The Trust. Tenancy Management Policy. Neighbourhood Team. Draft: Final. Effective Date: February Affected Teams: All

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1 The Trust Tenancy Management Policy Neighbourhood Team Draft: Final Effective Date: February 2015 Affected Teams: All Peaks & Plains Tenancy Management Policy February 2015 Page 1 of 12

2 TABLE OF CONTENTS 1 POLICY STATEMENT LEGISLATION, REGULATION AND GUIDANCE METHOD SERVICE STANDARDS THE TENANCY AGREEMENT ROUTINE VISITS CHANGES TO THE TENANCY TENANCY SUPPORT PAYING RENT INSURANCE ADAPTATIONS ABANDONMENT ALTERATIONS TO THE PROPERTY PETS RESPONSIBILITIES CONSULTATION REVIEW RELATED POLICIES POLICY INFORMATION Peaks & Plains Tenancy Management Policy February 2015 Page 2 of 12

3 1 POLICY STATEMENT 1.1 Peaks & Plains Housing Trust (the Trust) is committed to supporting and developing sustainable communities through the provision of efficient and effective tenancy management services. 1.2 The Trust recognises the importance of effective tenancy management in providing homes and neighbourhoods where people aspire to live, and understands that well managed tenancies can provide a positive impact on the wider community. 1.3 Our approach to tenancy management is to support our customers to successfully sustain their tenancies. We understand that if the customer is not provided with appropriate support, there is a risk that the tenancy will be ended either by the customer because they are unable to cope, or by the Trust for breach of tenancy. We recognise that by creating an understanding of the terms of the tenancy, and identifying any support requirements from the start of the tenancy, we can prevent breach of tenancy and work together with our customers to provide support and advice throughout the tenancy. 1.4 We understand that some customers may find it difficult to sustain their tenancy, and we will identify and support vulnerable tenants so that they receive the advice and support required to successfully manage their tenancy. We will work closely with other support agencies such as social services to ensure support needs are met. Further details on the Trust s approach to supporting customers are available in our Equality and Diversity Policy. 1.5 We will always work to support and sustain, rather than end a tenancy where the agreement has been breached. The Trust is committed to ensuring that good tenancy relations are maintained within all of its neighbourhoods, and will take action to end the tenancy where there remains a clear breach of the tenancy agreement, despite sufficient support provided by the Trust and other agencies to enable the tenant to remedy the breach. 1.6 The Trust will ensure that all tenants are aware of their rights and responsibilities, and the service they can expect of the Trust. The Trust will ensure that all tenants rights and responsibilities, and landlord s duties will be exercised in compliance with relevant legislation, regulation and statutory guidance and the tenancy agreement. 1.7 The Tenancy Management Policy outlines our principles and approach to tenancy management. There are a range of policies that are also specific to tenancy management, please refer to related policies on page 10. Peaks & Plains Tenancy Management Policy February 2015 Page 3 of 12

4 2 LEGISLATION, REGULATION AND GUIDANCE The following legislation, regulation guidelines, and guidance apply to this policy: Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 Protection from Eviction Act 1977 Housing Act 1985, 88, 96 Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 Housing Act 1988 Housing Act 1996 Family Law Act 1996 Human Rights Act 1998 Housing Act 1996 Civil Partnership Act 2004 Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003 Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 Housing and Regeneration Act 2008 Localism Act 2012 Guidance: Regulatory Code and Guidance from the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) CRE Code of Practice on Racial Equality in Housing 3 METHOD 3.1 Tenancy Management is the responsibility of the Neighbourhood, Safer Communities, Tenancy Support and Income Teams. The key areas of activity for each team are defined below: 3.2 Neighbourhood Team Managing tenancies through tenancy agreements and permissions for works to be carried out Facilitate Decants for major works Dealing with the Mutual Exchanges, Assignments and Successions Boundary issues Carrying out 2 week consultations and 2 month, 8 month, 5 year and other tenancy visits Low level anti-social behaviour and minor neighbour disputes Work with other agencies to deliver the family focus strategy Engage with Communities Assist with abandonment and end of tenancy process Attend case conferences and other meetings relating to children or vulnerable adults 3.3 Safer Communities Team High level and serious anti-social behaviour cases Other breaches of tenancy Take legal action in line with the procedure Peaks & Plains Tenancy Management Policy February 2015 Page 4 of 12

