www.southwark.gov.uk SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 1
Tenantsâ€™ Handbook SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 2
Access to services Your tenancy Rent and other charges Grounds for possession
5 18 39 50
Looking after your home and estate Health and safety Respecting others Getting involved Parking Housing choice Conditions of tenancy
59 84 97 115 122 129 143
www.southwark.gov.uk SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 3
Whether you’re a new tenant or you have been with us a long time we always want to hear from you about making things better. We listen carefully to your views and we consulted with tenant representatives to update this handbook. With the help of tenants we have renewed your Tenants’ Handbook to keep you up to date on how to get things done and how to get the best service we can offer. Updating this handbook helps us to give you the right information so that you can get the most from the place you call home. The handbook also has information about how we can help you manage your home and gives you more opportunities to be involved in your local community. I hope that you find the handbook very useful. Please keep it and use it to find information about looking after your home, getting our help when you need it, and becoming more involved with your local community in future.
Councillor Richard Livingstone Cabinet Member for Housing and deputy leader of the council
If you are the tenant of a Tenant Management Organisation (TMO), your TMO may provide some of the services explained in this handbook. When this applies, you should follow their procedures. Your TMO will tell you which services they provide.
Tenants’ Handbook SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 4
Access to services
This chapter tells you how to contact us, where our offices are, how we collect your feedback and manage your information, and what to do if there is a problem, including details about Southwarkâ€™s own arbitration service.
Page 1 Introduction 6 2 Contact us online 6 3 Contact us by telephone, post or in person 7-9 4 Getting your views 10 5 Equality and diversity 10 6 Information about you 11 7 Customer care 11 8 Compliments, comments and complaints 12 - 13 9 Arbitration 14 - 15 10 Access to information 16 - 17
www.southwark.gov.uk SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 5
1 Introduction This chapter tells you about how to contact us (including online), getting your views, our customer service, how we manage complaints, our arbitration service, and how we manage information.
2 Contact us online You can contact us via our website at www.southwark.gov.uk Using the website gives you instant access to the council allowing you to make payments for council services such as rent, council tax, parking and so on, using secure online services. You can also report issues or apply for services online. In fact, most information is available on the website. As well as information, most standard forms can be found on the website and all tenants can now pay their rent through the website. Many customers have also signed up for a personalised MySouthwark online account, which gives access to lots of information and services. You can get your own account by going to www.southwark.gov.uk/mysouthwark. You can also connect via social media with Twitter and Facebook. Many tenants have access to the internet and email in their homes and there are internet cafes and easy to use computers in most of Southwarkâ€™s libraries. You can also get online access to council services at MySouthwark Service Points, where staff will help you. We recognise that people want to have easy ways to get information and communicate with us and we are making it as easy as possible for tenants to get information and use services. Let us know if you have further online requirements.
Tenantsâ€™ Handbook SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 6
3 Contact us by telephone, post or in person By telephone The number for housing enquiries is 020 7525 2600, available from 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday. The number for repairs enquiries is 0800 952 4444, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. When you contact us we will: • Be polite • Identify ourselves so you know who you are talking to. We aim to answer 80 per cent of calls within 60 seconds and will do our best to deal with your enquiry at the first contact. By post You can write to us at: Southwark Council Housing and Community Services PO Box 64529 London SE1P 5LX In person MySouthwark Service Points, open between 9am and 5pm on weekdays, are a drop in service for anyone visiting, living or working in Southwark. Staff can deal with general enquiries about housing and council services, as well as council tax and housing benefit. We provide advice and information, try to help you resolve any problems you may have and put you in touch with the right service if you need additional help. MySouthwark Service Points provide: • • • •
A free phone line to all council services A wide range of leaflets, forms and information Free access to the council’s website via public access computers Immediate telephone interpreting.
www.southwark.gov.uk SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 7
MySouthwark Service Points can offer you appointments for specific enquiries, or you can drop in for self service access to: • Information about a wide range of council services • Your MySouthwark account • Pay for a service • Find out about choice based lettings. To make an appointment to speak to a customer service advisor in person you can telephone 020 7525 5565 or visit: Walworth MySouthwark Service Point 376 Walworth Road Walworth SE17 2NG Tel: 020 7525 5565 Bermondsey MySouthwark Service Point 11 Market Place The Blue Bermondsey SE16 3UQ Tel: 020 7525 5565 Peckham MySouthwark Service Point 122 Peckham Hill Street Peckham SE15 5JR Tel: 020 7525 5565 Housing Services Offices Abbeyfield Road Housing Services Office is your first point of personal contact for housing related queries if you live north of the borough: 153 -159 Abbeyfield Road London SE16 2BS Tel: 020 7525 2600
Tenants’ Handbook SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 8
Aylesbury Neighbourhood Office is your first point of contact for housing related matters if you live on the Aylesbury Estate: Taplow House Thurlow Street London SE17 2TZ Tel: 020 7525 2600
Harris Street Housing Services Office is your first point of personal contact for housing related queries if you live in Camberwell or Dulwich: Harris Street London SE5 7RX
Kingswood Housing Services Office is your first point of contact for housing related queries if you live in Dulwich: 39 Seeley Drive Dulwich SE21 8QR Tel: 020 7525 2600
Tel: 020 7525 2600
Useful council contacts: General enquiries Repairs Gas problems/safety Tenancy fraud investigations team Complaints Housing Options Rubbish collection Estate/street cleaning Parking services Estate parking Rent enquiries Council tax and benefits Emergency housing (out of hours service) Noise and antisocial behaviour service
020 7525 2600 0800 952 4444 0800 952 4444 020 7525 4686 020 7525 0042 020 7525 5950 020 7525 2000 020 7525 2000 0800 138 9081 020 7525 3587 020 7525 2600 020 7525 1880 020 7525 5000 020 7525 5777
Other useful contacts: Gas emergency (National Grid) Electricity emergency (UK Power Networks) Thames Water Victim Support Southwark Southwark Advocacy and Support Service (SASS)
0800 111 999 0800 028 0247 0800 714 614 0845 303 0900 020 7593 1290
www.southwark.gov.uk SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 9
4 Getting your views We strive to provide a fair and efficient service and we welcome customer feedback that will help us to improve services. We also carry out surveys from time to time to find out how well you think we are doing. We may carry out these surveys by talking to you on the phone or by emailing or posting you a questionnaire. Sometimes we will ask independent researchers to talk to you face to face. We use the information from these surveys to improve our services.
5 Equality and diversity Tenants in Southwark speak many different languages and have different backgrounds and needs. We believe that this diversity in our local population is one of our greatest strengths and we try to provide services that meet everyoneâ€™s needs. We are committed to making sure that no housing applicant, job applicant, tenant, contractor, tenant representative or employee receives less favourable treatment than another because of their religious or political beliefs, race or ethnic background, gender or gender reassignment, sex or sexual orientation, disability, marital status, pregnancy and maternity, or age. We act quickly and firmly against any form of discrimination, as required by law. We promote equality of opportunity and aim to provide services, policies and procedures that meet the needs of everyone in our community.
Tenantsâ€™ Handbook SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 10
6 Information about you From time to time we ask you to tell us about yourself after you have used one of our services. This is usually a short form that asks you about personal information (i.e. your age, sex, ethnic background, what languages you speak and, sometimes, whether you have a disability or any religious belief). This information helps us to understand our customers, find out who lives in our communities and plan services that better meet your needs. Your information is used solely by the council for the specific purposes outlined. We do not share the information with any other organisation and we protect your data under the terms of the Data Protection Act 1998. We check our performance to make sure we are treating our customers fairly and do this through regular monitoring and reviews.
7 Customer care You can give us feedback via our website www.southwark.gov.uk We are committed to providing you with consistently high quality services. We aim to give you information on the level of service you can expect from us and we involve tenants in developing our standards. We measure what we do against set standards and targets using various methods, which include surveys and quality checks. We update you in a number of ways, including articles in our Southwark Life Housing News magazine. If you do not think we are meeting our standards please let us know. If you receive particularly good service we would also like to hear from you because we use your feedback to help improve services. You can tell us what you think by writing to us at: FREEPOST RSCE-TGHU-CUZB Southwark Council 160 Tooley Street London SE1 2QH
www.southwark.gov.uk SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 11
8 Compliments, comments and complaints You can contact us via email for compliments, complaints or comments at: email@example.com We are committed to providing high quality services to our customers, but we recognise that there may be times when things go wrong. If you are not getting the level of service that you expect we want you to tell us about it so that we can try to put it right. You can make a compliment, comment or complaint about the housing service in the following ways: • Email firstname.lastname@example.org • Telephone on 020 7525 0042 • In person • By letter. By letter Customer Resolution Team Southwark Council PO Box 64529 London SE1P 5LX In person You can make a complaint in person at any of our MySouthwark Service Points. We operate a two stage complaints process which gives the customer the right to have their complaint reviewed at a more senior level should they remain dissatisfied. We aim to acknowledge 100 per cent of complaints within three working days. When making your complaint please tell us as much as you can about your problem, including what went wrong, when it happened, who you dealt with, and how you would like the matter resolved. You can also find full details of how to complain on our website and from leaflets available from our customer contact points. If you have made a complaint and want to find out the next steps to take, please visit our website www.southwark.gov.uk
Tenants’ Handbook SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 12
The complaints process: a) Complaint stage â€“ your initial complaint about the service you are unhappy with Your complaint will be acknowledged within three working days, fully investigated by the business unit and you will receive a response within 15 working days. We hope that you will be satisfied with our response to your complaint, but if you remain unhappy you can take the matter further. b) Review stage â€“ complain direct to the Customer Resolution Team who will investigate independently If you are unhappy with the complaint response you received, you can contact the Customer Resolution Team with a summary of your dissatisfaction with the response you received. The team will investigate how your complaint was dealt with at the initial stage. Your complaint will be acknowledged within three working days and the team has up to 25 working days to respond to you. In some cases this may take longer and, if so, you will be informed if there are any delays in investigating your complaint. This is the final stage of the complaints procedure. Taking matters further If you are unhappy with the way we have handled your complaint upon completion of the stage two investigation, you can contact the Housing Ombudsman. The Housing Ombudsman considers complaints made about local authorities in their role as landlords. You will need to contact an MP or local councillor in order to progress your complaint to the Housing Ombudsman or wait eight weeks after you receive our response. This is a free, independent service that investigates complaints against councils. You can complain to the ombudsman at any time but they will only usually investigate if you have already been through our own complaints procedure.
www.southwark.gov.uk SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 13
9 Arbitration Information about all our arbitration services is available via www.southwark.gov.uk We maintain an arbitration tribunal and panel to resolve certain disputes between you and us. Both parties will be bound by the decision of the tribunal. If there is a dispute between you and us about something included in your tenancy agreement, either you or we can apply to the independent arbitration tribunal to help find a solution. Where a dispute is referred to arbitration, both parties will be bound to submit to the decision of the arbitration tribunal and decisions of the arbitration tribunal will be enforceable in the courts. Southwark Council will have the power to prescribe regulations for the conduct of proceedings of the arbitration tribunal after consultation with the Tenant Council and the Arbitration Team. An arbitration tribunal will consist of a councillor representative, a tenant representative and an independent representative drawn from the arbitration panel. The arbitration panel will consist of at least nine members, of whom at least three will be the councillor representatives, i.e. elected members of the council; at least three will be the tenants’ representatives i.e. tenants elected by neighbourhood forums; and at least three will be the independent representatives who are neither elected members, nor tenants of the council and will be jointly selected by one councillor representative, one tenant representative and the arbitration officer. The following may be referred to the arbitration tribunal (as long as any dispute does not date more than six years prior to application) concerning: • A ny alleged breach, by either us or you, of any of the conditions under the tenancy agreement, or otherwise imposed by law • Whether any agreement required from us under the tenancy agreement has been withheld, whether such agreement has been unreasonably withheld, or whether such agreement has been given subject to an unreasonable condition • Whether someone is entitled to succeed to the tenancy between the council and anyone claiming to be qualified to succeed a deceased tenant (in this case the procedure is the same as if the parties were the tenant and the council but for “the tenant” there is substituted “anyone claiming to be qualified to succeed the tenant”) • Whether you had reasonable excuse for failing to provide us with access to your home to carry out repairs or in the exercise of our proper and legitimate landlord functions
Tenants’ Handbook SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 14
• R ent (but not rent increases) • Allegations of antisocial or unreasonable behaviour, abuse, discrimination, intimidation, harassment or abuse of anyone related to any protected characteristic under the terms of the Equality Act 2010 • Disputes arising because of allegations of misuse of communal areas, door entry systems, CCTV or shared security • Disputes about use of any restricted areas • Any dispute related to a pet or an animal • Any dispute related to fire safety or health and safety in general • Any dispute related to waste, recycling and the tidiness of gardens • Any dispute concerning threats or use of violence and controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour. The arbitration tribunal has the power to: • Award damages • Grant a declaration • Order either party to do or refrain from doing anything in order to secure compliance with the obligations of the tenancy agreement or as otherwise imposed by law. If the arbitration tribunal finds that Southwark Council has been in breach of its repairing responsibilities it may award compensation to you in line with the tenancy agreement and, if the breach has not been corrected by us, may order that we carry out any repairs in question within a reasonable timescale as determined by the tribunal. If there is a dispute between you and us about something included in your tenancy agreement, either you or we can apply to the independent arbitration tribunal to help find a solution. If you have a dispute with another Southwark tenant, you can also ask our arbitration tribunal for help in resolving this. How to apply to the arbitration tribunal Please see Southwark’s website at www.southwark.gov.uk to apply online or call 020 7525 7429. The tribunal panel – what to expect at a hearing Both you and we can attend and be represented. The tribunal may call witnesses and question any witnesses that are called. The tribunal panel will allow you or your representative to question the officer representing us and any witnesses. The tribunal tries to provide its decision in writing within 28 days of the hearing.
www.southwark.gov.uk SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 15
10 Access to information Information about all our services is available via www.southwark.gov.uk When discussing housing matters with you, we often need to ask for personal details about you and members of your family. We also may need to discuss personal family matters that affect your housing situation. We will treat some of the information you give us in confidence. However, we may need to share some important details you give us with other public organisations (for example, the Benefits Agency or HM Revenue and Customs). We will tell you what information we are likely to pass on. You must let us know in advance if you want to see information that is kept on our housing file about you, your household or the property (including any application which you have made for rehousing and documents in our possession relating to the block and estate where the property is situated) except the following information: • Personal information that identifies other people who have not agreed to the disclosure of their personal data and where, on balance, it appears wrong to provide it unless it is reasonable in all the circumstances to disclose the information without their agreement, for example medical information and casework reports from social workers and welfare officers, complaints from other tenants and neighbours or comments by housing staff • Personal information the disclosure of which might cause serious harm to you or some other individual, for example another member of your household • Personal information the disclosure of which would or would be likely to prejudice an investigation into the behaviour or activities of the tenant, for example if the investigation is likely to involve the police; if it may lead to the creation of an Antisocial Behaviour Order; or if it is in connection with eviction proceedings • Personal information the disclosure of which might prejudice the prevention and detection of crime, the prosecution or apprehension of offenders or the assessment or collection of any tax or duty. The information we are able to give you will be provided on payment of a fee of £10 and your request will be dealt with promptly and in any case within 40 days.
Tenants’ Handbook SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 16
If we fail to provide the information within 40 days you have the right to refer the matter to the Customer Resolution Team. If the matter is not resolved you will be advised of your right of appeal to the Information Commissioner. If you believe that any of the factual information held about you is inaccurate you are entitled to request it be corrected or erased. You should explain what information you consider to be inaccurate and, if appropriate, provide a written statement of the correct information to us. This written statement should be annexed to the file. We will consider your request within 28 days of receipt of the same. Should we fail to respond to you within that 28 day timescale you may refer the dispute to us under the Customer Resolution Team complaints procedure. If we agree to correct or erase part of your personal information you will be informed what changes have been made. If we believe the information is correct and are unable to agree the changes that have been requested we will again inform you. Where we do not agree to the changes you may refer the dispute to us under the complaints procedure. If however the matter is not resolved then you will be advised of your right of appeal to the Information Commissioner.
www.southwark.gov.uk SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 17
Page PART A – Introductory tenants A1 Introduction 19 A2 Your rights in law 19 A3 Assignment 20 A4 Succession 20 A5 Ending an introductory tenancy 20 A6 Antisocial behaviour 21 A7 Possession proceedings 21 A8 Your right to a review 21 A9 The review panel 22 A10 The right to a written review 22 A11 Attending the review 22 A12 The review hearing 23 A13 The review decision and after 23 A14 Applying for a possession order 23 A15 Evicting an introductory tenant 24 A16 Debts outstanding to the council 24 PART B – Secure tenants B1 Secure tenancies 25 B2 Your rights 25 B3 Your responsibilities 25 B4 Using your home 26 B5 Annual tenancy check 26 B6 Prevention of fraud 27 B7 Access 27 B8 Your duty of care 28 B9 Joint tenancies 28 - 29 B10 Lodgers and subletting 29 - 30 B11 Changing your rent charge 30 B12 Changing your tenancy agreement 31 B13 Succession – what happens when a tenant dies? 31 - 32 B14 Assignment 33 B15 Mutual exchange 34 B16 Relationship breakdown (non violent) 34 B17 Relationship breakdown (violent) 35 B18 Moving out 36 Definitions 37 - 38
As a council tenant you have signed a tenancy agreement with us, the council, as your landlord. This is a legal agreement placing important responsibilities on both you and the council. There are two main types of council tenancy: introductory and secure. This chapter of your handbook is in two sections with Part A dealing with introductory tenancies, introduced for new tenants by the 1996 Housing Act, whilst Part B deals with secure tenancies. Secure tenancies used to be allocated to most council tenants but new tenants now usually start off with introductory tenancies. These are then usually converted to secure after 12 or sometimes 18 months, if there are no problems arising with the tenancy. This chapter also gives more detail about various aspects of your tenancy conditions and explains more about your tenancy agreement and your legal rights and responsibilities.
Tenants’ Handbook SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 18
PART A Introductory tenants A1 Introduction Most new council tenancies are introductory under the Housing Act 1996 for a trial period of 12 months. We can however extend this, by six months to 18 months, if we think you need more time get used to, and comply with, the terms of your tenancy. After 12 months (or 18 months if we extend it) you will automatically become a secure tenant unless we have started legal action to repossess (take away) your home. If we have started legal proceedings the introductory period will continue until the case is independently decided by a court. As an introductory tenant you have limited rights. You run the real risk of losing your home as an introductory tenant if you do not keep to the conditions of your tenancy.
A2 Your rights in law As an introductory tenant you have the following rights only: • Right to repair • Family member, partner succession rights • Housing management consultation rights. Introductory tenant Right to repair Right to take in lodger Right to sublet part of the dwelling Right to exchange with another tenant Family member, partner succession rights Right to improve the dwelling Housing management consultation rights Right to buy
www.southwark.gov.uk SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 19
A3 Assignment Introductory tenancies have limited rights of assignment and in the following circumstances only: • In pursuance of a court order under matrimonial proceedings or ordering financial relief • Where the assignment is to a potential successor to the tenancy.
A4 Succession If an introductory tenant dies there may be succession where: • T he succeeding person is either the tenant’s spouse or civil partner; and • The succeeding person occupied the dwelling as their sole or principal home (on the death of the tenant). Family members other than the tenant’s spouse or civil partner do not have a right of succession. Succession can only happen once in law.
A5 Ending an introductory tenancy Here are some examples of behaviour where we will decide to end your tenancy: • Not paying your rent on time and in advance • Creating or even allowing nuisance which affects other people • Using your home for illegal or immoral purposes • Damaging any part of the estate or dwelling. The way we end an introductory tenancy is different from the way we end a secure tenancy. We need a court order for both but, for an introductory tenancy, the court must grant us possession as long as we have followed the simple procedure set down in law. Remember: you have no defence against us if we believe you have not behaved in a considerate and reasonable way.
Tenants’ Handbook SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 20
A6 Antisocial behaviour You can be evicted if we believe you have behaved in an antisocial way. We do not have to prove this. We simply have to act reasonably and explain to the court why we think you have behaved badly. You will have no defence in the court hearing against this.
A7 Possession proceedings When we start proceedings to take back your home we will send you a notice of termination. This notice will tell you the reasons why we will be asking the court to make an order for possession. The possession proceedings will usually start 28 days after we have sent you the notice of termination. We will normally send you at least one letter before we send the notice of termination, explaining why we are considering sending the notice. It is important that you contact your designated Resident Services Officer or customer contact point when you get the first letter to seek advice and guidance.
A8 Your right to a review The notice of termination will explain that you can ask for a review of our decision to take proceedings to repossess your home. If we decide we have good reason not to give you a permanent home, and to extend your introductory tenancy from 12 to 18 months, you also have a right to ask for a review of that decision.
www.southwark.gov.uk SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 21
A9 The review panel A panel of senior council officers, who must not have been involved in the decision to serve the notice, will carry out the review. The review is the only opportunity you have to challenge our decision to end your tenancy and take back your home because you have not kept to the terms of your tenancy agreement. You will be given 14 days from the date we send the notice to ask for an oral (spoken) hearing of your case or to write to us about it. There will be no extension of this 14 day period. We will send you a review form to complete with the notice. You also have the right to get independent advice from agencies such as the Citizens Advice Bureau, housing aid centres or law centres.
A10 The right to a written review If you ask for a written review you have the right to send written evidence, or other information to support your case, to arrive at least two days before the panel meeting. If you ask for a review, we will arrange a panel hearing to take place within 28 days of the date we sent you the notice. We will tell you the date, time and place of the review hearing and we will give you at least ten daysâ€™ notice.
A11 Attending the review We encourage you to attend the review hearing or send someone to represent you, or both. If you do not attend the review hearing, or tell us why you are not going to be there, the review panel may proceed without you.
Tenantsâ€™ Handbook SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 22
A12 The review hearing The review hearing will make sure that we have proper evidence that you have broken your tenancy conditions. The panel hearing will be fair and just and will consider whether our decision to try to evict you is the right course of action to take. At the review panel hearing you will have the opportunity to put forward any evidence you think is relevant to your case. You may also have a representative to do this for you.
A13 The review decision and after We will write to tell you the review panel decision within five days. If your review fails If the panel decides that we will repossess your home, we will tell you the reasons for this clearly and in writing. If your review is successful If the panel decides that we should not repossess your home your introductory tenancy will continue until the end of the 12 month period. If, after 12 months (or 18 months), we have taken no more action you will become a secure tenant and your home will then be permanent.
