2 General news Charter Housing App for download You can now download a free Charter Housing app for your smart phone from Google Play or the Apple Store. You can use this app to request and arrange household repairs with Charter as well as reporting other issues on your estate or in your street. Just tap the Contact Charter icon and the app lets you take a picture of the problem and send it direct to us saying when you will be available for a Charter member of staff or one of our repairs team to call and see you. Tap the Contact Council icon and the app also lets you report problems direct to your local council. For example, if you have a street light not working, a dumped car, or a big pothole in the road, you can take a picture of the problem and send it off. There are other items under More Services. Tap the icon and you will find information on the range of services Charter provides. Plus, Looking Local services such as: Job Centre Plus for jobs, Transport Direct for train times GP Services booking appointments and renewing prescription at participating GP surgeries NHS Choices for health information Money Advice Service for benefits information and moneysaving tips The App also gives you a list of other nearby services that you might want to contact such as local police, other housing organisations and councils. Scan for Google Play Scan for Iphone Moneybox winners Congratulations to... Mr Simpson, from Newport and Mrs Savill, from Cwmbran who won last edition s competition. They are both now proud owners of a Kindle Fire HD! I Contact Summer 2013
3 Welcome to the summer edition of Contact magazine Get in contact Our address: Charter Housing Association, Exchange House, High Street, Newport, NP20 1AA Tel: Fax: Our office on the High Street in Newport is open 8.30am to 5pm Monday to Thursday and 8.30am to 4.30pm on Friday As well as writing to Charter you can now get in touch with us on Facebook. Like our page to keep up to date with community activities, chances to comment on Charter services and issues that may affect you. charterhousing You can also follow us on or see what our Tenant Participation Manager, Ruth Davies, is up Our out of hours maintenance number is Or visit us at If you have a great idea on a topic we should cover in the next edition please let us know. Submit your ideas or articles by post to the address above, call or Welcome to the summer edition of Contact magazine, which contains a wide variety of information on topics that will hopefully be informative and interesting, that s the aim anyway! We ve had some brilliant news recently here at Charter. Along with Gingerbread, the single parent family charity, we ve managed to get over 950,000 in grant funding from the Big Lottery Fund Wales! The funding will mean that over the next 5 years we can work with Gingerbread and young single parents living in a Charter home to help support them to develop their skills and ultimately to find a job that suits them. We re delighted to be working with a fantastic organisation like Gingerbread on this project so that we can do more to help our younger tenants and their children. We ve also got information inside about our MyPad project, which also works with young people, and which gives practical advice to help them set up their first home. It offers a series of sessions covering things like budgeting and the responsibilities that come with having a tenancy. We re doing this in partnership with Newport Council and other local Housing Associations, and we were delighted when MyPad recently won an award from TPAS (Tenant Participation Advisory Service) for improving services through working with young people. Two of the young people who ve been involved in MyPad stood up and talked in front of 60 people as part of the project launch in May, that s a major achievement for anyone let alone two such young people, a big well done to them! On a not so positive note, we are very conscious that changes to the benefits that people get as part of the Government Welfare Reform agenda are starting to have a real impact on a number of you. In particular, the reduction in Housing Benefit to tenants considered to have a spare bedroom or bedrooms is causing real difficulties for a number of our tenants, and although the majority of you affected are managing to pay the difference, moving home is going to be the only realistic option for some, and we know that that isn t going to be easy. Trying to find another tenant who could swap homes with you if you need to move may provide the answer in helping you find something more suitable. We tell you more inside about how you could find a mutual exchange with another tenant if you need to move to something smaller. Also inside is an update on our planned programmes for new kitchens e.t.c, and lots more which will help you find out more about what Charter does and the services that we offer. I hope you enjoy the various articles inside and, as ever, if there s something you think we should be telling you more about in Contact, just let us know! Contact Summer 2013 I 3
