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WWW.SWAN.ORG.UK


WELCOME Swan Housing Association would like to welcome you to your new home and neighbourhood. We hope you will be very happy living in your new Swan home. This is your tenants’ handbook which contains useful and important information about your tenancy with us. We have set out in clear sections, what you can expect of us and what we expect of you. You can keep your tenancy agreement and our service standards safe in a sleeve at the back. The handbook includes contact details for our local offices, plus information on where you can get services, advice and more detailed information about issues that may affect you during your tenancy. If you need to talk to us, please get in touch. You will find our contacts in section 1 of this handbook. Please read this handbook carefully and put it in a safe place so you can refer back to it whenever you need to. John Synnuck Chief Executive


CONTACTING US

MOVING IN

YOUR TENANCY

RENT & OTHER CHARGES

REPAIRS

LIVING IN YOUR HOME

RESIDENT INVOLVEMENT & COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT MOVING TO ANOTHER HOME

SUPPORTED HOUSING

IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS


01 CONTACTING US / ACCESSING OUR SERVICES In this section you can find out how to contact us, where our offices are, how we collect your feedback and how we manage your information. You can also find out what to do if you want to make a complaint.


CONTENTS • 1

How to contact us on-line and by email

• 2

How to contact us by phone, post or in person

• 3

Getting your views

• 4

Equality and Diversity

• 5

Your personal data

• 6

Customer Care

• 7

Service Standards

• 8

Compliments, comments and complaints


CONTACTING US / ACCESSING OUR SERVICES You can contact us in a range of ways and we aim to answer as many of your enquiries as possible at the first point of contact. If we are unable to resolve your query we will either transfer you or pass your details to the appropriate member of staff who will respond to you directly.  How to contact 1 us on-line and by email

How to contact us by 2 phone, post or in person

You can contact us and report repairs via our website www.swan.org.uk. The website contains information about our services and you can report any issues you may have. You will also find a range of standard forms and links to other information.

The number to call us for general enquiries is 0300 303 2500. We are available to answer your calls on Monday to Thursday 9am to 5.15pm and Friday 9am to 5pm. To report anti-social behaviour out of hours you can call 0800 075 6699.

You can email info@swan.org.uk or one of the direct email addresses that can be found on the website and within this handbook. You can email our partnering repair contractor, Axis Europe at swanresidents@axiseurope.com to report a repair.

You can contact us by text message by adding Swan as a contact with the mobile number 07860 021752 and then send your message starting with the relevant word for the department you want to contact:

You can also connect with us via social media on Twitter and Facebook.

You can start your text, with: • essexrents or londonrents for the income teams. • essexneighbours or londonneighbours for the neighbourhood teams. • lettings for the allocations team. • estate for estate services. • support for supported housing. • involve for resident involvement. • leasehold for leasehold services. • improve for compliments and complaints.


Repairs can be reported by calling the Freephone number 0800 783 2768 (or 020 3597 2067 if you are calling from a mobile) at any time of the day or night. Repairs can also be reported by sending a text message to 07786 205 096 (make sure you include your name, address, brief details of the repair, including the location in your text) or you can report them in person at one of our offices. Our main offices are open from 9am to 5.15pm Monday to Thursday and 9am to 5pm Friday. We can offer you appointments for specific enquires or you can drop in for general enquires or to pay your rent. You can also write to us at one of our main offices: Head Office and Essex Regional Office Pilgrim House High Street Billericay Essex CM12 9XY London Regional Office 9 Webber Path London E14 0FZ We also have local area offices at the following locations. Please check at each office for their opening times, or you can call 0300 303 2500 or email info@swan.org.uk. Exmouth Estate Office 39 Cornwood Drive London E1 OPW Bow Estate Office Rainhill Way London E3 3EY

 Getting your 3 views We strive to provide a fair and efficient service and welcome your feedback to help us improve services. To make sure we consider your views when we make decisions, we will consult and involve you on issues that affect your home and local community. You can find out more on how to get involved in the Resident Involvement and Community Development section of this handbook. We measure your satisfaction with our overall performance by carrying out regular surveys based on the national STAR (Survey of Tenants and Residents) survey. We also carry out surveys that focus on our key services, including repairs, dealing with anti-social behaviour and complaints, and letting our homes. These surveys may be carried out by phone, email or by posting you a questionnaire. We also employ independent researchers such as The Leadership Factor to carry out surveys for us.

Equality and 4 Diversity Equality is about improving the lives of people living in the communities we serve. We aim to ensure fair treatment for everyone by recognising people’s different needs, situations and goals and removing the barriers that limit what people can do and be. We value diversity and we are committed to promoting equality, community cohesion and social, digital and financial inclusion. We welcome the requirements placed on us to comply with various legal and regulatory requirements that relate to equality and diversity and aim to do more. We will work with all our residents, customers and partners


CONTACTING US / ACCESSING OUR SERVICES

with the aim of improving equality and inclusion outcomes for everyone regardless of: age; disability; gender reassignment; marriage and civil partnership; pregnancy and maternity; race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origins; religion or belief; sex; and sexual orientation. We will: • Provide appropriate equality and diversity training for employees and formally involved residents. • Ensure that partners, contractors and suppliers are aware of and are able to comply with appropriate equality and diversity requirements through our procurement processes. • Provide accessible information and opportunities for resident and customer involvement. • Undertake an annual Equality Analysis of key service areas to ensure that we identify and address any potentially negative equality impacts. • Work to prevent domestic abuse and support victims/survivors. • Work to prevent hate crime and harassment and support victims/survivors.

 our personal 5 Y data

Sometimes when we contact you we will ask you to tell us about yourself. We may ask you questions about things like your age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation and whether you are disabled. By providing us with this information, you will help us to understand and respond to your individual needs and the needs of your community. The information you give is used solely by us for these purposes and we protect your data under the terms of the Data Protection Act 1998. This means:

•K  eeping all information about you confidential and not passing any information about you to another person or organisation without your permission. •Y  ou have the right to see the information we hold about you, however, we cannot show you any information about you that has been provided by another person, such as your GP or social services. • If you think any of the information we hold on you is wrong, please let us know and if we agree, we will correct it. If you still think the information is wrong we will add a note to your file advising this.

Customer 6 Care We are committed to providing you with consistently high quality services and aim to give you information on the level of service you can expect from us. We measure what we do against set standards and targets that we have agreed with our customers, including our commitment to: •C  onsult and involve you on issues that affect your home and local community. •P  rovide clear information on ways you can get involved. •P  rovide opportunities for you to get involved in improving services. •T  ell you what we have done as a result of your suggestions. •E  ncourage all parts of the community to get involved. •C  arry out audits, mystery shopping and surveys to check we are meeting our standards.


Service 7 Standards It is important that you know the standard of service you can expect to receive from us, and our staff know the standard of service they are expected to deliver. Our Service Standards set out the details of the service you can expect to receive and the service our staff are expected to provide you. Our standards set out our commitment to: • Being helpful, polite and friendly. • Keeping all information about you confidential. • Providing the same quality of services to you, wherever you live. • Treating everyone fairly based on their needs. As well as setting out how we expect staff to behave, we also expect our tenants to be courteous, non-abusive and non-threatening to staff and others working on our behalf. You can find more details of our Service Standards at the back of this handbook.

 Compliments, comments 8 and complaints We welcome your compliments, comments or complaints and you can make a complaint or give us feedback by: • Emailing improvement@swan.org.uk or complaints@swan.org.uk • On-line via www.swan.org.uk • Visiting one of our offices. • Phoning our Customer Relations Officer on 01277 314 341.

• Writing to us at:  The Business Improvement Team Swan Housing Association Pilgrim House Billericay Essex CM12 9XY We aim to deliver high quality services, but we acknowledge that things can sometimes go wrong. If you are not happy with any service we have provided, or failed to provide please let us know as soon as possible. This will help us make our services better. You can make a complaint if you think that we have: • Failed to provide a service we have told you we will provide. • Provided a poor standard of service. • Failed to meet our Service Standards. • Treated you unfairly. • Failed to follow our own policies and procedures. Complaints about the behaviour of your neighbours are different and you should read the Living in your Home section for information on how to complain about your neighbour. Once you have made a complaint we will: • Acknowledge your complaint within 2 working days. • Carry out an investigation. • Tell you how long it will take us to resolve it. If we cannot give you a full response within 6 working days, we will tell you why and keep you informed of our progress.