A14 Applying for a possession order We have to wait for 28 days after sending the notice of termination before we can apply to a court for a possession order. At the court hearing we simply have to satisfy the judge that we served the notice correctly and that we gave you an opportunity to ask for a review. No proof required We do not need to prove our case to the court by providing evidence. This is why the review hearing is important, because it is at the review that we consider any relevant evidence.
www.southwark.gov.uk SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 23
A15 Evicting an introductory tenant If the court grants the possession order we will apply for a warrant for your eviction. Once you have been evicted you may be considered to be ‘intentionally homeless’ and we will not rehouse you. This is because your actions have led to you losing your home and you have not changed your behaviour when given the chance to do so.
A16 Debts outstanding to the council As an introductory tenant the council expects you to clear any outstanding debt owed to us for any reason and you will usually be offered an agreement to clear all debt lawfully owed to the council at a reasonable rate affordable to you. If you have any more questions please contact your designated customer contact point or telephone 020 7525 2600.
Tenants’ Handbook SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 24
PART B Secure tenants B1 Secure tenancies Most council tenants are secure and protected under the Housing Act 1985. This means that as long as your council home is your only or principal home we cannot make you leave without a court order. Further, we would have to have a very good reason for seeking and obtaining such an order.
B2 Your rights As long as you follow the rules of your tenancy agreement there is usually no reason why you cannot stay in your home for life. Secure tenant Right to repair Right to take in lodger Right to sublet part of the dwelling Right to exchange with another tenant Family member, partner succession rights Right to improve the dwelling Housing management consultation rights Right to buy
B3 Your responsibilities You should be careful to do the following: • • • •
Pay your rent and other charges on time and in advance Be a good and considerate neighbour Look after your home and estate Keep to the rules of your tenancy agreement, not least because you risk losing your home if you break them.
www.southwark.gov.uk SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 25
B4 Using your home Your council home must be your only or principal home. You must not use or allow the property to be used other than as your own private dwelling. In particular you must not use your home for any purpose which might cause a nuisance or annoy your neighbours. We do not intend to stop you working from home, but we do want to prevent homes being used for any commercial use which adversely affects your neighbours. Going away for long periods You must not be absent from the property for a continuous period of more than 42 days without first telling us in writing. Written notice must be given to a designated office or customer contact point. We also recommend that you provide the address that you are going to and telephone contact details. This is in case an emergency arises and we need to gain access to your home.
B5 Annual tenancy check You will permit us, as your landlord, to carry out an annual tenancy check and you must satisfy us that you are occupying the property as your only or principal home. We will ask you to provide evidence, during the annual tenancy check or within seven days of our written request, material required by us for the purpose of verifying that you are occupying the property and that it is your only or principal home. This may include the provision of a photograph for us to check your identity. The yearly tenancy check and photograph evidence are to stop people living in council housing without our permission and committing fraud.
Tenantsâ€™ Handbook SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 26
B6 Prevention of fraud Under the Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013 you commit an offence, as a secure tenant, if you knowingly: • S ublet or part with possession of the whole of your dwelling house, or part of your dwelling house without our written consent • Cease to occupy the dwelling house as your only or principal home • Dishonestly sublet or part with possession of the whole or part of the dwelling house and cease to occupy the dwelling house as your only or principal home. You can be fined or imprisoned if found guilty of these offences. (‘Sublet’ – see Definitions). If you know of any cases where people are living in housing they should not be living in, please contact email@example.com or call 020 7525 4686.
B7 Access You must allow access to the property to allow our officers, contractors or agents to carry out any inspection, safety check, treatment, repairs, major works or improvements that we are required, or entitled, to carry out to the property (including fixtures and fittings), or to the building or estate in which the property is situated, or any other adjoining land in the council’s control. We will give you 24 hours’ notice that entry is required to the property unless immediate entry is necessary in an emergency. If you repeatedly fail to provide access, whether by refusing or otherwise, we may ask the courts for an order that allows us, our contractors or agents to force entry to the property.
www.southwark.gov.uk SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 27
B8 Your duty of care Council housing is a valuable resource and you must take proper care of your home, the fixtures and fittings and shared parts of the block and the estate. If you do not you will be responsible for the cost of repairing, redecorating or replacing items damaged by you, any person living with you, or your visitors. At the end of your tenancy you must leave the property in as good a state as it was at the beginning of your tenancy. We allow for fair wear and tear (‘Fair wear and tear’ – see Definitions) and any damage caused by us not carrying out our obligations for upkeep and repair. We are not liable for any repairs needed because you have not looked after your home or damaged it. This includes damage caused by you and can include something like a blocked sink. If a blockage is caused by you not having properly disposed of fat, oil and foodstuffs when doing an everyday thing like washing up, this is your responsibility. We may recharge you if we need to clear a blockage you have caused by acting irresponsibly or carelessly.
B9 Joint tenancies A joint tenancy is one that you share with someone else with coresponsibility. If you ask us to change your sole tenancy to a joint tenancy we will normally only agree if the person to be added to the tenancy agreement would normally qualify to take over the tenancy in the event of your death, and they have been living with you in your home for at least 12 months. However, this is provided that you are not behind with your rent or breaking your tenancy agreement in any other way. You may end your tenancy by giving at least four weeks’ written notice to quit ending on a Monday to a designated office or customer service point.
Tenants’ Handbook SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 28
If the remaining joint tenant (or tenants) agree we will normally give them a new tenancy. However, we will not give a new tenancy to the tenant or tenants staying in the property if they are: • In rent arrears • Not keeping to the nuisance and harassment clauses in the tenancy agreement • Responsible for controlling, coercive, threatening or abusive behaviour, threats of violence or actual violence towards anyone lawfully allowed to live in the property that may or does prevent them continuing to live peaceably in the property. (‘Controlling and coercive behaviour’ – see Definitions). Each joint tenant is equally liable for paying the rent. If one joint tenant does not pay, then the other tenants are responsible for paying that tenant’s share as well as their own. This is because joint tenants are each individually responsible for the whole tenancy. This means that if you are behind with the rent, we can hold you alone, or all, or any of the joint tenants, responsible for the full amount of rent arrears owed.
B10 Lodgers and subletting Your right to take in a lodger There are legal differences between a lodger and a subtenant and you should get advice before renting out a room in your home. (‘Lodger’ – see Definitions). All secure tenants have the right to take in lodgers and you can take in lodgers provided it does not make your home overcrowded, but you must inform your designated customer contact point within a reasonable time in writing first. Subletting You can also sublet part of your home but you must get our permission in writing first. You cannot wholly sublet or give up possession of your entire home. (See B6 Prevention of fraud). (‘Subletting’ – see Definitions).
www.southwark.gov.uk SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 29
Permission We will refuse any permission where it would make your home overcrowded or we are planning works on your home which would affect the accommodation likely to be used by the lodger or subtenant. Overcrowding You must make sure that, by taking in a lodger or subtenant, your home will not be overcrowded; you can ask at your designated customer contact point for more advice about this. (‘Overcrowding’ – see Definitions). Transfers If you apply for a transfer lodgers and subtenants are not our responsibility and we will not consider them to be part of your household. If you move out, you must not leave lodgers or subtenants in your home. Lodgers’ behaviour If you do take in a lodger or sublet part of your home, remember that you are responsible for their behaviour. If they cause a nuisance or harass your neighbours, you will be held responsible and you will also be breaking the conditions of your tenancy. Lodgers, subletting and housing benefit If you are getting housing benefit you must tell the Housing Benefit Office if you take in a lodger or sublet part of your home as it may affect the amount of benefit you can get.
B11 Changing your rent charge We undertake to consult with the Tenant Council when proposing to change your rent and other charges, except for water charges which are set by the water provider. Notice of variation If we change the rent or other charges we will serve you with a written ‘notice of variation’ stating the new amounts and the date the change is to take place, which shall not be less than four weeks from service of the notice. If, before the date specified in the notice of variation, you give us notice to quit, the change will not take effect unless, with our written agreement, you withdraw your notice to quit before the date so specified.
Tenants’ Handbook SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 30
B12 Changing your tenancy agreement Reviewing the conditions of tenancy Every few years we review your conditions of tenancy to ensure they are up to date, relevant, clear and lawful. This is because of new legislation introduced over time and changes to what we do as your landlord. Such reviews are not normally intended to alter your fundamental rights as a tenant or our obligations as your landlord. Preliminary notice If we propose changes to the conditions of tenancy, other than to rent or other charges, we will give you notice in writing and give you at least 28 days to comment. This is known as a preliminary notice. We must then consider any comments you have made in reply. We also consult on such proposed changes with the Tenant Council and consider also any comments made by that body. Notice of variation After completing this process we will send you a formal notice detailing any changes, giving you at least four weeks’ notice in writing of the changes to be made, and the date the changes will take effect. This is known as a notice of variation.
B13 Succession – what happens when a tenant dies? Secure tenancies created before 1 April 2012 If you are a secure tenant when you die and your tenancy commenced before 1 April 2012 we can pass your tenancy on to: • Y our husband, wife or civil partner as long as the property is their only or principal home at the time • Someone who is living with you as a husband, wife or civil partner if they are living with you at the time and it has been their only or principal home for at least 12 months before your death • A family member if they are living with you at the time and it has been their only or principal home for at least 12 months before your death. (‘Family member’ – see Definitions).
www.southwark.gov.uk SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 31
Where more than one person in a family qualifies to take over your tenancy we will give preference to the husband, wife or civil partner of the person who has died. If the family cannot agree about who should take over the tenancy we will decide. In the case of joint tenants, where one joint tenant dies, the other joint tenant will take over the tenancy, so long as the property was their only or principal home when the tenant died and the tenancy has not been previously passed on. Secure tenancies created on or after 1 April 2012 Unless common law rules apply, Section 160 of the Localism Act 2011 states that statutory succession to a secure tenancy entered into after 1 April 2012 is limited to the spouse or civil partner of the deceased tenant, as long as they were living in the property as their only or principal home at the time of the tenant’s death. The statutory right of succession of a member of the family has been removed for new tenancies. This means that if you are a secure tenant when you die and your tenancy commenced on or after 1 April 2012 we can pass your tenancy on, where there has been no previous succession, to: • Your husband, wife or civil partner, as long as the property is their only or principal home at the time • S omeone who is living with you as a husband, wife or civil partner if they are living with you at the time and it has been their only or principal home for at least 12 months before your death. Family members other than your husband, wife or civil partner are now excluded from statutory succession; that is to say they have no lawful legal entitlement to such a succession. Southwark Council will exercise its discretion in such a case where there is a case to be considered outside of any lawful entitlement, for example whether to allocate a new tenancy to a person who had been living with a deceased tenant, but who does not have a legal right to succeed. Such possible exceptions are set out in our policies, which are available via www.southwark.gov.uk. If you think this may apply to your situation, please contact your designated customer contact point for advice and further information. In all secure tenancies, no matter when they began, the tenancy passes only once in law. If you take over a tenancy when the tenant dies, and the property has more bedrooms than your household needs, you may have to transfer to another home. We will discuss the options with you at the time. If you are living with a tenant who dies you should tell your designated customer contact officer and ask them for advice about your rights. Tenants’ Handbook SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 32
B14 Assignment Assignment – handing over your tenancy You can assign (hand over) your tenancy to someone who is living with you if they would qualify to take over the tenancy if you died; or if ordered to do so by the court. You may see a solicitor and ask them to draft a deed of assignment which you and the person you are handing over the tenancy to must sign with a solicitor as witness. You will then need to take this deed of assignment to your designated customer contact point, together with proof of identity and proof of address, for both you and the person who is taking over your tenancy. Note: you cannot leave your home and then hand over your tenancy because by leaving you will have ceased to be the secure tenant and will therefore have no right of assignment. We will allow you to hand over your tenancy if you meet the following legal requirements that the assignment is: • In line with Section 92 (Mutual Exchanges) of the Housing Act 1985 • By order under Section 23A or 24 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 (property adjustment orders in connection with matrimonial proceedings) • By order under Section 17(1) of the Matrimonial and Family Proceedings Act (property adjustment orders for overseas divorce) • By order under paragraph 1 Schedule 1 to the Children Act 1989 (orders for financial relief against parents) • By order of Part 2 of Schedule 5, or paragraph 9 (2) or (3) of Schedule 7, to the Civil Partnership Act 2004 (property adjustment orders in connection with civil partnership proceedings or after overseas dissolution of civil partnership) • To a person who could legally take over the tenancy if the tenant died immediately before the assignment.
www.southwark.gov.uk SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 33
B15 Mutual exchange You have the legal right to exchange your home with another council or housing association tenant anywhere in the British Isles. This is called mutual exchange and you will need the official consent of both landlords. There is more on this in this handbook’s Housing choice chapter.
B16 Relationship breakdown (non violent) If you have been living with someone as a stable couple and your relationship breaks down permanently we will offer advice and assistance to both parties. We will ask you to provide evidence and offer you a private interview with a person of the same sex. We prefer to interview both parties. We encourage the person with main responsibility for looking after the children to stay in the original property if it is the right size. We will then try to rehouse the other person to make best use of our properties. If it is necessary to rehouse both of you we will expect you to leave your former home empty. We will agree to treat your case under our relationship breakdown policy only on condition that: • Y our relationship has lasted for at least three years and you have been living together as a couple throughout that time and immediately prior to the relationship breakdown • You can prove that you were in the relationship at the start of your tenancy or that you were together in a previous council owned property for at least three years • You or your partner can provide proof that your relationship has broken down permanently. A ‘stable’ relationship is one where: • E ither you or your partner (or both) were granted the original tenancy and are named on the original tenancy agreement • You have been living together as a couple for at least three years, either in your current home, or as occupants of another property owned by us. It is not possible to predict how long it will take to rehouse either or both parties due to demand for our properties. We urge everyone applying for housing to consider all the options open to them (as detailed in the Housing choice chapter in this handbook).
Tenants’ Handbook SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 34
B17 Relationship breakdown (violent) You must not behave in a controlling, coercive, threatening or abusive way towards or use or threaten to use violence against any other person allowed to live in the property that may, or does, prevent them continuing to live peaceably in the property. (‘Controlling and coercive behaviour’ – see Definitions). Where a relationship breakdown is the result of domestic abuse we will not rehouse or grant the tenancy of the existing property to the person responsible. If the perpetrator is the tenant we will take action to evict that person for this serious breach of their tenancy agreement. If you suffer domestic abuse If you are a victim of domestic abuse please go to section 7 on page 101 for further advice, guidance and options for help and support.
www.southwark.gov.uk SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 35
B18 Moving out You must give us at least four weeks’ notice in writing (ending on a Monday) that you want to end your tenancy. You must send the notice to your designated customer contact point. We will then request that you complete a tenancy termination form. If you are moving because of a transfer, contact your area housing office as soon as you know the start date of your new tenancy and we may agree a shorter period of notice. When you move out housing staff will check the premises. You must not leave anyone else living there and you must remove all your belongings, clear any rubbish and leave the place in good order. Our fixtures and fittings must be left in place and in as good a condition as they were when you moved in, taking into account fair wear and tear. You must return all keys to your designated customer contact point immediately. If you do not return the keys we may charge you extra rent and our costs for getting into the property and fitting new locks etc. If all of the following conditions relate to you we may pay you an allowance in recognition of your conduct: • • • •
Give us four weeks’ notice of ending your tenancy Return all keys on the date agreed Leave the property in a clean and tidy condition Provide a forwarding address.
Tenants’ Handbook SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 36
A sublet is created when a part or all of the property held by a tenant, as opposed to a landlord, is let by the tenant during the time of their unexpired tenancy. Fair wear and tear arises from reasonable use of the dwelling by the tenant and the ordinary operation of natural forces. Fair wear and tear is deterioration occurring through normal daily use, but not any deterioration caused by your negligence. Controlling and coercive behaviour is a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour. Lodger means a person who is not named in your tenancy agreement as authorised to live in the property, is not a member of your immediate family, and who does not have part of the property for their use only. Domestic violence is any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. The abuse can encompass, but is not limited to: psychological, physical, sexual, financial, emotional and controlling and coercive behaviour (see above). Subletting occurs when an occupying party through a sublet, which is created when a part or all of the property held by a tenant, as opposed to a landlord, is let by the tenant during the time of their unexpired tenancy, to the subtenant.
www.southwark.gov.uk SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 37
Overcrowding is where the number of people sleeping in the property contravenes the room or space standards of, or numbers permitted by, the relevant law. A family member includes a parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece, stepchild, or half blood relation.
Tenantsâ€™ Handbook SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 38
Rent and other charges
This chapter tells you about how your rent and charges are calculated and the different ways to pay. It also gives advice on what benefits you may be able to claim to help you with payment and what to do if you get behind with your rent.
Page 1 Your rent 40 2 What your rent pays for 40 3 Changes in rent and charges 40 4 When to pay your rent 41 5 How to pay your rent online 41 - 42 6 Other ways to pay your rent 42 - 44 7 Help with paying your rent 44 - 45 8 Rent arrears 46 - 47 9 What to do about your rent if you are away for a long time 48 10 Your rent statement 48 11 If your rent account is in credit 49
It also aims to help you understand the importance of rent payment as well as giving details about our service to you. This includes making sure your rent and other payment records are up to date and easily available, usually in a monthly written statement sent out to you in the post. It is a usual condition of your tenancy agreement that you pay the rent and other charges weekly in advance and on a Monday. If you fall into arrears with the rent and/or other charges the council may go to court to ask for a possession order against your home, which could ultimately lead to your eviction.
www.southwark.gov.uk SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 39
1 Your rent The weekly total rent charge for your home is made up of the following five elements: • N et rent: the basic charge for your home, depending on its size and location • Service charge: for services provided, such as: estate cleaning, grounds maintenance, communal lighting, door entry system maintenance and lifts • Fuel charges: for heating and hot water where your home is served by district heating • Water rates: for water and sewage services, set by the local water company but collected by us (if you have been provided with a water meter you must pay the water company direct) • Separate charges: for things such as parking spaces and storage, pram/bike sheds and garages. If you live in warden controlled or sheltered accommodation there may also be enhanced service charges to pay for the additional services you need and receive.
2 What your rent pays for: • • • •
Providing housing services such as repairs and maintenance Looking after the estate Managing your home Any improvements to your home.
3 Changes in rent and charges: • Net rent and other charges are reviewed with any changes applied in April • Water rates are normally increased in April by your water company. The council will consult with your elected Tenant Council (see the chapter Getting involved in this handbook) before seeking to change your rent and other charges, whereas your water company simply sets a new charge. We must tell you in writing at least four weeks before the rent changes exactly when it will change and how much it will be. This is called a notice of variation.
Tenants’ Handbook SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 40
4 When to pay your rent Your rent is due each Monday in advance to cover the following week’s rental payment. This is a condition of your tenancy. If it is easier you can pay every two weeks or every month, but you must always pay in advance. How to work out your monthly rent If you pay every month you can work out the amount of your monthly payments. Simply multiply your weekly payment by 52 and then divide the answer by 12: £weekly payment x 52 ÷ 12 = monthly rent payment But remember, some years have 53 rent weeks. You can work out your monthly payments for a 53 week year as follows: £weekly payment x 53 ÷12 = monthly rent payment
5 How to pay your rent online You can use our secure online payment system to pay your rent (as well as council tax, rates, parking fines or other service charges and invoices) at www.southwark.gov.uk/payforit Your debit and credit card details will be encrypted (coded) and not retained in the system.
www.southwark.gov.uk SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 41
Security certified and simple We have a security certified system which is bank protected to protect your payments. Go to Epayments via www.southwark.gov.uk/payforit Select Housing, Rent, Garage and Service Charges from the drop down box. Information you will need For internet and telephone transactions you need: • Your rent account number (this will act as your payment reference number) • Your debit or credit card number • Your three or four digit security code (back of the credit card) • Your address • Your email contact (optional). Proof that you paid your rent online • You can print your receipt after your transaction is completed as proof of payment • Payments normally show on your account the next working day.
6 Other ways to pay your rent Direct debit through your bank Contact your bank about this if you are not in receipt of housing benefit. Standing order Telephone 020 7525 2600 (or contact your Income Officer for a standing order form) or instruct your bank with the following information ready: • • • •
The council’s bank details: RBS National Westminster Bank Plc Southwark Branch The council’s bank sort code: 62-22-32 The council’s bank account number: 27540022 (L B Southwark Rent) Your ten digit housing rent account reference number (beginning with 5 or 6).
Tenants’ Handbook SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 42
If you do not have a bank account but would like advice, telephone London Mutual Credit Union on 020 7787 0770. Swipe card Via Post Offices and PayPoint outlets. Debit or credit card Please use the automated 24 hour telephone payment line: 0845 6000 611 or pay via www.southwark.gov.uk or telephone your Income Officer. Monthly payroll deduction If you are in receipt of a pension from or are employed by the London Borough of Southwark, you can have your rent taken directly from your pension or salary monthly. Please telephone 020 7525 2600 to request a payroll deduction form, or contact your Income Officer to arrange automatic updates when your housing rent changes. In person At one of the council’s cash offices: • P eckham Cash Office, 19/23 Bournemouth Road Peckham SE15 4UJ • W alworth Cash Office 177/179 Walworth Road Walworth SE17 1RW • M ySouthwark Service Point Ground Floor Peckham Library 122 Peckham Hill Street Peckham SE15 5JR • M ySouthwark Service Point 376 Walworth Road Walworth SE17 2NG • M ySouthwark Service Point 11 Market Place The Blue Bermondsey SE16 3UQ
www.southwark.gov.uk SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 43
By post You can send crossed cheques and postal orders payable to LB Southwark or Southwark Council to: Income Collection Business Unit PO BOX 11767 153-159 Abbeyfield Road Rotherhithe SE16 2BS For postal payments please supply the following on the reverse of the cheque: Your name • Home address • Housing rent reference number. For further information on rent payment and advice from our helpline call 020 7525 2600. If you lose your payment card We can send you a new card, usually within seven days, if you contact your Income Officer giving your full name and address.
7 Help with paying your rent Housing benefit is being replaced with a new system called universal credit and a maximum limit is being placed on the total benefits that people can receive. Universal credit will still provide allowances for rent paid directly to tenants, whilst housing benefit is to be phased out in the years ahead. Under universal credit it will be your responsibility to pay your rent from this payment and any other income you have. You may still be able to get help with paying your rent even if you are working. The Benefits Team gives advice on what you are entitled to and you can contact the team on 020 7525 1880 or visit one of the council’s customer contact points to make an appointment.