4 General news Youth Team Activities The Youth Team is now running a number of exciting projects across the Charter areas for young people 8-5 as part of their new ENGAGE & INSPIRE programmes. What is ENGAGE? Engage is a short term, one to one, outreach support and mentoring programme for Charter young people aged ENGAGE aims to build young people s confidence to enable them to make positive changes in their lives. Young people are encouraged to access longer term support in the way of our INSPIRE projects or via other outside agencies. What is INSPIRE? Inspire aims to offer a number of inspirational and exciting project based activities. Projects are open access for young people aged These projects aim to increase participation, develop skills and build long lasting trusting relationship with young people and their communities. Example of INSPIRE projects: Barrackswood Social The Bunker, Every Monday, 4pm- 8pm. Open access for young people aged A social space where young people can chill out, meet with Charter youth workers and get involved in community activities. Fairview Social Fairview Community House, Every Wednesday. Open access for young people aged Juniors aged 8-10, 4pm 5:30pm. Seniors aged 11-19, 5:30 7pm. A social space where young people can chill out, meet with Charter youth workers and get involved in community activities. Go Girls A social action group for girls aged A monthly meeting to discuss topics that affect young women. Helping to empower young women to learn about themselves, the world around them and how they can make a positive contribution through fundraising and taking part in community activities. and stand by saver plugs into tenants homes. Cycle Mania A two day taster course for young people aged 11-19, delivered out in the community, to learn about bike maintenance, first aid and how to ride a bike safely and responsibly. Day two is a half day s bike ride! All equipment is supplied free of charge. Tuned in An 8 week radio training course open to people aged 16+. A chance to learn about how radio works, develop your own radio show and gain a qualification. If you are interested in any of the projects that the youth team run please get in touch with one of the team, Sam, Kerry or Gareth on Radiate An eight week skills and training project. Open to young people aged 16-25, from the Caerphilly and Torfaen area, who are not in education, training or employment. Young people have the opportunity to gain skills, a qualification and work experience by fitting energy efficiency measures, such as radiator panels I Contact Summer 2013
5 Radiate Big Lottery funding boost for young single parents An innovative new project which will equip young single parents with essential life skills, including helping them to manage a home for the first time, has been boosted by a major lottery grant. Charter Housing has received funding from Engagement Gateway to run a fun and exciting new project called Radiate. Young people aged 16-5, from the Caerphilly and Torfaen area, who are not in education, training or employment have the opportunity to gain skills, a qualification and work experience by fitting energy efficiency measures, such as radiator panels and stand by saver plugs into tenants homes. If you are a young person, living in Caerphilly or Torfaen and would like to get involved or you are a tenant in one of these areas and you would like these energy measures fitted into your home then please contact Samantha Gerrard or Kerry Duke from the Youth Team on Charter Housing Association (part of Seren Group) and single parent family charity Gingerbread have been awarded 955,552 from the Big Lottery Fund Wales for its Growing Together project. Over a five year period, Growing Together will provide support to 240 young single parents aged 14 to 25, who are living in Charter properties across Caerphilly, Monmouthshire and Newport. Andrew Jones, Charter Projects and Partnerships Manager, said 'The young families will receive practical training and support that will help them to improve their lives and have a better future'. The Growing Together project is one of 18 projects across Wales to receive funding this week from the 14million awarded through the Big Lottery Fund s Bright New Futures Programme. The Big Lottery Fund is the largest distributor of National Lottery good cause funding across the UK. The Fund aims to enable others to make real improvements to communities and the lives of people most in need. Gingerbread is national charity providing advice and support and campaigning for single parents. Visit for more information. This is an exciting opportunity to bring together two leading organisations that can have such a positive impact on young single parents.' Chloe Lankshear, Gingerbread Business Development Manager Contact Summer 2013 I 5
6 General news Neighbourhood Issues - EXCHANGES With the introduction of the bedroom tax we understand the difficulties faced by many of our tenants who are unable to afford the increase in rent and we have also seen a recent rise in the number of exchanges we are processing. For those who aren t aware of the exchange process, it is generally straight forward and can be beneficial to all parties involved. By downsizing your property not only are you avoiding additional charges but you are also giving growing families the opportunity to make memories in family homes more suitable to their circumstance. We work with Homeswapper (www.homeswapper.com) which is a website where tenants from all different associations and boroughs throughout the UK can view potential swaps and also advertise their own properties for swaps. Homeswapper is an extremely useful tool and also free for Charter Housing Association tenants to use. We deal with exchanges on a daily basis from first applications to signing the assignment paperwork. Below is a step by step guide to what will happen with your exchange application once submitted. Paperwork is received and date stamped for reference (we cannot start the process until we have received completed forms from all persons involved). We check if the tenants (if Charter tenants) have starter tenancies and get checks on rent accounts. We then contact the tenant and arrange a property inspection. We then attend the inspection, this is usually carried out by a Surveyor and Neighbourhood Manager. The inspection normally takes around 30 minutes and we go through the property checking for health and