents the water from overheating. It will
switch off the immersion heater when the set temperature is reached. It is for safety
(and energy efficiency) and should be present to 60°C (140°F).
Immersion heater timer
There should also be a timer, normally found near the hot water cylinder, which is set
to heat a cylinder of water during the cheap period. This means that you will have a
full cylinder of hot water at the beginning of each day.
It is very important that the controller is showing the correct time, otherwise it will
heat up at the wrong time.
You may have two immersion heaters in the same cylinder: in this case the lower one is
to heat up a whole tank of water and should be on at night, while the upper one heats
only half a tank and will come on when you use ‘boost’.
Remember that when you use the boost during the day, you are using expensive
electricity.
2
d
Condensation
If your home is damp or you find patches of mould on walls, furnishings or clothes,
this might be caused by condensation. Condensation is caused by moisture carried in
warm air hitting a cold surface such as a wall or glass. As the air cools down quickly, it
holds less water vapour, which condenses to form water droplets.
Every home gets some condensation, but if you allow it to continue, it can form mould
and damage your decorations, clothes and furnishings. If you notice damp in your
home and you are not sure whether it is condensation, please report the problem to us
and we will carry out an inspection to find the cause.
What to do to prevent condensation
•
Close your kitchen and bathroom doors
especially when cooking, bathing, washing
and drying clothes.
•
Air the room by using an extractor fan, loft
mounted ventilation unit or open the window
slightly.
•
Keep your home heated throughout. If you
leave the house in cold weather, leave the
central heating on low.
•
Do not use Calor gas or paraffin heaters, as they produce large amounts of water
vapour, which results in more condensation.
•
Wipe down windows and windowsills regularly to prevent mould from growing.
Please contact us for more advice.
e
Insurance
We will insure your home (that is, the building), any energy efficiency equipment and
any fixtures and fittings in it which belong to us.
Have you insured your household contents? If not, a fire, flood or accident could be
a financial disaster. Spend a few minutes adding up the replacement value of your
belongings – it is usually much more than you think! Remember - we are responsible
for your home’s structure and fittings, but not your belongings. If a pipe or water
tank bursts because of frost damage, or if your washing machine overflows, we are
not responsible for any damage caused to your belongings. You must make your own
insurance arrangements to cover this risk.
Some insurance policies only cover fire damage. Make sure you get cover for floods,
frost damage and other dangers such as broken windows. The cost of insurance is fairly
low, and some companies will collect your premiums every week.
We do offer a low cost home contents insurance scheme, which can be paid alongside
your rent and service charges. If you would like to find out more please call our Income
Collection Team.
f Safety in your home
You can avoid most of the accidents which happen in the home if you follow some
simple rules.
Electricity
•
Switch off appliances you are not using.
•
Make sure all plugs are wired correctly and that the whole flex, not just the leads, is
gripped by the clamp in the plug.
•
Check flexes regularly for signs of damage.
•
Never use frayed or damaged flexes.and don’t run them under carpets or rugs.
2
If you smell gas, or you have a carbon-monoxide alarm and it goes off:
• Put out any cigarettes;
•
Never use a match or naked flame to find the leak;
•
Do not use electrical switches;
•
Open doors and windows; and
•
Check to see if a gas tap has been left on or a pilot light has
blown out.
If you still think there is a leak, turn off the gas at the meter and
call Transco on 0800 111 999.
Gas appliances
Like all landlords, we have a legal duty to carry out a yearly service on gas fires, water
heaters and boilers in our homes. This service helps make sure that the appliances are
completely safe and that they are working properly. This can help reduce your gas bills.
It is important that you co-operate in allowing us access to your home to carry out this
servicing.
If you do not let us into your home, it not only breaches your tenancy agreement, but
could also put you in danger as fumes from unsafe gas appliances can kill. You cannot
smell these fumes. If you do not allow us to service these appliances, we may consider
taking legal action against you. So please help us to help you - it could save your life!
Fire
•
Always keep matches away from children.
•
Use a guard in front of an open fire when there are children or elderly people
about.
•
Never leave a chip pan unattended - if you have to leave the kitchen, turn off the
heat.
•
Do not hang clothes over or around fires, heaters or cookers.
•
Do not prop open fire doors or interfere with how they close.
•
Close all doors at night.
•
Plan how you would get out of your home if there was a fire and make sure
everyone in your family knows what to do.
Smoke alarms
The easiest way to protect your home and family from fire is with a smoke alarm. If
you do not have a working smoke alarm, contact us immediately.
We only install smoke alarms that are wired to the mains electrical supply to your
home. This type of alarm also has an internal battery that will allow the smoke alarm
to continue to operate in the event of a power failure. A new good quality battery will
generally provide power to a smoke detector for around 12 months providing that it
has not been activated for long periods of time.
How to make sure your smoke alarm works:
15
•
Test the smoke alarm every week by pressing the button until it sounds (if it fails
to sound then contact us immediately).
•
Change the battery every year or if you hear a beeping sound coming from the
smoke alarm. If you are unable to do this yourself, please contact us.
•
Never remove the battery.
•
Never disconnect the alarm if it goes off by mistake.
•
Vacuum the grill area of the smoke alarm every 12 months.
•
Never cover the smoke alarm.
2
If your smoke alarm goes off and a fire has started:
•
Close the door of the room where the fire has started (if you can).
•
Make sure everyone leaves the house.
•
Call the fire brigade.
•
Once out of the property do not go back in to save belongings or pets.
If a chip pan catches fire, turn off the heat and cover the pan with a damp cloth or lid
to smother the flames - never use water on hot oil.
If someone’s clothing catches fire, lay them on the floor, roll them up in a rug or
curtain to put out the flames and call an ambulance.
Carbon monoxide detector
Your carbon monoxide (CO) detector should be located by your gas or solid fuel
appliance and should be serviced/tested when you have your annual gas and solid fuel
service. If you do not have a CO detector, please contact our Customer Services team
on 0800 316 0897. If you do not have either gas or solid fuel there is no need for
you to have a CO detector.
Frost precautions
Before winter, check that all water pipes and tanks in the roof or outside are lagged,
and report to us any that are not. To avoid the possibility of freezing:
• Turn off taps at night.
•
If you have central heating, set thermostatic radiator valves to at least one, or set
the room thermostat to about 10°C (50°F) if you are out during the day.
•
If you have solid fuel central heating, making sure you have enough fuel to keep
the heating working.
•
Report any dripping taps or running overflows immediately.
If, despite these precautions, the pipes freeze or burst, you should turn off the main
stopcock and all water-heating systems. The main stopcock is usually under or near
the sink. In flats, the stopcock is often in the shared areas. Turn all hot and cold taps
on to drain off as much water as possible and report the problem to us as soon as you
can.
If you are going away during the winter, please let us know. We can advise you on how
to stop your pipes freezing while you home is empty.
Trips and falls
60% of deaths from accidents in the home are the result of falls. You can guard against
this type of accident by following these simple rules.
•
Do not polish under carpets or rugs.
•
Make sure stairs and landings are well lit and that you keep them clear.
•
Install guards at the top of the stairs and on upper-floor windows if you have small
children.
•
Wipe up immediately any liquids spilt on the kitchen or bathroom floor.
•
Repair or cover any holes in your carpets or lino to avoid tripping.
•
Make sure your stair carpets are securely fixed.
2
Legionella
Legionnaires’ disease is a type of pneumonia which is caused by Legionella bacteria
and found widespread in nature, mainly living in natural water systems. Illness
occurs from exposure to Legionella growing in purpose-built systems where water is
maintained at a temperature high enough to encourage growth.
The symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease are similar to those of flu:
•
High temperature, fever and chills.
•
Cough.
•
Muscle pains.
•
Headache.
•
In a bad case, there may also be pneumonia, and occasionally diarrhea and signs
of mental confusion.
If you develop these symptoms, see your GP immediately.
If your GP confirms that you have developed Legionnaires’ disease, you or your GP
must report this to Two Rivers Housing and we will employ the services or specialist
water consultants to check your water system for traces of Legionnella. If no traces
are found in your home, you will have picked the disease up from another area.
To prevent Legionella bacteria in your home, you should:
•
Ensure your water storage tanks are kept clean and have a secure lid on them.
•
Keep your hot water hot (above 60°C) as this temperature kills Legionella.
•
Keep your cold water cold (below 20°C) as this temperature prevents growth of
Legionella.
•
Ensure all taps, showers, toilet cisterns and water dependent appliances are
regularly used to ensure water movement is maintained preventing the risk of
Legionella building up in the pipes.
•
After a prolonged period away (one week or more) from your home, before using
the water, you should bring the hot water up to temperature (above 60°C) and
open all water taps both hot and cold and run them for two minutes. For showers,
turn the gauge to its hottest setting allowing the water to pass through the shower
head for two minutes.
•
Use a treatment in garden water features and keep them clean.
•
Report any dirty tanks or missing lids immediately to us.
If your water is unable to be heated and kept hot above 60°C due to equipment
failure, you should report this to us by calling 0800 316 0897 or emailing
customerservices.2rh.org.uk .
Asbestos
Asbestos can be found in a wide range of building materials used up until 1999.
Properties built after this date are unlikely to contain asbestos. Asbestos is in itself not
dangerous, however when asbestos materials age or become damaged they can release
fibres into the air which can cause possible lung damage. The greatest risk arises when
asbestos is damaged or drilled, sawn, scrubbed or sanded. DIY work can result in brief
but high levels or exposure. Products containing asbestos can look very similar to
those not containing asbestos. If you have damaged or deteriorating asbestos in your
home and are planning DIY work or suspect you have asbestos materials in your home,
then please call Customer Services on 0800 316 0897. Please refer to our website for
further information.
2
Security
If you go out or away:
•
Close all windows and lock both the front and back doors.
•
Never leave your door key under the doormat or hanging on a string behind the
letterbox (thieves always look in these places).
•
Always cancel newspapers and milk when you go away.
When someone you do not know calls to your
home, always ask for proof of identity before
you let them in. Most officials and all our staff
carry identity cards - ask to see them. The
crime prevention officer at your local police
station can give you free advice about security
and local neighbourhood watch schemes.
Keys
We do not keep spare keys to your home so
if you lose your key and the lock has to be
forced, we will charge you for the repair work
involved.
If you are a new tenant with us, you will have signed a starter
tenancy. We will visit you when you have been in your
home for nine months to check that you are managing your
tenancy. If we are happy that your rent account, home and
garden are in good order, you will automatically become an
assured tenant. If you break any of your tenancy conditions,
this may affect when you become an assured tenant.
a
Your general responsibilies include looking after:
•
Shared areas (entrance halls, landings and stairs).
•
The shared areas of flats or maisonettes and keeping them clean, tidy and free
from obstruction such as bicycles or other personal belongings.
•
Paying your rent and other charges in advance.
Gardens
You are responsible for keeping your garden
tidy and well maintained. If you do not do
this, we may have to do the work and charge
you for it, or treat it as you breaking your
tenancy conditions.
3
Getting rid of rubbish in shared areas
Never leave rubbish on shared landings or throw it from windows. It must always be
put in shared or individual bins. Littered and untidy bin areas soon become a danger to
health and attract pests and vermin.
You are responsible for keeping the bin and bin areas clean and tidy
This will be much easier if rubbish is wrapped and placed in a bag before being placed
in the bin. You can ask the local authority to remove large items of rubbish such as old
furniture, toys or prams. There may be a charge for this. You will find contact details in
section nine. If we find tenants have discarded items in bin areas which should not be
left, you may be in breach of your tenancy.
Dustbins
You should contact your local authority to find out what their arrangements are.
Recharges
If we need to take you to court for things like anti-social behaviour, rent arrears or
rechargable repairs, you may incur additional costs such as court costs.
Vehicles and parking
You may park only a current taxed (or SORN) private car or light van on our land (we
may arrange for untaxed vehicles without SORN to be towed away). The vehicle must
be parked in a garage or other parking area which we provide. You may carry out
routine maintenance of your own vehicle on our property, but we do not allow major
repairs. If you rent a garage from us, you should not store anything in it that can cause
a fire such as chemicals or gas bottles.
You must not park or drive any vehicle on grassed areas we own or manage. If you
would like to keep a caravan on Two Rivers Housing land, you will need to have
permission from us first.
Aerials
You should not put up a television aerial or a satellite dish on your property without
permission. It may not always be possible for us to grant this. Sometimes you
will need planning permission as well, so you should always check with your local
authority’s planning department before talking to us. You will find contact details in
section nine.
Alterations to your property
You should not carry out any structural alterations to your home without first asking for
our permission. We may grant this permission if your local authority also approves. We
will also make sure that the work you do is of a standard we accept.
Overcrowding
You must not allow your home to become overcrowded. Each of our homes has a
legally given maximum number of people who are allowed to live in it. If you want
to have more family members, or anyone else living in your home, please let us know.
If you receive Housing Benefit, you must let your local authority’s Housing Benefit
Department know as it may affect your entitlement. If you want more advice about
this, please contact us.
Pests
It is your responsibility to contact your local authority pest control team if you become
aware of pests or vermin, such as rats or a wasps nest, in or around your home.
Managing your tenancy
If you are struggling to maintain your tenancy, for example having problems paying
your rent, with your neighbours or keeping your home in good condition, please
contact your Neighbourhood Housing Advisor who may be able to direct you to an
appropriate support service.
3
b
Noise and neighbour nuisance
Please remember that nobody who is living in, or visiting, your home should act in a
way that causes nuisance or annoys your neighbours.
Having difficulty with your neighbours?
Many different things can cause neighbour problems, for example:
•
Loud music
•
Noisy parties
•
DIY or structural alterations
•
Revving motorcycles and cars
•
Carrying out car repairs
•
Bad parking
•
Noisy arguments and repeated bad language
•
Anti-social behaviour
•
Uncontrolled pets
Everyone knows that people make noise sometimes, but should understand the need
for peace and quiet too. Neighbours should be considerate and get on with others.
Acts of anti-social behaviour are put into three categories:
Priority one - very serious. For example: actual and/or threats of violence which will be
dealt with in one working day.
Priority two - serious. For example: threatening or intimidating behaviour which will be
dealt with in two working days.
Priority three - minor. For example: noise from domestic appliances or parking
complaints which will be dealt with in seven working days.
What you can do if you have a dispute with a neighbour:
Step one - personal approach
We would encourage you to sort out the problem by talking to the person concerned.
Perhaps they do not know that their actions are causing you a problem. Talk to them
and tell them that they are disturbing you and suggest a way of sorting the problem
out. It is important that you try to stay on speaking terms with your neighbours. In
almost all cases the solution will be brought about by give and take on both sides.
Step two - what can you do?