5 Visit customers at home to tackle breach of tenancy Provide support to witnessesattend case conferences and other meetings relating to children or vulnerable adults Work with Police and other agencies Attend Public Protection meetings Provide support in reported cases of Domestic Abuse Legal work and statement production Right to buy and Right to Acquire Leashold Section 20 consultation 3.4 Tenancy Support Maximise income Debt negotiation between customers and creditors Help with benefit claims Debt Relief Orders Accessing grants & Trust funds to assist customers where necessary Liaison with multi agencies such as Citizens Advice Bureau, Social Services, Mental Health Teams Floating support New Tenancy Support for new customers Assistance with downsizing to smaller properties due to the effects of welfare reform Fuel poverty advice and support Fresh Start Attend case conferences for vulnerable adults, families and children Assist customers to gain education, voluntary and employment status 3.5 Income Maximise income Collect rents for dwellings and garages Agree repayment plans Visit customers at home to discuss their rent arrears Take legal action in line with the procedure Attend evictions and Court Hearings Assist and provide support to customers when dealing with Housing Benefit, Income Support, Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and Tax Credits Liaise with Citizens Advice Bureau 3.6 The Trust has developed a family focus startegy with a clear process for housing management staff to ensure we provide a clear and consistent approach to managing tenancies and supporting customers. Peaks & Plains Tenancy Management Policy February 2015 Page 5 of 12

6 4 SERVICE STANDARDS 4.1 The Trust has introduced the following service standards to measure the performance of our Tenancy Management Service: 4.2 Every new customer will receive advice on and a copy of the tenancy agreement, advice on Housing Benefits and Home Contents Insurance, a tenants handbook, and a copy of our Plain Speaking newsletter at sign up. 4.3 Every new customer will receive an appointment for a new tenancy visit within 2 months from the start of the tenancy. 4.4 Every household will receive an appointment and a routine visit once every 5 years to check property and discuss any issues 4.4 An appointment will be made with new customers to review the starter tenancy at 8 months before granting an assured or affordable rent tenancy, this will include a home visit. 4.5 Customers will receive an appointment for a home visit when the Trust is informed that a customer wishes to end their tenancy. 4.6 All requests to change tenancy details will be acknowledged and responded to within 5 working days. 4.7 All mutual exchanges will be processed and a decision will be issued within 42 days of receiving an application. 4.8 The Trust does not permit sub-letting in any of its properties. 4.9 The Trust will respond to written request to carry out alterations to homes within 5 days, and will not withhold permission unreasonably. 5 THE TENANCY AGREEMENT 5.1 The Trust will use the terms of the tenancy agreement to manage tenancies and address any breach of tenancy. The tenancy agreement clearly states the rights and responsibilities of the Trust and the Tenant(s). The Trust operates a capital holdings limit of 16,000 and an income cap of 50,000 using the common financial statement where appropriate. Where a household exceeds either limit a tenancy will not be offered. Sheltered Housing and allocations based on medical need will be excluded from the 16,000 capital holdings & 50,000 income cap. Peaks & Plains Tenancy Management Policy February 2015 Page 6 of 12

7 5.2 Starter Tenancy (Assured Shorthold Tenancies) The starter tenancy is a probationary tenancy which runs for the first 12 months of all new tenancies. The tenancy will automatically convert to an assured tenancy on the 12 month anniversary of the tenancy, providing that legal action has not been taken to end the tenancy or extend the probationary period for a further 6 months On affordable rent tenancies a visit will be made at 8 months to discuss granting an affordable rent tenancy for a 5 year term providing that legal action has not been taken to end the tenancy or extend the probationary period for a further 6 months All new tenants will be met at sign up by their Neighbourhood Officer or contacted within 2 weeks to discuss how they are settling in. All new tenants will receive an appointment for a new tenancy visit within 2 months of their tenancy. This visit is to ensure the customer has settled into their new home, and to offer support and advice on any tenancy issues, such as payment of rent. Based on the risk assessment prior to sign up, the tenant may be offered extra support from a New Tenancy Support Officer in addition to that of a Neighbourhood Officer for a short period to help them get the best start to their tenancy. In addition New customers can request this if they need it within 8 weeks of signing the tenancy agreement All new tenants will receive a further visit when their tenancy is 8 months old. At the 8 month visit, tenants who have maintained their tenancy in accordance with the Tenancy Agreement will be advised that their tenancy will convert to an assured tenancy on the 12 month anniversary. Tenants who have breached the Tenancy Agreement may be served a Notice of Seeking Possession or a Section 21 notice to begin proceedings to end the tenancy at the 8 month visit The Trust will provide all new tenants with a copy of the Tenancy Agreement prior to the start of their tenancy. New tenants have the opportunity to thoroughly read the tenancy agreement and ask any questions during the sign up process, before they sign the tenancy agreement. The New Tenancy Officer will ask the new tenant to confirm that they have understood the terms of the tenancy agreement before they sign the tenancy agreement. The New Tenancy Officer will also explain how the Trust will address any breach of tenancy. New tenants will be given advice and assistance in completing Housing Benefit applications at the sign up. Information is provided in a variety of ways to meet individual tenants needs, including the Tenancy Agreement, the Tenants Handbook and our website/social media. All new tenants will receive a tenants handbook which compliments the tenancy agreement and provides information and advice to assist on many aspects of managing the tenancy. All documents and information provided are available in different formats and languages Starter tenancies will be managed effectively so that we can end the starter tenancy of the small minority of tenants who fail to manage their tenancy successfully, despite having received appropriate advice and support. Peaks & Plains Tenancy Management Policy February 2015 Page 7 of 12