safety issues and any other repair issues. We arrange for any work that would affect health and safety to be carried out and arrange gas and electric checks which are a legal requirement before an exchange. If there are any other repairs or damage, these will need to be put right before an exchange can take place. We always advise all parties to make their own thorough inspections of their potential new properties and arrange any works required as exchanges are always sign as seen. We are not responsible for any repairs or superficial repairs after the exchange that were present during inspection (this does not inc issues that affect Health and Safety.) If both parties are still happy to exchange we arrange the assignment paperwork and license to assign which we arrange to be signed by both parties. If one of the parties exchanging is from another association we work with them to arrange when they can sign. If anyone has any queries on exchanges or the process please contact the Neighbourhood Team on I Contact Summer 2013
7 Decorating Divas You may remember the Decorating Divas from previous features in Contact, well they are still going from strength to strength, they are still offering an affordable high quality decorating service and they have added training to their list of services. The Decorating Divas can offer: An affordable, good quality service Advice on training Work experience opportunities Tips and training schemes for lone parents Volunteering opportunities FREE training in construction For more information on what the Decorating Divas can do for you contact: David Gape Community Initiatives Officer Community Regeneration Team Tel: Mobile: David at Healthy Hearts, Healthy Hormones, Healthy Life L ynette Webbe became a Charter tenant only last November and already she has made an impact on her community. Lynette has a wide experience in helping other people from young to old and especially people with health issues and/or a disability. Lynette and her friends have started a Community Group called Healthy Hearts, Healthy Hormones, Healthy Life and one feature of this group is the establishment of an allotment in Pillgwenny that introduces young people to the fresh air and a healthy diet by growing their own fruit and vegetables. The group hopes to be cooking and eating their own produce soon. It has been good to show young people that fruit and vegetables don t just come from supermarket shelves says Lynette. Lynette and friends have also organised a Big Lunch for their neighbours and families in Pill. Look out for the photographs in our next edition. Lynette is being support by David Gape and the Working for ME project to develop her own business Cobwebbe Shaker Feelgood Maker. Lynette has suffered with poor health, but was determined to get on with her life and the therapy she chose was music and drama therapy. Such was the effect on Lynette s life and health she became a Music and Drama Therapist, gaining qualifications in Musical Therapy, Therapeutic Activities and Dementia, Promoting Mobility and Exercise and the Starhope Women s Comedy Course among many, many others. Lynette has provided therapies for Heart Matters, and formed a Heart Support Group, and also offers a Laughter Yoga therapy. If you would like to learn more about the Three H s Heart Support Group and the therapies Lynette can provide for older people and dementia sufferers then contact: David Gape Community Initiatives Officer Community Regeneration Team Tel : Mobile: David at Contact Summer 2013 I
8 General news Complaints To Charter How Are We Doing? 01/13 again saw a decrease in the number of formal complaints dealt with, a total of 10 complaints were received, compared with 1 during 011/1. Of these, 100 complaints were dealt with at stage 1 of the Complaints process, whilst seven were progressed to stage. No complaints were investigated as a result of intervention by the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales. Of these 107 complaints, 58 were dealt with within the seven working day period in which we try to respond to complaints with 49 completed outside of the seven working day period. The reasons for this are, for example: The need to speak to staff members who were away from the office Where staff needed to visit tenants homes, for example, surveyors, before a response could be provided. Awaiting information from the complainant and/or our contractors before being able to continue investigation of the complaint. Further time needed to investigate the complaint due to complexity of issues raised. Awaiting reports from specialist contractors to ascertain extent of required maintenance works. During 2012/13, there was a corresponding decrease in the number of complaints upheld, a drop from 31 during 2011/12 to 26 with Charter accepting that they hadn t got things right on these occasions. We have used these instances, and feedback provided during our customer satisfaction requests to change the way that we work. As a result of these complaints there has been additional training within our Customer Service Team to improve the service provided to our customers and improved communication with our contractors to ensure an enhanced repairs service is provided. During the year we received 18 complaints about our contractors. seven were attributed to our Plumbing/Heating contractors, Heatforce, three related to our electrical contractor, CWE, and 11 in respect of our building maintenance team. This equated to less then one complaint for every 1,000 jobs completed for each contractor. Complaints are a valuable way of learning about what our customers think of us, so we take all of them seriously. We monitor the level of satisfaction with complaint by asking two key questions related to the process and the eventual outcome. Overall, during 2012/13, respondents gave us an average of 7.13 out of 10 for satisfaction with the complaint process (an increase from 6.93 out of 10 during 2011/12) and 4.59 for satisfaction with the outcome of the complaint; a decrease from Unfortunately with some complaints, we simply cannot do or provide what a complainant has asked for, and that inevitably leads to disappointment in some cases. Diversity monitoring indicates that no particular group is less satisfied than any other. If you re unhappy in any way with the service we provide, we need you to tell us so that we can try to do something about it. On the other hand, you may think we ve got it right and if so, we d like to hear from you. We d like to hear from you! 8 I Contact Summer 2013