If for some reason you are afraid of speaking to your neighbour, or if you have tried
and nothing has changed, you should contact us. We will investigate your complaint
thoroughly. We, and sometimes other agencies, will try to sort out your problem, but it
is important that you understand you will need to be involved. You cannot simply pass
the problem to someone else to deal with for you. Even at this early stage we may find
that we cannot help you. If this is the case, we may suggest using a local mediation
service. Your Tenancy Complaince Officer will explain how this might help.
Step three - what do I need to do next?
If we can offer further help, we will agree an action plan with you. There are a number
of options to consider. These may include asking you to write down things, as they
happen, on a log sheet so that you keep a record of the events which annoy you. We
will ask you to keep this information for an agreed period. We may write to or visit
your neighbour to discuss the problem and possibly take action against them. This
may involve agencies such as the local authority’s Environmental Health Department
or the police. We may recommend using a local mediation service. Your Tenancy
Compliance Officer will explain how this might help.
3
Step four - did the action plan work?
This involves monitoring what has been agreed and included
in the action plan. For example, did the official letter
or visit, or the mediation, sort out the problem?
If we are satisfied that your neighbour has not
breached their tenancy or leasehold agreement,
or that there will be no further breach, we will
take no further action and explain the reasons
in writing to you. If your log sheet suggests
that your neighbour’s behaviour is unreasonable
and they may have breached their tenancy or lease
agreement, we will tell them and explain that we have
come to this conclusion because of evidence that has been
provided. It is important that you still continue to keep a log sheet.
Step five - legal action
If the nuisance carries on, we will only take legal action if we have firm proof of antisocial behaviour. There are a number of options to consider. We may get an injunction
or tell you how to get an injunction. An injunction is a court order stopping someone
from doing something or going somewhere, or telling them to do or not do something.
Or, we may apply for a Possession Order in the courts. If the problem reaches this stage,
your Tenancy Compliance Officer will explain the legal process to you fully.
Illegal behaviour
It may be that another resident’s behaviour is not only anti-social but illegal too. We will
take this seriously, but you should first contact the police if it is safe for you to do so.
For example, you should contact the police if anyone has threatened you, or threatened
to damage your property. You should ask your local police control desk to make a
record of any events and give you an incident number. This will help us to take any
action that we can. We treat any information that you give us in complete confidence
and we will do our best to help and support you.
Harassment
Harassment may be spoken, written or physical, and it includes attacks on property.
Racial harassment and hate crime is a criminal offence for which the police may
prosecute. When incidents of harassment are reported to us, we will deal with them
promptly and sympathetically. If the victim does not want to report the incident to
the police, we will respect this. We will give victims advice about other agencies that
can offer help, support and legal advice.
We treat racial or other harassment as breaking your tenancy agreement. In cases
where harassment has been clearly proved, we are prepared to take legal action against
the offender if the victim want us to. However, the victim will need to keep a written
record of any incidents and may have to give evidence in court, although this is not
always necessary. We will consider all of the options available to us to deal with the
matter successfully.
Domestic violence
We take reports of domestic violence very seriously and can support you if you are a
victim. We will also take action against the person abusing you whenever we can. If
you, or someone you know, is suffering from domestic violence of any kind, please
contact your Tenancy Complaince Officer or the police.
The Gloucestershire Domestic Abuse Support Service provides support and help for
people suffering from domestic violence. You can contact them on 0845 602 9035.
3
Drug and alcohol issues
Turning Point can offer help and advice if you, or someone you know is being affected
by the use of drugs or alcohol. You can find their contact details in section nine.
If you experiencing anti-social behaviour connected with drug or alcohol abuse
please contact your Tenancy Compliance Officer on 0800 316 0897 or by email
[email protected] .
c
Pets
We will not reasonably withhold our permission for
you to have pets if you live in a house. However we
will not give permission for cats or dogs to be kept
in flats with shared entrances, with the exception of
guide dogs. Contact your Neighbourhood Housing
Advisor for more information. If we give our
permission, your pet must not cause a nuisance to
neighbours, for example, by fouling in shared areas.
You must keep your pets under control at all times. Otherwise we may withdraw our
permission and you will have to find another home for your pet. If you need advice on
re-homing your pet, please contact Customer Services.
d
Running a business from your home
If you want to run a business or work from home, you must get our permission first.
We will not give permission to any business which needs planning permission, or if it
appears likely that your proposals may cause a nuisance to your neighbours.
e
Transfers
You can apply at any time to transfer to another of our homes. This can be done by
contacting Gloucestershire Homeseekers at www.gloshomeseekers.co.uk or contact
your local authority. Numbers for all the local authorities in our area can be found in
section nine. However, you will only be offered a transfer if this will meet your new
housing need.
What is meant by housing need?
Housing need includes:
•
Overcrowding.
•
Under occupation.
•
Health or disability problems which can be helped by other accommodation.
•
A need to be nearer work, relatives, a hospital, or for another personal reason.
This is not a full list. You will not be considered for a transfer to a larger home unless
your circumstances have changed.
This can be done by contacting Gloucestershire Homeseekers at
www.gloshomeseeker.co.uk or contact your local authority. Numbers for all the local
authorities in our area can be found in section nine.
We will inspect your home before you are offered any other accommodation. You will
not normally be offered a transfer if you have not kept to the terms of your tenancy
agreement. For example, if you owe rent.
3
f
Exchanges
An exchange is a straight swap of homes between tenants. To apply for an exchange
you need to sign up to Homeswapper. You can do this online at www.homeswapper.
co.uk, which is the UK’s largest service helping people to swap homes. Once you have
registered online they will automatically match you to any potential swaps. Once you
have found somebody to exchange with and you are both happy to exchange you
need to apply for permission for the exchange to take place. If you would like more
information about a property on homeswapper.co.uk or think you have found someone
you would like to exchange with, please contact your Neighbourhood Housing Advisor.
We will only refuse your request if:
•
the exchange would lead to you living in a property that is too big of too small for
your needs; or
•
the property was adapted for a disabled person to use.
Please note: You must never give your tenancy to someone else without our
permission. We will treat any other person in your home as an ‘illegal occupier’ unless
they have a legal right to the tenancy. You must not pay out or receive money to
exchange your home.
g
Low-cost home ownership
Help-to-buy is the name that the Government has given to a suite of options available
to people who wish to purchase a home but cannot do so without financial assistance,
and those who wish to rent but cannot afford the cost of high market rent.
Shared Ownership
Shared Ownership could help you buy a newly built property. You pay for a share of
the cost of the property and pay rent on the remaining amount.
Shared Ownership - who can apply?
Shared Ownership is available for certain properties in some areas of England.
Before you can buy a home through the scheme you need to be sure that you
meet the eligibility criteria. The scheme is run by Help-to-Buy South. If you live in
Herefordshire, the scheme is run by Help-to-Buy Midlands.
Shared Ownership is open to households earning less than £60,000 a year who would
otherwise be unable to buy a home.
You may be eligible if you are either a:
•
First time buyer;
•
Previous home owner who can’t now afford to buy without help (perhaps because
you have broken up with your partner);
•
Housing association or council tenant; or
•
Current member of the Armed Forces.
How to apply
If you think you are eligible for the Help-to-Buy scheme, contact:
Help-to-Buy South
0800 456 11 88
[email protected]
www.helptobuysouth.co.uk
or, if you live in Herefordshire
Help-to-Buy Midlands
03458 50 20 50
[email protected]
www.helptobuymidlands.co.uk .
3
How Shared Ownership works
The help-to-buy agent will assess your eligibility
for the scheme and look at the options available
in your area. Through Shared Ownership you
buy a share of a newly built property with the
rest of the cost of the property shared with a
housing provider, like a housing association.