8 5.3 Assured (Protected) Tenancy This tenancy relates to tenants who have transferred to the Trust following the Large Scale Voluntary Transfer process and enjoy preserved rights that existed with the previous Tenancy Agreement. 5.4 Assured Tenancy This relates to tenants who have successfully completed the 12 month probationary starter tenancy. 5.5 Affordable Rent Tenancies These tenancies are provided at a market rent for a an initial period of 12 months (probationary) tenancy and on satisfactory completion of the probationary period a 5 year fixed term tenancy will be offered Once our customer has been issued with a probationary tenancy, it is monitored very closely and all customers will receive at least two visits within the first year. The first 8 months prior to the end of the affordable rent tenancy (Tenancy wellbeing review) and the second 6 months prior to the end of the affordable rent tenancy. These visits form a 2 way communication between the Neighbourhood Officer and the customer, giving the opportunity for each party to share any concerns regarding the tenancy. At each of these visits the Neighbourhood Officer will ensure that the customer is reminded of the process of progressing to an Affordable Fixed Term Tenancy (5 years) Those over 55 years of age who live in Sheltered and older persons accommodation will be awarded an affordable tenancy for a lifetime term upon satisfactory completion of their 12 month probationary tenancy. 5.6 Garage Tenancy This relates to any customer that rents a garage from the Trust. 6 ROUTINE VISITS 6.1 To manage tenancy types effectively the Trust will complete a routine visit to each tenant s home once every 5 years. The routine visit provides the opportunity to engage with our customers, discuss tenancy rights and responsibilities, and promote customer involvement opportunities. 6.2 The routine visit will confirm any changes to the household, and will help us to understand our customer profile and influence service provision and delivery. The visit will also identify incidents of overcrowding, under occupation, unauthorised occupation, and can identify whether additional tenancy support is needed. Peaks & Plains Tenancy Management Policy February 2015 Page 8 of 12

9 6.3.1 The Trust will give reasonable notice in writing to arrange the routine visit. Where access to the property is refused or denied, the Trust will investigate further and may take appropriate legal action to carry out the routine visit; this could be by means of an injunction or a Notice of Seeking Possession if absolutely necessary The Trust will ensure that risk assessments are undertaken prior to each routine visit to ensure the safety of staff when onsite. 7 CHANGES TO THE TENANCY 7.1 Succession - A succession may occur after a tenant has died and where another individual may have the right to take over the tenancy. Rights of succession are detailed in the tenancy agreement and the Trust s Assignment and Succession Policy. 7.2 Assignment - The Trust may provide permission for tenants to assign their tenancy to anyone who would be able to take on the tenancy by succession. Rights of assignment are detailed in the Trust s Assignment and Succession Policy and Mutual Exchange Policy. 7.3 Mutual Exchange - Tenants of the Trust have the right to exchange tenancies with other tenants of Councils or Housing Associations, this is detailed in the Mutual Exchange Policy. The Trust is committed to promoting mutual exchanges and will assist tenants seeking alternative accommodation in this way by providing access to Swap and Move. 8 TENANCY SUPPORT 8.1 The Trust ensures that all new tenants receive a home visit, during which a risk assessment will be completed to identify any support requirements, where the need for additional support is recognised, the Trust will ensure that the appropriate support is in place at the start of the tenancy. 8.2 The Trust will work in partnership with other support agencies such as the Health Authority and Social Services to help deliver appropriate support for vulnerable customers who need assistance to sustain their tenancy. 8.3 The Trust provides a Floating Support Service and New Tenancy Support to assist vulnerable tenants on a short term basis with moving in and setting up their first tenancy, or maintaining an existing tenancy. 8.4 The Trust also employs officers who can provide free, confidential, independent advice and assistance on all welfare benefits, debt management and income maximisation to its customers. Peaks & Plains Tenancy Management Policy February 2015 Page 9 of 12