9 so what next? Who can complain? A complaint can be made by an individual, a group of people or an organisation personally affected by an action or failure to act by Charter. What are we doing about it! A complainant can allow a representative to make a complaint on their behalf. How can you complain? If your complaint is of a general nature, we will usually try to resolve it as soon as possible on an informal basis. However, if this fails and you wish to make a more formal complaint then you can do so in the following ways: In Writing: Send a letter outlining your complaint By Telephone: Explain the nature of your complaint and a Customer Service Advisor will take the details or pass you to someone who can help. By Send an outlining your complaint to By calling into our Exchange House offices and speaking to a member of staff. Still not happy? You have the right to take your complaint to the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales. Their Complaints Advice Team can discuss the problem with you, their role and the way that they work. The team can be contacted on A booklet outlining how the service works is available from Charter or you can contact the Ombudsman direct by writing to: The Public Service Ombudsman for Wales 1 Ffordd yr Hen Gae Pencoed CF35 5LJ 35 Satisfaction surveys have been completed by you between April 2012 and March 2013 These surveys were completed after you used one of our services such as a repair an exchange a complaint a new let a rent payment a new bathroom What have we done with this so far? Each team reviews your comments and takes action when needed This has helped build our services, so your views are taken into consideration But now we ll be looking to see if there are similar issues cropping up in different surveys Keep an eye out in the next Contact Magazine and online for updates on what we find out and most importantly What we re doing about it Or visit their web site at Contact Summer 2013 I 9
10 General news Planned Maintenance Programme Charter Maintenance has a dedicated programme of works for the coming months. What s taking place in your community? Planned maintenance is a way of completing major works such as new kitchens, bathrooms and electrical upgrades by planning the work out over months and years ahead. This programming means that we can be more cost effective and get more work done for the money available. Central Heating and Boiler upgrades - We are replacing old and inefficient back boiler units across all our housing stock. Tenants who are due to have their properties upgraded will be contacted by our Maintenance team in advance of planned work. We will discuss what the work entails, the estimated time it will take plus any choices that are available. Please call for more information What have we done to date Since March 2005 until March 2013 we have completed 15 Bathrooms 55 Kitchens, electrical upgrades and some security measures 301 Showers 108 New Boilers 1105 Loft Insulation upgrades Planned Upgrades for 013 / 01 Kitchens Samuel Salter Close and St Faiths Close, Llanfoist. Woodward Road, Risca. Roman Park View, Monmouth Nash Drive, Newport Reene Court, Newport Bideford Close, Newport and various small areas of properties. Bathrooms Coltsfoot Close, Sorrel Drive, Coriander Close, Newport St Andrews Close, Cwmbran Clos Trefin, Blackwood. Windows Bolt Close and Henry Morgan Close Newport along with several one off conservation properties Planned Upgrades for 01/ 015 Kitchens Trinity Court, Risca Nant y Rhos, Blackwood Priory Court, Cwmcarn Harlequin Drive and Court, Newport Ifton Place, Newport Longfellow Court and Betjemin Avenue, Caldicot Bathrooms Comfrey Close, Sorrel Drive and Conway Croft, Newport Completing St Andrews Close, Cwmbran. Windows Trinity Court, Pill Clement Attlee Drive, Keir Hardie Drive and Crescent, Newport Phase 1 Lord Eldon Drive, Chepstow Planned Upgrades for 015 / 016 Kitchens Courtybella Terrace and Maesglas Close, Newport The Levens, Abergavenny Maes y Coed, Blackwood Churchmead, Rogiet Blenhiem Park, Magor Cwrt Tynewydd, Newbridge Bathrooms Bolt Close, Newport Fairview, Blackwood Clos Trefin, Pontllanfraith Buchanan Close, Monmouth. Windows Clement Attlee Drive, Keir Hardie Drive and Crescent, Newport Phase 2 St Andrews Close Cwmbran. Please note - these areas are subject to change. 10 I Contact Summer 2013