Tenants’ Handbook SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 44
When applying for any benefit please make sure you provide all the supporting documents with your application. If you have a provisional estimate of what your payments should be it is important that you keep to these payments. Housing benefit Before universal credit is fully introduced housing benefit will remain to help people with limited income pay their rent. You may be able to get housing benefit even if you are working. What you can get depends on the following: • How much you and your partner have in income and savings • How many dependent children are living with you – housing benefit is increased for every dependent child living with you • How many grown up children or other adults are living with you – housing benefit is reduced for anyone who is not a dependant, for example, lodgers or children who have left school, as we expect them to pay towards the cost of living in your home • Your weekly rent – but only the basic rent charge. ’Net rent’ and service charges are currently covered by housing benefit • If you get housing benefit and your income or circumstances change, or the income or circumstances of any person living with you change, you must tell the Housing Benefit Office about it • If you get too much housing benefit because you did not tell us about changes, you will have to repay the amount you were overpaid. Remember – housing benefit still has to be claimed, it is not automatic How to apply To claim housing benefit or council tax benefit you need to fill in and sign a claim form and provide the documents we ask for to support your claim. For more information please visit our website www.southwark.gov.uk or call us on 020 7525 2600.
www.southwark.gov.uk SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 45
8 Rent arrears If you know you are about to get behind with your rent, or if you are having problems paying your rent, contact your Income Officer on 020 7525 2600. Your Income Officer can help you by: • Checking to see that you get all the benefits you are entitled to • Advising you on how to organise your money to make it easier for you to pay your rent. Independent advice You can also get advice on benefits and managing debts from several advice agencies in Southwark, including Citizens Advice: www.southwarkcabservice.org.uk Rent arrears and getting help If you do get behind with your rent (into rent arrears) and have not already contacted your Income Officer about it we will write to you and we will telephone you so that the issue can be dealt with. We will want you to make an agreement to pay off the arrears by amounts you can afford. You must reply to an arrears letter – do not wait because things will only get worse as the debt quickly mounts up. We will do all that we can to help you if you are having difficulty paying your rent. However, if you ignore our attempts to contact you about your arrears, or break an agreement to pay them off, we will take legal steps to gain possession of your home and evict you (remove you from your home). If you do not pay your rent, you will be breaking your tenancy agreement. Notice of Seeking Possession (NoSP) Sending you a Notice of Seeking Possession (NoSP) is the first step towards taking your home from you. If you make an agreement and keep to it we will take no further action. However, if you do not arrange to pay off the arrears within the following four weeks, we will apply to the court for a possession order to take back your home. We will also ask the court to order you to pay us the rent you owe.
Tenants’ Handbook SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 46
There will be a court hearing that you should go to. There is usually an advice service at the court that can give legal and financial advice to tenants being taken to court for rent arrears. The court can grant us two types of possession order: • A suspended possession order which means that as long as you keep to an agreement to pay off the arrears, we will do nothing more – but if you break the agreement we can apply for a warrant to ask the court bailiff to come and evict you (remove you and your family) from your home • An outright possession order – this means we can evict you without going back to court. If you do get into difficulty, and rent arrears action follows, we will always tell you in writing about all the stages of the legal action and what is likely to happen. We will also do all we can to recover the rent you owe. Even after you are evicted we will try to recover both the rent you owe us and the court costs you built up while you were a tenant. Some reasons not to get into arrears Apart from risking eviction, being in arrears with rent may stop you: • Gaining credit or a loan – court records are available to lenders for many years • Obtaining a mortgage (building societies and other lenders may ask us for information about your rent) • Moving or transferring to another property or through exchange • Buying your home under the right to buy scheme should you break the conditions of a possession order • Being rehoused if evicted for rent arrears as you may be ‘intentionally homeless.’
www.southwark.gov.uk SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 47
9 What to do about your rent if you are away for a long time If you are going to be away for more than 42 days, for example if you have to go to hospital, you must contact your Income Officer. You must also pay the rent while you are away and you may do this by claiming housing benefit for the period. If you go into hospital for more than two weeks, please contact your Income Officer.
10 Your rent statement We will provide you with a written rent statement every month. This statement lists all the charges due, what you have paid since your last rent statement and the balance on your account. Check your rent statement against your own payment records. If you think your account balance is wrong, contact your Income Officer and we will look into it and correct it if necessary. You can ask for a current rent statement from your Income Officer at any time. We will send it to you within seven days. You can also call 020 7525 2600 between 9am and 5pm for an up to date balance of your rent account. Any overpayment made by you will be returned to you on request.
Tenantsâ€™ Handbook SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 48
11 If your rent account is in credit If your rent account is in credit because you have paid more than necessary you can request a refund from your Income Officer in writing from the following addresses: MySouthwark Service Point Ground Floor Peckham Library 122 Peckham Hill Street Peckham SE15 5JR MySouthwark Service Point 376 Walworth Road Walworth SE17 2NG MySouthwark Service Point 11 Market Place The Blue Bermondsey SE16 3UQ
www.southwark.gov.uk SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 49
Page Part I – Grounds on which a court may order possession if it considers it reasonable 51 - 53 Part II – Grounds on which the court may order possession if suitable alternative accommodation is available 54 Part III – Grounds on which the court may order possession if it considers it reasonable and suitable alternative accommodation is available 55 - 57 Summary of parts 58
Grounds for possession
Many landlords outline the legal grounds for possession to their tenants and we believe this will be useful for Southwark tenants to know as well. The grounds for possession are the conditions under which a landlord can apply to a court to request possession of your home. We have listed some of them here, but links to further information and advice about grounds for possession can be found in the housing section of our website at www.southwark.gov.uk It is a breach of your conditions of tenancy if you do not ensure the rent is paid and if you do not behave reasonably. Where you breach your tenancy we can apply for possession and, if the court agrees, this will lessen your rights and may leave you open to further action by the council, which may result in your eviction and the loss of your home. This chapter is intended for your information and not legal advice. If you are in any doubt about any part of it please seek independent legal advice.
Tenants’ Handbook SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 50
Part I â€“ Grounds on which a court may order possession if it considers it reasonable Ground 1 summary: rent arrears or other breach of the conditions of tenancy Rent lawfully due from the tenant has not been paid or an obligation of the tenancy has been broken or not performed. Ground 2 summary: antisocial behaviour and criminal activity (i) The tenant or a person residing in or visiting the dwelling house has been guilty of conduct causing or likely to cause a nuisance or annoyance to a person residing, visiting or otherwise engaging in a lawful activity in the locality. (ii) The tenant or person residing or visiting the dwelling has been convicted of using the dwelling or allowing it to be used for immoral or illegal purposes, or an indictable offence committed in, or in the locality of the dwelling. The Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 introduces new and amended grounds for possession covering antisocial behaviour, conduct causing nuisance and offences connected with riot; these are not yet in force and the handbook will be updated when the sections of the act are brought into force. Ground 2A summary: one joint tenant leaves The dwelling house was occupied (whether alone or with others) by a married couple, a couple who are civil partners of each other, a couple living together as husband and wife or a couple living together as if they were civil partners and â€“ a) One or both of the partners is a tenant of the dwelling house, b) One partner has left because of violence or threats of violence by the other towards â€“
(i) That partner, or
(ii) A member of the family of that partner who was residing with that partner immediately before the partner left, and
c) The court is satisfied that the partner who has left is unlikely to return.
www.southwark.gov.uk SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 51
Ground 3 summary: the tenant neglects to care for the property The condition of the dwelling house or of any of the common parts has deteriorated owing to acts of waste by, or the neglect or default of, the tenant or a person residing in the dwelling house and, in the case of an act of waste by, or the neglect or default of, a person lodging with the tenant or a subtenant of his, the tenant has not taken such steps as he ought reasonably to have taken for the removal of the lodger or subtenant. Ground 4 summary: the tenant has failed to protect the property from deterioration The condition of furniture provided by the landlord for use under the tenancy, or for use in the common parts, has deteriorated owing to ill treatment by the tenant or a person residing in the dwelling house and, in the case of ill treatment by a person lodging with the tenant or a subtenant of his, the tenant has not taken such steps as he ought reasonably to have taken for the removal of the lodger or subtenant. Ground 5 summary: the tenancy was falsely obtained The tenant is the person, or one of the persons, to whom the tenancy was granted and the landlord was induced to grant the tenancy by a false statement made knowingly or recklessly by – a) The tenant, or b) A person acting at the tenant’s instigation. Ground 6 summary: the tenancy was fraudulently obtained The tenancy was assigned to the tenant, or to a predecessor in title of his who is a member of his family and is residing in the dwelling house, by an assignment made by virtue of section 92 (assignments by way of exchange) and a premium was paid either in connection with that assignment or the assignment which the tenant or predecessor himself made by virtue of that section. In this paragraph “premium” means any fine or other like sum and any other pecuniary consideration in addition to rent.
Tenants’ Handbook SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 52
Ground 7 summary: termination of tied accommodation The dwelling house forms part of, or is within the curtilage of, a building which, or so much of it as is held by the landlord, is held mainly for purposes other than housing purposes and consists mainly of accommodation other than housing accommodation, and – a) The dwelling house was let to the tenant or a predecessor in title of his in consequence of the tenant or predecessor being in the employment of the landlord, or of –
(i) A local authority,
(ii) A development corporation, a housing action trust, an urban development corporation, or the governors of an aided school,
and b) The tenant or a person residing in the dwelling house has been guilty of conduct such that, having regard to the purpose for which the building is used, it would not be right for him to continue in occupation of the dwelling house. Ground 8 summary: the accommodation was temporary pending works to the original tenancy The dwelling house was made available for occupation by the tenant (or a predecessor in title of his) while works were carried out on the dwelling house which he previously occupied as his only or principal home and – a) The tenant (or predecessor) was a secure tenant of the other dwelling house at the time when he ceased to occupy it as his home, b) The tenant (or predecessor) accepted the tenancy of the dwelling house of which possession is sought on the understanding that he would give up occupation when, on completion of the works, the other dwelling house was again available for occupation by him under a secure tenancy, and c) The works have been completed and the other dwelling house is so available.
www.southwark.gov.uk SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 53
Part II – Grounds on which the court may order possession if suitable alternative accommodation is available Ground 9 summary: overcrowding The dwelling house is overcrowded, within the meaning of Part X (which can be found online via www.southwark.gov.uk) in such circumstances as to render the occupier guilty of an offence. Ground 10 summary: the landlord wants to carry out works The landlord intends, within a reasonable time of obtaining possession of the dwelling house – a) To demolish or reconstruct the building or part of the building comprising the dwelling house, or b) To carry out work on that building or on land let together with, and thus treated as part of, the dwelling house, and cannot reasonably do so without obtaining possession of the dwelling house. Ground 10A summary: the tenancy is in an area being redeveloped The dwelling house is in an area which is the subject of a redevelopment scheme approved by the Secretary of State or the Housing Corporation or Scottish Homes in accordance with Part V of this Schedule and the landlord intends within a reasonable time of obtaining possession to dispose of the dwelling house in accordance with the scheme. Or, part of the dwelling house is in such an area and the landlord intends within a reasonable time of obtaining possession to dispose of that part in accordance with the scheme and for that purpose reasonably requires possession of the dwelling house. Ground 11 summary: on charitable grounds The landlord is a charity and the tenant’s continued occupation of the dwelling house would conflict with the objects of the charity.
Tenants’ Handbook SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 54
Part III – Grounds on which the court may order possession if it considers it reasonable and suitable alternative accommodation is available Ground 12 summary: the tenancy was granted as a consequence of employment which is now terminated The dwelling house forms part of, or is within the curtilage of, a building which, or so much of it as is held by the landlord, is held mainly for purposes other than housing purposes and consists mainly of accommodation other than housing accommodation, or is situated in a cemetery, and – a) The dwelling house was let to the tenant or a predecessor in title of his in consequence of the tenant or predecessor being in the employment of the landlord or of –
(i) A local authority,
(ii) A development corporation, housing action trust, an urban development corporation, . . . or the governors of an aided school, and that employment has ceased, and
b) The landlord reasonably requires the dwelling house for occupation as a residence for some person either engaged in the employment of the landlord, or of such a body, or with whom a contract for such employment has been entered into conditional on housing being provided. Ground 13 summary: the landlord requires suitable accommodation for a disabled person for which the property is suited The dwelling house has features which are substantially different from those of ordinary dwelling houses and which are designed to make it suitable for occupation by a physically disabled person who requires accommodation of a kind provided by the dwelling house and – a) There is no longer such a person residing in the dwelling house, and b) The landlord requires it for occupation (whether alone or with members of his family) by such a person.
www.southwark.gov.uk SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 55
Ground 14 summary: the landlord requires the property for a person for whom it has been designated and no such person currently occupies the accommodation The landlord is a housing association or housing trust which lets dwelling houses only for occupation (whether alone or with others) by persons whose circumstances (other than merely financial circumstances) make it especially difficult for them to satisfy their need for housing, and – a) Either there is no longer such a person residing in the dwelling house or the tenant has received from a local housing authority an offer of accommodation in premises which are to be let as a separate dwelling under a secure tenancy, and b) The landlord requires the dwelling house for occupation (whether alone or with members of his family) by such a person. Ground 15 summary: the landlord requires the specifically adapted property for someone with special needs The dwelling house is one of a group of dwelling houses which it is the practice of the landlord to let for occupation by persons with special needs and – a) A social service or special facility is provided in close proximity to the group of dwelling houses in order to assist persons with those special needs, b) There is no longer a person with those special needs residing in the dwelling house, and c) The landlord requires the dwelling house for occupation (whether alone or with members of his family) by a person who has those special needs. Ground 15A summary: the tenant acquires accommodation that is more extensive than they reasonably require The dwelling house is in England, the accommodation afforded by it is more extensive than is reasonably required by the tenant and – a) The tenancy vested in the tenant by virtue of section 89 (succession to periodic tenancy) or 90 (devolution of term certain) in a case where the tenant was not the previous tenant’s spouse or civil partner, and b) Notice of the proceedings for possession was served under section 83 (or, where no such notice was served, the proceedings for possession were begun) more than six months but less than 12 months after the relevant date.
Tenants’ Handbook SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 56
For this purpose “the relevant date” is – a) The date of the previous tenant’s death, or b) If the court so directs, the date on which, in the opinion of the court, the landlord (or, in the case of joint landlords, any one of them) became aware of the previous tenant’s death. The matters to be taken into account by the court in determining whether it is reasonable to make an order on this ground include – a) The age of the tenant, b) The period (if any) during which the tenant has occupied the dwelling house as the tenant’s only or principal home, and c) Any financial or other support given by the tenant to the previous tenant. Ground 16 summary: the property is unsuitably large for the tenant The accommodation afforded by the dwelling house is more extensive than is reasonably required by the tenant and – a) The tenancy vested in the tenant by virtue of section 89 (succession to periodic tenancy), the tenant being qualified to succeed by virtue of section 87(b) (members of family other than spouse), and b) Notice of the proceedings for possession was served under section 83 more than six months but less than 12 months after the date of the previous tenant’s death. The matters to be taken into account by the court in determining whether it is reasonable to make an order on this ground include – a) The age of the tenant, b) The period during which the tenant has occupied the dwelling house as his only or principal home, and c) Any financial or other support given by the tenant to the previous tenant.
www.southwark.gov.uk SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 57
Summary of parts Part I – Grounds on which a court may order possession if it considers it reasonable GROUND 1
Rent arrears or other breach of the conditions of tenancy.
The tenant has been guilty of antisocial behaviour.
GROUND 2A One joint tenant leaves. GROUND 3
The tenant neglects to care for the property.
The tenant allows the property to deteriorate.
The tenancy was obtained under false pretences.
The tenancy was obtained through paid assignment.
The tenancy was granted through employment now ended.
GROUND 8 The tenant’s occupation was conditional on works been completed elsewhere. Part II – Grounds on which the court may order possession if suitable alternative accommodation is available GROUND 9
Overcrowding renders the occupier guilty of an offence.
GROUND 10 The landlord requires vacant possession to complete works. GROUND 10A The area is being redeveloped and the property is required for that redevelopment. GROUND 11 The tenant’s occupation conflicts with the landlord’s charitable aims. Part III – Grounds on which the court may order possession if it considers it reasonable and suitable alternative accommodation is available GROUND 12 The accommodation is tied and required as such. GROUND 13 The property is adapted and required for a disabled person. GROUND 14 The property is suitable and required for a person with special needs. GROUND 15 The property is specialised for those with special needs. GROUND 15A The tenant acquires accommodation that is more extensive than they reasonably require. GROUND 16 The property is unsuitably large for the tenant’s occupation. Tenants’ Handbook SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 58
Looking after your home and estate This chapter tells you about estate services and housing repairs. It describes the services provided to your home and our estates. It also has general advice on looking after your home and what to do if something goes wrong, including reporting repairs.
Page Part A Looking after your home and estate 1 Clean and green 60 2 Reporting repairs 60 - 61 3 Estate inspections 61 4 Rubbish 62 5 Chutes and lifts 62 6 Recycling 63 7 Engine oil 64 Part B Looking after your home â€“ your repairs service 1 Introduction 65 2 Repairs we are responsible for 66 3 Repairs we can charge for 66 4 Vandalism and neglect 67 5 Repairs you are responsible for 67 6 Reporting a repair 68 7 Emergency repairs 68 8 Reporting gas repairs 69 9 Getting ready for the repair 69 10 Service standards: when will your repair be done? 69 - 70 11 What to do if you are not happy with a repair 70 12 Appointments and working hours 71 13 Forcing entry 71 14 Decorating 72 15 What if repairs are not done? 72 - 73 16 Improving our repairs service 74 17 Contractorsâ€™ code of conduct 74 18 Protecting against frost damage and burst pipes 74 - 75 19 Going away 75 20 Condensation 75 21 Keeping your home secure 76 22 The password scheme 76 23 Bogus callers 76 24 Saving energy in your home 77 25 Home improvements 78 - 79 26 Home insurance 79 27 Planned maintenance and improvements 79 -8 0 28 Major works 80 29 Equipment and adaptations 81 30 Handyperson Service 81 31 Pest control 82 32 District heating 83 33 Problems with the water supply 83
www.southwark.gov.uk SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 59
Part A – Looking after your home and estate 1 Clean and green We are committed to a cleaner and greener Southwark. We want high standards for your estates and all public areas and we want to make sure recycling is a top priority for everyone. We need your help every day to achieve this and keep Southwark clean and green. We clean all shared estate areas (inside or outside), blocks and sheltered units by: • • • • • •
Clearing fallen leaves Removing graffiti within 24 hours Making sure outside areas are free of litter Cleaning lifts, landings, balconies and stairs regularly Removing any large items of rubbish from shared areas Making sure that pathways are gritted when the weather is snowy or icy.
2 Reporting repairs You can report repairs online via www.southwark.gov.uk/repairs If you do go online there are several options including: ‘report a repair’ and ‘emergency repairs.’ When you click on the relevant button you are taken to a form to complete. Simply enter your details and tell us what the repair is. There are also diagrams showing you how to report a repair by clicking on the picture that best shows the repair you need. You can report non urgent repairs via email at firstname.lastname@example.org You can also report repairs via telephone on 0800 952 4444. Emergency repairs Generally a repair is categorised as an emergency if it poses a serious risk to health and safety, the structure of the property, or results in the property being insecure. • If the repair is an emergency we will attend within 24 hours • For all repair emergencies, telephone the 24 hour free phone number 0800 952 4444 or email email@example.com
Tenants’ Handbook SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 60
owever, if your call refers to a gas, electricity or water supply problem you H should contact: • Gas leaks 0800 111 999 • Electricity (UK Power Networks) 0800 028 0247 • Thames Water 0800 714 614. When will an emergency repair be fixed? Where there is a danger to your health and safety we will try to attend within two hours of the repair being reported, or within four hours if it’s about heating, estate lighting or door entry systems. This will be to make the situation safe; we may have to come back another day to do the full repair.
3 Estate inspections You have an open invitation to take part in our programme of monthly estate inspections – walking the estate together is a good way to look at real issues and plan action. Estate inspections are an informal walkabout on your estate with both council officers and tenants, where you can point out the issues which you think are important and need action. If you want to get involved, contact your Resident Services Officer or designated customer contact point to find out more about this: the more you join in the better your services will be. Reporting issues on estates If you live on a housing estate you can report any problems needing a repair directly on 0800 952 4444 – this could be anything from a lift that is out of order or broken glass on a stairwell to a security door not closing properly. If you live on an estate and there are problems with estate cleaning or dumped cars, you can either contact your Housing Services Office or the Environmental Services helpline on 020 7525 2000. You can also report problems with street lights, your rubbish collection, street cleaning or rubbish left on the street directly on 020 7525 2000.
www.southwark.gov.uk SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 61
4 Rubbish It’s a chore, but disposing of rubbish properly saves our time and your money: • P utting rubbish and recycling in the chutes or bins provided, as directed by us, will help to keep your area a decent place to live • If you put nappies and sanitary towels, for example, in the toilet this will inevitably cause blockages and we charge fees for blockage by careless disposal • Leaving rubbish lying around, especially in corridors or stairwells, can cause a hazard, especially in the event of an emergency, as these are your escape routes • Rubbish carelessly dumped will also attract vermin and we prosecute those responsible. Don’t dump it. Tell us and we’ll collect it free of charge Bulky rubbish Do not dump bulky items, such as furniture, in the street or in any shared area. If you need help to get rid of any large items such as furniture, you can arrange this free of charge by completing our online form at www.southwark.gov.uk. Alternatively you can call our environmental services helpline on 020 7525 2000 and we will arrange collection within five to ten days. Dumping in shared areas and the street is antisocial and if we have evidence we will prosecute with a view to recharging for the costs of removal. For garden or builders’ waste, please check with the environmental services helpline for current arrangements.
5 Chutes and lifts Chutes Only everyday domestic household rubbish, wrapped or in a bag, goes down the chute. Try to do this between 8am and 8pm to reduce disturbance to your neighbours. Do not put cardboard boxes, coat hangers, umbrellas, brick rubble, wood etc, down the chute – it will cause blockages and is inconvenient for everyone and costly to clear. If a hopper door of a chute is broken or missing, you should report it to the StreetLeaders Team on 020 7525 2000 and we will try to repair it as a matter of urgency. Tenants’ Handbook SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 62
If you put material into the chutes that is not normal household rubbish you are creating a fire risk for both yourself and your neighbours and you may also be breaking your tenancy agreement. Lifts All our lifts are serviced regularly but inevitably there are occasional breakdowns. You can help us keep them in working order by making sure: • • • •
Any problems are reported immediately on 0800 952 4444 Your children and their friends do not play in or with the lifts or its parts Lift doors are not blocked or held open Lifts are not overloaded by heavy items.
Every lift has an instructions plate inside telling you what to do if it breaks down.