CONTACTING US / ACCESSING OUR SERVICES

Our complaints procedure Initial stage We will take the details of your complaint and pass it to the relevant manager for them to investigate and resolve. They may contact you to discuss the issue and ask you how you would like us to deal with the matter. We will aim to resolve your complaint as quickly as we can within our 6 day target and will keep you updated if there are any delays. If you do not feel that our response has resolved your complaint we can escalate it for further review. Review Stage You can ask for your complaint to be reviewed by a senior manager. They will look at how your complaint has been managed and decide whether there is more we can do. You should receive a full response within 15 working days of your complaint being reviewed. If your complaint is still not resolved, you can ask to have it heard by a panel. Panel hearing The final stage in our process is to have your complaint reviewed by a panel. The panel will include a Swan tenant or leaseholder and you will be able to meet the panel and tell them why you think your complaint is not resolved. You will be sent a full response within 5 working days of the hearing. This will be our final response to your complaint. If still unresolved your next option is for your complaint to be reviewed by a Designated

Person, (this includes a Tenant Panel or your local MP), and/or The Housing Ombudsman Service. We can provide you with more details on these options if you require. The Ombudsman can be contacted at: Housing Ombudsman Service 81 Aldwych London WC2B 4HN Tel: 0300 111 3000 Email: info@housing-ombudsman.org.uk The Ombudsman will only deal with your case if you have followed all the stages of our complaints procedure first. Once you have completed our procedure you can ask the Tenant Panel to hear your complaint, who can then refer you straight to the Ombudsman or you can wait 8 weeks and self-refer. Swan’s Tenant Panel can also consider appeals against compensation that we have awarded as part of a complaint.

You can discuss this section further with our Business Improvement Team:

0300 303 2500 improve to 07860 021752 improvement@swan.org.uk


CONTACTING US

MOVING IN

YOUR TENANCY

RENT & OTHER CHARGES

REPAIRS

LIVING IN YOUR HOME

RESIDENT INVOLVEMENT & COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT MOVING TO ANOTHER HOME

SUPPORTED HOUSING

IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS


02 MOVING IN

This section sets out what you can expect in your new Swan home. It also sets out what you can expect from us and what we expect of you as a new tenant.


CONTENTS 1

Condition of property

2 Utilities

3

TV and satellite

4 Decoration

5

Benefit eligibility

6

Home contents insurance

7

Help and support


MOVING IN When you sign for your new home you will be given the keys along with this handbook, a copy of your tenancy agreement and other information to help you settle into your new home.

Condition of 1 property All Swan’s general needs homes are let unfurnished and as seen. Any outstanding repairs that are Swan’s responsibility will be agreed with you at the time you view the property. The property will have met Swan’s lettable standard before you are issued with the keys and signed your tenancy, unless you have moved through a mutual exchange when you will have agreed the condition with the outgoing tenant. Please note the works carried out in your home while it was empty were based on what could be seen, any works that are later identified as being necessary will be carried out after you have moved in.

Utilities 2 It is your responsibility to advise utility companies such as electric, gas and water of the date your tenancy started. You should take meter readings when you first move into your home so you have them ready when a utility company asks you for them. If your home has a gas supply it will be capped when you first move in and you will need to call Axis on 0800 783 2768 to arrange for it to be uncapped. Please note if you are having a gas cooker connected, it must be fitted by a registered Gas Safe engineer.


TV and 3 satellite

Benefit 5 eligibility

If you live in a house or bungalow you are responsible for your own television aerial. You do not need our permission for an ordinary TV aerial however you must obtain our permission before you put up a satellite dish. If you live in a flat you cannot usually have your own satellite dish or aerial installed as there will already be a communal one for you to connect to (note you will need to pay for your own satellite service). If we have not supplied a communal satellite dish or aerial we will let you know before you move in.

You will become responsible for paying rent and council tax as soon as you sign your tenancy and collect the keys. Depending on your circumstances you may be entitled to claim welfare benefits to help towards your rent. If you apply for benefits it is your responsibility to ensure that your benefit application is completed promptly and that you provide all the information requested.

Decoration 4 You are responsible for the internal decoration of your new home. If it has been assessed as being in a poor decorative condition we may give you some financial assistance in the form of vouchers towards your decoration costs. If you are an older or disabled person, or live in supported housing we may be able to help you with internal decorating if you cannot do it yourself and do not have any family who can help you.

Any delays with a benefits claim can result in rent arrears building up for which you are responsible. Failure to pay your rent on time could result in us commencing legal action against you to recover possession of the property.


MOVING IN

Home contents 6 insurance

Help and 7 support

You must arrange for your possessions and home to be insured as soon as you move any of your belongings into the property. Swan will not replace items or redecorate your home in the event of a fire, flood, vandalism or any other buildings related insured risk.

If you ever need help living in your home you can contact us for extra support. Our Income Team can provide you with help if you are having difficulties paying your rent and our Neighbourhood Team can help you to manage your tenancy.

‘My Home’ contents insurance scheme is a special insurance scheme, available for all tenants and residents living in social and affordable housing. The insurance will cover most of your household goods and contents against theft, fire, burst pipes or other household risks. As well as covering your furniture, TV, clothing, carpets and electrical items, it also covers replacement of external locks if your keys are lost or stolen and the contents of your freezer. You can find more details on the scheme and arrange cover in an easy and affordable way by calling them on 0345 450 7286 or visiting www.thistlemyhome.co.uk.

You can discuss this section with our Allocations Team:

0300 303 2500 lettings to 07860 021752

allocation@swan.org.uk


CONTACTING US

MOVING IN

YOUR TENANCY

RENT & OTHER CHARGES

REPAIRS

LIVING IN YOUR HOME

RESIDENT INVOLVEMENT & COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT MOVING TO ANOTHER HOME

SUPPORTED HOUSING

IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS


03 YOUR TENANCY

Your tenancy is a very important document. It sets out in legal terms the rights and responsibilities that we have as your landlord and you have as our tenant.


CONTENTS 1

Overview of different types of tenancy issued

2

Breaking your tenancy

3

Changing your tenancy

4

Passing on your tenancy

5

Ending your tenancy

6

Moving out


YOUR TENANCY Depending on your circumstances we will issue you with one of the following tenancies.

Overview of different 1 types of tenancy issued Fixed-term tenancy Fixed-term tenancies are issued to all tenants who are new to social housing. Initially you will be asked to sign a one year fixed-term starter tenancy and as long as you adhere to all the conditions and your circumstances remain the same, you will be invited to sign a 5 year fixed-term tenancy at the end of the first year. You will continue to be offered a new fixed-term tenancy every 5 years as long as your circumstances remain the same and you have adhered to the conditions set out in the tenancy. Assured tenancy If you have an assured tenancy, you have the right to stay in your home for an unlimited period of time without signing a new tenancy. Assured tenancies are issued to those who have held a social tenancy since April 2012 or meet the fixed-term tenancy exclusion criteria set out in Swan’s Tenancy Policy.

Starter tenancy Starter tenancies are a one year assured shorthold tenancy which automatically converts to an assured tenancy if all the conditions in the tenancy are adhered to. We can extend a starter tenancy for up to another 6 months but we will advise you of this before the first 12 months are up. Assured shorthold tenancy Assured shorthold tenancies are issued to those in temporary or specialist accommodation and are not as secure as assured or 5 year fixed-term tenancies. If you have a starter or assured shorthold tenancy, you do not have the same rights as tenants who have a secure, assured or 5 year fixed-term tenancy. These rights include the right to transfer or exchange, the right to buy (or acquire), or the right to carry out any improvements or alternations to the property. You can find out more about the right to buy or acquire at www.gov.uk.


If you breach one of the conditions of your tenancy we may commence legal action against you to recover the property.

Breaking your 2 tenancy If you break the conditions of your tenancy we will take steps to end it by serving you with a notice of seeking possession or a notice to quit. The notice will explain why we have served it and what you need to do to stop us taking you to court. If you have a 5 year fixed term or an assured tenancy, we cannot evict you unless we get a court order/warrant first. A court will only give us an order to evict you in the situations listed at the back of your tenancy agreement. We would normally only get a court order to end your tenancy if you: • Stop living in the property as your main home. • Owe us rent. • Or someone living at the property or visiting you has: – damaged or neglected the property; –  harassed or caused a nuisance to your neighbours; –  been convicted of using your home for an illegal purpose, such as drug dealing. • Have been violent to someone living with you. • Have been running a business from your home without our permission. • Have not let us into your home to carry out an annual gas safety test.