12 General news Mypad Project Celebrates First Birthday With National Award The Newport-based MyPad project has celebrated its first birthday by scooping a Tenant Participation Advisory Service Cymru award for improving its services through working with young people. Three young MyPad participants, who are Charter and Solas tenants worked with Charter staff to create innovative new learning resources for the course, which was launched in May Eighteen-year-old Nathan Fletcher and 21-year-old Ben Scott, who are both from Newport, worked with MyPad project officers Kelly Major and Kate Thomas for two months to produce a short film on youth debt, and a new home handbook for young people. MyPad project assistant Aimee-Louise Hunt, who is 18 and from Maesglas, also helped the lads to prepare a presentation for MyPad s official launch in April 2013, which saw Ben and Nathan give a talk to more than 60 people. Aimee joined Charter in January 2013 on the Jobs Growth Wales 1 I Contact Summer 2013 programme; she thinks the MyPad course has had a big impact on her life. Completing MyPad made me realise that moving out at 18 is not the right step for me. Working as a MyPad project assistant has enabled me to help other young people in my previous position to make the right decisions for themselves and to give them as much information and guidance that they need on living alone for the first time. MyPad runs monthly in Newport and is delivered by Newport City Council and Supporting People, plus the city s biggest social landlords Linc-Cymru, Newport City Homes, Charter and Melin. For more information on MyPad, see Contact MyPad Co-ordinator Kelly Major on or for referrals and more information. MyPad has launched a new home hand-book for young people moving in to their first home. Created by young people for young people, MyPad s Step By Step Guide To Your First Home is available to young people who complete the Newport-based MyPad course.
13 Joining IN If you or a family member live in Torfaen or Caerphilly and have health issues or a disability then: JOIN IN if you need advice and support with your claim for ESA or DLA JOIN IN if you want more of a social life or to develop an existing or new hobby JOIN IN If you want to meet regularly for coffee or lunch JOIN IN If you want to learn new skills JOIN IN If you want to learn more about computers JOIN IN If you would like to gain a qualification and/or receive training in lots of different topics and subjects JOIN IN If you want to hear about Volunteering opportunities JOIN IN If you need help in developing work skills JOIN IN If you want support in developing a Community Group or Community Business JOIN IN If you would like support into employment or starting your own business JOIN IN If you want to meet other people If any of the above interest you - Then why not join in with a Charter Housing Project funded through Engagement Gateway called Joining IN make a change to your life by contacting: David Gape, Community Initiatives Officer Community RegenerationTeam Tel: Mobile: David at Do you need EXTRA HELP with your tenancy? People struggle to keep their tenancy for a variety of reasons. It could be benefit issues, fluctuating income, mental health, substance misuse, not understanding how actions affect the tenancy, lack of income, debt, lack of essential furniture. It can be a wide range number of complex issues that you are facing. The Tenants Solutions Support Team understand these issues and are here to help. We can help our tenants meet their needs in order they can keep their tenancy. Our support team can assist with the following: Resettlement Benefit issues Signposting or referring to external agencies to meet your support needs Accessing any grants you may be entitled to Liaising with agencies you may already be working with Refer you to Charter specialist teams for:- Debt to our as Money Savers team Complex benefits or rent arrears to our Shelter worker OK Kids Projects for young people Working for yourself and training opportunities You can refer yourself to the team by phone, the Charter website or Charter s facebook page. Call Our main objective is YOU can sustain YOUR tenancy for as long as YOU want! Contact Summer 2013 I 13
14 the team in focus NEW faces Hello my name is Claire Bridgeman. I started my secondment position as Neighbourhood Coordinator in February and have loved every day since. I enjoy meeting new people out on site and helping tenants with any issues they may have. I m working closely with the running of the communal cleaning service in some of our properties and enjoy the new challenges. I am getting married in September and realising my dream of having a big fat gypsy wedding with a hot pink and leopard print theme and supersize meringue dress. My Name is Naomi Mitcheson and I am the new Rent Solutions Manager at Charter Housing Association, I have worked in Housing as a Housing Officer since leaving University in My role at Charter allows me to help and support new and existing tenants with their rent and financial problems. In my spare time I like long walks with my dog. My name is Kate Thomas and I am 33 years young! I have been working with Charter since November 2012 I started my working life in Charter as a project officer for My Pad. It s been a very busy six months and the project has not only grown but received a TPAS award which some of the young people who have completed My Pad have been involved in. We are very proud of the award and the project which is helping to make a difference to young people s experience of living on their own. Recently my role has changed and I am now working as a tenants solutions support worker which means I still work on the My Pad but will have a strongr role of supporting the young people who may be facing some difficulties in the areas that My Pad covers. It s all quite challenging but I really enjoy working with young people and hope I can help and support them to feel confident and happy in living independently in their own homes. I play hockey for Cardiff Athletic Ladies 1st team and I love it! I love any kind of dessert or pudding with lemon in it! My name is Joseph Garner and I m a Tenant Insight Assistant. I ve been working here since January. I d been out of University since June 2012, and getting job rejection letters and s every day. I started working at Charter through