6 Recycling Recycling services include weekly food and garden waste collections and fortnightly collections for both rubbish and dry recyclables. Below are just some of the items you’re able to recycle in Southwark, either at a local recycling centre or by using your blue bin or box, clear bag collection (or communal bins if you live in a flat). Please ensure you only include items listed and remove lids, tops, caps and corks and rinse out any remaining food: • Glass: glass bottles and glass jars of any colour • Metals: drink cans and food tins – please empty, rinse and crush biscuit, cake and sweet tins; metal lids (from glass bottles and jars); aluminum foil (clean only); aerosol spray cans – do not puncture or squash • Plastics: plastic drinks bottles; plastic household bottles, i.e. shampoo and detergent bottles; plastic food trays, tubs, pots, lids and tops • Paper: newspapers and magazines; catalogues and brochures; junk mail, flyers and leaflets; envelopes (please remove the plastic windows); telephone directories including the Yellow Pages; shredded paper (please put in a used paper envelope or paper bag); greeting cards; food packets (like cereal boxes); cardboard (please remove any plastics from boxes, break down cardboard, and flatten); egg boxes; detergent and washing powder boxes; tissue boxes; toilet roll tubes and kitchen roll tubes • Cartons: food and drink cartons such as Tetra Pak (commonly used for milk and juices).
www.southwark.gov.uk SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 63
Contamination Please only place the items listed above inside your blue bin or box, communal recycling bin or clear bag. These items should not be placed in the recycling: • • • • •
Food waste Textiles Plastic bags Black bags Small items of household furniture.
Please place materials into bags, boxes or bins. Loose recycling materials presented in black bags will not be collected. Many tenants have door to door recycling schemes with regular deliveries of clear plastic bags to use for recycling as directed. For details of your local recycling facilities contact your designated customer contact point. Remember: the more you recycle, the less it costs everyone. To dispose of harmful chemicals, for example paint stripper, turpentine, wood preservative or varnish, please call the City of London’s Hazardous Waste Removal information line on 020 7332 3433. Batteries: shops selling these often have a bin for used and dead batteries.
7 Engine oil It is illegal to put engine oil down the drain and it is harmful to the environment. Simply take any waste oil to: Veolia ES Southwark Ltd Veolia Environmental Services (UK) Plc Southwark Integrated Waste Management Facility 43 Devon Street Peckham SE15 1AL
Tenants’ Handbook SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 64
Part B – Looking after your home – Your repairs service 1 Introduction It is a condition of your tenancy that you must use the property (including its fixtures and fittings) carefully, and take reasonable care of it. You must also take care of interior decoration and repay us the cost of any repair or replacement to the property, block or estate, resulting from your negligence or failure to use the property carefully. It is also a condition of your tenancy that we, as your landlord, agree to carry out certain repairs. This is generally to keep the structure (roof, brickwork, and so on) and the outside of your home in good repair and to maintain the installations (pipes and equipment) for water, electricity, gas and drainage inside your home. Allow us to inspect For your part, you must agree to allow us to enter your home to: • • • •
Inspect the state of the property Carry out pest control treatments Service your gas installation Carry out any of our duties described in the conditions of tenancy, including repairs.
Tell us of any problems We also require you to tell us of any problems with the state of repair of the property and common parts as soon as possible. And, if we in turn fail to carry out our repairing responsibilities, you will be entitled to fair and reasonable compensation, which may be deducted from any debt outstanding to us. We expect your repairs to be carried out as quickly as is reasonably possible and we have also agreed a code of conduct with our contractors for working in your home.
www.southwark.gov.uk SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 65
2 Repairs we are responsible for We are responsible for maintaining the structure and outside of your home and pipes for water, electricity, gas and drainage inside your home; to include: • • • • • • • • •
Drains Gutters and external pipes Service roads Designated play areas Entrances Entrance halls Staircases Roofs Firefighting equipment.
Subject to reasonable expenditure and consultation this may also apply to the following: • • • • • • •
Lifts Communal TV aerials Entry phones Communal lighting Refuse collection facilities Communal heating Ventilation services.
We are not liable for any repair that you have caused by not looking after the property properly, even if it is a repair that we would normally carry out, including sinks, toilets or related pipework blocked due to pouring cooking oil, fat or other items likely to cause blockage into sinks and drains.
3 Repairs we can charge for We will charge you the full cost of a repair if you have caused it by your abuse or negligence, or if we have had to force entry because you have not allowed access for pest control, gas servicing or during a major works project.
Tenants’ Handbook SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 66
4 Vandalism and neglect We are not responsible for repairs caused as a result of damage or neglect by you, your family, your visitors or your pets, including any accidental damage or any alterations you may have made. In some circumstances, if you damage our property, we will consider that you have broken your tenancy agreement. If we have to carry out any repairs you have caused we will charge you for the full cost of the work including our administrative costs. If you cause serious damage to our property you risk losing your home. If your home has been damaged by criminal action, you must report this to the police, so that they can investigate the matter. The police will give you a crime number, which you must give us so that we can arrange any repairs that are needed, although you should note that obtaining a crime number will not automatically mean that we will undertake a repair free of charge.
5 Repairs you are responsible for You are responsible for the general upkeep of your home. When your tenancy ends, you must leave the property clean and tidy and ready for the next tenant to move in. If you do this and give us four weeks’ notice and a forwarding address we may pay you an allowance to say thank you. You are responsible for most minor repairs to your home, including repairs to: • • • • • • • • • • •
Electric plugs Fuses and light bulbs Inside doors Inside door and cupboard handles Catches and locks Garden gates and fences Toilet seats Broken glass inside your home Floor tiles Small cracks in plaster Washing machine connections.
You are also responsible for your garden, including any trees and window boxes, and must keep all garden space, balconies and yards tidy and free from rubbish.
www.southwark.gov.uk SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 67
6 Reporting a repair Report repairs 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year: • • • •
ur Repairs Service is always open so that you do not have to wait to report a repair O The best way to report a repair online is via www.southwark.gov.uk/repairs There are pictures and diagrams to help to pick the right repair for you You can also report a repair via freephone telephone on 0800 952 4444 (mobile users may incur charges).
If you report a repair via telephone be ready to give us: • A daytime contact telephone number and your name and address • All of the information you have about the repair • Any previous report of the repair. To help you identify a fault we have a Repairs finder chapter online which contains pictures of different types of repairs. By post You can report repairs in writing to your designated MySouthwark Service Point. By email You can report non urgent repairs by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org By visiting our website You can also report repairs on our website at www.southwark.gov.uk/repairs
7 Emergency repairs Emergency repairs are those that you need because of the risk of injury to people or major damage to your home. An emergency repair will often be temporary and more work may be needed. Our staff will help you make sure these follow up repairs are carried out. Because these repairs are urgent, we cannot always give you an appointment. We may even have to ask you to stay at home until our contractor can visit.
Tenants’ Handbook SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 68
8 Reporting gas repairs If you smell gas, please phone the emergency number 0800 111 999 immediately. It does not matter who your supplier is. This is a freephone number unless you are calling from a mobile phone. Repairs to any gas cookers or similar appliances that you have fitted are your responsibility. Please note these must be fitted by a Gas Safe Registered installer. You should report repairs to gas fires or boilers on 0800 952 4444 in the normal way.
9 Getting ready for the repair Sometimes someone may need to visit your home to inspect the repair before we can register it. If this is the case we will make an appointment and the visiting officer will carry Southwark Council identification. We may also have to ask you to remove furniture, curtains or carpets from a room before the repair is started. Our staff will tell you about this when making the appointment for the work. If you do not do this the work may be delayed.
10 Service standards: when will your repair be done? Emergency – within 24 hours Our contractor will attend within 24 hours. Where there is a danger to your health and safety, we will try to attend within two hours of you reporting the repair. Please note that this is a make safe service and we will carry out the full repair as a lower priority. Examples of emergency repairs include: • Having no electricity inside your home • All serious plumbing leaks where the building is in danger of damage and the leak cannot be contained in a bucket, for example • Serious leaks in the roof and other major structural problems • Making your property secure following a break in • A blocked toilet when there is only one toilet in the home – you may be recharged if you or someone visiting or living with you blocks the toilet through negligence or vandalism.
www.southwark.gov.uk SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 69
Urgent – within three days These are repairs that, while not an emergency, can be a serious nuisance if they are not repaired. Examples of urgent repairs include the loss of: • Some electrical power • Some of your water supply • All or some of your heating or water heating during the colder months (between 31 October and 1 May). Non urgent – within 20 working days These are routine repairs which our contractors will carry out within 20 working days. Examples of non urgent repairs include: • Minor plastering • Minor electrical and plumbing repairs. Sometimes we will have planned major work that will include repairs that you have identified. In these cases there may be a reasonable delay before we start work as long as there will be no serious risk to your health and safety.
11 What to do if you are not happy with a repair The first thing you should do is to contact us on 0800 952 4444 and we will send someone round to either fix or inspect the problems. In the unlikely event that this does not work you may want to apply to the arbitration tribunal to make an independent decision about the work. Either way, we may be able to offer compensation if we have not kept to our side of the agreement and have not done your repairs or have done them badly.
Tenants’ Handbook SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 70
12 Appointments and working hours Normal working hours for non urgent repairs are from 8am to 8pm and we aim to make an appointment for all repairs. Some larger repairs will take some time to carry out so appointment times for those will be limited. We offer three different appointment slots: • Mornings (8am to 1pm) • Afternoons (12pm to 6pm) • School run (10am to 3pm). Missed appointments cost time and money. If we make an appointment for a repair or an inspection and we do not turn up to that appointment you are entitled to claim compensation, unless there is a reasonable excuse for us missing the appointment. If we have made an appointment with you and you do not keep it we may charge you for attending.
13 Forcing entry There are certain situations where we will need to take action to protect the wellbeing of you or your neighbours. If we cannot do this under normal circumstances we have the right to force entry to your home. We will only do this under special circumstances, for example, if we need to: • S ervice your gas appliances and we have not been able to contact you after two attempts • Treat your home for pests and we have not been able to contact you after two attempts. We will only force entry to your home if the repair problem is serious and we have not been able to contact you. In these cases we are likely to charge you the cost of repairing any damage caused. The only other time we may need to force entry to your home is if there is a fault in your home (for example, a leak or other similar emergency) that could injure you, or damage your property, or another property. Similarly, we are entitled to charge you if you do not keep an appointment made.
www.southwark.gov.uk SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 71
14 Decorating You are responsible for decorating the interior of your home. If, however, your decorations are damaged following a repair, we may either repair that damage or pay you an allowance to have the damaged areas redecorated. In line with our legal obligations, we will carry out any outside works where necessary to maintain the condition of the building. There are set timescales for when we must carry out certain repairs.
15 What if repairs are not done? Our aim is to complete the majority of the jobs raised right first time, some jobs may be too complicated to allow this but we will advise you of this so that it is clear what you should expect. If we have not finished a repair you should contact us on 0800 952 4444. If the repair is not started within the agreed timescales shown in our service standards (see 10 Service standards: when will your repair be done? in this chapter) or the Repairs finder, you may be entitled to compensation. You can also arrange to carry out the repair yourself and we will refund your costs. There are, however, strict conditions for doing this. You can only arrange for repairs to be carried out yourself and be refunded if: • • • •
You can prove that you told us about the repair We have not carried out the repair within the time limits The work does not cost more than £320 The repair is in your home.
If you meet these conditions and you want to carry out a repair yourself you must follow the procedure below. Procedure to carry out your own repairs You may carry out the repair or arrange for the repair to be carried out by a building contractor. We will check that the work has been satisfactorily carried out and then refund you the costs we would have had to pay if we had carried out the work. We will tell you our costs if you ask us. Just to be clear we will not refund you the amount that you paid. The government runs a Right to Repair scheme for certain repairs. If one of the following repairs is overdue you should contact us on 0800 952 4444 to see if it is
Tenants’ Handbook SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 72
included in the Right to Repair scheme. You may then be able to get someone else to carry out the repair and claim compensation. The costs of repairs are limited. The qualifying repairs are: • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
Loss of electricity Loss of water supply Loss of gas supply A blocked flue to your boiler or open fire No heating A blocked or leaking toilet wastepipe A toilet that will not flush (if it is your only toilet) A blocked kitchen sink A leaking pipe, tank or cistern A leaking roof An insecure door, window or lock A loose bannister or handrail Rotten stairs or floor A door entry system not working An extractor fan not working. a) If we have not carried out the repair within the agreed times you must tell us in writing that you are going to carry out the repair or arrange for the repair to be carried out. b) If, after seven days (or 24 hours, if it is an emergency repair) of receiving this written notice, we have not:
• Carried out the repair • Told you in writing that we could not carry out the work because we could not get in to your property • Told you in writing that the repair would cost more than £320 • Told you in writing that we are not responsible for the repair or that the repair is not necessary.
www.southwark.gov.uk SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 73
16 Improving our repairs service We are always trying to improve our repairs service so we do need to know when you are not happy with the quality of the work. To help us improve the service, we carry out satisfaction surveys. Do not be surprised if one of our staff calls you when the work has been finished to ask you how well it went. If we have not been able to call you, we will send you a feedback form asking for your comments. We also use research companies to carry out independent surveys to help us assess our performance.
17 Contractors’ code of conduct Our contractors must: • • • • • • • • • •
Not play radios when working in your home Not smoke when working in your home Make sure that there is clear and safe access to your home at all times Make sure that they carry identification Not use abusive or offensive language Not leave dangerous tools around Park considerately Use dust sheets and clean up afterwards Make sure your services are reconnected at the end of the day Wear appropriate clothes.
18 Protecting against frost damage and burst pipes If you have a burst pipe, you should: • • • • •
Switch off your central heating or immersion heater Turn off the main stopcock (make sure you know where it is) Put something under the leak to catch water Turn on taps to drain water out of the system Report the problem to us on 0800 952 4444.
Tenants’ Handbook SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 74
If cold weather is forecast you can help reduce the risk of burst pipes by: • Making sure taps are turned off fully • Reporting any overflows • Keeping your home as warm as possible.
19 Going away If you leave your home empty for more than a couple of days you should: • • • •
Turn the water off at the mains Turn off your water heating, especially electric immersion heaters Turn down your central heating Unplug all appliances.
20 Condensation Condensation is caused when warm air meets a cold surface. It can damage your home, clothes and bedding if you do not treat it. It can also cause mould to grow on walls and ceilings. You can reduce condensation by: • M aking sure your home is warm and well ventilated: do not block airbricks or any other types of ventilation • Opening windows or using any ventilation (such as window fans) and closing the kitchen door when cooking • Opening windows or using any ventilation and closing the bathroom door when running a bath • Opening windows or using ventilation and closing doors when washing and drying clothes and drying clothes outside wherever possible • Keeping your home warm by making sure there is a gap between your radiators and any furniture.
www.southwark.gov.uk SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 75
21 Keeping your home secure • Always check the identity of callers before you let them into your home • Lock your doors and close your windows when leaving your home • Use your door chain and spyhole if you have them. We have provided door entry security systems to a number of properties. We have designed these systems so only people who live in your block or their visitors can get in. For more information please read the door entry and CCTV systems sections in the Respecting others chapter of your handbook. Do not install any security gates or grilles yourself without asking us for permission first. We will only give you permission if you can show that the police and the fire brigade approve of the gates that you want to install.
22 The password scheme To reduce the threat of bogus callers, we have introduced a password scheme. If you would like to be included please contact your designated MySouthwark Service Point where you can give them a password that Resident Services Officers and contractors will use when visiting your home. You can change this password at any time.
23 Bogus callers Some criminals trick their way into homes so that they can steal. To help protect yourself: • • • •
Join our password scheme Always ask callers for their identity card Use your chain and spyhole if you have one Do not let strangers or anyone you are not sure about into your home.
All our workers and contractors carry identity cards. Always ask to see their card before you let anyone in. If you are not sure, please contact your designated MySouthwark Service Point or the police. Genuine callers will not mind being asked for identification and will expect you to ask. If in doubt, keep them out.
Tenants’ Handbook SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 76
24 Saving energy in your home You can get advice about energy in your home from a number of sources, including: • • • •
our designated customer contact point, or your nearest MySouthwark Service Point Y Your gas or electricity suppliers The Southwark Council website www.southwark.gov.uk The Energy Saving Trust advice centre on 0800 512 012.
Using energy efficiently is important to reduce your cost of living and to help protect the environment. There are simple steps you can take to reduce your fuel bills and keep your home warm and comfortable (keeping warm and comfortable also helps you keep healthy): • Only boil enough water in your kettle for what you need to save £20 a year • Keep lids on cooking pots to speed up cooking times and save fuel • Unplug mobile phone chargers and switch off your TV and computer instead of leaving them on standby to save £30 a year • Switch off lights when you leave the room to save £10 a year • Close your curtains at dusk to keep heat in and tuck curtains behind radiators where possible • Energy saving light bulbs use less energy and last ten times longer: one 20W bulb can save you £60 over its lifetime. We will usually carry out work to improve insulation and reduce heat loss as part of our maintenance programme. Your designated MySouthwark Service Point should be able to tell you whether any work is programmed for your home and, if so, when it may be carried out. Are you paying too much for your fuel? You may be able to save hundreds of pounds every year by changing how you are charged for your fuel (your fuel tariff) and the way you pay your bills. Consumer Direct is funded by the government to give free, independent consumer advice on your gas or electricity supply, including how to get the best deal on your energy bills. Call 08454 040506 or visit www.adviceguide.org.uk
www.southwark.gov.uk SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 77
25 Home improvements You can carry out improvements to your home as long as you get our permission in writing before you start. We will not normally refuse this permission but we may apply some conditions to the work you can do. If you want to carry out any home improvements you should write to your designated customer contact point explaining what work you want to do and who will be doing it. You should also check whether you need planning permission or building regulations approval. If you do, it is always best to get professional advice to help you with the work. You can do the work when you have any planning permission and building regulations approval you need, as well as permission from your designated customer contact point. You must pay for the work and repair any damage that you cause. Improvements can include, among other things: • • • •
Any additions or alteration to fixtures, fittings or services Putting up a TV aerial or satellite dish Decorating the outside of the property Replacing or installing floor coverings.
We will not give you permission to put aerials or satellite dishes on walls, roofs or windows because of the damage that they could cause. We will charge you for any damage you cause with dishes or aerials. If you have put up an aerial or dish and we need to put up some scaffolding you will be responsible for removing it, as we will not accept liability for any damage. When deciding whether to give you permission to carry out an improvement, we will consider if: • • • •
The improvement will make your home any less safe The improvement will cost us money The improvement will reduce the sale or rental value of the property In the case of floor covering, it is likely to cause a noise nuisance.
Removing carpets and replacing them with a hardwood or laminate finish can greatly increase the level of noise and cause a noise nuisance which can be annoying for your neighbours. Where we know there may be a problem with noise, we may give you permission to install hardwood or laminate flooring on the condition you use a high quality underlay. If these improvements are permanent you cannot remove them when you
Tenants’ Handbook SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 78
move out without our permission. In these circumstances we can compensate you for improvements, as long as we gave you permission in the first place. It is always a good idea to keep receipts for any improvements you have paid for. Compensation You may be entitled to compensation for any improvements you have carried out, but this applies only when your tenancy ends. Please contact your Resident Services Officer for more information. If you carry out improvements and leave the property while you are still an introductory tenant, you will be not be entitled to any compensation.
26 Home insurance We cannot insure your furniture, belongings and decorations against theft, fire, vandalism, burst pipes or leaks. We strongly advise you to take out household contents insurance. You can insure your belongings under a low cost home contents insurance plan arranged through a designated national insurer. For more information please pick up an information pack from a MySouthwark Service Point, email email@example.com or call 0845 601 7007.
27 Planned maintenance and improvements We carry out programmes of major repair and improvement every year. These could be: • P lanned maintenance schemes, like our programme for decorating the outside of properties; gutter clearance or drain jetting • Repairs or improvement schemes aimed at improving your homes to modern day standards, such as new kitchens and bathrooms. All housing areas have a programme of the refurbishment works we have planned for the next two years so you will be able to check to find out if your home is included. We develop these programmes using: • The results of surveys we carry out about the condition of our properties • What we learn from consultations with local tenants’ and residents’ associations and area forums • Professional advice from our staff or our consultants.
www.southwark.gov.uk SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 79
These projects are very expensive to plan, manage and carry out so you must allow us into your home to do the work. Your tenancy agreement states you must give us access to complete these works.
28 Major works Sometimes we may have to do so much work inside your home that you will have to move out for a while. These are major works that would seriously disrupt your living conditions. We will take account of a range of factors when making this decision. If you agree to move temporarily while the work is carried out you can claim a disturbance allowance to cover your costs for disconnecting and reconnecting your services, such as gas, and the costs of moving to and from your temporary home. Your Resident Services Officer will be able to explain how to claim these costs. If we ask you to stay in your home while we carry out such work you may be able to claim compensation. If you, or a relative, have to take time off work to give us access to your home you can claim an amount equal to any wages or holiday pay you can show us you have lost. We will also pay the cost of electricity used by our contractors. Sometimes so much work is needed that it alters the layout of your home so that it no longer meets your needs. If this happens you will need to move permanently. In this situation we will offer you suitable alternative accommodation and you will receive compensation under the S.39 Land Compensation Act 1973. Consulting you about major works Where the major works to your home are to improve or convert it we will give you at least two months to comment on our proposals. Where major works are to improve or convert a number of homes, as part of a planned programme, we will also consult the local tenants’ and residents’ association.
Tenants’ Handbook SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 80
29 Equipment and adaptations We can help you with equipment and adaptations to your home if you are disabled. This includes aids for carrying out household tasks, help with access to your home, getting around your home, along with bathroom and kitchen adaptations. An occupational therapist will assess your needs and entitlement. They will then work closely with the Housing Adaptations Team to make sure that the right adaptations are provided to help you stay in your home. The Housing Adaptations Team is responsible for repairs to these adaptations, not the general Repairs Team. If you or a member of your household is disabled and has difficulty managing everyday tasks and would benefit from adaptations to the home, contact Adult Social Care on 0845 600 1287 to ask for an occupational therapy assessment.
30 Handyperson Service The Healthy Homes Handyperson Serviceâ€™s main aim is to help you maintain safe and independent living if you are over 60 and disabled. The service carries out small repairs and adaptations to your home, including putting up shelves and curtain rails. Jobs are restricted to two hours. The handyperson does not do building work, decorating, electrical wiring, gas installations or gardening. For more information please contact the Handyperson Team on 020 7525 1862.
www.southwark.gov.uk SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 81
31 Pest control If you find any of the following pests in your home, you should report it to your housing services office or contact 0800 952 4444 immediately: • • • • • • •
Cockroaches Pharaoh ants (very small pink ants) Ghost ants (very small white ants) Rats Mice Wasp nests Bed bugs.