We may also seek to get a court order to end your tenancy if: • We want to make large-scale repairs to your home or knock it down. • You are living in an adapted home or scheme (such as one designed for disabled or older tenants) and you do not need the adaptation. • You have succeeded your tenancy from another family member who has died and your home is larger than you need. In the last three situations we will offer you another home. If we have to ask you to move so we can carry out repairs, or because your home is larger than you need, you may be entitled to financial compensation. If you ever have any problems meeting the conditions of your tenancy you should contact us as soon as possible.


YOUR TENANCY Your tenancy agreement is a legal contract between you, ‘the tenant’, and Swan, ‘the landlord’. It sets out the conditions that you need to adhere to whilst you are living in your home.

Changing your 3 tenancy

Passing on your 4 tenancy

When two or more people sign the tenancy agreement, they are called joint tenants. If you are a joint tenant, you are both responsible, together and separately, for keeping to the conditions of your tenancy agreement. If one of you breaks a condition of the agreement we can hold the other tenant responsible.

The right to succeed When a tenant dies, there are some circumstances when their tenancy can pass to someone else living in their home. This is known as succeeding the tenancy and the new tenant is known as a ‘successor’. This cannot happen if the tenant who died had already succeeded the tenancy.

If you are a sole tenant of an assured tenancy you can apply to add someone to your tenancy and we will consider your application. We would only consider an application to change a sole tenancy into a joint tenancy if it was your spouse, civil partner or a partner who has lived with you for more than one year. Adult children or other family members are not permitted to share a tenancy regardless of how long they have lived in the property.

You have the legal right to take over the tenancy if you were living with the tenant when they died and you were living with them as their husband, wife or civil partner.

If you have a 5 year fixed-term tenancy or an assured tenancy you may have the right to assign your tenancy to someone who is living with you, if they would qualify to succeed the tenancy if you died. A court can also order a tenancy to be assigned to someone else and we can give you more advice on this on request.

We may also let you take over the tenancy if you are another member of the tenant’s family and you lived with them for at least one year before their death. However we will only give you the tenancy if: • The tenant who died did not succeed the tenancy. • It is your only home. • You have lived there for at least one year. If you succeed the tenancy in this way and your home is larger than is needed for your household, you will be required to move somewhere smaller.


Ending your 5 tenancy

You have a right to end your tenancy. You (or any joint tenant) can end your tenancy by giving us at least four weeks’ notice in writing. If you do not give us this notice, you will have to go on paying the rent and other charges until we take back the property.

At the end of the notice period, you must return your keys to us no later than midday on the Monday you want your tenancy to end. If you do not, you may have to pay another week’s rent. You must make sure that nobody is left living in the property or we will not be able to end your tenancy.

If you leave without giving us notice, we will go through various legal procedures to end your tenancy. This takes time and you will still have to pay rent for as long as this takes. If you have a fixed-term tenancy you can end your tenancy by way of giving 4 weeks notice of surrender. When you give notice to end your tenancy we will give you written confirmation of the date that your tenancy is due to end. This will always be a Sunday regardless of what day your tenancy originally started. When you give notice we will inspect your home and identify any work you have to do before you leave. You must leave the property and garden in a clean and tidy condition. We will charge you for any repairs, cleaning or clearing that you did not do before you moved out.

6 Moving out

There are a number of things you must do before you move out, including telling your gas, electricity and water suppliers that you are moving out, and taking meter readings on the day you move. Other people you should tell when you move out, include: • The council tax department at your local authority. • The Department for Work and Pensions. • HM Revenue & Customs. • Your bank, building society and credit-card companies. • Your phone company (landline and mobile). • Any insurance, pension and healthcare companies. • The DVLA. • Your dentist and doctor. • TV licensing. • Any catalogue or mail order companies you use. • Your children’s schools. You should also contact the post office and have your mail redirected to your new address. Swan will not be responsible for the retention and/or redirection of any items that are sent to the property once your tenancy has ended.


YOUR TENANCY

You can discuss this section with our Neighbourhood Team: 0300 303 2500 essexneighbours or londonneighbours to 07860 021752 e  ssexneighbourhood @swan.org.uk londonneighbourhood @swan.org.uk


CONTACTING US

MOVING IN

YOUR TENANCY

RENT & OTHER CHARGES

REPAIRS

LIVING IN YOUR HOME

RESIDENT INVOLVEMENT & COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT MOVING TO ANOTHER HOME

SUPPORTED HOUSING

IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS


04 RENT & OTHER CHARGES

It is very important you pay your rent and charges when they are due. Here you can find out how your rent and service charges are calculated and what to do if you are finding it difficult to pay.


CONTENTS 1

How your rent and service charges are set

2

Your rent statement

3

Ways to pay

4

Financial support and debt advice

5

Legal proceedings


RENT AND OTHER CHARGES This money is used to pay for the services you receive, including repairs and maintenance and the management of your tenancy. Your tenancy agreement will state how much rent you must pay and it is your responsibility to make sure your rent is paid as it is due. How your rent and 1 service charges are set

Your rent 2 statement

The amount of rent you are charged will change each year, usually in October. We will give you four weeks’ written notice of any change in the amount of rent and/or service charges you must pay.

We will provide you with a regular statement of your rent account. Your statement will show any rent and service charge debits and any payments we have received will show as credits.

You will be charged either a ‘social’ or an ‘affordable’ rent. If you are charged a social rent this is based on a formula set by the government. It is based on the average wage for where your home is, how many bedrooms it has and how much it is worth. If it is an affordable rent it is based on a percentage of the local private rented market value for a similar property.

When you receive your statement it is important you check it properly and contact our income team if you have any queries regarding the debits, credits or balance showing.

You may have to pay a service charge on top of your rent. A service charge is a payment you make to cover the areas and services you share with your neighbours. For example, if you live in a block of flats and share a hall and stairway with other people, the cost of maintaining and lighting this area is covered by your service charge. We can only charge you what the service has cost us to provide. You may also be charged a heating and/or hot water charge if you are living in a property with communal heating or a Combined Heat and Power system (CHP). The charge will be based on how much gas or electricity you use and you will be required to sign a heat agreement with the utility supplier at the start of your tenancy.


 3 Ways to pay

Online You can pay online at www.allpayments.net

You can pay your rent in a number of different ways. You can decide which way is the best for you.

By phone To pay over the phone by credit or debit card call us during office hours on 0300 303 2500.

By direct debit A direct debit is a payment we take direct from your bank or building society account. You can choose how regularly and on what working day of the week or month your payment is made. By PayPoint We have given you an allpay rent payment card that holds your tenancy reference number. You can use the card to pay your rent at any shop or outlet displaying the PayPoint symbol or logo. You can only pay with cash using this method. By cash or cheque You can pay by cash or cheque at any post office using your rent payment card. If you want to pay by cheque, staff at the post office will tell you who you should make the cheque out to.

By text message To pay by text message you will first need to register with Allpay by phoning 01432 852 499. You will be given more information when you call. At a Swan office You can pay your rent by cheque, credit card or debit card at any of our offices. You will need to bring your rent payment card with you when you pay. By post You can send a cheque by post. When you send your cheque, write your name, address and tenant reference number on the back. Post your cheque to Swan Housing Association, Pilgrim House, High Street, Billericay, Essex CM12 9XY.


RENT AND OTHER CHARGES

 Financial support and 4 debt advice

 Legal 5 proceedings

If you are having money problems and are struggling to pay your rent or other bills, you can contact us for help. We have specialist officers that can help you maximise your income and help you to claim any benefits you are entitled to.

If during your tenancy you fall into arrears and do not arrange to clear them after we have contacted you, we will take legal action to recover the debt which may lead to you losing your home. We will serve you with a Notice of Seeking Possession (NOSP) or a Notice to Quit (NTQ). We will also take back any garage or parking space you rent from us.