the Job Growth Wales programme, which pays to put out of work people between ages 18 and 24 in part time jobs for 6 months to give them experience, and the potential for a full time position. I went into the interview (Which was actually for a different position to what I m working now) and mentioned my degree in Computer Science, and Charter decided I could be of help to their Tenant Insight Manager Alan Ward. Tenant Insight is basically making sure we know who are tenants are, and making sure they know that Charter isn t just the landlord, we re here to help. By knowing who our tenants are and what they want, we can better adjust our policies, practices and general company goals to suit the tenants needs. Since starting I ve felt a sense of purpose that was lacking when I was unemployed, and felt trusted and respected in my new position. I ve been given multiple projects to work on that provide one of the best feelings about working here, that I m actually helping people that need it. It also means that I ve worked with many different people in different parts of the company and really feel settled. Apparently my work here has been noticed, and I m being taken on full time in July. The people I ve worked with at Charter have been friendly and welcoming, and I greatly look forward to continuing to work at Charter. 1 I Contact Summer 2013
15 the environment Monmouthshire Waste Changes: From 1st July 013, Monmouth County Council will be restricting the number of residual waste bags that each household put out to two per fortnight. This is to promote waste reduction and increase recycling. The bags are grey and each home will be given 5 a year. Food recycling, red and purple bag recycling and nappy/adult hygiene collections will continue to be provided on a weekly basis, and there will be no limit on their use. If you move out of a property you must leave any bags you have to be used by the new tenants. If incoming owners/tenants do not have bags provided, they should contact MCC and cases will be dealt with on an individual basis. Nappy Waste: Monmouthshire County Council will now be providing a weekly collection for nappies on request. The collection will be provided on the same day (but weekly) as householders residual waste collection. Householders are able to register for this collection at or through contacting the One Stop Shop. Assisted Waste Collection: Elderly householders or those with a disability or medical condition, are able to apply for an assisted collection if their condition means that they are unable to carry their waste to the kerbside. Garden Waste: From 1st July 2013 the garden waste service will become a pay to use service. The changes will apply to ALL households in Monmouthshire. The service will be a bag based service, with householders paying 8 per bag that they require. There will be no limit on the number of bags residents can have There will be no charge for concessions (this is currently being discussed and may change subject to consultation). The bags provided will: be canvas bags (similar to those used presently for the garden waste service), they will have a weight in the bottom to stop them blowing away, and will be brown in colour. Contact Summer 2013 I 15
16 safer community Anti-Social Behaviour Seeking a legal solution All of our tenants sign a tenancy agreement at the beginning of their tenancy and this is a legally binding document that sets out a number of conditions that we as your landlord expect you to comply with. These agreements have changed over the years meaning that not every tenant has exactly the same obligations although the majority will be very similar. Sometimes we get reports of tenants behaving in a way that causes alarm and/or distress to their neighbours and this may be in breach of their tenancy agreement. We will normally seek to address your concerns using a variety of non-legal approaches such as warning letters and mediation. However, in a small number of complaints such approaches do not work and we may then have no option but to seek a legal resolution in the County Court. Legal Options Available to Charter So, what happens if you contact us to complain that a neighbour is causing nuisance in breach of the terms of their tenancy agreement? Our response will depend upon the severity of the behaviour but there are a variety of court orders available to us as your landlord and a summary of these is provided below. Without Notice Injunction This is an order of the court that can be applied for where there is a serious threat of violence or actual violence. An injunction will instruct the recipient to do or not to do certain things such as not to threaten a named individual. These can sometimes be obtained within a matter of hours following receipt of a complaint to provide immediate protection to complainants. The alleged perpetrator is not informed of the application and the injunction (if granted) must be served personally on him/her. A Power of Arrest can be attached to the injunction meaning that if the terms of the order are breached then he/she can be arrested by the police and brought before a County Court Judge within 24 hours of arrest. The order may tell the alleged perpetrator, for example, not to harass or intimidate named individuals. A further court hearing will be listed to give the alleged perpetrator the opportunity to defend the proceedings. With Notice Injunction Similar to a Without Notice Injunction except the perpetrator is made aware that an application has been made to the court. No order will be in place until there has been a hearing of all the evidence by a County Court Judge. A Power of Arrest is highly unlikely since these injunctions are not used for violence or threats of violence. Demotion of