As a council tenant you will receive free treatments for these pests. As over 90 per cent of our housing in Southwark is in blocks it is very easy for pests to move from one property to another. Because of this, we will very often arrange to treat whole blocks, even if not all properties are affected. As it is very important for our pest control staff to treat every home we will use our powers to enter your home if we cannot get in after making an appointment with you. In these circumstances, we will charge you the cost of any damage caused. Please note that it is your responsibility to deal with other pests, such as flies, black ants, silverfish, woodlice, spiders and fleas; we can treat these but there will be a charge. Please note your tenancy conditions state that you must not feed pigeons anywhere on the estate. They can cause a nuisance to your neighbours and can attract other vermin such as rats, mice, squirrels and foxes. Brown tail moth In Southwark we experience occasional problems with the caterpillar from the brown tail moth. These caterpillars are almost completely black with white scales on their sides, two red spots near their back end and are covered in yellowy brown hairs. Trees infested by these caterpillars will contain grey silken tents. The hairs on these caterpillars can cause irritation and an itchy rash. If you see any signs of these caterpillars, you should tell your Resident Services Officer immediately and they will arrange for them to be treated. If the hairs get in your eyes, get medical help immediately.
Tenants’ Handbook SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 82
32 District heating Some of our estates benefit from district heating systems. These are low cost heating systems run from a central boiler house that is usually on or near the estate. District heating and hot water is paid for through a set charge with your rent. The heating is controlled centrally and is usually only provided for the colder months. This will be from at least 1 October to 31 March, but sometimes we will turn the systems on earlier and leave them on later, depending on the weather. District heating systems can also benefit the environment by using combined heat and power units, and often we will be able to generate electricity from our boiler plants. We then sell this back to the electricity companies to help keep your heating costs down as well as helping to improve the environment. We are investing over the long term in heating on demand systems where there is no heating season but where heating will be available throughout the year depending on the weather. To see if your estate benefits from heating on demand, call us on 0800 952 4444. We set standards for our district heating service. Between 7am and 10pm we aim to heat living rooms, including your kitchen, to 21°C, and your bedrooms, bathroom and hall to 16°C. As district systems are usually very big, it is impossible to be able to guarantee these temperatures so we aim for no more than 1.5°C higher or lower than those temperatures. Night temperatures will be set for 5°C lower. We aim to provide hot water 24 hours a day at about 60°C.
33 Problems with the water supply Occasionally there are problems with the water supply. There are lots of reasons why this may happen and we will work with Thames Water to reduce the effects and restore your supply as soon as possible. If there is no water, please be careful not to leave your home with the taps left on or plugs left in. Also check that you have turned off your taps before you go to bed. By doing this you can help reduce both water loss and the risk of causing flooding to either in your own home or to neighbours when the water comes back on. This is especially important if you live in a block of flats where there may be lots of people living below you. We regularly have to force entry into people’s homes to turn off taps flooding their neighbours below. This causes inconvenience and upset all round. So please remember, if the water goes off, please turn your taps off.
www.southwark.gov.uk SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 83
Contents 1 General safety advice 2 Childrenâ€™s safety 3 Electrical safety 4 Gas safety 5 Kitchen safety 6 Asbestos 7 Security 8 Fire safety 9 Water safety 10 Health checks
Page 85 85 86 - 88 89 90 90 - 91 91 - 92 92 - 95 95 96
Health and safety
This chapter gives you important information about health and safety in your home. It covers general safety advice, electrical and gas safety, personal safety and security, information about asbestos in the home, and fire and disease prevention.
Tenantsâ€™ Handbook SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 84
This chapter gives you advice and tips about staying safe in your home. We carry out annual tenancy checks to ensure homes are properly used and safe and we have responsibilities to you as a tenant. You in turn have a responsibility to use your home safely and to note our advice. Should there be any repair or maintenance issues or other health and safety concerns (i.e. tripping hazards in common areas, lifts not levelling properly etc) please let us know as soon as possible - see page 7 for contact details.
1 General safety advice • Y ou must get permission from your resident services Resident Services Officer before you start any home improvements, and then only use qualified engineers for gas and electrical renew or repair work • Do not tamper with fire, self closing or other safety doors, especially in kitchens, and do not block air vents or air bricks, especially in winter • Observe good housekeeping and minimise risk of slips, trips and falls in your home • Minimise risk of burning and scalding: be especially aware of possible contact with open fires, cooker, kettles and any other hot surfaces. Keep hot irons, curling tongs and hair straighteners out of reach of children and pets even when cooling down. When running a bath turn the cold water tap on first and always test the water with your elbow before getting into the bath or shower • Plan your storage so you do not have to keep heavy items on high selves; observe safe techniques when handling objects • Keep all medicines and chemical (bleach, turpentine, caustic soda etc) in a safe place preferably locked away. Return unused medicines to a local pharmacist for safe disposal. • Do not enter any restricted areas including lift rooms, water tank rooms, roofs and roof spaces.
2 Children’s safety • S upervise young children at all times, especially in the bath or a garden pool, never leave babies unattended on raised surfaces • Keep sharp objects, electrical appliances and other cords ncluding those on curtains and blinds out of reach of children, and especially those connected to hot items • Keep small objects, glass and choking hazards away from children. Keep pull
www.southwark.gov.uk SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 85
• • •
cords on curtains and blinds short and out of reach Keep animals, especially cats, out of the bedroom and use a net on a pram Keep floors free of toys and obstructions to prevent tripping Always use a securely fitted safety harness in a pram, pushchair or highchair, and do not place baby bouncers on raised surfaces - they could fall off with the movement of the baby ALWAYS install the television where it cannot be pushed, pulled or knocked down, and route cords and cables connected to the television so that they cannot be tripped over, pulled or grabbed Protect and warn children about dangers of electricity.
3 Electrical safety Electricity can kill and causes 20,000 accidental fires in UK homes every year. Every year roughly 70 people are killed and 350,000 seriously injured due to an electrical accident in the home. 89 per cent of electrical fires are caused by electrical products, mainly through their misuse, but also because they are unsafe, with 2.5 million UK adults experiencing electric shocks at home every year. What we will do: • W e will carry out comprehensive electrical testing on the full electrical installation before we rent out properties • We will secure all areas that could be dangerous and tell you not to enter those areas • We will carry out electrical testing to the landlord’s wiring supplies. What you should do: You have a responsibility to make sure all electrical equipment is in good working order, especially because of the risks associated with second hand or old electrical appliances. Always look out for the Kitemark safety symbol on all electrical products.
Tenants’ Handbook SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 86
There are some simple rules to follow to keep you safe when using electrical appliances: • D o not leave electrical appliances like washing machines, tumble dryers and dishwashers running during the night or when you are out • Electrical appliances should always be unplugged and switched off when not in use, unless the appliance is designed to remain powered (for example, a fridge or a freezer) • Do not stock items on top of your fridge – they may fall down the back and cause overheating • Make sure that all plugs are wired securely and that power leads are not frayed • Do not keep flowers on top of your television or any other electrical appliance • Watch out for any plugs or sockets that get hot and get them checked • Keep your toaster clean and away from curtains and hangings • Protect and warn children about the dangers of electricity • Do not leave wires where anyone can trip over them • Do not use electricity near water • Do not overload sockets or leads • Do not get plugs wet. Check your wiring: • If wires are damaged or worn, get them repaired or replaced, otherwise they can cause electric shock, burns and fire • Do not pull out electrical plugs by the lead or cable as this will damage the lead and can result in the plug overheating through frayed wiring • Make sure wires are well away from heat or water and that they do not present a trip hazard • Make sure that wires are not exposed, damaged or frayed • Make sure appliances are earthed. Bathroom safety: • N EVER take mains powered portable appliances, such as hairdryers, heaters or radios into a bathroom. Severe injury or DEATH may result.
www.southwark.gov.uk SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 87
• Garden safety and wet conditions: • N ever use electrical equipment in wet conditions, including lawn mowers and electrically powered devices • Check that the socket outlet or the appliance you are using has a residual current device (RCD) protection. An RCD (residual current device) is a potentially life saving device designed to prevent you from getting a fatal electric shock if you touch something live, such as a bare wire. It can also provide some protection against electrical fires. RCDs offer a level of personal protection that ordinary fuses and circuit breakers cannot provide. Devices left plugged in can use electricity even when they are off or sleeping, which is both costly to you and potentially dangerous.
Loss of electrical power to your home There could be times when you have no electrical supply to your home. This may be a problem that only affects your home. If you have no power supply one obvious thing to do is check with your neighbours to see if they are affected. If they are also affected, the problem may be with the electrical supplier who will deal with it once they are aware. It is also important that you report the loss of electrical power to us in case it is a fault that we can repair. If you do lose your power supply, make sure that you turn off and unplug any electrical appliances that were switched on when the supply went off. This includes televisions, microwave ovens, and kettles etc. It is safer for these appliances to be turned off before the power comes back on. Using gas appliances when the electricity is off If the electrical power is still off at night you should not use gas cooking facilities unless it is absolutely safe to do so. If you have an urgent need to use a gas cooker during a power cut please only use the cooker while there is sufficient daylight to use the appliance safely. Take care using any candles, especially near appliances, open pans and curtains.
Tenants’ Handbook SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 88
If you have health problems and the loss of the power supply means that aids in your home are not working, please telephone 0800 952 4444 immediately for advice and help. 0800 952 4444 is the telephone number for all repair emergencies and is a freephone number available 24 hours per day, 365 days per year. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org The Electrical Safety Council gives general advice on home electrical safety at www.esc.org.uk/public/safety-in-the-home/ Further electrical safety guidance For specific safety guidance, especially relating to the domestic appliances you own, you can contact the Citizens Advice Bureau on 08444 111 444. If you are calling from your mobile please dial 0300 330 0650 as this is a cheaper call rate, or visit them at www.citizensadvice.org.uk
4 Gas safety What we will do It is our legal responsibility to make sure that your gas supply and any gas appliances that are installed are checked, serviced and maintained. This covers any gas appliance, whether a gas cooker or a gas fire. To meet our legal duty to ensure your safety we carry out inspections to all properties we own and manage every year. You must allow access to the property to allow our officers, contractors or agents to carry out any inspection or safety check that needs to be carried out to the property. If you repeatedly refuse us access to carry out a gas safety inspection we will apply to the court for a warrant to gain access to your home to carry out the work. We will make sure all installation pipe work, appliances and flues are safely maintained and that all our contractors who work on gas appliances are registered on the Gas Safe Register, www.gassaferegister.co.uk What you should do If any gas appliances that we have installed breaks down you should report the fault on 0800 952 4444.
www.southwark.gov.uk SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 89
If you suspect a gas leak you should: • Switch off the gas at the meter and contact the National Grid on 0800 111 999 • Turn off all sources of ignition including the pilot light on your cooker or boiler • Open doors and windows to ensure you have fresh air. The National Grid telephone number 0800 111 999 is for emergency calls ONLY if you: • Smell gas • Suspect an emission of carbon monoxide • Wish to report a fire or explosion. Do not: • Use electrical appliances or switches • Use any naked flames • Smoke. National Grid also supply gas safety advice at www.nationalgrid.com/uk/gas/
5 Kitchen safety Over half of all home fires begin in the kitchen. • Use a closed electric fryer with a closing lid, rather than an open pan • Take extra care around children when boiling water or using liquids These simple checks will help keep you, your family and your property safe: Basic visual checks – check you’ve turned the cooker off: • When you’ve finished cooking, double check that the cooker is switched off • It is easy to get distracted and this can be potentially dangerous • If you are called away from the kitchen make sure you turn the heat off under the pans. Check that your oven is clean: • F at, grease and dirt builds up quickly and combined with high temperatures and red hot ovens can cause a fire, so be sure to clean your oven thoroughly and regularly.
Tenants’ Handbook SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 90
Check your plug sockets: • Make sure sockets are not overloaded or running too many appliances • Too many electrical appliances in one socket can lead to overheating and electrical fire, which can be difficult to control in a kitchen.
6 Asbestos Asbestos was widely used by the building industry for fireproofing and as an insulating material and it is still present in some of our buildings. We have carried out asbestos surveys in many dwellings to identify where it is likely to be found and have told our contractors so that they can take the necessary precautions if working in the area. The most likely places to find asbestos in a domestic setting are: • • • • •
Wall panels and boxing covering pipes and inside boiler cupboards Old floor tiles Textured ceiling finishes (Artex) Boiler flues Old toilet cisterns and water tanks.
What we will do: • B e compliant with the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 and specifically the Duty to Manage to protect anyone using or working in the premises from the risks to health that exposure to asbestos causes • Give you information about asbestos safety • Survey our housing stock and maintain a register of those properties where we know asbestos is present. What you should do: You must get our permission from your Resident Services Officer before you start any home improvements. If you think something in your home may have asbestos in it, do not drill into it, sand it down, scrape it, or disturb it in any way. If you suspect there is asbestos in your home, please contact your designated customer contact point for advice.
www.southwark.gov.uk SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 91
7 Security What we will do We will sometimes fit door entry systems or closed circuit television (CCTV) to shared entrances to blocks. These will only increase the security of your home when they are used properly. If there is a door entry system, CCTV and/or other means of ensuring block security, you must not break the shared security by allowing strangers access to the block. We will inspect shared entrance doors every time we carry out an estate inspection and report any defects we find. Shared door systems get heavy wear and tear and we will renew them from time to time. We will issue keys, key fobs, or security codes to authorised residents only. We will also charge for replacement keys or fobs. What you should do Your tenancy agreement states that to protect the security of you and your neighbours, you should only allow people through the door if they live with you or are visiting you. Don’t let anyone in who you don’t know. Security grilles You must not fit any security grilles, metal bars or covers to any doors or windows without our permission. We do not allow gates that block access to more than one home, for example, across a balcony or corridor, or that block fire exits. Where such gates are in place, we will give 24 hours’ notice that we are going to remove them. We strongly advise against fitting security entrance doors (for example doors that have three or more points of locking). This is because the two levels of security delay occupants’ escape and/or rescue services’ entry. If you have grilles, gates or picket fences in a communal area please make your Resident Services Officer aware, or alternatively contact 0800 952 4444 and report this, so that we can arrange removal.
Tenants’ Handbook SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 92
8 Fire safety Fires in people’s homes kill more people than fires in any other types of buildings. You can reduce the likelihood of a fire occurring in your home and be better prepared if a fire does occur. You must make sure that any doors internal to the dwelling fit securely and are in working order, and report any faults to us. The escape route(s) through communal areas must be kept clear and unobstructed at all times. We advise the internal escape route(s) within your dwelling are also as clear as practicable to aid your exit should an emergency occur. What you should do: • • • • • • • • • • •
Plan your escape Think of how you would get out if your normal way out is blocked Keep escape routes clear of rubbish or bulky items at all times Tell everyone in the house where the door and window keys are kept Make sure you have stubbed out cigarettes carefully Never smoke in bed Keep matches and lighters away from children Fit a smoke alarm and check it regularly Never leave lit candles unattended Keep clothing away from heaters When cooking, don’t overfill a chip pan with oil - it should never be more than one third full • Be careful that it doesn’t overheat – hot oil can catch fire easily • Use a thermostat controlled deep fat fryer • Never throw water on a chip pan fire. If a fire breaks out in your home: • If your smoke alarm goes off when you are asleep, follow your escape plan and exit the dwelling • Shout ‘fire’ to warn others and don’t stop to pick up valuable items • Check closed doors with the back of your hand • Do not open the door if it feels warm, as the fire may be on the other side of the door
www.southwark.gov.uk SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 93
• Smoke can kill: get down as low as possible where the air will be clearer • If your escape route is blocked by fire it may be safer to stay where you are until the fire brigade arrives. In this instance you must close the door and use soft materials to block any gaps to stop the smoke. Go to a window, call for help, dial 999 and wait to be rescued. For further information on preventing fires and escaping from a fire, please visit the London Fire Brigade website www.london-fire.gov.uk/PreventingFires.asp What we will do: • • • • • • • •
ndertake fire risk assessments to the communal areas of your building U Keep you updated with fire safety communications Provide clear information for you to enable you to find escape routes Illustrate important safety features to assist those for whom English is not their first language Provide your building’s layout to the emergency services, to enable them to quickly find a particular flat or maisonette once inside your building Liaise with London Fire Brigade regarding the use of premises information plates and boxes Ensure appropriate signage is in place and give you information about preventing fires Make sure you know about fire safety.
Keeping escape routes clear We will make sure that all escape routes in communal areas are clear of waste and flammable material and we will remove anything that is blocking the escape routes in communal areas. We may take more expensive items, such as new bikes, into storage if they are creating a fire health and safety risk. We will not repay the cost of damaged bike locks and we may charge you for getting your property back from storage. Do not fit key opening locks on your front door as this could impede your escape route. Smoke alarms London Fire Brigade will assist you in choosing and installing smoke alarms. For more information please visit their website www.london-fire.gov.uk/SmokeAlarms.asp
Tenants’ Handbook SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 94
Alterations and improvements As explained in your tenancy agreement you must not alter and improve the structure and fabric of your home, unless you have written permission from the Housing Department and Southwark Building Control. To obtain this, please contact your Resident Services Officer. Bin store rooms Bin stores contain combustible waste and may be vulnerable to accidental or deliberate fire setting. Our policy is to keep the doors to waste areas shut at all times and locked if appropriate. Only authorised staff and contractors will hold keys to these areas. Shared areas We will maintain estate lighting and pathways to reduce the risk of tripping. Please don’t leave belongings where they can block shared areas or fire exits, or where they may be a danger to health and safety. You should report any faulty fire doors, inside or outside your property on 0800 952 4444 as soon as possible. Your tenancy agreement states you are also not allowed to use or store any: • Liquid petroleum or paraffin containers or cylinders (for example, Calor gas) • Dangerous chemicals, gases or materials • Any other materials or gases that burn easily.
9 Water safety Legionnaires’ disease is a kind of pneumonia. It is caused by bacteria in water and it can be transferred to people by breathing in droplets of water that contain the bacteria. What we will do: • C arry out yearly inspections of tenants’ and residents’ association halls and flush out any water tanks where appropriate • Keep maintenance and water treatment records and make sure copies are available for inspecting officers • Carry out risk assessments and adopt measures to prevent the disease • Carry out regular inspections of all shared water tanks.
www.southwark.gov.uk SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 95
What you should do: The risk of Legionnaires’ disease is very small; however you can do the following to keep the risk low: • Visit your GP if you suspect you have contracted Legionnaires’ disease • Regularly clean and disinfect any taps and shower heads in your home • Make sure that you run any taps and showers to move any stagnant water when they have not been used for a while, for example, when you get home from holiday.
10 Health checks Your health is important to us. If you’re aged between 40 and 74 years and have not already been diagnosed with heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, or had a stroke, you will be invited for your check at some time over the coming years. Letters are sent out on a five yearly cycle. When you get your letter, call your GP to make an appointment. Do I need to wait for a letter for a health check? No. If you are a Southwark resident and or are registered with a Southwark GP and you meet the above criteria you can have an NHS health check at any time in any one of the following ways: • Through your GP • At one of our participating community pharmacies • With our outreach team who work from shopping centres, libraries and other community venues across Southwark. For further information, please visit www.southwark.gov.uk/healthcheck
Tenants’ Handbook SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 96
Respecting others This chapter is about being a good neighbour, respecting your neighbourhood and all of the people who live in it.
Page 1 Introduction 98 2. Door entry and CCTV systems 98 3. Shared areas 99 4. Lifts and restricted areas 99 5. Criminal behaviour 100 6. Harassment 100 7. Domestic abuse 101 - 104 8. Antisocial behaviour 104 - 108 9. Noise and nuisance 109 - 111 10. Repairing motor vehicles 112 11. Pets 112 12. Service standards 113 - 114
This chapter tells you about managing and reducing antisocial behaviour, any form of harassment, all domestic abuse and includes new definitions about controlling and coercive behaviour.
www.southwark.gov.uk SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 97
1. Introduction As a tenant, you are responsible for: • • • •
Your behaviour The behaviour of any person who lives in your home The behaviour of any person who comes to visit you The behaviour of any pets belonging to you, occupants or visitors.
Your tenancy agreement says that you must not: • D o anything which causes nuisance, annoyance, offence, distress or alarm to other tenants or their family, lodgers or visitors • Damage any property, fixtures or fittings belonging to us or to our tenants and their families. If you break any conditions of your tenancy agreement, you risk losing your home. We will usually consider antisocial behaviour as seriously breaking your tenancy agreement. We expect neighbours to be able to talk to each other to resolve minor matters of nuisance. However, and where necessary, we will use the full force of the law to deal with people who do not let others live peaceably in their homes.
2 Door entry and CCTV systems We sometimes fit door entry systems or closed circuit television (CCTV) for shared entrances to blocks. This is to increase the security of your home and is effective when properly used. Each tenant should only let their own visitors in If there is a door entry system, CCTV and/or other means of ensuring block security, you must not break the shared security by allowing strangers access to the block.
Tenants’ Handbook SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 98
3 Shared areas Shared areas are meant to be used for rest and quiet recreation. This means, for example, that your family or visitors should not use stairwells, shared landings, estate paths, shared paved, tarmac or grassed areas for actions likely to cause disturbance or nuisance for others, including: • • • • • • • • • • •
Playing ball games Drinking alcohol Using drugs or taking part in any other illegal activity Smoking when covered by the law banning smoking in public places Gathering in groups and frightening other residents Riding motorbikes and scooters (apart from on specific estate roads) Carrying out motor vehicle repairs Playing loud music Letting off fireworks Dumping rubbish and unwanted furniture Having a barbecue (especially forbidden on any balcony).
Shared areas can also form part of a tenant’s fire escape route. It is very important that you do not block these areas in any way, including using these areas for displaying real or artificial plants or storage of bikes, prams, pushchairs, wheeled shopping trolleys etc.
4 Lifts and restricted areas Many elderly and vulnerable people rely on the lifts and the main reason for them breaking down is vandalism. No one likes to enter a lift that has been used as a toilet; please report this behaviour. Certain areas on the estate are out of bounds for health and safety reasons. You must not enter any restricted areas including, but not limited to, lift rooms, water tank rooms, roofs and roof spaces.
www.southwark.gov.uk SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 99
5 Criminal behaviour You and persons residing in or visiting the property must act in a reasonable manner and must not do anything which causes nuisance, annoyance, distress or alarm to other persons residing, visiting or otherwise engaging in a lawful activity in the locality, or cause damage to their property or possessions. You must not use your home or permit it to be used for any criminal or unlawful purpose. We may evict you if you are arrested and convicted of an offence that takes place in your home or in an area around your home.