It is important you seek help as early as possible. If you have more than one debt you may wish to contact the Money Advice Service on 0300 500 5000 or at www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk

We will only take action to repossess your home as a last resort when all other attempts to help you have failed. Please do not think that we will not evict you because you have children or are disabled. We have a duty to all our tenants to make sure we collect all the rent that is due. If we do have to evict you we will also take further action to recover the debt you have left behind.

You can discuss this section with our Neighbourhood Team: 0300 303 2500 essexrents or londonrents to 07860 021752 rentrecovery@swan.org.uk


CONTACTING US

MOVING IN

YOUR TENANCY

RENT & OTHER CHARGES

REPAIRS

LIVING IN YOUR HOME

RESIDENT INVOLVEMENT & COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT MOVING TO ANOTHER HOME

SUPPORTED HOUSING

IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS


05 REPAIRS AND MAINTENANCE

Here we set out tenant and landlord responsibilities regarding repairs. You will find out about Swan’s repairs services, including how you can report a repair and how long you can expect it to take to be carried out.


CONTENTS 1

Landlord responsibilities

2

Tenant responsibilities

3 Improvements

4

Condensation and damp

5 Adaptations 6 Asbestos 7 Decoration

8

Safety in your home

9

Repairs timescales


REPAIRS AND MAINTENANCE We want to keep your home in a good condition so you can enjoy living there. Our repairs service is provided by our partnering contractor Axis Europe. This section explains how you can report a repair, who is responsible for different types of repairs, and how quickly the work will be carried out. Landlord 1 responsibilities

Tenant 2 responsibilities

We will repair and maintain the structure and outside of your home and any installations we have provided for heating and hot water, sanitation, water, gas and electricity.

You are responsible for a number of repairs to your home, including internal decorating and minor repairs such as clearing blocked sinks and toilets and replacing your toilet seat. However, for older and disabled tenants we may in some circumstances carry out some repairs and decorating that would normally be the tenant’s responsibility.

If any item we are responsible for is damaged or removed by you, members of your household or visitors, we will charge you for the cost of repairing or replacing the item. If you have moved into a newly built home, for the first year any repairs due to faulty materials or the standard of work are the responsibility of the developer. This period is known as the defects liability period and some minor repairs may not be carried out until after this period has ended.

You must look after the fixtures and fittings in your home and make sure the property is secure at all times. When you first move in you should familiarise yourself with the location of your stopcock in case you need to turn off your water supply in a hurry. Pests found within your home, including rats, mice, cockroaches, ants and fleas are your responsibility. You should contact your council’s pest control department if you would like a visit from someone regarding any pests in your home. Please note the council may charge you for this service. Swan’s Repairs Standard includes more information about who is responsible for different repairs. You can find a copy of Swan’s Repair Standard at the back of this handbook. In all cases, the earlier you report a repair, the better. You can report a repair by: • Calling Freephone (24 hours) – 0800 783 2768 or 020 3597 2067 if using a mobile. • Visiting your local office (for details, see Contacting Us section). • On-line www.swan.org.uk. • Texting – 07786 205 096. • Email – swanresidents@axiseurope.com.


Improvements 3

You have the right to improve your home, but you must get our permission in writing before you do. Improvements that you need our permission for include: • Installing a new kitchen or bathroom. • Putting up a satellite dish or CCTV camera. • Decorating the outside of your home (we aim to do this every 7 years). • Adding to or replacing any of the fixtures inside your home. • Erecting an extension, porch or conservatory. • Any building and/or electrical work. • Constructing a hardstanding or driveway.

Most damp in the home is caused by condensation. Condensation occurs when moist air comes into contact with air or a surface that is a lower temperature. If you do not let the condensation escape you can get black mould and mildew growing on furniture, walls, ceilings and windows. Condensation can often be found in bathrooms and kitchens due to the steamy conditions.

We will not refuse permission without a good reason and we will expect you to get the work carried out to a good standard. You must also get any other approvals you may need for the work, such as planning permission. Work which involves gas must be carried out by a contractor registered on the Gas Safe Register. For electrical work, the contractor must be NICEIC approved and we may ask you for a copy of their certification. The improvements you make may increase the value of your home and you may be entitled to compensation for the work when you move out. This will depend on: • Whether the improvement qualifies for compensation. • How much you paid for the work to be done. • How long the improvement is likely to last. • Whether you got our permission before you made the improvement.

Condensation

4 and damp

Condensation is often caused by the lifestyle of those living in the home and if this is the case it is not Swan’s responsibility to deal with it. We will only carry out works if it can be shown that the condensation is clearly attributable to a defect with the property. Make sure you sufficiently ventilate your home especially when you are drying clothes or cooking, by opening the windows and/ or by using an extractor fan. Do not over-fill your home with belongings that prevents the air from circulating, as this will lead to condensation forming. You should not use paraffin or Calor gas heaters in your home and do not draft-proof rooms where condensation is likely to form, this includes blocking air vents. You should keep a low heat on whenever it is very cold and wash off mould and mildew as soon as it forms with a specialist cleaning product. You can visit www.swan.org.uk for more information on dealing with condensation. Although condensation is the major cause of damp, damp can also be caused by leaks or a faulty damp course. If your home is newly built it may be damp because the water used during its construction is still drying out. You should contact Axis if you think your home is suffering from damp.


REPAIRS AND MAINTENANCE

5 Adaptations

If you or someone who lives with you needs changes to be made to your home due to age, disability or illness we may be able to help by improving or adapting your home. There are two types of adaptations; minor adaptations and major adaptations. Examples of minor adaptations we can carry out include: • Grab rails. • Extra stair rails. • Lever taps. • Level access thresholds. • Half steps to doors. • Flashing or vibrating smoke alarms. If your home requires a major adaptation you will need to contact social services. They can arrange for an assessment of your home to be carried out by an occupational therapist, who will then contact us with their recommendations. Major adaptations include: • Walk-in showers. • Ramps. • Stair-lifts. • Car hardstanding. • Ground-floor bedroom or bathroom facilities. If you need adaptations we will visit you to check what work is needed. Minor adaptations can usually be finished in a few weeks, but major adaptations can take six months or even longer. If the structure of your home means we cannot adapt it or it would be too expensive, we may offer to rehouse you in a property that better meets your needs.

6 Asbestos

Asbestos is the common term for a wide range of naturally occurring minerals that crystallise to form long thin fibres and fibre bundles and was extensively used as a building material from the 1950s. It was commonly used for garage and shed roofs, wall panels, fireproofing and insulation. Asbestos is usually safe as long as it is not disturbed. You must never drill, sand, or saw asbestos and it should only be removed by a licensed contractor. You can find out more about asbestos by visiting the Health and Safety Executive website www.hse.gov.uk/asbestos. If you think you have any damaged or deteriorating asbestos material in your home please contact Axis on 0800 783 2768.

Decoration 7 You are responsible for keeping the inside of your home in a good condition and well decorated. You must not artex any walls or ceilings in your home or paint them with a dark colour or with gloss paint. If you are an older or disabled person, or live in supported housing we may be able to help you with internal decorating if you cannot do it yourself and do not have any family that can help you.


Safety in

8 your home

There are over 70,000 fires in homes across the UK each year. Fires can kill and you should check your smoke alarm regularly to ensure it is working properly. To reduce the risk of a fire starting in your home you should never: • Smoke in bed or overfill ashtrays. • Leave candles alight when you are not in the same room. • Leave hot oil or fat unattended while you are cooking. • Overload sockets or leave appliances plugged into the socket when you are not using them. • Use portable electrical appliances that have not been tested. • Hang clothes within a metre of a heater. In case of a fire you should make an escape plan so you and everyone living in your home can get out safely. If a fire occurs and the power fails you may have to get out in dark and smoky conditions, so make sure everyone is familiar with your escape route and make sure you keep it clear. Remember you are more at risk of danger if you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

If you have installed metal gates to your home they must be compliant with Fire Authority requirements to ensure you have a suitable means of escape. If you replace your own front door it must be fire resistant. You must not use or store LPG cylinders or appliances, petrol, diesel, fuel, paraffin, dangerous chemicals or any other similar substance in your home or in any shed or garage you rent from Swan. If your home has a gas boiler it will require a safety inspection at least once a year to ensure it is safe and well maintained so it works efficiently. As part of your tenancy agreement you are required to give a gas safety inspector access to your home so they can carry out this safety check. If you ignore requests for access you will face legal action and will be responsible for any costs incurred.