Tenancy This is an order of the court that removes many of the tenancy rights enjoyed by our tenants such as the right to exchange, to transfer to another property, the right to take in lodgers etc. The order stays in force for a period of 12 months and, most importantly, during this 12 month period Charter would not need to prove to the court that there has been further anti-social behaviour if we needed to evict the tenant(s). Repossession (eviction) Guidance from Central Government and the Welsh Government is that this should normally be used only as a last resort. We normally consider evicting tenants only when all other measures have failed and the anti-social behaviour is ongoing and is of a sufficiently serious nature. This is the most difficult order to obtain because Judges are generally reluctant to evict anti-social tenants and will expect us as a landlord to explore other means of addressing their behaviour first. Obtaining a Court Order To obtain any court order described in this article it is necessary for us to: Have the support of those affected through the keeping of incident logs and attending court as witnesses. Have sufficient evidence to persuade the court that an order is necessary. Have incidents that are sufficiently serious and/or are repeated over a period of time. Demonstrate that the behaviour being complained of is intentional i.e. it is intended to cause a nuisance and annoyance or the behaviour continues in the knowledge that it is causing nuisance and annoyance. 16 I Contact Spring 2013
17 How Long Will It Take Before Charter Obtains a Court Order? It is generally not possible to predict how long it will take before a complaint of antisocial behaviour is deemed suitable for court action and is heard by a District Judge. The length of time it takes will depend upon a number of factors such as the frequency and seriousness of incidents, the quality of the evidence available and whether we have witnesses prepared to support us through the whole process. If it is necessary to enter a case into the County Court then we have no control over the date of any hearing and it could be several months before the matter is fully considered by a Judge. There is seldom a quick fix solution to resolving complaints of anti-social behaviour or general neighbour nuisance. We cannot simply take the word of the complainant and unless the complaint is of violence or serious threats of violence it will be necessary for us to investigate each complaint before a decision is made to apply for a court order. We need to be as sure as we can that we are able to persuade a County Court Judge that an order is a necessary and proportionate response by us in the circumstances based on the evidence and witnesses available to us. Resolving complaints of anti-social behaviour and neighbour nuisance takes time and a great deal of patience from complainants. Charter does not have all of the answers and there may be occasions when we are unable to resolve complaints made to us. However, if the complaint is genuine, of a sufficiently serious nature, and we have enough evidence, then with the support of those affected Charter will not hesitate in seeking an appropriate legal resolution (including repossession i.e. eviction if necessary) against anti-social tenants. Contact Summer 2013 I 1
18 managing your money Direct Payments Project Charter Housing has been taking part in the Direct Payments Project in partnership with Bron Afon Community Housing and Torfaen Housing Benefit Section since June 01. A number of our tenants in the Torfaen area have been asked to take part in the Project. There are a number of other landlords and Local Authorities across the UK taking part in the Project and we are all working closely with the Department of Work and Pensions (the DWP). The other areas are in Edinburgh, Oxford, Shropshire, Southwark and Wakefield. The purpose of the project is to gauge how people manage having their Housing Benefit payments paid direct to them, to look at banking products available to people who do not have bank accounts and to assess what support is available to people who need extra help to be able to manage their money. All this is being done in preparation for Universal Credit, which will see many of our tenants receiving payments for their housing costs direct to themselves for the first time. Payments will be made monthly in arrears. Charter felt that it was important to be involved in the Project, so we could try and influence the development of Universal Credit. At the moment 93 Charter tenants are receiving their Housing Benefit direct 18 I Contact Summer 2013 CRESR at Sheffield Hallam University has been asked to conduct some research into the Project and as part of this, has interviewed a number of the tenants, from all of the areas, who are aking part in the Project These are some of their findings: 83 % 62 % of people considered themsleves good 66% 63 % 31 % of households selected for the Project were not working and considered that they had a long-term disability or limiting illness. at managing their finances. operate weekly spending limits. thought they would cope poorly with direct payments. thought they would need siginificant longterm support. 36% didn t have any savings to fall back on. 95% 25 % said they suffered from some form of stress or anxiety. 13 % indicated that they had a mental illness. It is likely that people making new claims for benefit, will have to start claiming the under Universal Credit rules sometime after April However, at the moment we still don t know exactly how Universal Credit is going to be rolled out across the UK. If you have any concerns about receiving direct payments, please contact a member of the Rent and Financial Solutions Team.