6 Harassment It is a breach of your conditions of tenancy to discriminate, intimidate, harass or abuse anyone because of their age; race; sex; disability; religion and belief; marriage and civil partnership; pregnancy and maternity; sexual orientation or gender reassignment. Harassment is a particular type of antisocial behaviour which is directed at individuals, their families or groups of individuals. It is offensive behaviour that interferes with other people’s quality of life. The most common types of harassment may include: • Violence or threats of violence towards any person • Violent or threatening behaviour, including possessing a weapon or something that can be used as a weapon • Using or threatening to use a dog as a weapon • Abusive or insulting words or behaviour • Damage or threats of damage to property belonging to another person • Writing threatening, abusive or insulting graffiti • Racist behaviour, including written or verbal abuse • Targetted vandalism • Malicious phone calls • Deliberately playing music, TVs or radios at high volume to annoy neighbours.
Tenants’ Handbook SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 100
7 Domestic abuse You must not behave in an abusive way towards any other person allowed to live with you, especially if this prevents them continuing to live peaceably in the property. Domestic abuse concerns adverse behaviour towards any person living with you. This is unacceptable and we do all we can to protect people from this. Domestic abuse can affect women or men and those in same sex relationships and you do not have to accept it as a normal part of a relationship. You will be breaking your conditions of tenancy if: • Y ou are convicted of an offence involving violence or a threat of violence against a member of your household • A court order has been made against you to leave your home temporarily or permanently because of your behaviour towards a member of your household. This may mean that we will take action to evict you from your home. Recognising abuse Domestic abuse can be a single incident or repeated incidents but it is usually an abusive behaviour pattern by: • A current or ex partner – even if they do not live with the person they abuse • A family member • Anyone who lives with the abused person. Domestic abuse involves: • • • • • • • • • •
Control Coercion Threats Violence Physical abuse Psychological abuse Sexual abuse Emotional abuse Financial abuse Threats of abuse.
www.southwark.gov.uk SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 101
Controlling and coercive behaviour From 2013 there are new categories of domestic abuse, which now includes controlling and coercive behaviour. Controlling behaviour is a way of acting which makes another person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support (i.e. family and friends), exploiting them for personal gain, restricting their independence or having their own opinion, stopping them escaping or leaving the situation and/or dictating their everyday life. Coercive behaviour is: • • • •
Acts of assault Threats Humiliation Intimidation or
• other abuse that is used to: • Harm • Punish or • Frighten anyone else in the property. Examples may include: • • • • • • •
Name calling Stalking Blackmailing Using children against one of the parents Forcing partner to have intimate physical contact Controlling access to money, or how they spend it Not allowing them to get a job.
Where a relationship breaks down as a result of abusive or controlling behaviour against any other person lawfully allowed to live in the property, the council might decide not to rehouse or grant the tenancy of the existing property to the person who is carrying out the abuse. If this person is the tenant, we may also take action to evict them for a serious breach of their tenancy agreement. We may also ask that they complete a programme for perpetrators of domestic abuse.
Tenants’ Handbook SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 102
What you should do if you are a victim of domestic abuse We have a policy of supporting victims of domestic abuse. Southwark Advocacy and Support Service (SASS) Southwark Advocacy and Support Service (SASS) support all Southwark residents, women and men over 16 years of age who are suffering, or at risk of suffering domestic abuse. Whether or not you choose to report it to the police, SASS will still be able to offer you help. SASS support SASS offer practical and emotional support, advice, counselling, information and assistance in relation to managing your safety including exploring options such as housing, welfare benefits, criminal and civil legal actions. They can also carry out works to make improvements to your home safety, for example changing locks. SASS also offers a perpetrator programme for abusive people who want support to change their behaviour via 020 7593 1290. You can access their service 24 hours a day, seven days a week by calling 020 7593 1290, emailing email@example.com or visiting www.solacewomensaid.org If you are in immediate danger, always call the police on 999. If you want to stay in your home, SASS can assist in applying to the court for: • An occupation order to keep the abuser away from your home • A non molestation order to stop the abuser from being violent (or threatening violence) to you or a member of your household • An injunction against the abuser to keep them away from you and your home. Emergency rehousing If you need emergency rehousing, you should contact your Housing Services Office which might be able to find you somewhere to live temporarily. If the emergency arises at night or during a weekend, please contact the Homelessness Unit on 020 7525 5000.
www.southwark.gov.uk SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 103
Southwark Victim Support If you have been a victim of crime, you can get help from Southwark Victim Support. They offer a free and confidential support and listening service, including: • Visiting you at home • Advising you about personal safety and security • Helping you fill in forms if you have been injured. They may also be able to help you with extra security to your home. The trained volunteers deal with all types of crime from burglary to serious sexual assaults and domestic abuse. They also help the families of murder victims. Contact Southwark Victim Support on 0845 3030 900 or visit www.vssouthwark.org.uk
8 Antisocial behaviour What is antisocial behaviour? The Crime and Disorder Act 1998 defines antisocial behaviour as acting in an antisocial manner that causes, or is likely to cause, harassment, alarm or distress to one or more persons in a separate household. This includes people who live on your estate and any visitors. Examples may include: • • • • • • • • •
Environmental damage including littering, dumping of rubbish and cars Causing nuisance, being rowdy or inconsiderate to neighbours Inconsiderate or inappropriate use of vehicles The buying or selling of drugs in public Vandalism, graffiti and flyposting Street alcohol consumption Prostitution related activity Begging and vagrancy Fireworks misuse.
Tenants’ Handbook SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 104
Your rights You have the right to live peacefully in your home and a right to live in a well managed environment free from antisocial behaviour. We expect neighbours to be able to talk to each other to resolve minor matters of nuisance peacefully. We investigate all complaints made by or against tenants. We do not guarantee to take management or legal action in every case. Your responsibilities You are responsible for: • • • •
Your behaviour The behaviour of any person who lives with you The behaviour of any person who comes to visit you The behaviour of pets belonging to you, someone living with you, or your visitors.
You and persons residing in or visiting the property should act reasonably and not: • C ause nuisance, annoyance, distress or alarm to other persons residing, visiting or otherwise engaging in a lawful activity in the locality, or cause damage to their property or possessions • Threaten, abuse, assault or otherwise interfere with or obstruct our officers, agents or contractors • Discriminate, intimidate, harass or abuse anyone because of their age, race, sex, disability, religion and belief, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, sexual orientation or gender reassignment. Nuisance and annoyance As well as the clauses in your tenancy agreement we can also use other powers to deal with unacceptable behaviour, including: Environmental Protection Act 1990, Dog (Fouling of Land) Act 1996 and Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005. The council has the power to act on all nuisance. You can be fined for dropping litter or not cleaning up after your pet in public areas. The council can serve a fixed penalty notice and take you to court for further action.
www.southwark.gov.uk SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 105
If you break any conditions of your tenancy agreement you risk action by us which could ultimately lead to you losing your home. What you should do if you are experiencing antisocial behaviour If it is safe to do so, first of all try to speak to the person you think is behaving in an antisocial way to try to manage the situation from the outset. Many problems arise because people have not thought about how their actions might affect others, or considered other people’s point of view. Sometimes people just need telling that their behaviour is upsetting you. If the other person is unreasonable, simply walk away. Do not get involved in an argument or dispute. Sometimes just pointing out the problem will have been enough for the behaviour to stop. If the problem continues you should contact your Resident Services Officer. Alternatively you can contact a designated customer service point or Southwark Antisocial Behaviour Unit (SASBU) on 020 7525 5777, email firstname.lastname@example.org or write to: SASBU PO BOX 64529 London SE1P 5LX What we can do if you are experiencing antisocial behaviour Once you have reported the problem the council officers will: • • • • •
Send you an acknowledgement of your complaint Tell you the name of the Resident Services Officer dealing with your complaint Contact the Southwark Antisocial Behaviour Unit Make an appointment to see you Send you an incident diary which you should use to keep a record of incidents as and when they happen (important evidence) • Interview you to find out how you are affected • Agree an action plan with you to outline what you and the officer will do. We may also, but only with your express permission: • Contact the person carrying out the antisocial behaviour • Contact the police or other agencies • Contact neighbours or other witnesses to find out the facts and who else is involved.
Tenants’ Handbook SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 106
Once we have started our investigations we will offer you another appointment to review the evidence and any action we have taken or may take. Other steps we may take include: • • • •
Issuing a warning to the person responsible for the antisocial behaviour Working with other agencies (the Noise Team, Police Community Safety Unit) Reviewing your home’s security Referring you to Southwark mediation service – a free confidential service for neighbours in conflict to help you and your neighbour sort out the problem • Agreeing an Acceptable Behaviour Contract (ABC) – a voluntary agreement by the perpetrator promising to end their nuisance behaviour. If the antisocial behaviour continues Most cases are sorted out before any legal action is needed. However, if the antisocial behaviour is continuing, and is serious, your designated office can refer your case to the Southwark Antisocial Behaviour Unit (SASBU). Southwark Antisocial Behaviour Unit (SASBU) SASBU can be contacted on 020 7525 5777 or via email@example.com, or in writing to: SASBU PO Box 64529 London SE1P 5LX SASBU is a team which includes officers from housing, the police and the Youth Offending Team and is responsible for: • • • •
Taking action against people behaving in an antisocial way Taking legal action to stop antisocial behaviour Arranging support for those affected Improving the security of your home.
Once the Resident Services Officer has referred your case to SASBU the team will hold a case meeting with all the agencies involved to consider the best course of action. This could be management or legal action. In addition, legal action may be started which could include: • S erving a Notice of Seeking Possession (NoSP) on the person allegedly committing the offence – a first stage of legal proceedings which may result in evicting the person responsible www.southwark.gov.uk SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 107
• O btaining a court injunction against the person responsible, possibly resulting in their arrest if they fail to comply – we can apply for such an injunction without giving notice to the person allegedly responsible • Obtaining an antisocial behaviour order (ASBO) to restrict the movements of anyone over ten years of age who may be responsible for antisocial behaviour • Conducting additional community warden patrols of the area, or to act as professional witnesses on behalf of residents • Acceptable Behaviour Contracts (ABCs). Joint working Sometimes there may be genuine reasons for a person’s behaviour, such as mental health or social problems and we have to be fair to people in genuine difficulty. We refer these people for support but if their behaviour does not improve we can still take legal action against them. Collecting evidence If we take legal action the courts must have real evidence of the antisocial behaviour upon which to base any lawful decision. The best evidence is your direct experience (which you should record in the incident diary provided to you). Sometimes this evidence can be backed up by professional witnesses, for example through Southwark Council’s community wardens. We will decide whether or not to take legal action after considering each individual case and the available evidence. We will only take cases to court where there is evidence and we have a reasonable chance of success. Victim and witness support We will treat anything you tell us in strict confidence but it may not be possible for you to remain anonymous. This is because, unless there are a number of complainants, the person responsible may assume you made the complaint. Going to court If we do have to go to court we will often ask you to be a witness. However, if you are worried about this you can discuss it with us at the initial interview. If you are not willing to be a witness this does not mean there will be no further action. It may be possible for someone else to give evidence on your behalf.
Tenants’ Handbook SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 108
9 Noise and nuisance Noise must be kept to a reasonable volume at all times. This is one of the most common causes of neighbour disputes. So, please be a good neighbour and keep the volume down on TVs, radios, stereos and musical instruments. You are not allowed to have a party where people pay to come in or to have a party that is too noisy. You must also not advertise, or let other people advertise, a party where you live. If you do want to have a party, it is best to tell your neighbours beforehand and tell them when it will finish. Keep the music down and ask your visitors to be quiet when they leave. What you can do to help stop noise nuisance: • If you are playing music outside try to keep it at a level that cannot be heard outside your boundary • If children are playing outside, ensure they do not cause excessive disturbance, especially by throwing/kicking balls against the walls or fences of your neighbours’ properties • Use domestic appliances during the day and do not operate them at night when the noise could affect neighbours • If you play a musical instrument try not to practise early in the morning or late in the evening or at night as this may disturb other people • Only carry out noisy DIY work during the daytime and do not start before 8am on a weekday or 10am on a weekend, especially on a Sunday, and let your neighbours know what you plan to do • Do not leave dogs unattended indoors or outdoors for long periods of time as this may cause them to bark or whine or cause other nuisance.
www.southwark.gov.uk SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 109
Noise and Nuisance Team Southwark Council provides a Noise and Nuisance Team that deals with complaints of noise. If you are being disturbed by noise or nuisance you can telephone the call centre 24 hours a day, seven days a week on 020 7525 5777 to report the problem. The Noise and Nuisance Team operates throughout the day and late into the early hours of the following morning during these times: Monday
7am to 2.30am the following morning
7am to 2.30am the following morning
7am to 2.30am the following morning
7am to 2.30am the following morning
7am to 5pm then 6.30pm to 4am
7am to 5pm then 6.30pm to 4am
8am to 2.30am the following morning
On receiving the call officers will aim to visit you at your premises within one hour of your request being made. When the officers arrive they will make an assessment within your premises. If a noise nuisance is witnessed they will take the steps necessary to deal with the problem. However, if your call is received by the call centre out of operational hours, an officer will call to discuss the issue the next working day. Some types of noise and nuisance we can help you with: • • • • • • • •
Neighbours’ loud music and parties Neighbours’ DIY work Noise and dust from demolition and construction sites Noise from entertainment venues, pubs and community halls Odours and fumes from commercial premises Smoke Noise and emissions from road works and equipment in the street Barking dogs
Tenants’ Handbook SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 110
• Car alarms • Premises alarms • Noise in the street from machinery or equipment. Types of noise we cannot help you with: • Traffic and train noise • Aircraft and helicopter noise • Everyday living sounds (i.e. noisy vacuuming etc), especially in the day • Footsteps on wooden or laminate flooring • Noise caused by inadequate sound insulation. What actions we can take If the Noise and Nuisance Team witnesses the problem and considers it to be a nuisance under the law the following can be done: • • • • •
Try to stop the nuisance and issue a warning if they do (first time only) Serve a notice Issue a fixed penalty if the notice is breached Prosecute if the notice is breached Seize equipment if the notice is breached (usually for ongoing complaints).
How to take your own action It is not always possible to witness the problem even where numerous visits by the Noise and Nuisance Team take place. Under Section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 you can take action yourself. The Noise and Nuisance Team officers will be pleased to offer help and advice to anyone who wishes to pursue this course of action.
www.southwark.gov.uk SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 111
10 Repairing motor vehicles You must not carry out motor vehicle repairs in or near the property or garage which cause nuisance, annoyance or offence to anyone. This also applies to motor vehicle repairs you carry out near a garage if you rent one. Typical examples of nuisance include: • • • • •
Noise from car radios and sound systems Noxious fumes from paint spraying or exhausts Changing oil Revving the engine or using noisy machinery or tools Leaving oil or car parts on estates.
11 Pets You are allowed keep a pet as long as it is not dangerous, not a health risk, not likely to cause a nuisance and you have a suitable home for the type of animal you wish to have as a pet. The following conditions apply: • Y ou do not need our written permission to keep a pet but we do ask that any pet is appropriately microchipped in line with current legislation • You are responsible for the behaviour of your animal and any animal you have allowed in the property or within its boundary at all times • You must not cause or allow your own or your visitors’ animal to cause nuisance or annoyance by excessive barking, or other noise, or aggressive or other behaviour • You must make sure your animal’s faeces are properly disposed of and that any animal kept by you is microchipped where the law indicates this is required • Any nuisance caused by animals will be taken seriously and we reserve the right to control nuisance animals. The council can also introduce dog control orders in a specific area, to control: • • • •
Dog fouling and faeces Areas where dogs are not allowed Areas where dogs have to be kept on a lead The number of dogs people can walk at a time.
Tenants’ Handbook SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 112
12 Service standards Reporting antisocial behaviour • Y ou can report antisocial behaviour (ASB) by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org • Via online report form on our website at www.southwark.gov.uk/doitonline • Calling our antisocial behaviour number on 020 7525 5777 • Writing to us • Contacting your Resident Services Officer. Dealing with your report When you report an incident of ASB, we will: • Give you the name of an officer who will deal with your case • Set up an ASB file on your case. Investigating After you have contacted us, we will ask for your permission to investigate your complaint. Keeping you informed After we have investigated your complaint, we will: • Tell you about action we have taken to deal with the problem • Tell you why we were not able to take action • Update you on the progress of the case at least once a month. Types of antisocial behaviour and response times We put all reports of ASB into one of three categories. Some examples in each category are shown on the following page. Please see next page for how quickly we will contact you.
www.southwark.gov.uk SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 113
Category 1 – you will be contacted within one working day: • Drugs, substance misuse or drug dealing • A hate related incident (based on a person’s sex, gender, race, sexual orientation, disability, age or any other protected characteristic) • A report of offensive or hate related graffiti • Domestic abuse • Other physical violence • Serious abuse and threats to staff. Category 2 – you will be contacted within three working days: • Noise • Vandalism and damage to property • Prostitution. Category 3 – you will be contacted within five working days: • • • • •
Pets and animal nuisance Nuisance from vehicles Litter, rubbish, flytipping Disturbing use of shared areas and public space, for example, street drinking A dispute between neighbours.
Tenants’ Handbook SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 114
Page 1 Different ways to be involved in how we manage your home 116 - 118 2 Different ways to get involved in your community 118 - 119 3 Getting involved in managing your home through a Tenant Management Organisation (TMO) 120 4 The council and democracy 120 - 121
This chapter tells you how you can get involved with your community. We know that your involvement helps us to improve the services and the homes we provide, as well as building stronger and more supportive communities. We are committed to engaging as widely as possible with all our tenants and to work with you and your representatives to make Southwark a good place to be. There are many ways to become involved in the life of your community and have a say in the decisions we make. We already work with lots of different groups to make this happen and this chapter tells you more about this.
www.southwark.gov.uk SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 115
1 Different ways to be involved in how we manage your home There are many ways to become involved in your community and how we manage your home. You choose You can choose your level of involvement and we have a team to help you get involved in everything we do. If you want to find out more about any of the activities mentioned below you can get more information from the Community Engagement Team on 020 7525 3326, or you can email email@example.com Joining your local tenants’ and residents’ association (T&RA) Many tenants choose to get involved by joining their tenants’ and residents’ associations (T&RAs). T&RAs meet regularly and talk to the council about issues affecting their estates like repairs, grounds maintenance, cleaning and antisocial behaviour. If you have an issue about your home or area, a T&RA would be a good place to get help to solve a problem. Often T&RAs organise community events and activities as well. If there is no T&RA on your estate we can help you and your neighbours set one up. Your local T&RA will send representatives to area forums. There are currently 12 forums covering the borough and they act as an advisory body to the council on housing. The council consults the area forums on a wide range of its policies that affect housing and its estates, before it makes many decisions. Each area forum sends a representative to the Tenant Council, which also advises the local area housing forums and the council on matters affecting tenants. Area forums also send representatives to the Homeowner Council, which advises the council on matters that affect our leaseholders and freeholders. Tenant fund We set aside a small percentage from every tenant’s monthly rent to support the groups that represent tenants. This fund is managed through the Tenant Council who make recommendations on how the money should be spent. Some of the money collected is used to support your local T&RA and some is used to support Southwark Group of Tenant Organisations (SGTO), an independent and campaigning body representing the interests of local tenants. The fund is also used to provide training for tenant groups and resource centres.
Tenants’ Handbook SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 116
Tenant halls You will probably have seen a community building in your neighbourhood. You may be able to use the tenant hall, community centre or other premises for community events, local weddings and birthday parties, or to run an activity for the community. You can ask at a designated customer contact point for information about what facilities are available in your local area and who to contact about events, activities and hire. Most of these halls are managed by your local T&RA. Estate inspections You can take part in estate inspections to improve the repair and cleanliness of shared areas. If you would like to get involved in estate or block inspections please contact your Resident Services Officer. Performance review groups and focus groups You can take part in performance reviews to improve the services provided to your local area. From time to time we set up focus groups to look at a particular service, for example lettings or antisocial behaviour. If you have a particular interest in one of the services we provide let us know and we will make sure you are involved in our discussions about improving that service. Mystery shopping We think it is important to know what the service is like for our customers. We organise mystery shopping exercises to find out. You can volunteer to be one of our mystery shoppers. We offer training and a small reward to our volunteers for carrying out this service on our behalf. STAR survey Every year we survey a random sample of our tenants to find out how satisfied they are with the services we provide and their area. This survey helps us to know where we need to improve our services. It also helps us to compare the quality of our services with other housing providers. If you receive a survey, please complete and return it as your views count and can make a difference. Estate action days We hold events on estates where we invite a range of services and organisations to the estate for you to raise your concerns, find out more, and participate in consultations. This is an informal way for you to let us know what you think and find out more about how we do things. These are organised by your Resident Services Officer.
www.southwark.gov.uk SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 117
Tenant conference Each year there is a tenant conference. This is open to all tenants who wish to attend and is a good way to find out more about council plans for your home, meet other tenants, share, and learn about what is happening on our estates. Online You can: • S ign up to MySouthwark for news about what’s on in your area, to let us know what your think, participate in our consultations and much more at www.southwark.gov.uk • ‘Like’ the resident involvement Facebook page to find out the latest in resident involvement and join our chats • Follow us on Twitter. Joint security initiative The council provides grants for residents to deliver projects that involve residents in making a contribution to social improvements in their areas.
2 Different ways to get involved in your community There are many ways to be involved in the life of your community. You choose You can choose your level of involvement and we have a team to help you get involved in your community. If you would like to find out about any of the opportunities mentioned below, you can get more information from the Community Engagement Team on 020 7525 3326, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by visiting www.southwark.gov.uk/getinvolved Community councils Community councils are open to all members of the community to air their concerns to their elected ward councillors and for the community council to consider as a whole.