REPAIRS AND MAINTENANCE

Repairs 9 timescales Repairs that are our responsibility are categorised as follows: Immediate – these repairs are to make your home safe and will be carried out within 4 hours. Emergency – these are repairs such as when you have lost the use of a hot-water system and will be carried out within 24 hours. Standard – these repairs include things like fixing kitchen units, bath panels and extractor fans. They will be carried out within 15 working days. Planned – these repairs include guttering and replacing misted double glazed windows and will usually be carried out within 45 days. Please note the replacement of some key items considered as improvements will be included in longer-term plans and will fall outside these categories.

If you have an emergency outside office hours you should phone 0800 783 2768, or 020 3597 2067 from a mobile, and our out-of-hours team will make sure that your home is safe. Please note they might not be able to complete the full repair and may have to attend your home again during normal working hours. It is important you remember that this service is for emergencies only. You can make an appointment for a non-emergency repair to be carried out any time between 8am and 6pm on weekdays and between 8am and 2pm on Saturdays.

You report a repair by: 0800 783 2768 or 020 3597 2067 from a mobile



repairs to 07786 205096  swanresidents@ axiseurope.com


CONTACTING US

MOVING IN

YOUR TENANCY

RENT & OTHER CHARGES

REPAIRS

LIVING IN YOUR HOME

RESIDENT INVOLVEMENT & COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT MOVING TO ANOTHER HOME

SUPPORTED HOUSING

IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS


06 LIVING IN YOUR HOME

We expect Swan tenants to act in a responsible manner at all times and have respect for their home, their neighbourhood and their neighbours. In this section you will find more details of your responsibilities around how we expect you, your household and visitors to behave.


CONTENTS 1

Anti-social behaviour

2 Pets

3

Gardens and balconies

4

Vehicles and parking

5

Your neighbourhood

6

Shared areas

7

Using your home

8

Staying safe in your home

9

Tenancy fraud

10

Domestic violence and hate crime


LIVING IN YOUR HOME Everyone has the right to enjoy life in their own way provided they do not upset those living nearby. A good neighbour is considerate of others and will tolerate and understand different lifestyles. Here you will find some guidelines to help you be a good neighbour. Anti-social 1 behaviour You are responsible for the behaviour of those living in, or visiting your home (including children). You, your household and visitors must act in a reasonable way and must not do anything that causes nuisance, annoyance, distress or alarm to others. Your tenancy agreement sets out details of the type of nuisance we may take action against you for. The most common complaints of anti-social behaviour we receive are about noise nuisance and we ask that you keep noise to a minimum, especially between 10pm and 7am. To reduce the likelihood of someone making a complaint about you we ask you to avoid the following: • Playing loud music or having your television or radio too loud. • Arguing or shouting. • Slamming doors. • Allowing your dog to bark continuously. • Allowing children to make excessive noise.

We take all incidents of anti-social behaviour seriously and will work quickly to resolve any problems. We understand how anti-social behaviour can affect people in different ways and will assist in any way we can. Neighbourhoods are made up of households with different lifestyles and we ask that you try to understand these differences and do not behave in a way that could impact on the enjoyment of others. Many reports of anti-social behaviour are caused by misunderstandings or lack of consideration. We ask that you are tolerant of your neighbours especially in areas of high density living such as blocks of flats. If you experience a problem with one of your neighbours you should try to speak to them first. If you are unable to resolve issues directly we can arrange for mediation. To report anti-social behaviour out of hours you can call 0800 075 6699. You can also report incidents to the police by calling 101 or 999 in the case of an emergency. There will be a number of anti-social behaviour cases when we will not be able to take further action. This will include low level nuisance or infrequent instances of disturbance. Anti-social behaviour has to be serious before a court would grant a possession order to a landlord. If you have any problems with your neighbours please contact your Neighbourhood Officer for further advice.


Pets 2

Gardens and 3 balconies

You may keep some pets in your home without our permission. This includes pets in a small cage, or a small aquarium or vivarium. For all other pets you will need to obtain our written permission before you bring them home. There are some pets that you will never be allowed to keep in your home. These include:

If you have a garden or balcony it is important that you look after it. Gardens, including hardstandings, should be kept well maintained, tidy and free from rubbish. You are responsible for any trees, hedges, plants, fencing, gates and any outbuildings within your boundary. For older and disabled tenants we may in some circumstances be able to offer some assistance with gardening.

• Dangerous dogs. • Livestock. • Wild animals. • Pets for commercial breeding. • Pets in numbers unsuitable for the size and location of your home. We will only give you permission to keep pets in numbers and of a size that is suitable for your home. You should check with your Neighbourhood Officer that you will be given permission before getting a pet. In some blocks of flats you will never be able to keep pets due to the conditions that are applicable to that block. You are responsible for ensuring any pets you have permission for are kept securely in your home. If a pet we have given permission for becomes a nuisance we will revoke our permission and you will be asked to re-home your pet. You must never allow your dog to roam free or foul in any shared or public areas.

You should not plant any fast growing trees or allow hedges to grow over six feet tall or overhang your boundary. Trees should not be planted close to buildings or walls and you must get our written permission before you remove any trees, boundary hedge or fencing, or erect a shed or greenhouse. Balconies should be kept clear and tidy and you should not allow items, such as clothes to overhang the railings. BBQs are not permitted on balconies and you must not encourage pigeons to visit your balcony by feeding them.

Vehicles and 4 parking Unless you are lucky enough to have a private driveway there is no guarantee you will be able to park in the parking space closest to your home. Your tenancy does not include individual allocated parking and it is not unusual for there not to be enough parking to go around. Many developments, especially those in London are car free. If your home is in a car free area, it means there is no parking available. Some areas operate a parking permit scheme when you can apply for a


LIVING IN YOUR HOME

permit to park on the road. If your home is part of a permit parking scheme you are responsible for ensuring you have the correct permit displayed at all times. We ask all residents to be considerate of each other and not to monopolise individual shared parking spaces. This includes not carrying out vehicle repairs (other than minor repairs) in parking spaces or acting in a way that is likely to cause a nuisance or annoyance to others. Unallocated parking is available on a first come first served basis and you should explain to your visitors the arrangements for parking in your area. You must not park on any grass verges or greens, or anywhere you may block the way for other vehicles, especially large emergency vehicles such as fire engines and ambulances.

Your 5 neighbourhood As well as repairing and maintaining your home, it is important to us that your neighbourhood is a clean, tidy and safe place to live. We carry out regular estate inspections and local residents are invited to attend these to help us identify issues that need our attention. We set aside money each year for neighbourhood improvements that are identified by local residents. Such improvements can include improved signage, fencing or planted areas. If you have any suggestions for an improvement to your area please contact your Neighbourhood Officer for more details.

Shared 6 areas If you share communal areas with other neighbours you have extra responsibilities around looking after them. You must keep all hallways, stairs, landings and outside space free from rubbish or anything that could cause an obstruction. Due to the potential dangers of obstructing access or means of escape in the event of a fire, we operate a zero tolerance approach to items being left in communal areas. This includes mobility scooters, mopeds, bicycles, pushchairs, plants and doormats. You must never throw anything from any landing, balcony or window and must always dispose of your household waste in the correct receptacle for your block. You must not block rubbish chutes with oversized waste such as pizza boxes, or leave rubbish outside bin sheds where foxes could scavenge. Fire crews receive an average of 17 calls a day regarding broken lifts. The majority of these are as a result of vandalism or misuse. If you are in a lift that breaks down remain calm and push the alarm. Your call will be treated as an emergency and someone will speak to you through the intercom and advise you what will happen next. Any costs incurred by Swan as a result of a lift breaking down due to vandalism or misuse will be recharged to the person responsible. Residents are not permitted to use the communal electricity for any personal electric appliances; this includes running extension leads from communal sockets and plugging in electronic air fresheners.


Communal doors must be kept closed at all times and never wedged open. Smoking is not permitted in any internal communal areas or outside main external doors. You are not allowed to put up your own aerial or satellite dish and you should not use the communal garden as if it is your own. Please note we carry out regular inspections of all communal areas and will take action against anyone who is not adhering to the extra conditions for those sharing areas that are set out in their tenancy agreement.

