Tenancy Management Policy

The purpose of this Policy is to identify the rights and responsibilities of the customer, and what they can expect from us.

Tenancy Management Policy

Policy information

Policy reference PO-D–001–H
Approved 14 February 2018
Published 3 April 2018
Effective 3 April 2018
Review 14 February 2021

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  Download this policy and appendices as a PDF document

Summary

The purpose of this Policy is to identify the rights and responsibilities of the customer, and what they can expect from us.

Introduction

Intent

Longhurst Group will ensure that all tenants’ rights and responsibilities, and landlord’s duties will be exercised in compliance with relevant legislation, regulation and statutory guidance in line with this policy.

Principles

The Group will:

  • Provide an effective tenancy management service that meets the requirements of the Regulator of Social Housing (RSH) Tenancy Standard and the criteria below.
  • Ensure there is consistency across the Group, whilst recognising local variations. Reflect the communities we work in and ensure that these communities are sustainable. Actively assist local authorities to carry out their statutory functions.
  • Minimise the time that properties are left unoccupied.
  • Maximise income by making it clear that we operate a zero tolerance to rent arrears.
  • Ensure that we are clear and transparent in respect of customers understanding their rights and responsibilities and vice-versa.
  • Take a proactive approach to ensure that no individual or group is discriminated against or treated differently as a direct or indirect result of our approach to Tenancy Management;
  • Invest in Social Value. From time to time we will work with local partners to meet housing needs for a specific group of people.
Scope

This policy applies to all parts of the Longhurst Group of Companies (‘the Group’).

This policy applies to all customers who hold a tenancy with the Group.

Policy details

Tenancy types

Starter Tenancy/Assured Shorthold Tenancy

This is a probationary tenancy which runs for the first 12 months of a tenancy, and will convert to an assured tenancy on the first anniversary of the tenancy, providing that legal action has not been taken to end the tenancy or extend the probationary period. We will also issue Assured Shorthold Tenancies for your Rent to Homebuy products.

Assured/Secure Tenancy

This is the tenancy that customers will convert to if they have successfully completed the 12-month probationary Starter Tenancy/Assured Shorthold Tenancy.

Assured Shorthold Tenancy

We would use this type of tenancy, for example, for homes in which we manage for another landlord or agency which we enter into an agreement for a specific period of time. This type of tenancy enables us to end the tenancy by obtaining a court order for possession on one of the grounds listed in Schedule 2 of the Housing Act 1988.

Protected Assured Tenancy

This tenancy type is held by customers who have transferred to Group companies under a Large Scale Voluntary Transfer and enjoy preserved rights as existed with the previous Tenancy Agreement. These are no longer issued but are in existence.

Equitable Assured Shorthold Tenancy

We would use this tenancy for customers who are under the age of 18. This is because in law someone under 18 cannot hold a legal interest in land. A Trustee will hold the legal estate for the customer until the customer reaches 18 years old. On the customer's 18 birthday, the Trustee will automatically fall away and the legal estate will become that of the customer.

Terms and conditions of Tenancy

We communicate the terms and conditions and roles and responsibilities within the tenancy agreement to all customers during our pre-tenancy process and again at sign-up clearly and consistently to ensure they are understood. Where transferring tenants have any additional protected rights, these additional rights are transferred through succession or assignment.

Tenancy Support

For all new tenancies we will complete a Sustainability Matrix pre-tenancy to identify any support needs the incoming applicant may have whether this be supporting in managing the daily aspects of renting a home or financial and budgetary management. We will tailor our support and produce a tenancy sustainment plan which details what we will do to support the customer in sustaining the tenancy and any referrals and external partnership links we will forge to support the customer in the immediate and longer term.

For all customers we provide in-house Money Advice and Welfare Benefit support and Employment and Training support, all of which are free of charge to our customers and can be accessed via a range of communication methods tailored to the requirements of the customer.

Business Intelligence

Longhurst Group is committed to checking and updating our customers’ details regularly in respect of all of our tenancies. The information collected helps us to maintain accurate and up-to-date tenancy records in relation to all customers, household members, lodgers and sub-tenant’s occupying our homes. This also helps us to tailor the services that we deliver.