Tenants’ Handbook SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 118
Southwark has five community councils meeting five times a year and consulting with local people on: • Traffic issues • Community safety • Environmental improvements. Local community groups The council supports a range of groups: if you would like to get involved or set up your own please contact the Community Engagement Team on 020 7525 3326. If you would like to get involved with people with similar concerns to yourself there are a number of forums, such as faith forums, disability forums, pensioner forums, LBGT forums and youth forums. To find out more please contact the Community Engagement Team on 020 7525 3326. Volunteering opportunities There are hundreds of different organisations in Southwark where you could help out or learn new skills and meet new people through volunteering. If you would like to find out the latest information please visit the website at www.southwark.gov.uk/getinvolved Online We want to know what residents think about services and frequently run online consultations to help find this out. To learn more about how you can tell us your thoughts about particular services sign up to MySouthwark and look for the online consultations page. Each community council produces an email newsletter. If you want to be added to the mailing list contact the Community Engagement Team on 020 7525 3326. There are also two online forums, SE1 and East Dulwich, which are run by local residents to discuss local issues and arrange events and activities.
www.southwark.gov.uk SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 119
3 Get involved in managing your home through a Tenant Management Organisation (TMO) Another way to get closely involved in your local community is to be part of a TMO. More than two thousand local people have set up TMOs to manage their homes and neighbourhoods. The Right to Manage is a legal right and any organised and recognised group of tenants can apply to take over the day to day management of the local estate. Under a TMO we continue to be the landlord and your tenancy rights are not affected. This includes your security of tenure, the right to exchange, the Right to Buy and the rent you pay. We also continue to be the freehold landlord for leaseholders. For more information contact the TMO Team by telephone on 020 7525 7712 or via email at email@example.com
4 The council and democracy Choosing your local councillor is an important way to get involved in the decisions about your area. Local council elections take place every four years. The way you register to vote is changing. Every member of your household who is eligible to vote will need to register individually from June 2014. If you want to find out about your local political ward and your voter registration you can contact electoral services on 020 7525 7373 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org Elected councillors It is part of a councillorâ€™s job to make sure that your opinions are taken into account when decisions are made. Councillors hold advice surgeries to deal with specific concerns and problems you may have about anything that concerns you. You can find out more details by telephoning electoral services on 020 7525 7373. Elected members and the cabinet Southwark has 63 councillors, representing 21 wards. The 63 councillors meet every month at the council assembly, chaired by the Mayor of Southwark. Ten of those councillors form the cabinet, which decides on how we are going to deliver our services and what resources are needed.
Tenantsâ€™ Handbook SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 120
Most council meetings are open to the public. You have a right to go to these meetings and see the agenda and papers to be discussed prior to the meeting, except when confidential items are being discussed. If you want to find about future meetings please telephone 020 7525 5000. Making decisions A forward plan is prepared for the cabinet Leader every month. It contains details of all important decisions to be taken in the next four months and who will make them. For information about these meetings look on the council and democracy pages of our website. Overview and scrutiny committees Overview and scrutiny committees provide challenge and review of council decisions to contribute to the overall effectiveness of the councilâ€™s governance, together with scrutiny of external agencies, particularly local NHS services and the Metropolitan Police Service in Southwark.
www.southwark.gov.uk SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 121
Page 1 On street parking 123 2 Estate parking 124 3 Estate parking for residents with disabilities 124 - 125 4 Estate parking permits 125 - 127 5 Parking conditions 127 6 Abandoned vehicles 128 7 Information about estate parking and services 128
Many of the estates in Southwark were built before car ownership was common, with limited space for vehicles. Vehicles can create environmental, health and safety problems on housing estates. For these reasons we provide a parking service to manage vehicle parking. The rules about parking and road use on housing estates are different from the rules on public roads. However, you must always drive safely, within the law, and observe the parking rules. There are two types of parking systems: â€˘ On street parking â€˘ Estate parking. On street parking (also referred to as highway parking) is controlled by the council using enforcement and traffic management powers which have been enacted by parliament. To contact us about on street parking you can telephone 0800 138 9081 or email email@example.com Estate parking is controlled by the Housing and Community Services department (the landlord). Estate parking enforcement is a private land scheme and operates separately from on street parking. To contact us about estate parking you can telephone 020 7525 3587 or email firstname.lastname@example.org On street permits cannot be used on estates and estate permits are not valid on street. You can find out more about parking in Southwark on our website www.southwark.gov.uk/parking, including a guide to parking and permit costs as well as information on parking enforcement and fines. The following forms part of your tenancy agreement: You may only park a vehicle in a designated area and this must be in line with any parking scheme in place. The council has the right to take action, including moving vehicles and issuing penalties and charges, in accordance with these schemes. A vehicle is defined by us as a mechanically propelled motor vehicle intended or adapted for use on roads.
Tenantsâ€™ Handbook SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 122
1 On street parking The council is responsible for managing parking restrictions on the public highway. Controlled parking zones (CPZs) are created to ensure that local residents, businesses and their visitors are able to park easily and conveniently. They also enable us to manage the limited kerb space available to park within the borough. All on street parking transactions are available online or by calling 0844 800 2736. Resident parking permits Permanent residents living within a controlled parking zone who own, keep or have sole use of a vehicle can buy a resident parking permit. You can work out which controlled parking zone you live in by viewing our controlled parking zone maps on our website at www.southwark.gov.uk/parking If you own a property within a controlled parking zone but do not live there you are not entitled to a resident’s permit. Applying and renewing a resident on street parking permit You can apply for and renew a permit on our website by using the online application form and secure payment service. You can apply for and renew a permit by contacting Southwark Parking Services on 0800 138 9081 (free from UK landlines) or 0844 800 2736 (local rate) Monday to Friday 8.30am to 5.30pm (not bank holidays). You can also apply for a resident permit by post. You can do this by downloading and completing the resident parking permit application form on our website then sending it, together with either a cheque or postal order for the relevant amount made payable to Southwark Parking Services, to: Admail 4197 London SE1 1ZW To find out more about on street parking: • • • •
Visit our website www.southwark.gov.uk/parking Telephone 0800 138 9081 Email email@example.com Contact a designated customer service point for more details.
www.southwark.gov.uk SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 123
2 Estate parking Estate parking services include: • Parking enforcement schemes in operation on our estates • A permit service for all eligible residents on estates where tenant representatives have agreed to an estate permit scheme • An enforcement team checking only vehicles with valid permits are parked in designated parking spaces and that parked vehicles are not causing a nuisance, a health and safety hazard, or blocking any access • Clear signs and road markings • Special permits for vehicle users acting as residents’ carers • Parking bays for people with disabilities • An abandoned vehicles pick up service • Advice for residents who want to apply for a permit or who have questions about parking. Where we have developed permit parking schemes on estates, areas where tenants cannot park are marked with yellow lines. If you want to park on your estate and a permit scheme is in place you must apply to us for a permit. When we issue permits we give priority to residents but, if there is enough space on an estate, we will consider applications for residents’ carers’ permits.
3 Estate parking for residents with disabilities We will carefully consider all applications from disabled tenants where a request is made to designate a parking space specifically and exclusively for disabled parking. Wherever possible we try to provide parking for residents with disabilities. However, we will only guarantee parking spaces for residents with disabilities where we are satisfied that there is medical evidence indicating the need for a reserved parking space for their use. If you have visitors with valid Blue Badges they must display this on the car’s dashboard and keep to the time limits listed on it. Your visitors should also be considerate and not use the bays excessively, to enable our residents with disabilities to also use the designated bays.
Tenants’ Handbook SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 124
Some of our sheltered schemes provide limited parking facilities for electric mobility scooters. Users of mobility scooters must not put the safety of residents at risk by restricting access or parking vehicles within the scheme itself. Please speak to your scheme warden for advice about restrictions or additional information.
4 Estate parking permits We provide different types of parking permits. Most estate parking permits are for use in areas where the majority of residents voted for a controlled parking scheme. If you apply for a permit it will be valid for one year from the date of issue. If you use a company vehicle you must give us a letter of confirmation from your employer. If you do not it may delay your application. You can renew your permit up to 21 days before the expiry date. We always recommend renewing early for the best result. Who can apply for a resident’s estate parking permit? Any tenant or someone living permanently with a tenant or a leaseholder on any Southwark Council managed estate may apply for a resident’s estate parking permit. Applying for a parking permit • Y ou can apply for a resident’s estate parking permit online at www.southwark.gov.uk/parking • You can also visit a designated customer contact point to collect a paper form to complete. Your permit is valid for 12 months if your vehicle is less than three years old, otherwise it is valid for the length of your vehicle’s current MOT certificate. The expiry date will be shown on the permit. Renewing your existing permit You can also renew your permit online at www.southwark.gov.uk/parking Carers’ permits You can apply for a carer’s permit if you are an estate resident and receive regular support from a carer, or if you care for an estate resident. If you would like to apply for a carer’s permit, you must provide: • M edical evidence of the care that you need or that you provide, which satisfies us as to such need www.southwark.gov.uk SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 125
• Your vehicle’s relevant details and documentation • A completed application form. • There is a fee for the permit and you must display the permit in your vehicle once issued. Please check the website www.southwark.gov.uk/parking for current fee details or ask at a designated customer contact point. Visitors’ permits If you would like your visitors to be able to park on your estate you can buy visitor’s permits. Permits are available in strips for a fee, with details online at www.southwark.gov.uk/parking or via a designated customer contact point, where you can also buy the permits. Permits and charges • If there is a permit parking scheme on your estate you are eligible to apply for a resident permit for your household • Holding a parking permit will not entitle you to a parking space or guarantee that parking will be available to you • In some situations we may allow a second permit for a household, for which a fee will be charged • You cannot lend or give your resident’s estate permit to anyone else as it is vehicle specific • It normally takes seven working days to process a permit application but we will try to give priority to you if you are elderly or have a disability • If you lose your permit you can ask for a new permit but we will charge a fee for this service. • Whether you are a resident or a visitor you must display a valid permit in the windscreen of your vehicle so that our enforcement contractor can see that the information is correct and the permit is valid. The details of the estate on which the permit is valid must be also be visible. If you make a mistake when you are filling in your visitor’s permit you must fill in a new box. If you alter a permit without our permission or a valid reason we will take action against you. It is your responsibility as a tenant to tell your visitors and friends what will happen if they park their vehicles in a way that breaks our parking rules. We review the charges for permits each year and you can check current valid prices by telephone on 020 7525 3587 or at a designated customer contact point.
Tenants’ Handbook SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 126
If you want to find out if there is a permit parking scheme on your estate please go online to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information, telephone us on 020 7525 3587, or visit a designated customer contact point.
5 Parking conditions To avoid us taking enforcement action against you, including moving your vehicle, please follow the following rules: • • • •
Park only in a designated parking area or your garage Have a valid current tax disc Ensure your vehicle has a valid MOT certificate and is roadworthy Ensure your vehicle is not more than: - 2 metres (six foot and six inches) high - 1.83 metres (six foot) wide - 4.8 metres (16 foot) long - 7.5 tonnes in weight. (You may exceed these dimensions only with our written permission and if your vehicle is not used commercially). • Your vehicle must not have any serious damage unless you have told us about it and we agree it is not dangerous • You must not park anywhere that stops other residents from accessing their homes or using their parking space or other facilities, including garages and bin areas • You must not park anywhere that prevents police cars, fire engines, ambulances and any other emergency vehicles from getting to an emergency. Exceptions As long as you are parked reasonably and are not causing a health and safety risk we will not normally take action against you if you follow the rules and you: • H ave a national valid Blue Badge clearly displayed on your vehicle’s dashboard or our Southwark Alternative Disability (AD) permit • Have a valid Southwark Housing parking permit clearly displayed on your vehicle’s windscreen • Are registered as an undertaker and are on our estates on business • Are in an ambulance, police car or fire engine • Have your vehicle taken without your permission (for example if it is stolen).
www.southwark.gov.uk SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 127
6 Abandoned vehicles Do not abandon your vehicle anywhere. If you suspect a vehicle is abandoned you can use our website www.southwark.gov.uk to report this online, email email@example.com or telephone 020 7525 2600.
7 Information about estate parking and services Estate parking schemes normally run from 7am to 7pm, seven days a week, with an emergency enforcement service during public holidays. This may vary if your local tenants’ and residents’ association has decided on other arrangements. Our enforcement service deal with vehicles that cause health and safety risks, such as blocking access for emergency vehicles and may operate 24 hours a day in extreme circumstances. To find out more about the parking scheme on your estate: • • • •
Visit our website www.southwark.gov.uk/parking Telephone 020 7525 3587 Email firstname.lastname@example.org Contact a MySouthwark Service Point for more details.
There are garages and parking spaces for rent in a number of estates and areas of Southwark. If you would like to rent a garage or parking space, please visit a designated customer contact point, go online to www.southwark.gov.uk/garages or email email@example.com Where you rent a garage from us you must keep to the terms of your garage agreement. There is also more information at www.southwark.gov.uk/parking
Tenants’ Handbook SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 128
Housing choices in inner London are limited because of high cost and intense demand for all types of housing. Southwark Council housing cannot meet all the demands placed upon it. We can only offer housing to those with the greatest need and we have to make sure we do this fairly.
Page 1 Applying for Southwark Council housing 130 2 Applying for housing with housing associations (Private Registered Providers or PRPs) 131 3 Applying for housing with Tenant Management Organisations (TMOs) 131 4 Mutual exchange and house exchange 132 - 133 5 Housing Moves www.housingmoves.org 133 - 134 6 Renting privately 134 - 137 7 If you are elderly or have a disability 138 - 140 8 Staying put 141 9 If we want you to move 141 - 142 10 Right to Buy and Social Homebuy 142
This chapter tells you about a range of housing choices or options that you have as a Southwark tenant. Not all of these will be right for you but we have set them out here to give you the fullest picture of some of the choices you might make. You can find out more about the options available by visiting our website at www.southwarkhomesearch.org.uk or calling the Housing Advice Service on 020 7525 5950.
www.southwark.gov.uk SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 129
1 Applying for Southwark Council housing If you want to transfer or move to a council, housing association or housing cooperative home within Southwark, you must apply online at www.southwark.gov.uk or fill in a housing list application form. When you have completed the form you can call the Housing Options advice line on 020 7525 5950 to arrange a registration interview. Bands When you have registered we will give you a band from one to four: band one is high priority, band four is low priority. The bidding process Once you are registered you can make weekly bids for available properties through Homesearch: • A ll bidding is electronic and takes place online via computers or text message • You can access online services for help and advice at the designated customer contact points and through local voluntary groups • Your bid can also include the area and type of property you would like • The wider your choice (of areas and properties) the better your chances • You cannot bid for properties that are the wrong size for your needs. After your bid we will give you a place in the queue for the property based on your band and how long you have been in that band. Rent or council tax arrears If you are in any band and owe us rent or council tax this may stop your transfer.
Tenants’ Handbook SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 130
2 Applying for housing with housing associations (now called Private Registered Providers or PRPs) Housing associations (PRPs) provide social housing of varying degrees of affordability. Housing associations (PRPs) do not keep separate waiting lists and you can see their homes advertised along with ours on the Homesearch list. The same banding and bidding principles apply However, there are some significant differences between the two because housing association (PRP) tenants usually: • Have the Right to Acquire • Have different security of tenure • Are assured tenants whilst council tenants are secure tenants • Pay more rent than council secure tenants • Pay service charges on top of rent payments. However, under the Tenants’ Guarantee Scheme, most housing associations (PRPs) in Southwark, as a matter of policy, give their tenants rights and conditions that are very similar to council secure tenants.
3 Applying for housing with Tenant Management Organisations (TMOs) TMOs use the same waiting list and you can see their homes advertised along with ours on the Homesearch list. The same banding and bidding principles apply. There is more on TMOs in the Getting involved chapter in this handbook.
www.southwark.gov.uk SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 131
4 Mutual exchange and mobility If you are a secure social tenant you have the legal right to exchange your home with another council or housing association (PRP) tenant anywhere in the United Kingdom. You will need the official consent of both landlords for an exchange. Properties for mutual exchange are advertised through national exchange services, i.e. House Exchange. Southwark tenants can register for an exchange at www.houseexchange.org.uk Registration is free for Southwark Council tenants. On House Exchange you can create an advert for your property and set up target areas for your preferred properties. House Exchange will identify properties in your target area that are available for exchange. You can contact tenants about their properties and they can contact you. If both tenants wish to proceed with the exchange, you should contact your Resident Services Officer and confirm you have found an exchange. We will decide if the exchange is appropriate and set out the conditions before giving permission, including: • Your rent account being paid in full up to date • Your home being in as good repair as the day you moved in. We can also withhold permission if: • Y our home would be too big for the other household by one or more bedrooms causing underoccupation • Your home would not be big enough for the other household causing overcrowding.
Tenants’ Handbook SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 132
There are other sources of information online but charges may apply: • www.councilexchangesite.co.uk • www.ukhomeswap.co.uk • www.homeswapper.co.uk Useful tips before you exchange • D O NOT give or receive money, goods etc, for your exchange or you may be fined, evicted, or both. You should also check: • • • • •
That both landlords give permission to exchange or you could be evicted What tenancy you will have – housing association tenancies are different What your new rent will be with your new landlord What outstanding repairs will be done before and after you move That you can afford to move and that the new property is suitable.
• The council provides a decoration allowance on exchanges. Tenants are expected to accept the property in its current condition. For more information on exchanges, you can also contact the Housing Options advice line on 020 7525 1336, email enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website at www.southwarkhomesearch.org.uk The government also provides information at www.gov.uk/apply-swap-homes-council
5 Housing Moves - www.housingmoves.org Housing Moves is a Mayor of London scheme to help social tenants in London to relocate to other parts of the capital. All council and housing association tenants can apply as long as they have a secure or assured tenancy. Housing Moves is a choice based lettings scheme. This means that once a tenant has registered they can see details of all available properties on the Housing Moves website and can express an interest in the ones that would suit them.
www.southwark.gov.uk SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 133
The Housing Moves scheme is separate from the Homesearch scheme. So, if you are interested you will have to apply direct to Housing Moves rather than through your landlord or borough. Your application form will be checked by your landlord before you can express an interest in properties. You will only be able to bid on properties in other London boroughs, not those in Southwark. However, you can apply for both schemes at the same time to increase your chances.
6 Renting privately If you are a council tenant and want to give up your tenancy and move to the private rented sector you can contact our Housing Initiatives Team based at the Homesearch Centre at 25 Bournemouth Road or on 020 7525 5950 for advice about renting privately. Renting privately is now expensive but there are many advantages, including: choice over location, choice over property type and size, access to ground floor accommodation, access to a house or ground floor property with a garden and control over whether you rent a furnished or part furnished home, and it is much easier to move to other boroughs. Always check the person offering to rent you a property is entitled to do so and check their details, including telephone number and address. Finding private accommodation Check online and local newspapers and magazines Most information is now online via property agents and specialist websites but you can also look in local newspapers and magazines, which often have a section advertising property to rent including rooms, flats and houses. The local library may be a good place to access such information, both online and in newspapers.
Tenantsâ€™ Handbook SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 134
Internet access A lot of properties are advertised online and this can be especially useful if you want to move out of Southwark or London. The Homesearch website also has some useful links, with internet access often facilitated via your designated customer contact point and the Homesearch Centre. Letting agents The Yellow Pages and www.yell.com list letting agencies and local housing advice centres and Citizens Advice Bureaux may also have letting agency lists. You should not have to pay any fees until a place has been found for you and some agencies do not charge for services. However, many agencies will not accept tenants on welfare benefits. There are also useful links and information about letting agents and privately renting on the Homesearch website at www.southwarkhomesearch.org.uk Other things to remember Many private agents offer genuine and professional services but beware the following scams designed to defraud you out of your money. Please try to ensure you use an accredited agent. Lettings fraud a) The reference deposit scam • You give a month’s rent deposit before your references are checked • You sign a contract stating if your references are not satisfactory your deposit will be paid back, minus fees for checking the references • You are then told your references are not satisfactory • You receive only a small part of your deposit – the landlord or agent takes the rest of your money. b) The holding deposit scam • You give a month’s rent deposit to secure a property you want • You sign a contract stating if you do not secure the property your deposit will be paid back, minus fees • The fees are a large part, or all, of the deposit you have paid • You do not secure the property and get very little, or nothing, back.
www.southwark.gov.uk SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 135
c) The illegally obtained property scam Someone may gain access to a building (by breaking in or obtaining the keys unlawfully) and then hold property viewings. They take your money as a deposit and then disappear and you lose all your money. d) The overseas renters scam Adverts, usually online, target those abroad and require deposits via online banking, or via wire transfer, for properties that are not available and you lose all your money. Never, ever, wire money as a deposit. Always do your research and check that the landlord or agent is genuine. Many agents and landlords are part of the Safe Agent Scheme at www.safeagents.co.uk Bank details and cash You should never give out your bank details or money to any individual, group or company of whom you are not fully aware, or if they fail to produce authorisation or identification. Do not hand over any money without getting a receipt, which is signed, dated and states what it is for. Avoid using cash and keep all receipts safe. If you are renting through an agent you may also have to pay them a fee, as well as providing references and a guarantor. Private rent in advance How much you are asked for can vary as there is no legal limit to the amount, although typically it is one month. Make sure you know how much the advance rent is. Private rental deposits Most landlords will ask for a deposit, usually paid at the beginning of the tenancy. Make sure that the landlord is a member of the Deposit Protection Scheme www.depositprotection.com authorised by the government.
Tenantsâ€™ Handbook SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 136
Private tenancy agreements These are usually written and you should be extremely wary of any verbal arrangement, especially if you do not know the agent involved. Tenancy agreements normally contain information about: • • • •
The amount of rent and when it is due How long the tenancy lasts for The rights and obligations of you and the landlord Grounds for possession.
Unless you are living as a lodger, new tenants are given an assured shorthold tenancy which means you can stay for at least six months. After this the tenancy can be renewed or ended. You can find out more about the options available through the Housing Options advice line on 020 7525 5950 or by visiting the website at www.southwarkhomesearch.org.uk Renting (and buying) on the open market To find out about the latest schemes go to www.homematch.org.uk, email email@example.com or telephone 0845 230 8099. Moving to a smaller property – Smart Move We have a scheme to encourage people to move out of properties that are too big for them and we want to hear from tenants who live in properties with more bedrooms than they can occupy, or afford, who would like to move to a smaller property. To qualify for this scheme you must be underoccupying a Southwark Council or Southwark Council partner property (and we may grant you additional priority if you are below the qualifying age for state pension credit). In return we will put you into band one and help you to find a property and move. You can find out more about the options that are available to you by ringing the Housing Options advice line on 020 7525 5950 or visiting our website at www.southwarkhomesearch.org.uk
www.southwark.gov.uk SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 137
7 If you are elderly or have a disability Old people’s dwellings (OPD) These are council flats and bungalows for people aged 55 and over or for people in receipt of personalised independent payments. They are particularly suitable for older people as they are smaller and easier to heat and maintain. They are on the ground, first, or second floor and often in buildings with lifts to facilitate access for older people or people with less mobility. Sheltered housing These flats are for people over the pension credit age. They are specifically designed for older people, or people with less mobility, who can live independently, with or without a care package. There are also teams of sheltered support officers to organise social events and to keep a watchful eye on people living there, including in emergencies. If you want to know more about sheltered housing please contact the Older Persons’ Service on 020 7525 5950 or write to: Older Persons’ Service 17 - 19 Bournemouth Road Peckham SE15 4UJ Waiting times for sheltered housing are much shorter than for our other properties, but you have to bid for them like any other council property. If you are on the sheltered list you can not bid for other types of property. You will be sent a housing list form (if you are not already on Homesearch) and a questionnaire. Once you return these completed forms we will assess you and tell you whether or not you are eligible to be on the sheltered housing list. If you are eligible the Older Persons’ Bidding Support Officer will then help you find a sheltered flat through Homesearch. You can find out more about the options that are available to you by visiting our website at www.southwarkhomesearch.org.uk for an online tour of our sheltered units or ringing the Housing Options advice line on 020 7525 5950. Residential homes and nursing homes Residential homes provide fully furnished accommodation, usually in single rooms. These may be council or private sector owned. Nursing homes provide 24 hour nursing care and are mainly in the private sector. For details of nursing and residential homes please contact Southwark Assessments and Charging Team on 0800 358 0228.