7 Using your home You must use your home as a private dwelling and not for any unlawful, illegal or criminal purpose. You may work from your home as long as you do not cause a disturbance to your neighbours or infringe planning regulations. This includes running a business that could cause noise nuisance or involve lots of people coming to and from your home. You must not fix or display any notice or advertisement to the outside of your home. If you are thinking about working from home then contact your Neighbourhood Officer to discuss your plans. Depending on the type of tenancy you have, you may be able to take a lodger into your home with our written permission. We would never give our permission if it would mean your home would become overcrowded, and you are not allowed to sub-let your home.

Staying safe in

8 your home

Most people who call at your home will be genuine but it is important to be on your guard and remember that there are bogus callers who can cause you serious emotional and financial distress. When a stranger calls at your door you should always ask them for proof of identification and if you have any concerns do not let them in and call your local police station for advice. If you don’t already have one, consider installing a door chain and use it whenever you open the door. Anyone calling on behalf of Swan, the council, a water, gas or electricity company will have identification on them and will be happy to wait at your door while you ring their office to check they are who they say they are. If you ever receive a phone call asking for your bank details you should never give them. Instead call your bank or the police from a different phone or hang up and wait until you hear the dial tone before dialling. Never give your bank or card details in response to an email regardless of how authentic the email may look, including any links that ask you to login into one of your accounts. Most burglaries are carried out by opportunist thieves. When you leave your home you should make sure you do not make it obvious that you are not in. Always make sure doors and windows are securely locked and never leave the key under a mat or plant pot, or on a string behind the letter box. If you see anything suspicious happening at a neighbouring home you should contact the police and ask them to investigate.


LIVING IN YOUR HOME

Tenancy 9 fraud

It is very important the information you provided to obtain your home is correct. Swan takes fraud very seriously and we must be sure that the tenants who live in our properties are who they say they are.

Domestic violence is not always physical, but can be any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or 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 be psychological, physical, sexual, financial and emotional. It can also include so called ‘honour’ based violence, female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage.

You must reside in the property as your main or principal home for as long as you hold the tenancy. Sub-letting the property or moving out and letting someone else live there is classed as tenancy fraud and a criminal act. We will take court action against you if we find you have committed tenancy fraud. If you are going to be absent from your home for more than 6 consecutive weeks you must tell us first and provide us with contact details in case of an emergency. We ask that all residents help us tackle tenancy fraud and report any situations where they suspect the original tenant is no longer living in the property. Please note that we may carry out a periodic tenancy check when we would inspect your home and ask you for proof that you are still occupying the property as your only or principal home. You can report tenancy fraud to our Fraud and Tenancy Officer on 0300 303 2500.

Domestic violence 10 and hate crime

Crimes committed against someone because of their disability, race or ethnicity, religion or belief, gender identity, or sexual orientation are hate crimes and should be reported to the police. Hate crimes can include, threatening behaviour, assault, robbery, damage to property, inciting others to commit hate crimes and harassment. If you are experiencing any violence, abuse, or hate crime please contact us for help.

You can discuss this section further with our Neighbourhood Team: 0300 303 2500 essexneighbours or londonneighbours to 07860 021752  essexneighbourhood @swan.org.uk londonneighbourhood @swan.org.uk


CONTACTING US

MOVING IN

YOUR TENANCY

RENT & OTHER CHARGES

REPAIRS

LIVING IN YOUR HOME

RESIDENT INVOLVEMENT & COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT MOVING TO ANOTHER HOME

SUPPORTED HOUSING

IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS


07 RESIDENT INVOLVEMENT & COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT We are committed to actively involving residents assist the communities we serve to develop and maximise their potential. Here we set out our commitment to meaningful involvement and information on how we are achieving this.


CONTENTS 1

How you can get involved

2

Scrutiny Framework

3

Training and support

4 Communication

5

Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability


RESIDENT INVOLVEMENT AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT We provide many opportunities for consultation and involvement. These range from formal arrangements set out in our governance structure (the framework for the way we are run) to less formal events like information days, focus groups and service improvement reviews.

How you can

1 get involved

There are lots of different ways you can get involved, depending on what you are interested in influencing and how much time you have to spare. You could help us to improve our services through a variety of different ways including: • Helping us develop policies and processes. • Monitoring our service standards and performance. • Getting involved in service reviews. • Giving us your ideas as to how we can do something better through the residents’ suggestion scheme. Swan operates a three tiered system to resident involvement. Here we set out the three tiers and give a summary of ways that you can get involved. If you would like more information about how to get involved and what’s happening in your area please contact the Resident Involvement Team on 01277 844744. Tier 1 – Formal involvement If you can offer a long term commitment and are interested in important decision making about what Swan does you can join one of the following committees: Resident Consultative Committee – there are currently two committees, one for London and one for Essex. They are made up of representatives from local residents associations and active residents in smaller

communities. They meet on a monthly basis and review feedback from their local meetings, policies, performance and assign community funding. Operations Committee – this group forms part of Swan’s governance structure and reports into the Swan Board. Four residents sit on this committee. Scrutiny Panel – this group is made up of nine residents. The panel meet every month and have responsibility for reviewing Swan’s performance and identifying improvements. Tenant Panel – meet on ad-hoc basis to review complaints and compensation awards that have been through Swan’s complaint procedure. Tier 2 – Informal involvement If you’re still keen to be involved but prefer a more informal setting then there are a number of ways you can get involved in the area where you live. These include: • Estate inspections. • Developing neighbourhood agreements. • Joining a residents group or association. Tier 3 – Light touch If you want to be involved but feel that you’re too busy for formal meetings then this level might be better for you. Light touch levels of involvement include: • The Customer Feedback Panel. • Focus groups. • Residents Conference.


Scrutiny 2 Framework

Training and 3 support

Our Scrutiny Framework supports a Resident’s Scrutiny Panel, which monitors and reviews our services and enhances the role of our Residents Consultative Committees. The Tenant Panel focuses on complaints and can investigate when we have not resolved a complaint to the satisfaction of the complainant.

The Resident Involvement and Community Development Strategy offers a comprehensive training programme to provide opportunities for residents to enhance their skills and gain accredited qualifications, including: • Chairing Meetings. • Understanding Scrutiny. • Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) Level 2. • Completing applications.


RESIDENT INVOLVEMENT AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT

4 Communication

We take our responsibilities to communicate with our residents and service users seriously and invest significant time and resource into our resident magazine, ‘The Communicator’, residents’ newsletters and social media. You can find copies of all our key communications online at www.swan.org.uk.

Corporate Social 5 Responsibility and Sustainability We provide community development support to our existing communities and support our regeneration projects by working with the Swan Foundation, in conjunction with our Corporate Social Responsibility Strategy. The Swan Foundation is a charity dedicated to improving people’s lives.

You can discuss this section with our Resident Involvement and Community Development Team:

01277 844242 or 0300 303 2500 Involve to 07860 021752

involvement@swan.org.uk




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MOVING IN

YOUR TENANCY

RENT & OTHER CHARGES

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RESIDENT INVOLVEMENT & COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT MOVING TO ANOTHER HOME

SUPPORTED HOUSING

IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS


08 MOVING TO ANOTHER HOME Here you can find out how to register and obtain advice around moving to another home. This can include moving through a mutual exchange with another social housing tenant.


CONTENTS • 1

Transfer list

• 2

Priority bands

• 3

Mutual exchange

4 • Downsizing 5 • Overcrowding


MOVING TO ANOTHER HOME If you want to move to another property there are a number of different ways that you can do this. Most social housing tenants move by exchanging their home with another tenant. You can also register on our transfer list and be considered for another Swan home. Transfer 1 list

If you have lived in your home for over 1 year and have an assured, secure or 5 year fixed term tenancy you can register for a move to another home. If you wish to be considered for a transfer to another home you should register your details at www.homehunt.co.uk. All Swan’s homes that are let through our transfer list are offered on the basis of housing need and time waited. After you have registered your application will be assessed based on your current housing need.

Once we have assessed your application it will be placed into a priority band. In total we have six priority bands and as a Swan tenant you will be placed in one of the first four bands.