10 5 The Trust allows our customers the freedom to live independently. The service is available 24 hours a day, every day of the year. 9 PAYING RENT 9.1 It is important that tenants understand the importance of paying their rent on time. Our Income Team will work with tenants who are in arrears to agree re-payments plan, at an early stage, and advise tenants on the methods of payment available to them. If tenants continue to fail to make regular payments, the Trust will use the terms of the Tenancy Agreement to end the tenancy. Information on methods of payment is included in the Tenants Handbook. The Trust manages rent arrears through our Rent Collection and Arrears Management Policy. 10 INSURANCE 10.1 The Trust strongly advises all tenants to take out contents insurance which is appropriate to a tenants need. Tenants are advised of the importance of contents insurance during the sign up process, and are advised that the Trust will not be responsible for any damage to their own belongings. The Trust can provide information on a low cost contents insurance scheme available to the Trusts tenants and leaseholders. 11 ADAPTATIONS 11.1 The Trust will work to support those customers wishing to remain in their home, when their requirements have changed due to illness or disability. It is understood that tenants may require alterations to promote independence, greater safety and mobility. The Trust has an Adaptation Policy and information leaflet that provide information of the adaptations available. 12 ABANDONMENT 12.1 It is important to the Trust that abandoned tenancies are identified at an early stage, so that we can make effective use of our properties and re-let the property efficiently. Abandoned properties should be reported to the Neighbourhood Team Where the Trust believes that a property may be abandoned, we will ensure that the property is visited within 24 hours of the report. We will establish, as far as is reasonable, that a property has been permanently abandoned and where appropriate take action to end the tenancy The Trust understands that tenants may be away from their homes for an extended period of time, it is important that customers inform the Trust if they are or expect to be absent from their home for 28 days or more. Peaks & Plains Tenancy Management Policy February 2015 Page 10 of 12

11 13 ALTERATIONS TO THE PROPERTY 13.1 We understand that tenants may wish to improve or alter their home to meet their own preferences or needs. Assured tenants have the right to make improvements, alterations and additions to their home. We will not unreasonably refuse permission for a tenant to carry out alternations or improvements, providing the work is undertaken in accordance with the terms and conditions set out in the tenancy agreement. 14 PETS 14.1 The Trust recognises that many of our tenants wish to keep pets. We understand that if pets are not cared for, or controlled appropriately, that they can cause nuisance to other residents and visitors to the property. We also recognise that some types of property are unsuitable for keeping pets, it is important that tenants are aware of the domestic animals they are able to keep. Please refer to our Pet Policy. 15 RESPONSIBILITIES 15.1 The Assistant Director of Housing Services will be responsible for the effective implementation of this policy The Assistant Director of Housing Services is responsible for ensuring that all staff are aware of and appropriately trained in the Trust s procedures relating to tenancy management. 16 CONSULTATION 16.1 The Director of Operations will ensure that this policy continues to be developed and improved by consulting with tenants and community groups, as well as voluntary agencies and statutory agencies. Any consultation will be in accordance with the Trust s Resident Involvement Policy which states that the Trust is committed to allowing tenants and customers the greatest possible say in the services they receive from the Trust. 17 REVIEW 17.1 The Trust will monitor the effectiveness and implementation of this policy to ensure that it achieves its aims of managing and sustaining tenancies. Peaks & Plains Tenancy Management Policy February 2015 Page 11 of 12

12 18 RELATED POLICIES Adaptation Policy Anti Social Behaviour Policy Compensation Policy Complaints and Compliments Policy Customer Experience Policy Domestic Abuse Policy Equality and Diversity Policy Estate Management Policy Garages and Parking Policy Gas Safety Policy Harassment Policy Hate Crime Policy Pet Policy Mutual Exchange Policy Rechargeable Repairs Policy Relationship Breakdown Policy Rent Collections and Arrears Policy Assignment and Succession Policy Void Management Policy 19 POLICY INFORMATION Policy Name: Status: Approved by: Drafted By: Tenancy Management Policy Approved EMT Chris Mairs Date approved: February 2015 Next Review Date: February 2017 Peaks & Plains Tenancy Management Policy February 2015 Page 12 of 12

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