You’ll need to cover between 20% and 75% of
the cost of the property through a mortagage
and/or savings. Then, you’ll pay rent on the remaining share of the property to the
housing provider. The housing provider will set your initial rent at a maximum of three
per cent of their share of the property (in the first year). Your rent will be reviewed
each year.
In most cases you’ll still need some money to cover the costs of buying a house, like
legal fees, any deposit, and possibly Stamp Duty Land Tax.
If you are able to afford it, you can buy a larger percentage (also known as a share)
in the property later. You’ll have to pay what the shares are worth at the time you
purchase them.
Home Ownership Service Standards
Two Rivers Housing will:
•
Act at all times as a reasonable and responsible landlord.
•
Respect your rights, responsibilities and concerns as a home owner, and will
expect you to respect our rights and responsibilities as a landlord.
•
Protect your investment by effective and responsible management of your estate.
•
Keep areas of the property that we are responsible for in good repair following the
principles of the value-for-money and good environmental stewardship.
•
Deal with any nuisance problems caused by your neighbours and other visitors,
in line with our anti-social behaviour procedures. We will expect you, your
household or visitors not to cause a nuisance to others.
•
Provide you with an itemised service charge bill.
•
Ensure all maintenance and service contracts are tendered in accordance with any
laws concerning home owners.
•
Offer a range of payment methods.
•
Offer an appointment to all potential home owners to discuss the implications of
purchasing the property.
•
Provide information about our services and performance on our website.
•
Provide a handbook to all shared owners and leaseholders.
•
Train relevant staff about leaseholder management.
•
Carry out regular customer satisfaction surveys.
•
Listen and respond to your concerns and suggestions about our services.
3
h
Ending your tenancy
You can end your tenancy by giving us four weeks’
notice in writing from any Monday. Your tenancy
will not end until you return the keys to us and leave
your home. Even if you have given us four weeks’
notice in writing, we will continue to charge you rent
until we receive your keys.
You must leave your home clean and tidy. Before
you leave, we will inspect your home. If any repair
or redecoration is needed after you have moved
out, we may charge you for any work which is
your responsibility. You should remove all of your
belongings and leave your home empty. We may charge you for removing any items
you leave behind.
If you give us four weeks’ notice that you are leaving your home, have a clear rent
account, have no outstanding tenancy breaches and leave the property, including the
garden and any shared areas, clean and clear of all furniture and personal belongings,
you can receive an agreed sum of money.
You must tell your local authority’s Council Tax and Housing Benefit Section that you
are moving. Don’t forget to have your meters read so that you avoid paying for gas
and electricity used by the next resident. Remember to have your phone disconnected
and please remember to give us your new address.
We will consider ending a tenancy sooner than the usual four-week period if someone
has died or gone into a residential home and we are told and receive the keys quickly.
If you have paid all the rent you owe and you return the property to us clean and
empty of contents, it may be possible to let it again within the four-week notice period.
If this happens, we can end the tenancy straight away.
i
Changing your tenancy
You or we can change your tenancy agreement if we both agree to the change in
writing. This does not apply to changing the rent or other charges, the arrangements
for which are explained in section four.
j
Allowing us to enter your home
You must allow us (or anybody working for us) to enter your home at a reasonable
time (and at all times in an emergency) to inspect your home or carry out works to it
or to an adjoining property. This would include access for inspection and/or servicing
of gas boilers, smoke detectors or other appliances for which we are responsible. You
must also give us (or anybody working for us) access for tenancy related purposed and
to allow photographs, video and/or sound recordings to be taken. We will give you
reasonable prior notice of the need to gain access to your home. In an emergency, we
may not be able to give you prior notice of our need to gain access.
k
Repaying our repair costs
You or any other person living with you (including children) or visiting your home must
not cause any damage to your home or any of our property. You must immediately
repair any damage that you, any other person living with you (including children) or
visiting your home has caused. If you do not carry out the repair to our satisfaction,
you must give us or our contractors reasonable access to carry out such repairs,
including the cleaning of any blockages in toilets, drains and waste pipes, and you
will have to repay us the cost of having the repairs carried out, together with any
reasonable administrative expenses.
3
a
How are rent levels set?
We aim to set rents that:
•
are affordable and within reach of people on low incomes;
•
are in line with the Government’s requirements;
•
allow us to house people on the basis of their housing need, in line with our
allocations policy;
•
allow us to meet all our outgoings and keep a reasonable level of money in
reserve;
•
allow us to build more houses and pay back loans we owe; and
•
make sure we can keep rent levels consistent between properties in the same area.
In addition to your rent there may be other charges to cover the cost of services
received such as shared heating, lighting, cleaning and estate maintenance. We review
rent levels once a year before April and tell you about any changes in good time. We
will give you at least one calendar months notice.
b
Paying your rent and other charges
Your rent and other charges must be paid in advance. Your payments should be made
at regular intervals e.g. weekly, fortnightly, monthly and you should let us know when
and how you intend to pay your rent. Your rent is charged over 48 weeks and there
are four free weeks where there is no rent due. Unpaid or delayed payments for rent or
service charge will be recorded as arrears and we will send you a letter to let you know
this.
4
You can pay your rent in the following ways:
By Direct Debit
If you have a bank account, you can pay your rent by Direct Debit on the 1st, 8th, 15th
or 22nd of each month. Direct Debit is an agreement between you and your bank
which allows us to take your rent payment direct from your bank account. Your rent is
divided into 12 equal monthly payments, based on the 48 week charge. If the amount
of rent you pay alters, we will arrange to change the amount collected from your bank
account. The Direct Debit guarantee means we must send you a letter at least 10 days
before this happens. You can cancel the Direct Debit by contacting your bank.
You will need to fill in a Direct Debit form showing your bank details and return the
form to us. We will send it to your bank and let you know when the payments will
begin. If you want a Direct Debit form, please contact the Income Collection team on
0800 316 0897 or email [email protected] .
By Standing Order
If you have a bank account, you can pay your rent by Standing Order, this
payment can be made weekly, fortnightly or monthly. You can get a form
from the Income Collection team by calling 0800 316 0897 or email
[email protected] . Most banks will not charge you for paying this
way if you keep your account in credit. If your rent alters you will need to fill a new
Standing Order form and take this to your bank.
With your Allpay card
Making a rent payment with your Allpay card at a shop or post office showing the
PayPoint signs is quick and easy. They will give you a receipt. You can ask for an Allpay
payment card from the Income Collection team. You can also pay over the phone
by calling 0870 243 6040, or online on our website at www.tworivershousing.org.
uk at any time of day or night or contact Customer Services team 0800 316 0897
between 8:30am and 5:30pm, Monday to Friday and pay over the phone using either a
debit or credit card.
By agreeing for us to receive Housing Benefit direct
If you are eligible for Housing Benefit, this is help towards your rent, (or you are already
receiving Housing Benefit) from your local authority, please arrange to have this
paid direct to us, there is a place to request this on the Housing Benefit claim form.
Remember that if you do not receive the full amount of the rent charge from Housing
Benefit, you must arrange to pay the difference direct to us.
By cash or cheque
If you pay by cheque, make it payable to Two Rivers Housing and please print your
name and address on the back of the cheque. Do not send cash through the post
unless you send it by Special Delivery. You can also pay your rent at the office in
Newent between 8:30am and 5pm, Monday to Friday.