2 Priority bands

• Band one – this is for people who need to move the most urgently. Those in this band will usually have had their application considered at a management panel or they could be looking to downsize from a three bedroom or larger home into a one bed property. • Band two – people in this band will have been assessed as having a high level of housing need. This will include a household with more than three children sharing a bedroom or a family living in a studio or one bedroom with a child more than two years old. • Band three – this is the largest band and is for people who have a moderate need to move, including those who have two children aged under ten of the opposite sex sharing a bedroom or a child under five years living in a flat on the 2nd floor or above in an un-lifted block.


• Band four – this is for those with no or a low level of defined housing need and includes those who have weekend access to children and have children under ten years of the same sex sharing a bedroom. • Band five – is for adults aged over 21 years (other than the tenant), living in the property such as an adult child of the tenant. • Band six – this is for people aged over 21 years who do not live in a Swan property, who may register for consideration for a one bedroom Swan flat that has not been allocated to someone in the first five bands. Band one priority is usually awarded by a management panel comprising of at least three members of staff. The panel can consider applications from households who can no longer live in their home for reasons other than medical. This could be because the household are experiencing harassment that is racial, sexual, homophobic or religious, or they are unable to live in their home due to domestic violence. Other circumstances when band one priority may be awarded include when someone living in the home has been the victim of a serious crime or experienced a personal tragedy. Each case is considered on the individual’s circumstances and how seriously the location of the home is having a detrimental effect on the household. Extra priority can also be awarded for some medical conditions. When we consider a request for medical priority we look at how the current home is making the medical condition worse or how would the person’s condition be improved by moving. We do not take into consideration how serious the medical condition is, only how it is being affected by the property.

Mutual 3 exchange If you want to move it is usually quicker to move by a mutual exchange. This is when you swap tenancies with another local authority or housing association tenant. You can apply on-line through websites such as www.homeswapper.co.uk and www.swapandmove.co.uk to find someone to swap with. Once you have found someone to swap with, you need to complete an application and submit it to us. You cannot move until you have received written permission from us and if you are swapping with someone who is not a Swan tenant, you must also have written permission from their landlord. We will not give you permission to exchange your home if: • We have started legal action against you. • One of the properties is too big or too small for the other household. • One of the properties has been adapted and the person moving into that property does not need that adaptation. If you apply for an exchange we will give you our decision on your application within 42 days of receiving it. If you move through a mutual exchange you should be aware that the property may not be in the same condition it would be if it had been let to you directly by Swan. You may find that your new home needs some repairs after you have moved that you think are the landlord’s responsibly and they are not.


MOVING TO ANOTHER HOME

If you swap home we will treat any request for a repair from you as if it was made by the person you exchanged with. We will only carry out repairs if there is a health and safety concern and any other repairs, such as damage to doors, walls, worktops will be your responsibility to repair. You can check Swan’s Repair Standards at the back of this handbook for further information on repair responsibilities. You should also note that you may lose some of your tenancy rights if the person you are exchanging with has a different type of tenancy to you. You may also be charged for any damage you have caused in the property you are leaving.

5 Overcrowding

We will not intentionally allow a household to move into a property that would mean that they are overcrowded. It is also a condition of your tenancy not to allow the property to become overcrowded. We do understand that sometimes families grow but we will never give you our permission to move someone into your home if it will make it overcrowded.

You can discuss this section with our Allocations Team:

0300 303 2500 lettings to 07860 021752

allocations@swan.org.uk

4 Downsizing

If your home is too big for you or your benefits are restricted due to the social sector size criteria (bedroom tax) you may be awarded a higher priority for a transfer. We may also be able to provide you with financial assistance to help with your moving costs when you move into a smaller home.


CONTACTING US

MOVING IN

YOUR TENANCY

RENT & OTHER CHARGES

REPAIRS

LIVING IN YOUR HOME

RESIDENT INVOLVEMENT & COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT MOVING TO ANOTHER HOME

SUPPORTED HOUSING

IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS


09 SUPPORTED HOUSING

Our Supported Housing Team help people live independently, by providing specialist housing and support services. Here you will find more details about each different type of supported housing.


CONTENTS 1

Sheltered housing

2

Independent living

3

Move on accommodation

4

Other service providers


SUPPORTED HOUSING We work closely with specialist organisations to provide suitable housing and support that enables vulnerable people to become more involved in their communities by recognising their individual needs and aspirations.

Sheltered 1 housing

Independent 2 living

We currently have sheltered housing schemes in Essex. There are two different types of schemes available, with both offering selfcontained accommodation to those over the age of 55 years.

For people with a learning disability we have over 200 properties throughout Essex, made up of self-contained flats, bedsits and shared houses.

Boyes Croft and Oakroyd House in Great Dunmow – these schemes include a communal lounge where resident meetings and coffee mornings are regularly held. Other activities take place that are designed by residents and supported by our onsite Supported Housing Officer who is available on weekdays. During evenings, weekends and bank holidays there is an emergency alarm pull cord system for residents to use. Dobsons House in Rayleigh – this scheme is suitable for those with a need for personal care of more than 6 hours per week. A visiting Supported Housing Officer is available during the week, and an onsite care provider supports residents with domestic and personal support depending on individual needs. The scheme has a large communal lounge with a range of activities taking place regularly in consultation with residents. There is a large garden and patio for residents to enjoy.

These schemes offer different levels of support ranging from weekly visits for those in need of very low level support, to more frequent contact for those in need of higher levels of assistance. In some of our accommodation 24 hour support staff can provide personal care, meal planning and daily activities. Social activities and opportunities for training are also provided. We have two properties designated for residents with low level mental health needs. Residents have their own bedroom but share the lounge and other communal facilities. Like residents with a learning disability there are opportunities for training. There is a visiting Supported Housing Officer who liaises with mental health services to ensure the well-being of residents. Swan House Foyer – offers support for young people aged between 16 and 24 years of age who are looking to develop themselves and continue their journey into


independent adulthood based on their talents and aspirations. Each flat is self-contained and there is a communal lounge, IT and training facilities available, as well as a large communal garden. Staff are onsite 24 hours a day and meet regularly with residents to coach them to achieve their goals. Dove Cott House Foyer – is very similar to Swan House Foyer in terms of its facilities and support and provides communal space for learning and social activities. The addition to this scheme is that it is set up to support single or coupled parents between 16 and 24 years of age with their young children. The scheme assists with child development through local partners, as well as allowing young parents to focus on their own development to enhance their future opportunities.

Move on 3 accommodation We have a small number of self-contained flats designed as move on accommodation. In this type of accommodation we can help residents build their skills to: • Become more independent. • Better manage money, claim benefits and pay bills. • Gain experience through volunteering, training or work. • Improve health, wellbeing and confidence. •  Move on to non-supported independent accommodation.


SUPPORTED HOUSING

Other service 4 providers Throughout our supported housing provision we work with a whole range of partners relevant to our residents. Other service providers may be able to provide support and guidance relating to other specialist issues, including: • Social and community activities. • Education, training and employment support. • Money management and claiming for benefits. • Faith and cultural activities. • Health related matters. • Psychological and wellbeing issues. • Resettlement Support. •  Learning disabilities. •  Mental health issues. •  Physical disabilities. •  Housing advice including homelessness.

Help is also available for: • Older people with support needs. • Young people leaving care. • Young parents. • Those experiencing domestic violence. We have extensive contacts with our partners and work closely with them to ensure that all residents are able to access the most appropriate support for their individual needs.

You can discuss this section further with our Supported Housing Team:

0300 303 2500 support to 07860 021752

supportedhousing2 @swan.org.uk


CONTACTING US

MOVING IN

YOUR TENANCY

RENT & OTHER CHARGES

REPAIRS

LIVING IN YOUR HOME

RESIDENT INVOLVEMENT & COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT MOVING TO ANOTHER HOME

SUPPORTED HOUSING

IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS


10 YOUR IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS Please use the pocket in this section to keep your tenancy agreement in a safe place and allow you to access it, as and when you need to.


YOUR TENANCY AGREEMENT + REPAIR STANDARDS + SERVICE STANDARDS


WWW.SWAN.ORG.UK

SERVICE STANDARDS


At Swan, we strive to deliver an excellent service to all our customers at all times. To help us do this it is important that our customers know the standard of services they can expect to receive from us, and our staff know the service they are expected to deliver. Here you will find what these standards are. We will check we are meeting these standards through regular audits, mystery shopping and surveys. These standards have been designed around the regulatory framework for social landlords’ consumer standards and are divided into the four sections.