We will use information gained through tenancy visits to confirm legal occupation of the tenant(s) and proactively identify incidents of overcrowding, under use, unauthorised occupation and tenancies where any additional support to sustain the tenancy may be required.

Access

Longhurst Group tenancy agreement states clearly that the customer must allow us as the landlord access to the property for gas safety inspections, electrical testing and to generally inspect the condition of their home. We will give reasonable notice to customers prior to any visit unless an ad- hoc visit is attempted to gain access, for example, after a failed appointment which has not been successfully re-arranged. Where access to the property is refused or denied, Longhurst Group will take appropriate legal action to obtain access to carry out the inspection which could be by means of a Notice of Seeking Possession or ultimately by way of an injunction.

We reserve the right to charge the customer for a missed appointment(s).

Lodgers

Longhurst Group recognises that some customers may wish to take in lodgers. Our tenancy conditions require customers to obtain consent to take in a lodger. Permission will not unreasonably be withheld providing that no overcrowding of the property occurs, as defined in part 10 of the Housing Act 1985.

Subletting

Tenants are not permitted under any circumstance to grant a sub-tenancy for any part of the property. This means giving someone else the legal right to live in the property under a tenancy agreement and taking rent as a result of this.

Joint Tenancies

It is our policy to only grant a joint tenancy to two people of which they must either be married, in a civil partnership, via a joint application (i.e. friends) or are in a relationship.

Where a relationship breakdown occurs either tenant may terminate a joint tenancy by serving a valid Notice to Quit or we can agree to an assignment taking each case on its individual circumstance. Whilst a joint tenancy exists, both parties will jointly liable for any outstanding debts or matters related to the tenancy, for example recharges. Longhurst Group has no legal obligation to grant either party to the tenancy a new tenancy in their sole name. Should we look to grant a new tenancy to the newly single occupant this would be in the form of a new Tenancy.

We will not grant a joint tenancy to an existing single tenancy. The only exception is by the Order of a Court.

We will not allow a sole tenancy to become a joint tenancy under any circumstances.

Assignment

Customers are not allowed to assign or pass on the tenancy except in the following circumstances:

  1. By way of mutual exchange with a tenant of a Registered Provider; or
  2. If ordered to do so by a court in matrimonial proceedings or in accordance with schedule 1 of the Children Act
  3. Within the Rutland preserved tenancy agreement you can assign the tenancy to a qualified successor.

In situation 1, our written consent to the assignment must be obtained; this consent will not be unreasonably refused. In situation 2 we must be notified of of the change in writing and the details of the new tenant.

Succession

In the event of the customer’s death, another member of the household may be able to take over the tenancy, provided that the existing customer did not:

  1. succeed to the tenancy, or;
  2. previously hold the tenancy jointly with one or more other people, and the tenancy passed into their name after one of those other people died (this is called survivorship)

If the tenancy is a joint tenancy, the tenancy will automatically pass to the surviving joint tenant. This will count as a succession.

If there has not previously been a succession, and the tenancy is a sole tenancy, a spouse, civil partner or partner can succeed to the tenancy as long as they are living with the customer at the time of their death, and can prove they were living there as their primary home for at least the previous 12 months. Exceptions apply where the property be unsuitable in terms of size or adaptations.

All claims to succeed to a tenancy should be made in writing within one month of death unless there are special circumstances of which each case will be considered and reviewed separately.

Abandonment

Longhurst Group recognises that customers may not be at their home for a period of time for a variety of reasons.

However, where we believe that the customer may have abandoned a property, we will take enforcement action in line with legislative requirements and our own procedures.

We will ensure that all appropriate checks have been made to establish, as far as is reasonable, that a property has been permanently abandoned before issuing a Notice to Quit and taking possession of the home.

Home Improvements

Longhurst Group acknowledges that customers may wish to improve or alter their home to meet their own preferences or needs. Any customers on a Starter Tenancy are not permitted until the tenancy becomes an Assured Tenancy to undertake any improvements or alterations.

We will not unreasonably refuse permission for a customer to carry out alternations or improvement works providing the work is undertaken in accordance with the terms and conditions set out in the tenancy agreement and subject to surveyor approval and relevant consent. The customer may be required to return the home to its original state upon the end of the tenancy.

Repairs

Customers must report any repairs required to us in a timely manner. We will seek to charge the customer if they fail to report a repair and this results in an increase in the cost of repair as a result of the delay.