If you change or cancel your payment arrangements at any time, you must let
the Income Collection team know. Contact us on 0800 316 0897 or email
[email protected] .
You can view the balance on your account
and your current rent statement and make a
payment online at www.tworivershousing.
org.uk. To view your account online you will
need your login details and password. If you
would like to set-up your account or have
forgotten your password, please contact
Customer Services on 0800 316 0897.
4
c
Rent arrears
If you receive a letter showing that you are behind with your rent, you should do the
following:
•
Read the letter carefully.
•
Check that you are receiving the Housing Benefit you are entitled to.
•
Check that any payments being made are for the correct amount.
•
Check that any other payment you have made has reached your rent account.
•
Pay what you owe as soon as possible.
•
If you cannot pay what you owe, contact us straight away.
What will happen if I cannot pay the rent?
If you cannot pay the rent, you should contact the Income Collection team straight
away. If we know there is a problem, we will help you. If you delay before making
contact it will often lead to serious problems. Do not ignore the letters which we send
you. The earlier you contact us the easier it is for us to help.
If you have problems with your money, you can speak to one of our Welfare and
Debt Advisors who can provide you with advice. To book an appointment, call
0800 316 0897.
d
Service charges
If you believe that your service charge is unreasonable, in terms of the amount you
are charged or the standard of work you are paying for, contact us first to discuss your
charges. If you are not happy with our response, you may be able to apply to the
Residential Property Tribunal Service for a decision as to what is reasonable. See section
nine for contact details.
e
•
Our service standards
We will give advice on the different ways you can pay, such as Direct Debit,
Standing Order, Allpay card. Payments are due in advance.
•
We will write to you one calendar month before we increase your rent or service
charge.
•
We will provide regular rent statements to you at six months, 12 months or on
request.
•
We will help you to claim any benefits you’re eligible for.
•
We will help you complete a Housing Benefit form if you’re eligible.
•
We will reguarly monitor your account.
•
It is vital you let us know if you cannot pay your rent.
If you fall behind with your rent:
We expect you to contact one of our Income Collection Advisors immediately.
However we will also:
•
Make contact as soon as your rent account is in arrears by letter, home visit,
telephone call, text or email.
•
We will refer you to one of our Welfare and Debt Advisors who can provide help
with financial problems. They may also put you in touch with other external
organisations which may be able to help, such as the Citizens Advice Bureau or
Social Services.
•
We will make every effort to contact you to agree an affordable payment plan.
This will be calculated on your household income and expenditure.
4
a
Reporting a repair
Call us on 0800 316 0897 or email [email protected] whenever you
report a repair, or ask someone else to report it for you. Please be ready to give us:
•
Your name
•
Your address - or the address with the repair problem
•
A phone number where we can contact you during the day
•
If necessary; details of when someone is usually at home so that the repair can be
carried out, or when we can make an inspection
•
As much information about the repair as possible
Usually, when you report a repair that is not an emergency, we will send you a letter,
with a repair job number. We will also try and give you an appointment date and
time slot (usually this will be an ‘anytime’ appointment, meaning we will come at any
time on the agreed date. It could be an am or pm slot meaning we will come in the
morning or the afternoon). We will also send you an reminder text message two days
before the appointment, which gives you the opportunity to change and arrange a new
appointment. One day before the repair work is due to start, a text will be sent with
the name of the person who will be conducting the repair and the time they should
arrive.
If we have not given you an appointment we write to you with the date by when the
work should be finished. This is the latest date when the repair should be carried out,
not the actual day we will call on you. We may call at any time before that date.
If we call on you when you are out, we will leave a card. Please ring us back as soon
as possible on the number provided to arrange a convenient time for the repair to be
carried out. If the repair has not been conducted by our target date, please contact
Customer Services on 0800 316 0897.
5
We may also contact you when the repair has been completed. Your comments on the
quality of repairs to your home will help us to improve our service to you.
What is an emergency repair?
An emergency repair is when it affects life or limb or major structural problems to
the property. We will aim to attend your home within two hours of the repair being
reported to make the situation safe and then if necessary, try and complete it within
24 hours.
Items classed as an emergency are:
•
Gas leaks - handled by Transco: 0800 111 999
•
Blocked drains causing flooding inside or outside of property. If blocked by
actions of tenants or visitors, then you will be recharged.
•
Any water leak, which cannot be contained and dealt with and causes significant
damage to your home or someone elses.
•
Severe roofing damage which prevents you from remaining in your home.
•
No hot water from heating system (in winter months October - April).
•
Fire or storm damage - property needs to be boarded up to protect it from
damage.
•
Missing or loose manhole covers.
•
No electrical supply - after trip switch has been re-set and appliances are checked,
check that it’s only your home that’s affected.
•
Overheating of electrical switches, sockets, or light fittings but not plugs or
appliances.
•
Complete failure of heating system between October and April.
•
Failure of shared lighting in communal areas of landings or staircases, but not just
a single bulb or tube.
•
Taps that will not turn off and are continually running, not just a drip or small flow
of water.
•
Tenant unable to open garage door to gain access to vehicle inside.
•
Toilet not flushing and is the only one in the property.
•
Smoke alarm/carbon monoxide detector continuously beeping.
What is an urgent repair?
An urgent repair is a repair that does not fall into the emergency priority, but is still
urgent enough to need attention quickly.
We will respond to urgent repairs within five working days of them being reported to
us. Examples of an urgent repair include:
•
Partial loss of electric power or light.
•
Partial loss of water.
•
Defective cistern.
•
Minor plumbing leaks.
•
Blocked sink, bath or basin. If the blockage is caused by tenant action, then we
will recharge you for the work involved.
•
Damage to stair treads or hand rails.
•
Door entry phone not working.
5
•
Non-serious water penetration problems.
•
Re-fix chimney pot of cowl.
What is a routine repair?
This is something that is not in need of urgent attention and does not pose a risk to
tenants homes or families. Minor work to your home is also considered routine.
We respond to routine repairs within 15 working days of them being reported to us.
These repairs can include:
•
Dripping or leaking taps.
•
Repairs to plasterwork less than 1sqm.
•
Repairs to floor boards.
•
Internal door repairs.
•
Repairing kitchen units.
•
Garage door repairs.
•
Re-fix roof tile or slate (if no serious
water penetration).
•
Extractor fan not working in
bathroom or kitchen.
Working days are Monday to Friday (we
do not count bank holidays as working
days).
What is Two Rivers Housing responsible for?
As your landlord, we are responsible for repairs to:
•
The structure of your home.
•
Our fixtures and fittings.
•
Services and sanitation, including sinks, baths and toilets.
•
Your heating and water-heating systems (if we have fitted them); and paintwork
on the outside of the property.
What are you responsible for?
There are some repairs which are your responsibility to fix.
Some of these are:
•
Door handles inside your home.
•
Internal door damage.
•
Altering doors for carpet.
•
Curtain rails and net hooks.
•
Sink and bath plugs and chains.
•
Blocked basin, bath or sink waste.
•
Electrical faults caused by a faulty appliance.
•
Decorating inside your home.
•
Cracks or small holes in the walls.
•
Loose floor covering and fitted carpets.
5
•
Damage to kitchen cupboard, door, drawer or worktop.
•
Broken or cracked glass, if caused by you, a family member or a visitor.
•
The hose connection to the washing machine.
•
Alterations to install tenants’ own appliances, fittings or fixtures.
•
Electric and gas meter supply.
•
Changing light bulbs, kitchen strip light tubes, starters and diffusers.
•
Disconnection and reconnection of cooker.