19 diversity ADAPT-ABILITY Are you interested in meeting others living with a disability or a long-term illness, making new friends and finding out how what Charter can help you? Under- Occupation Charges AKA the Bedroom Tax Those of you who are affected by the underoccupation charge, or the bedroom tax, will have been making the extra payments towards your rent for a while by now. It is really positive that so many of you have been paying and shows that our tenants understand the importance of keeping their rent up to date. Remember, if you are having any problems making your payments, please contact a member of our Rent and Financial Solutions Team as soon as possible. We want to work with you to stop arrears accruing and can refer you to one of our partners for help. Also, please remember to let us know if someone moves into or out of your home. We need to keep our records up to date so we can give advice to people who need to pay the underoccupation charge. Adapt-Ability meets every two months to discuss issues facing people with disabilities or a long term illness Information sessions covering: How to improve your IT skills How we adapt homes What are your rights when you make a complaint For more information Ruth or Lunch and refreshments will be provided. We can also arrange and pay for transport. Please call to find out about the next meeting and book your place. Contact Spring 2013 I 19
20 keeping fit & healthy Food Co-ops, Newport Maesglas Food Co-op Maesglas Community Centre, Bideford Road Tuesday 11am-noon Duffryn Food Co-op Nightingale Court, Duffryn Wednesday 10.30am-noon Church Court Food Co-op 11 Church Court, St Julians Wednesday 1-1pm Gaer Food Co-op Alway Food Co-op Moorland & Broadmead Gaer Community Centre, Gaer Road Alway Community Centre, Alway Parade, Alway Newport East Community Centre, Moorland Park Thursday 10am-11am Thursday 11am-noon Thursday 9am-5pm 5 A Day Takeaway Coleg Gwent, Newport Campus, Nash Road Thursday 11am-1pm Malpas Food Co-op Somerton Food Co-op Beaufort Fruit Barrel Fairoak Nursery Food Co-op Malpas Court Primary School, Whittle Drive, Malpas RASCAL HOPE Centre, Poplar Road, Somerton Beaufort Centre, Beaufort Road, St Julians Fairoak Nursery School, Church Road Thursday 3pm Friday from 11am Friday 10am-noon Friday 11.0am &.50pm Gaer Junior School Food Co-op Gaer Road, Newport Friday 3.10pm Monnow Food Co-op Monnow Primary School, Darent Close, Bettws Friday 3.15pm Healthy Eating A healthy diet is more than just eating your five a day a balanced diet ensures your body gets all the nutrients it needs to give you energy throughout the day, manage your weight and prevent illness. Fruit and Vegetable Co-ops There are nine fruit and vegetable co-ops in Newport, community based projects where you can pick up a bag of fruit or a bag of vegetables for 3 each week. 0 I Contact Summer 2013 Simply place your order with the group, pay your money and collect your fruit and vegetables the following week an easy way to get your five a day! For more information log on to healthchallengenewport The Rural Generation Unit (RRU) has formed many community food co-operatives across the UK and they present oversee in excess of 300 community food co-operatives across Wales. Where possible they link food coops to local growers or suppliers, supporting the local economy and in turn reducing food miles. These community groups have formed the basis for the delivery of a broad range of sustainable community based initiatives such as Cook and Eat sessions, Patchwork Gardens, Farm Visits, Fruit Tuck Shops in schools and Fuel for Sport. Christmas in a Box (a food hamper scheme) is a good example of a project that connects urban and rural communities to the benefit of both. Check your local council s website for a food co-op in your area.
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