Decants

Customers may require temporary housing so that essential major work can be carried out to their home or works that are required as a result of unforeseen damage by flood, fire or other incidents.

Should the customer be required to move out of their home due to work identified to improve, repair or maintain the building then removal and other reasonable associated costs will be paid for in line with our Compensation Policy.

In some situations, where major redevelopment work is being undertaken, a property may be demolished or significantly altered. Where this is the case, or where the property is to be disposed of in line with the Asset Management Strategy, the customer would be permanently decanted. This would result in a new letting and tenancy.

A permanent decant may also be offered where repairs or improvement work is likely to take a long period of time to complete. This will help the customer as they will not have to move more than once, and can be more cost effective than a temporary decant.

If a temporary decant was planned, but the resident wishes to remain in the decant property, we will not unreasonably refuse the request.

Where customers are obliged to move permanently as a result of property disposal, demolition or major planned redevelopment works they are entitled to a statutory home loss payment. To qualify, customers must have occupied and held their tenancy for a minimum of one year. This does not apply to customers occupying under an Assured Shorthold Tenancy as we would not make a home loss or disturbance payments for properties reaching lease end where they are on the correct tenancy.

This payment will usually be off-set against arrears, if there are any. We may make an exception where the home loss payment is needed by the customer to help them cover any immediate moving costs.

For joint tenancies, one home loss payment will be shared between them. If a customer’s property is going to be demolished or re-developed and the resident is being permanently decanted, they are entitled to the statutory home loss payment of £4700.

If the permanent decant is a voluntary decision as a result of repair work, the customer is not entitled to a home loss payment.

If the customer(s) are evicted prior to being decanted, they will not receive a home loss payment.

If the customer is a statutory successor, the home loss payment entitlement period begins from the start date of the original tenancy, rather than the succession date.

These amounts are set out by law in the Land Compensation Act 1973 (Home Loss Payments Regulations updated 2008)

Domestic Abuse, Race and Hate Crime

We will not tolerate or condone any sort of domestic abuse, race or hate crime. Longhurst Group believes that no one should live in fear of domestic abuse, race or hate crime and will offer advice, assistance and support to any person experiencing or being threatened with these.

Data Protection and GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation)

We will comply with all relevant law in respect of data protection. We will provide customers with information about how and why we process their personal information, including the legal basis for its collection. We will seek consent to process data, where this is required.

Permission to keep pets in the home

We will allow you to keep a pet at your home. In flats, this is restricted to a small/medium sized dog or one cat.

Under no circumstances will permission be given to breed or offer any animal(s) for sale from a Group property.

If outside accommodation for a pet is required, other than a hutch or pen for small animals, written permission must be obtained before it is built. Any application must include plans of the proposed construction and detail the animal(s) to be kept.

Exceptions

Assistance dogs, such as guide dogs for the blind, hearing dogs for the deaf or dogs for the disabled, will always be permitted. The Equality Act 2010 prohibits anyone renting or selling a property from discriminating against a disabled person; this includes discriminating against a person with an assistance dog.

Prohibited pets

Dogs listed in the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 and any animals listed in the Schedule of the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 will not be given permission to live in one of our homes with no exceptions. This is to protect the health and safety of any customers and Group employees who may come into contact with them.

If we are made aware of any customer that keeps any pets as described above, we will treat this as a breach of tenancy and commence legal proceedings to obtain possession of the home.

Pet welfare

Customers are responsible for the health and welfare of their pets. Under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, this is called a duty of care. This requires proper day to day management and care of the pet. If customers have any questions about the care of their pets, they should contact their vet or a suitable accredited animal welfare organisation. Routine healthcare must include regular control of parasites (fleas and worms), vaccinations and neutering where appropriate. Should we become aware that a pet is not being given due duty of care, we will take steps to inform the relevant professional organisation, such as the RSPCA and may consider prohibiting the keeping of the pet or any future pets in the home.

Property

Flats

Customers are limited to a small/medium sized dog or a single cat in a flats.

Sheltered Housing/Care and Support

Any request will be considered on its own merits and where appropriate, in consultation with any other tenants who may be affected.


Appendices

  Please note that Appendix A is a document for internal use only.


    
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