•
Gaining entry to your home if you have locked yourself out (we do this on your
behalf in an emergency, but a charge will apply).
•
Lost keys and replacement locks (we can do this on your behalf but a charge will
apply).
•
External door frame - damaged where caused by criminal damage and not
reported to police.
•
Lost or stolen entrance door key where not reported to the police.
•
Door bells (not fitted by Two Rivers Housing).
•
Clean leaves and garden waste etc from gullies.
•
Blocked drains caused by occupiers.
•
Garden maintenance.
•
General TV aerials.
b
Planned Maintenance
Planned Maintenance is where we work out
what improvements are needed to your
home. It is different to our day-to-day
repairs service who attend in response to
you reporting a problem or informing us
that something needs fixing.
Within Planned Maintenance, we plan in
advance what work is requied and when
we will ask our contractors to do it. We have
different contracts covering various aspects of
maintenance such as:
•
Primary heating - improvement or replacement of all or part of the domestic
heating system.
•
Electrics - additional items/upgrade wiring/complete rewire of property.
•
Kitchen/bathroom - part or full replacement.
•
External works - anything from external painting to replacement of roof coverings.
We produce a programme for maintaining and upgrading our properties to keep them
in line with government standards and to provide quality housing. The information
used to compile this programme is taken from the ‘stock condition database’ from
reports by our surveyors or repair staff and in response to queries from tenants.
Prior to any commencing, you will be informed of the works we plan to undertake. If
your property is not on our list for improvement works in the coming financial year and
you feel that works are required, then we can arrange for a surveyor to attend and
5
assess the state of your property. The surveyor may recommend that work is carried
out immediately by our Neighbourhood Repairs team; that the property is brought
forward on the planned works programme or that the work can be done as per the
existing planned works programme.
More information on our programmes can be found on our website or by requesting a
leaflet through our Customer Service team on 0800 316 0897.
c
Code of Conduct for contractors
We have responsibilities to all of our tenants and we are committed to ensuring
your homes are safe, secure and comply with Decent Homes Standards. We will
communicate with you before, during and after works and continually inform you of
our processes to achieve a high level of service. We will give you a clear explaination
of what the work will involve, when it will start and how long it will take.
Two Rivers housing staff and our contractors will carry photo ID cards which will be
shown and introductions made when they visit you.
At all times during the process we/our contractors will:
•
Show respect to you and your property and keep inconvience to the minimum.
•
Treat all details about you and your home confidentially.
•
Be security conscious and avoid easy access by others to your home.
•
Not use bad language, smoke or drink alcohol.
•
Keep your home clean and tidy and avoid making excessive noise.
•
Not use your telephone, electricity, gas, water, toilet or kitchen without consent.
•
Not make any comments or gestures that are offensive or distasteful to others.
•
Leave your home clean and tidy when work cannot be completed in one visit,
making sure all services are left on and the home is habitable. Inform you of any
potential hazards and taking the necessary action to minimise risk.
When the work is complete:
•
You will be informed when the work has finished.
•
All rubbish will be removed and your home left clean and tidy.
•
Correct operation of the new appliance/s will be demonstrated, with instructions
and operating manuals left with you.
d
Code of Conduct for tenants
We expect tenants to treat our staff and contractors with respect and will not tolerate
threats or violence against staff or contractors and action can be taken in line with
your tenancy agreement if required.
5
This section sets out your rights as our tenant.
a
The right to privacy
You have the right to privacy in your own home. Staff from Two Rivers Housing will
not enter your home, whether you are there or not, without your prior permission
unless there is an emergency situation. We will respect your privacy at all times, unless
you or others are at risk or there is a health and safety danger.
b
Dignity and respect
All individuals have the right to be treated with dignity and respect at all times. As
such no-one should be harassed or discriminated against on any grounds, including
age, disability, ethnicity and sexuality. If you experience any harassment or
discrimination, please let your Tenancy Complaince Officer know immediately. If
however you feel any member of Two Rivers Housing’s staff are discriminating against
you, please report to this to the Customer Service Co-ordinator on 0800 316 0897.
c
The preserved right-to-buy
If you used to be a secure tenant of Forest of Dean District Council and your home was
transferred to us, you may have the preserved right-to-buy. It means that you can buy
your home with a discount off the market value. However, you cannot buy your home
if we let it as housing for older people. If you are not sure whether the preserved rightto-buy applies to you, please contact us on 0800 316 0897.
6
d
The right to acquire
If you became our tenant after the transfer took place (that is, you were not a secure
tenant with the council before the transfer),
you may have the right to ‘acquire’ your home.
You cannot buy your home if we let it to elderly
people, or if the law prevents it. To qualify for
this right, you must have spent five years as a
public-sector tenant (a tenant of a council or
housing association), or in housing provided by
the armed forces. If you want to know more
about the right to acquire, please contact us on
0800 316 0897.
e
The right to compensation for improvements
If you make improvements to your home, you may be entitled to compensation for
some of the costs involved. However, you must get our written permission to carry out
these improvements and give us three written estimates of the cost of the work you
are proposing. We may pay compensations at the end of your tenancy for some of
these costs, but the amount we will pay reduces over time. You can get a list from us
of improvements qualifying for this compensation.
f
The right to occupy
You have the right to live peacefully in your home during tenancy without us
interfering as long as you do not breach any of your tenancy conditions. However,
we have the right to enter your home to carry out essential maintenance or repairs
to maintain the condition of your home. We also enter your home to carry out other
work that we legally have to do, for example to service and maintain your gas central
heating each year. If you refuse us entry unreasonably to carry out this work, we can
go to court, or take other legal action, to gain entry.
g
The right to take in lodgers and sublet
If you get our written permission you may take in lodgers or sublet part of your home
as long as it does not cause overcrowding. When you apply for permission, you should
tell us the name, age and sex of any lodger or subtenant and how much you are going
to charge. If we do not give you permission, we will give you our reasons in writing.
h
The right to repair
You have the right to carry out certain repairs which are our responsibility if you have
reported the need for the repair to us in writing and we have failed, without good
reason, to do the repair within the target time we usually give. You can ask us to
appoint another contractor to complete the repair at no cost to you. If this does not
result in the repair being completed, you will be entitled to compensation. Please call
Customer Service if you require any further information.
6
i
The right to be consulted
You have the right to be consulted about changes to our housing policies or the way
we manage your home which are likely to affect you. We actively want you to be
involved in this. Section eight of this handbook explains the different ways in which
you can become involved with us when we review and make decisions about our
services. Our involvement statement sets out the different ways in which you can
become involved with us.
j
The right to information
You have the right to ask for and receive information from us about the terms of your
tenancy and about our responsibilities and policies.
k
The right to transfer or exchange your tenancy
You have the right to pass your tenancy to someone else by exchanging it. This could
be to:
•
another joint tenant; or
•
a family member who has lived with you permanently for at least the last 12
months.
If you have a joint tenancy and one tenant leaves - perhaps because of a relationship
breakdown - both tenants are still fully responsible for the tenancy, including rent
payments, unless the tenancy is transferred to the remaining tenant, or ended. You
must never give your tenancy to someone else without first getting our permission. If
you leave your home, we will treat anyone left in the property as an ‘unlawful occupier’
unless they have a legal right to the tenancy.
You have the right to exchange your home (if you have our permission) with another
of our tenants, or with the tenant of another registered social landlord. We can only
refuse you this right if:
•
you have broken your tenancy conditions;
•
the exchange would lead to your home becoming over or under occupied; or
•
the property was adapted for a disabled person to us.