Tenants’ Handbook SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 138
The Seaside and Country Homes Scheme The Seaside and Country Homes Scheme is for senior citizens who want to leave London and move to the coast or countryside. To qualify you must: • • • •
Be over 60 or the partner, joint tenant or registered carer of that person Be a tenant of a council or housing association Have no more than two people in your household Have no rent arrears.
To apply you must be nominated by your landlord. You will be rehoused in properties specifically for senior citizens and managed by a housing association. The properties will generally be smaller and in quiet areas. Priority is given to people who are living in larger homes. You can ring the Housing Options advice line on 020 7525 1336 for more information or email firstname.lastname@example.org People with disabilities If you have a disability and can no longer manage in your present home you may want to apply to move to specially adapted housing run by us or a PRP (housing association). Mobility standard homes Mobility standard homes are designed or adapted for the use of people with mobility impairment. Properties should have sufficiently wide doorways, an accessible and suitably adapted bathroom, one or more bedrooms and a toilet and kitchen, all on one floor. They are for people who can walk but may need to use a wheelchair some of the time, because of mobility impairment. Wheelchair standard homes Wheelchair standard homes are suitable for people who use a wheelchair all of the time. Application To apply for either mobility or wheelchair standard homes you should complete a housing application form, available from your designated customer contact point, or write to: Older Persons’ Service 17 - 19 Bournemouth Road Peckham SE15 4UJ
www.southwark.gov.uk SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 139
If you cannot attend for a registration interview we can send someone to interview you at your present home. For more information please call the Housing Options advice line on 020 7525 5940. The Choice Based Mobility Scheme The Choice Based Mobility Scheme is for people aged 55 and over who want to leave London, usually rehoused to sheltered accommodation. You must be nominated by your landlord, and to qualify for the scheme you must: • Be a council tenant • Have no more than two people in your household, both over 55 • Have no rent arrears. You can find out more at www.southwarkhomesearch.org.uk and by ringing the Housing Options advice line on 020 7525 5950. United St Saviour’s The United St Saviour’s charity provides a limited number of small flats for Southwark residents in Purley, Surrey. To be eligible to apply you must be retired, living in or very near to Southwark and on limited income, with little capital or savings. You must also be able to live independently, with social services support if necessary. There is more information available from St Saviour’s at www.ustsc.org.uk/sheltered-housing, by telephoning 020 7089 9014 or by writing to: United St Saviour’s 39 - 41 Union Street London SE1 1SD Girlings retirement options This company specialises in rental properties exclusively for older people. All properties have the minimum age requirement of 55 years old and some developments may apply different minimum age requirements. Girlings has a variety of ‘rental for life’ properties in UK developments. For more information visit www.girlings.co.uk, freephone 0800 525 184, or write to: Girlings Retirement Rentals Ltd Glanville House Frobisher Way Taunton Somerset TA2 6BB
Tenants’ Handbook SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 140
8 Staying put If you would prefer to stay in your present home you may be able to get help with equipment or adaptations to make it easier for you to manage. This will depend on the recommendation of one of our occupational therapists. To find out what help may be available, telephone 020 7525 5950 for more details. If you are elderly or have a disability There are a number of options available if you are elderly or have a disability. If you would prefer to stay in your present home rather than move, you may be able to get help in order to make it easier for you to manage. The Home Improvement Agency delivers essential adaptations and repairs to vulnerable private tenants and homeowners and assistance to maximise your income. Please telephone 020 7525 1873. The Housing Adaptations Team can deliver adaptations to your property if you are a disabled council tenant. Please telephone free on 020 7525 1866. Our Healthy Homes Handyperson Team provide assistance with minor repairs to properties, such as changing light bulbs, fitting shelves or small modifications required after hospital discharge. Please telephone 020 7525 1863. How we help you will depend on the recommendations of one of our occupational therapists.
9 If we want you to move We could ask you to move, either temporarily or permanently, if: • • • • •
We lease your home from another landlord and the lease is expiring Your home is being demolished for redevelopment You are having major works carried out to your home Your home is mobility or wheelchair standard and you no longer need it You inherited your tenancy and it is now too big for your needs.
If you have to move for any of these reasons we will try to offer you the sort of housing that you need in an area of your choice in the borough. This could be council, housing association or even cooperative housing. If your home is in a redevelopment area special housing choices may apply and we will tell you about these at the time. If we want you to move because of a redevelopment scheme we will give you
www.southwark.gov.uk SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 141
fair notice and as much information as possible about your rehousing choices and allocate you band one priority for rehousing. We always carry out full consultation about redevelopment affecting you. Compensation for losing your home If you have been a local authority tenant for more than one year and we want you to move permanently you will qualify for a home loss payment in line with Section 30 of the Land Compensation Act 1973. Help with removal costs Under Section 38 of the Land Compensation Act 1973 you will be entitled to a disturbance payment if we ask you to move for one of the above reasons. Payment covers the costs of: • Removals • Necessary adjustments to carpets and curtains (this is a fixed amount based on the number of bedrooms) • Disconnecting and reconnecting your cooker, washing machine, phone, cable television and dishwasher • Redirecting your mail • Other essential expenses agreed by us. If you are moved temporarily you will be entitled to disturbance payments for both the move to and the move back from temporary accommodation. If you are moved permanently you will be entitled to just one disturbance payment.
10 Right to Buy and Social Homebuy The Right to Buy gives eligible council tenants the right to purchase their council home and eligible tenants receive a discount on the market value of their home. You can contact Specialist Housing Services on 020 7525 1400, or email email@example.com for more details and application forms. There is also government information at www.righttobuy.communities.gov.uk Social Homebuy – the alternative to Right to Buy Through Social Homebuy you have the opportunity to purchase part of the property you are living in on a shared ownership basis at a discount. If you are eligible, and following an affordability assessment, you can start by buying 25 per cent of your home and pay rent on the remaining share. There is more information via the Home Ownership Unit on 020 7525 1400 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tenants’ Handbook SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 142
These are your new conditions of tenancy, effective from 1 April 2014.
Introduction Tenancy Rent Changing this agreement Your rights Being responsible Security Animals Health and safety Waste Domestic abuse Parking Occupying your home Access Taking care of the property Cleaning Repairs Maintenance Major works Compensation Making improvements Information Arbitration Definitions Notes
Page 144 144 - 145 145 146 146 147 148 148 149 149 150 150 150 151 151 151 152 152 152 152 153 153 153 154 - 155 156 - 159
www.southwark.gov.uk SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 143
Conditions of tenancy
Introduction Whether or not a particular condition specifically says so, you are responsible for your behaviour and for that of persons living with you, residing in or visiting the property: accordingly, the obligations imposed on you by this agreement apply to you and persons living in or visiting the property.
Tenancy Your tenancy 1a) You shall have quiet enjoyment of the property without any interruption by the Council except as permitted under this agreement or otherwise under the law. (‘Quiet enjoyment’ – see Definitions). 1b) Provided that you occupy the property as your only or principal home, you will be a secure or introductory tenant. If there are joint tenants the tenancy is a secure, or an introductory, tenancy so long as at least one of the tenants occupies the property as their only or principal home. 1c) The question of whether a tenancy is secure or introductory is determined under the Housing Act 1985 and the Housing Act 1996.
Ending your tenancy 2a) We can only end the tenancy and take back the property in line with the law and we reserve the right to take appropriate action in respect of any breach of the tenancy. (There are details about this (There are more details about this in the Grounds for possession chapter in this handbook). 2b) Any notice served by us on you shall be taken as served if left at the property or sent to the property by ordinary prepaid post.
When you end the tenancy 3a) You may end the tenancy by giving us at least four weeks’ written notice to quit ending on a Monday. Written notice must be given to a designated office or customer contact point.
Tenants’ Handbook SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 144
3b) At the end of the tenancy you must make sure you and everyone living with you moves out and that we are given vacant possession. You must leave the property ready for occupation with all fixtures and fittings clean and tidy and in as good a state as they were at the beginning of the tenancy, as charges may apply. Fair wear and tear and any damage resulting from our failure to carry out our obligations are excepted. (‘Fair wear and tear’ – see Definitions).
If one joint tenant leaves 4) A joint tenant may end the tenancy by giving us four weeks’ written notice to quit in accordance with clause 3a, above.
Rent Your rent and charges 5a) You must pay the rent and other charges on a Monday and weekly in advance or by other arrangements we have agreed with you in writing. 5b) If you fall into arrears of rent and/or other charges we may go to court and ask for a possession order which could ultimately lead to your eviction. We also reserve the right to take alternative legal action if we consider it appropriate.
Changes to rent and charges 6a) We can change the amount of rent or other charges for the property without your agreement. 6b) If we change the rent or other charges we will serve you with a written notice of variation stating the new amounts and the date the change is to take effect, which shall not be less than four weeks from service of the notice. 6c) If before the date specified in the notice of variation, you give us notice to quit, the change will not take effect unless, with our written agreement, you withdraw your notice to quit before the date so specified. 6d) You must leave the property and give vacant possession to us on the day your notice to quit ends. If you do not we shall be entitled to recover charges for your use and occupation equal to the varied rent and other charges from the date it takes effect until we obtain possession of the property. 6e) We undertake to consult with the Tenant Council before seeking to change your rent and other charges, except for water charges which are set by the water provider.
www.southwark.gov.uk SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 145
Changing this agreement Notice of proposed changes 7a) If we plan to make changes to the conditions of tenancy, other than to rent or other charges, we shall give you notice in writing and give you at least 28 days to comment. This is known as a ‘preliminary notice.’
Considering your comments 7b) We must consider any comments you have made in reply to the ‘preliminary notice’. 7c) We shall also consult on such proposed changes with the Tenant Council and shall consider any comments made.
Notice of changes 7d) After completing this process we will give you at least four weeks’ notice in writing of the changes to be made, and the date the changes will take effect. This is known as a ‘notice of variation.’
Your rights Lodgers 8a) Secure tenants may take in lodgers, paying or non paying, provided it does not cause overcrowding in contravention of the law. If you do take in lodgers you must inform us within a reasonable time. (There are details about this in the Your tenancy chapter of this handbook). (‘Overcrowding’ and ‘Lodger’ – see Definitions).
Subletting 8b) You must not sublet or part with possession of the WHOLE of the property. 8c) If you are a secure tenant you may SUBLET or part with possession of PART of the property but must first obtain our written agreement, which is not to be unreasonably withheld.
Assignment 8d) You may assign (hand over) your tenancy in line with the relevant law. (There are details about this in the Your tenancy chapter of this handbook).
Tenants’ Handbook SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 146
Succession 9) On the death of a tenant the tenancy will only be passed on to another person in line with the relevant law. (There are details about this in the Your tenancy chapter of this handbook).
Being responsible Nuisance 10a) You must not feed any pigeons on the estate or in the locality of the property. (‘Estate’ – see Definitions).
Antisocial behaviour 10b) You and persons residing in or visiting the property must act in a reasonable manner and must not do anything which causes nuisance, annoyance, distress, or alarm to other persons residing, visiting or otherwise engaging in a lawful activity in the locality, or cause damage to their property or possessions. 10c) You and persons residing in or visiting the property must act in a reasonable manner and must not threaten, abuse, assault or otherwise interfere with or obstruct our officers, agents or contractors in the lawful execution of their duties in relation to the tenancy or otherwise as a consequence of their employment with us, whether in working hours or outside working hours and whether or not at, or in the locality of, the property. You and persons residing in or visiting the property must not do anything to cause damage to our property whether or not at, or in the locality of, the property.
Discrimination 10d) You must not discriminate, intimidate, harass or abuse anyone because of their age; race; sex; disability; religion and belief; marriage and civil partnership; pregnancy and maternity; sexual orientation, or gender reassignment.
Repairing vehicles 10e) You must not carry out motor vehicle repairs in or near the property or garage which cause nuisance, annoyance or offence to anyone.
Noise 10f) You must keep noise, however caused, at a level which does not disturb other people.
www.southwark.gov.uk SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 147
Parties 10g) You must not cause or allow a ‘pay party’ to be held at the property. (‘Pay party’ – see Definitions). 10h) You must not cause, allow or do anything that would result in any party at the property being advertised, promoted or otherwise communicated to persons who are not family or friends of, known to and identified by, you, whether through the press, social media or by any other means.
Security Communal areas 11a) You must not use the communal areas of the block or estate for anything other than access, rest and quiet recreation (unless otherwise designated).
Closed circuit television (CCTV) 11b) If there is a door entry system, CCTV and/or other means of ensuring block security, you must not break the shared security by allowing strangers access to the block. (‘Block’ – see Definitions).
Restricted areas 11c) You must not enter any restricted areas including, but not limited to, lift rooms, water tank rooms, roofs and roof spaces.
Animals Dangerous animals 12a) You must not keep or allow in the property or within its boundary any animal which we determine to be dangerous, injurious to health, a nuisance or otherwise unsuitable. (‘Animal’ and ‘Unsuitable’ – see Definitions).
Nuisance from animals 12b) You are responsible for the behaviour of your animal and any animal you have allowed in the property or within its boundary at all times and you must not cause or allow the animal to cause nuisance or annoyance by excessive barking, or other noise, or aggressive or other behaviour.
Tenants’ Handbook SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 148
Proper care and control 12c) You must make sure your animal’s faeces are properly disposed of and that any animal kept by you is microchipped where the law indicates this is required.
Health and safety Fire 13a) You must not cause or allow fire exits, or routes, from the property or in any communal area, to be blocked or obstructed, or otherwise to act so as to create a health and safety risk. 13b) You must make sure that any fire check doors internal to the dwelling fit securely and are in working order and report any faults to us. 13c) You must not fit any security grilles, metal bars or covers to any doors or windows without our permission. 13d) You must not use barbecues on balconies or in any other part of the property or premises which is unsuitable for their use. 13e) We will undertake our statutory and contractual responsibilities, including fire risk assessments to make sure the health and safety of our tenants is not put at risk.
Waste Recycling and rubbish 14a) It is your responsibility to make sure that rubbish and unwanted items are properly disposed of and any rubbish or recycling must be placed in the designated area on the agreed day of collection in line with our instructions. 14b) You must keep all garden space, balconies, window boxes and yards of the dwelling neat and tidy and free from rubbish, vermin and other nuisances.
www.southwark.gov.uk SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 149
Domestic abuse 15) You must not behave in a controlling, coercive, threatening or abusive way to, or use or threaten to use violence against, any other person allowed to live in the property that may or does prevent them continuing to live peaceably in the property. (‘Controlling and coercive behaviour’ – see Definitions).
Parking 16) You may only park a vehicle in a designated area and this must be in line with any parking scheme in place and the Council has the right to take action, including moving vehicles and issuing penalties and charges in accordance with these schemes. (‘Vehicle’ – see Definitions).
Occupying your home Annual tenancy check 17a) You will permit us, as your landlord, to carry out an annual tenancy check. 17b) You must satisfy us on an annual basis that you are occupying the property as your only or principal home. 17c) You must provide during the annual tenancy check, or within seven days of our written request, material required by us for the purpose of verifying that you are occupying the property and that it is your only or principal home.
Being absent in excess of 42 days 17d) You must not be absent from the property for a continuous period of more than 42 days without first telling us in writing. Written notice must be given to a designated office or customer contact point.
Use of the property 17e) You must not use or allow the property to be used other than as your own private dwelling. 17f) You must not cause or allow the storage or use in the property including the communal areas, private balcony, store or a garage, which is an integral part of the property, any liquid petroleum and paraffin (e.g. Calor gas) containers or cylinders, or dangerous chemicals, gases or materials or any other inflammable materials or gases. Tenants’ Handbook SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 150
Access Access by us 18a) You must allow access to the property to allow our officers, contractors or agents to carry out any inspection, safety check, treatment, repairs, major works or improvements that we are required, or entitled, to carry out to the property (including fixtures and fittings), or to the building or estate in which the property is situated, or any other adjoining land in the Council’s control.
Notice of access 18b) We will give you 24 hours’ notice that entry is required to the property unless immediate entry is necessary in an emergency. If you repeatedly fail to provide access, whether by refusing or otherwise, we may ask the courts for an order that allows us, our contractors or agents, to force entry to the property.
Emergencies and forced entry 18c) If immediate entry is necessary we may need to enter the property without notice or consent. We will not do this unless there is an emergency and we need to take urgent action relating to the property, proportionate to the circumstances. 18d) Where forced entry is necessary you will be liable for the costs, including making the property secure, unless you had good reason to fail to provide access.
Taking care of the property 19a) You must use the property (including its fixtures and fittings) carefully, and take reasonable care of it. 19b) You are responsible for decorating the interior of the property. 19c) You will be required to repay us the cost of any repair or replacement to the property, block or estate resulting from your negligence or failure to comply with condition 14a or 19a.
Cleaning 20) We shall take reasonable steps to keep the estate and common parts clean and tidy.
www.southwark.gov.uk SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 151
Repairs 21) We will normally carry out our repairs within the timescales laid down in the Looking after your home and estate chapter of this handbook. This may not be the case if a major works project, which includes the identified repairs, is due to start within a reasonable period, and any delay will not have an adverse impact on your Right to Repair, our legal obligations, or any health and safety issue.
Maintenance 22a) We shall keep in repair the structure and exterior of the property and common parts and communal facilities to block and estate. This will include: drains; gutters and external pipes; service roads; designated play areas; entrances; entrance halls; staircases; roofs, and fire fighting equipment. Subject to reasonable expenditure and consultation this may also apply to the following, if they affect your enjoyment of the property, or common parts: lifts; communal TV aerials; entry phones; communal lighting; refuse collection facilities; communal heating, and ventilation services. 22b) We shall renew, repair or keep in proper working order all of our installations, whether inside or outside the property, that directly or indirectly supply water, gas and electricity to, and for, sanitation to your home (including basins, sinks, baths and other sanitary items) and for heating the water supply and property.
Major works 23) We have the right to carry out works of repair, replacement, renewal or improvement which we are not required to perform by conditions 22a and b but which we decide to carry out to improve the property or the building or estate in which it is situated or which are works to be carried out to a number of properties as part of a planned programme of works.
Compensation 24) You should tell us at the designated customer contact point of any problems with the state of repair of the property and common parts as soon as it is possible. If we fail to carry out our repairing responsibilities you will be entitled to fair and reasonable compensation, which may be deducted from any debt outstanding to us.
Tenants’ Handbook SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 152
Making improvements 25a) You must not make any improvement to the property without first obtaining written consent from us, which will not be unreasonably withheld but may be subject to conditions. (‘Improvement’ – see Definitions). 25b) Where you seek permission to install new flooring or coverings, particularly laminate, wooden or similar flooring, we will consider the potential noise nuisance for others and we reserve the right to make our permission, if granted, conditional on you taking such steps as are necessary and may be specified to ensure proper sound insulation. 25c) If you fail to comply with requirements to ensure proper sound insulation or other conditions of consent we will consider taking legal action to seek the appropriate remedy which may include (but is not limited to) entering the premises to carry out the necessary work. If such action is taken, we shall charge you for this. 25d) At the end of the tenancy, a secure tenant may be entitled to compensation for improvements carried out with our consent, in line with the relevant law. (There are details about this in the Looking after your home and estate chapter of this handbook).
Information 26) We will manage and disclose information in line with the relevant law applicable to data protection and access to information.
Arbitration 27) We will maintain an arbitration tribunal and panel to resolve certain disputes between you and us and both parties will be bound by the decision of the tribunal. (There is more about this in the Access to services chapter of this handbook).
www.southwark.gov.uk SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 153
Definitions You, your and the tenant means every person who signs the tenancy agreement or has entered into a deed of assignment or succession. We, us, our and the Council means the London Borough of Southwark. Property means the dwelling house and any land let together with the dwelling house. Quiet enjoyment refers to the right to undisturbed enjoyment of your home, where we as your landlord, or our agents, shall not interfere with your right to possession of, and to, the lawful use and enjoyment of your home. Enjoyment in this context means to have the use and benefit of the property. Fair wear and tear arises from reasonable use of the dwelling by the tenant and the ordinary operation of natural forces. Fair wear and tear is deterioration occurring through normal daily use, but not any deterioration caused by your negligence. Overcrowding is where the number of people sleeping in the property contravenes the room or space standards of, or numbers permitted by, the relevant law. Lodger means a person who: is not named in your tenancy agreement as authorised to live in the property; is not a member of your immediate family; and who does not have part of the property for their use only. Estate means the area consisting of council dwellings where the property is situated. Pay party refers to a gathering of paying persons in council property, premises, or land, where music is played or performed, for which no permission has been granted by the council and where admission in payment or kind has been charged or sought. Block means the building containing flats and maisonettes. Animal covers all animals, including: birds; reptiles; and insects. Unsuitable animal includes any animal which is inappropriate having regard to the nature of the property and the needs of the animal, including any animals with the propensity to exhibit aggressive and/or intimidatory behaviour. Controlling and coercive behaviour is a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour.
Tenantsâ€™ Handbook SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 154
Vehicle is a mechanically propelled motor vehicle intended or adapted for use on roads. Common parts means any part of the building of which the property let to you forms part and any other premises which you are entitled, under the terms of the tenancy, to use in common with the occupiers of other properties let by us. Improvement means adding to, removing from, or in any way altering or changing the property, our fixtures or fittings, or the provision of services. It includes, but is not limited to, putting up any aerial or satellite dish, decorating the outside of the property, or the replacement or installation of floor coverings.
www.southwark.gov.uk SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 155
Tenantsâ€™ Handbook SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 156
www.southwark.gov.uk SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 157
Tenantsâ€™ Handbook SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 158
www.southwark.gov.uk SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 159
SOUTH0220_Tenants handbook (SOUTH0135)_aw.indd 160