To find out more about exchanging your home, see section three.
l
The right to succeed
This is the right to pass your tenancy on to someone else when you die. You can pass
your tenancy on to your partner or a family member, if the property is their main
or only home. If the tenancy does not go to your partner, we may give our written
agreement for another member of your family to get the tenancy if they have lived
with you for at least the last 12 months. They must apply to us within four weeks of
your death if they want to succeed to your tenancy. If there is a dispute about who
should get the tenancy and family members cannot come to an agreement, we can
decide who the new tenant will be.
If the tenant dies and you live in special accommodation for which you are not eligible,
such as a bungalow for the disabled, we may require you to move to another property
to make that home available for somebody who is eligible for it.
If you succeed to a property which is much larger than you need, for example, a
single person succeeding to a three bedroom house, we may require you to move
to somewhere more suited to your family size. If you have any questions about
your right to succeed, please contact us on 0800 316 0897. We will consider all
applications sympathetically.
6
m
Data protection
Personal information is information relating to a living individual who can be identified
from that information. For example, your name, date of birth or email address. Two
Rivers Housing will only keep information about you which is relevant to the services
we provide such as your telephone number so we can contact you, or your Direct Debit
details so we can charge rent if you pay your rent that way.
When you take on a new home with us, we will ask you to complete one of our
Customer Census forms. Even if you are already a tenant with us and are simply
transferring into a new home, we will ask you to complete a new form to make sure our
information is up-to-date.
Sometimes individuals or other organisations such as referral agencies, government
bodies or past landlords will also give us some personal information relating to you.
However we only collect information that is accurate, necessary and appropriate to
provide our services. You can refuse to give us information, but this may prevent us
from delivering our services and meeting our obligations to you.
There are many controls in place for keeping
our records secure. Most data is stored in IT
systems which only allow access by specific
staff and for limited purposes. Security of our
systems is taken seriously and all staff are trained
appropriately in data protection.
Whenever any of your personal details change
or if you believe that we have made a mistake,
please contact us.
a
Our promise to you
When we are dealing with a complaint, we will look to see if we need to review any of
our procedures or services as a result. We will also make sure that we:
•
deal with your complaint within 10 working
days of receiving it;
•
keep you up-to-date with our progress as
appropriate;
•
keep a record of your complaint; and
•
are polite and helpful
If you do not give us a name when you make a
complaint, we will still consider your complaint
and will take appropriate action depending on the circumstance.
If we have made a mistake, we will acknowledge this and apologise. We will also make
sure, whenever possible, that it does not happen again. However, we have the right to
deal differently with complaints that are pursued unreasonably.
b
How to make a compliment or complaint
We are always happy to receive feedback from anyone who uses our services so
that we can monitor our standards. We keep a record of all the complaints and
compliments we receive as we are constantly looking at ways to improve. We value
what you think, even if it is a complaint, as both positive and negative feedback is
extremely useful to us.
c
Who can comment on or complain about our services?
Anyone who uses our services can comment on or complain about them.
7
d
What are compliments and complaints?
To us, a compliment is any sort of praise and a complaint is when people tell us they
are not satisfied with our services.
e
Why should I bother to make a compliment or complaint?
If you don’t tell us what you are thinking or how you feel about our services, we cannot
look at how we can keep improving our policies and procedures or keep doing things
which you think we are doing well. You can make a comment or complaint about
services we provide and the way we deliver them.
f
Will anything happen if I make a compliant?
If we have made a mistake or are at fault, we will acknowledge this and do our best to
put the situation right.
If we can use your remarks to change or improve our services, we will try to do so.
g
How do I comment or complain?
You can make a comment or complaint:
•
In writing;
•
By phone;
•
In person;
•
By email; or
•
Via our website www.tworivershousing.org.uk
h
What happens next, if I make a complaint?
We have a set procedure for dealing with complaints.
Stage one
Within three working days of us receiving your complaint you will normally get an
acknowledgement from us. The acknowledgement will also tell you the name of the
person dealing with your complaint.
You should normally receive a full response within 10 working days of when you first
contact us. We hope that we can sort out most complaints at this stage.
Stage two
If you are not happy with what we have told you, you can take the matter further by
contacting us within 20 working days of receiving our initial response. In order for you
to escalate this matter to stage two, you will need to ensure that you:
•
provide us with sufficient and clear reasons why you do not believe we have met
our policies and service standards; and
•
explain what you would like us to do.
It will not be sufficient to only indicate that you disagree with the decision or are
unhappy with it, you must provide an adequate reason or you will not be able to move
the complaint onto stage two.
We will acknowledge your request within three working days, if you are able to provide
the above information. The acknowledgement will tell you the name of the Director
dealing with your complaint and when we will be contacting you again. You will
normally receive a decision from the Director within 10 working days of us receiving
your comments.
7
Stage three
If you still believe we have not met our policies or service standards, you can take
the matter further by contacting us within 20 working days of receiving our stage
two decision and giving adequate reason why you think it is unresolved. We will
acknowledge your escalation request within three working days.
Your request to escalate your complaint to stage three must indicate how we have not
met our policies or service standards and will not be considered if it only amounts to
an expression of dissatisfaction or disagreement. If you have provided the required
information for the stage three panel to consider, we will hold a hearing before a panel
of four people (three of the panel members will be from the Board, together with the
Chief Executive), so that they can consider your complaint. Their role is to check that
policies and procedures have been followed and service standards met, but not to
undertake a full investigation into your complaint. At a mutually convenient time, you
will have the opportunity to meet the panel to discuss the matter. You are able to bring
someone with you to the panel hearing. This could be a friend or a relative but not a
legal representative, such as a solicitor. If you are bringing someone with you, please
let us know at least three days before the hearing date. We will need to know their
name and relation to you.
You will receive the panel’s decision within five working days of the hearing.
If you remain disatisfied that we have not met our policy or service standard and wish
to pursue your complaint you have two options. You can wait the eight weeks required
before contacting the Housing Ombudsman after the stage three response or you can
approach a ‘Designated Person’ who can approach Two Rivers Housing on your behalf
to try to resolve the matter. The Designated Person must be one of the following:
•
A Local Councillor.
•
A Member of Parliament.
•
The Designated Tenant Panel.
The Designated Tenant Panel
The Designated Tenant Panel is a group of trained tenants who have volunteered to
be on the panel and will evaluate the complaint. The panel will hold a preliminary
evaluation meeting within 10 working days of the complaint being received by
the members and may ask for more information from Two Rivers Housing or the
complainant. Three panel members will then be chosen to conduct the secondary
evaluation, where the panel will discuss the complaint with the complainant and
relevant members of Two Rivers Housing staff, separately if appropriate. A decision will
be made within five working days of the secondary evaluation meeting and the panel
will make recommendations to Two Rivers Housing or refer the complaint to the
Housing Ombudsman.
Housing Ombudsman
If you are still not satisfied with the way we have dealt with your complaint after going
through the complaints appeal stages, you may refer your complaint to the Housing
Ombudsman. This must be at least eight weeks after the stage three response. Within
this time, complainants can approach a ‘Designated Person’ who can approach Two
Rivers on their behalf.
You can contact the Housing Ombudsman directly at:
The Housing Ombudsman Service
81 Aldwych, London WC2B 4HN
Phone: 0845 7125 973
Email: [email protected]
7
We believe that involving tenants and residents is important
in developing communities and helping individuals to value
the area in which they live. We have developed a community
involvement policy which sets out our aims. You can find it
on our website www.tworivershousing.org.uk or you can
request a copy by calling 0800 316 0897.
Why do you want to get involved?
We know that involving you is vital to delivering
responsive, efficient and effective services. We
also believe that involving you plays a significant
role in developing communities and helping
individuals to value their communities and the
environment in which they live.
Why should I get involved?
If you don’t tell us what you think, we can’t take account of your views. Although we
are your landlord, we are managing your home - you are the person living there and
this is why we believe that you should be the one having a say about what needs to be
done to your home or in your local community.
a
Formal opportunities for getting involved
Board membership
The responsibility for the management of Two Rivers Housing lies with the Board of
Management. All non-executive Board members are volunteers who bring a variety
of skills and knowledge to the organisation. Two places on the Board are for tenant
volunteers.
Resident Scruity Group
The Resident Scruity Group (RSG) is a group of residents who undertake a range
of scruity activities and in-depth investigations of services and use the findings to
challenge and shape the activities of senior staff and the Board. Currently the RSG
scrutinises two service areas per year.
HomePlus Forum
The HomePlus Forum is a group for tenants who live in our schemes to discuss issues
faced by those in housing for older people. Each scheme can have a member on the
Forum.
Service Improvement Groups (SIGs)
The Two Rivers Housing Neighbourhood team is committed to improving the services
we provide to you. The Service Improvement Groups look at various aspects of the
service and help us to identify areas for improvement. We are looking for tenants to
join these groups.
Two Rivers Initiatives
Two Rivers Initiatives support projects that improve and build Two Rivers communities
and encourage residents to get involved in making important changes in their
neighbourhoods. Two Rivers Initatives help communities to start local projects. For
example, creating community gardens, allotments, and multi-use play areas. Two
Rivers Initiatives can also help strengthen existing community focused projects
and organisations by assisting with project management and completing funding
applications.
Proof Reading Group
The Proof Reading Group makes sure our leaflets and documents are easy to
understand and include all the information tenants and leaseholders need to know.
Estate walkabouts
We have a rolling programme of estate walkabouts, taking us to every estate every
three months. Estate walkabouts provide a great opportunity for you to meet your
Neighbourhood Housing Advisor and people from other local agencies such as the
police, street wardens and local councillors. You’ll have a chance to highlight issues in
your neighbourhood and discuss ways of resolving them.
Grass cutting monitor
Throughout the season (April to September) grass
cutting monitors are telephoned once a month to
complete a short survey about their satisfaction
with the grass cutting service. The grass cutting
monitors help us to ensure the grass cutting
contractor is giving residents the service we
expect.
Community groups
We support community groups in a number of
ways. You can apply for a grant from us, as long as you meet our conditions.
Area surgeries
We hold these surgeries (meetings) regularly across the area where we work so that
you can speak to a member of our staff face-to-face.
Focus groups
We use focus groups to discuss issue we face, usually with a random
selection of our tenants.
Support and training
We can offer you training and support in the skills you want to help you get the best
out of your involvement with us.
Mystery shopping
We are always looking for new mystery shoppers to help us monitor the services we
provide.
If you would like to get involved or would like further information, please contact the
Community Involvement Co-ordinator on 0800 316 0897.
b
Informal opportunities for getting involved
We recognise that many of you do not want to take part in formal ways of becoming
involved. We also have a range of other ways to make sure that we gather your views.
Surveys
Below are some examples:
•
STAR survey - we carry this out every two years and ask for your feedback on all of
our services.
•
New tenants’ survey - if you are new to us, we will ask you to comment on the
service you received after moving into your home.
•
Disabled adaptations survey - if you have had an adaptation, we will ask you to
comment on the service you have received.
•
Repairs satisfaction survey - we ask a number of you for your comments on the
repairs service you have received.
•
Improvements survey - if you have had improvement work carried out, we will ask
you for your comments on the service you have received and the improvement
itself.
•
New-build survey - we will ask you for your feedback on our service six months
after moving into your new home.
Newsletter
We send out our newsletter, Tenant Topics, four times a year to everyone, either
through the post or by email.
We have a panel of editors and would like more of you to become involved in
producing the newsletter.
If you want to know more about any of the above opportunities for getting involved,
please contact our Community Involvement Co-ordinator on 0800 316 0897.
The Tenant Participation Advisory Service (TPAS) is an independent tenant-run
organisation which advises and trains tenants to help them get the most out of their
involvement opportunities. You can contact them on 0161 88 3500 or on their
website at www.tpas.org.uk.
Gloucestershire Police
www.gloucestershire.police.uk
In an emergency, dial 999 or 112
At other times, contact the call centre on: 0845 090 1234
Minicom or Type talk: 01452 74123
Crimestoppers: 0800 555 111
Emergency numbers 999 or 112
Police, fire or ambulance.
Either number will get to the emergency operator.
Then ask for the service you need.
If you smell gas, ring Transco on 0800 111 999
Local authorities
(Contact your local authority for details of
your local parish council, local councillor,
refuse and recycling, housing benefit,
council tax, education and planning)
Cheltenham Borough Council
Herefordshire Council
www.cheltenham.gov.uk
www.herefordshire.gov.uk
01242 262626
01432 260500
[email protected]
Malvern Hills District Council
Cotswold District Council
www.malvernhills.gov.uk
www.cotswold.gov.uk
01684 862151
01285 623000
[email protected]
[email protected]
Stroud District Council
Forest of Dean District Council
www.stroud.gov.uk
www.fdean.gov.uk
01453 766321
01594 810000
[email protected]
[email protected]
Tewkesbury Borough Council
Gloucester City Council
www.tewkesburybc.gov.uk
www.gloucester.gov.uk
01684 295010
01452 396396
[email protected]
[email protected]
Gloucestershire County Council
www.gloucestershire.gov.uk
01242 425000
[email protected]
Social care services
Citizens advice
Gloucestershire County Council social
Gloucestershire
care services
01452 527202
www.gloucestershire.gov.uk
[email protected]
helpdesk for adults
Forest of Dean
01452 426868
01594 823937
[email protected]
Herefordshire
helpdesk for children and families
0844 8269680
01452 426565
[email protected]
[email protected] Malvern
Community and adult care, children and
01684 563611
young people, health and social care
[email protected]
Cheltenham: 01242 523500
Stroud
Cotswolds: 01285 881000
0808 8000510
Forest of Dean: 01594 820500
Tewkesbury
Gloucester: 01452 426000
01452 527202
Stroud: 0300 421 6600
Tewkesbury: 01452 328200
Victim support
www.victimsupport.org.uk
Herefordshire Council social care
services
www.herefordshire.gov.uk
01432 261666
0808 1689111
Residential property tribunal
service
[email protected] www.gov.uk/housing-tribunals
gcsx.gov.uk
Gloucestershire
01243 779394
Worcestershire Council social care [email protected]
services
Herefordshire
www.worcestershire.gov.uk
0121 681 3084
0845 607 2000
[email protected]
[email protected]
Jobcentre Plus
Water emergency numbers
www.gov.uk/contract-jobcentre-plus
OFWAT
0345 604 3719
www.ofwat.gov.uk
0121 644 7500
Drug and alcohol advisory
services in Gloucestershire
[email protected]
www.turning-point.co.uk
www.stwater.co.uk
0300 123 1512
0800 7834444
Severn Trent
Welsh Water
Domestic violence
www.dwrcymru.com
Gloucestershire Domestic Abuse Support
0800 052 0145
Service
www.gdass.org.uk
0845 602 9035
[email protected]
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