CONTENTS 01 •

Customer Care Standard – Communication

– Complaints and Compliments

– Equality and Diversity

– Resident involvement

02 •

Home Standard – Lettable standard

– Repairs

– Involvements and Adaptations

– Safety and Maintenance

• 03

Tenancy Standard – Your tenancy

– Managing your tenancy

– Paying your rent

– Allocating homes

• 04

Neighbourhood Standard – Estate services

– Communal areas

– Anti-social behaviour

– Community engagement


01

CUSTOMER CARE STANDARD When delivering services to you, we will: Communication

• Apologise when we have got it wrong.

• Be understanding and helpful and deal with you in a timely manner.

• Let you know how we have learnt from your complaint.

• Be polite and friendly even when dealing with difficult situations.

• Publish quarterly information on the number and types of complaints we have received and our performance against our targets for complaints.

• Give you our name and contact details when we communicate with you. • Use plain, jargon-free language. • Provide you with consistent and accurate information. • Personally answer 80% of all calls within 20 seconds. • Respond to your emails and telephone calls within 2 working days. • Respond to your letters within 5 working days of receiving them. • Provide you with an out-of-hours number to report emergency repairs and anti-social behaviour. • Communicate with you in a way that best suits your needs.

Equality and Diversity • Deliver our services in a way that does not discriminate against anyone on the basis of sex, age, race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, or pregnancy and maternity. • Make our offices accessible to all our customers. • Treat everyone fairly based on their needs. • Be sensitive about religious or cultural dates when visiting your home.

• Publish an Annual Residents’ Report to tell you how we are performing. • Carry out regular customer satisfaction surveys and publish the results.

Complaints and Compliments • Make it easy for you to tell us when something has gone wrong and when we have done a good job. • Acknowledge your complaint within 2 working days. • Resolve 90% of complaints within 6 working days. • Keep you informed if we cannot give you a full response in 6 working days.

Swan Service Standards first published January 2016

Resident involvement • Offer you different levels of involvement so you can influence our services depending on what you are interested in and how much time you have to spare. • Support you to form resident associations and help you with the skills you need to become more involved. • Work with you to enable you to scrutinise our performance and get involved in service reviews. • Publish a Resident Involvement Impact Assessment each year so you can monitor the difference your involvement makes.


02

HOME STANDARD When delivering services to you, we will: Lettable standard

Improvements and Adaptations

• Ensure your new home is safe and secure, clean and in a good state of repair.

• Consider your request for permission to carry out an improvement to your home within 15 working days. If we refuse permission we will provide you with a full explanation why this is.

• Provide you with a contribution towards decorating if we have assessed your new home as being in a poor decorative condition. • Aim to relet our empty homes within 16 working days.

• Pay you compensation if you move on and the improvement you carried out meets the qualifying criteria.

Repairs

• Help you to arrange major adaptations if you need them.

• Carry out minor adaptations to your home if you need them.

• Make available to you a copy of our Repair Standards, which set out tenant and landlord responsibility.

Safety and Maintenance

• Carry out your repairs in the following timescales: Immediate – 4 hours. Emergency – 24 hours. Standard – 15 working days. Planned – 45 days.

• Offer you a range of appointments to carry out your annual Gas Safety check. • Service and maintain any equipment we have installed in accordance with legal requirements and good practice.

• Provide a range of ways for you to report a repair.

• Ensure your home exceeds the Government’s Decent Homes Guidance.

• Provide you with an appointment time and compensate you if we do not attend at the agreed time. • Aim to complete your repair ‘right first time’. • Keep you informed about any delays to your repair.

• Ask you to identify if you have any specific requirements before we commence works to your home. • Aim to decorate the outside of your home every 7 years. • Provide you with a choice when carrying out planned improvements to your home.

Swan Service Standards first published January 2016


03

TENANCY STANDARD When delivering services to you, we will: Your tenancy

Allocating homes

• Offer you the most secure tenancy we can based on your circumstances and our Tenancy Policy.

• Let our homes in a fair, transparent and efficient way.

• Explain all your rights and responsibilities before you sign your tenancy. • Make sure any service charges you pay reflect the cost of providing the services you receive. • Have a proactive approach when you want to exchange your tenancy with another tenant.

Managing your tenancy • Help you to understand your responsibilities as a tenant and to access the services you need. • Let you know who your Neighbourhood Officer is. • Consider any request from you to change your tenancy within 10 working days of receiving it.

Paying your rent • Offer you a range of methods to pay your rent and other charges. • Give you a minimum of 4 weeks’ notice of any changes to the charges you pay. • Assist you to maximise your income. • Make early contact with you if you fall into arrears and be clear about the action we will take it they are not repaid. • Assist you to claim benefits and provide advice on debt management. • Provide you with regular rent statements.

Swan Service Standards first published January 2016

• Take into account your housing needs when assessing your transfer application. • Offer you financial support if you want to move into a smaller home. • Provide you with an online transfer and mutual exchange service which is free to access. • Assess your transfer application within 5 working days of it being submitted. • Make sure you have a chance to view any home offered to you and give you information to help you decide if it is the right home for you. • Consider any appeal against decisions about your transfer application or offer of home within 10 working days.


04

NEIGHBOURHOOD STANDARD When delivering services to you, we will: Estate services

Anti-social behaviour

• Ensure our Caretakers wear uniforms and carry ID.

• Take all your reports of anti-social behaviour seriously.

• Remove racist, sexist, homophobic or similarly offensive graffiti within 1 working day and other graffiti within 5 working days of receiving your report.

• Arrange an appointment within 5 working days from receiving your report or 24 hours if your report is serious.

• Carry out a minimum of 12 landscape maintenance visits each year. • Aim to recycle 100% of our green waste.

• Make sure those involved or affected by anti-social behaviour receive appropriate support and advice. • Work with other agencies to resolve cases of domestic abuse and hate crime.

Communal areas

• Work with other agencies to prevent and tackle anti-social behaviour in your neighbourhood.

• Provide a regular cleaning service for inside and outside shared areas.

• Make sure we use all the tools and legal powers that are available to us.

• Make sure lights work properly in corridors and stairways. • Maintain communal gardens so they are safe and secure. • Invite you to monitor the standards of cleanliness with us through estate inspections.

Community engagement • Work together with you and other partners including your local authority to make your neighbourhood a better place to live. • Help arrange estate based activities for local residents. • Support you to get involved in your community and develop neighbourhood agreements. • Support our existing communities and regeneration projects through working with the Swan Foundation. • Engage your community in decision making on the things that affect you.

Swan Service Standards first published January 2016


Delivering effective services, enterprising solutions and exemplary homes and communities.

WWW.SWAN.ORG.UK


REPAIR STANDARDS WWW.SWAN.ORG.UK


Here is an overview of Swan’s Repair Standards. It includes the timescales that you can expect Axis to carry out a repair and the repairs which are your responsibility as the tenant. You will find a full copy of these standards at www.swan.org.uk


CONTENTS 1

Heating and Gas

2

Plumbing Repairs and Leaks

3

Drainage and Guttering

4 Asbestos

5

Pest Control

6

Bathroom and Kitchen

7 Electrics 8 Plastering 9 Decorations

10

Doors and Windows

11

Roofing

12 Gardens

13

Communal Areas

14

Stairs and Woodwork


Activity

Repair type

Swan You

Repair heating and/or hot water Repair or renew any single heat source Gas work must Bleeding radiators be carried out Repair gas leak (following Transco attending) by Gas Safe Sweep chimneys Registered Move or install gas supply for cooker contractor Move gas meter Renew gas bayonet and cap

✓ ✓

Repair Cat Timescale Emergency Standard

24 Hours 15 Days

Immediate

4 Hours

Standard

15 Days

Repair burst pipe if you cannot stop the leak Repair minor leak to hot and cold water pipes and Leaks Overhaul or renew stopcocks and gate valves Renew washers to any taps Clear blockages when you are unable to Trace and remedy air locks and water hammer Repair or renew water storage tank

✓ ✓ ✓

Immediate Standard Standard

4 Hours 15 Days 15 Days

✓ ✓ ✓

Standard Standard Standard

15 Days 15 Days 15 Days

Clear blocked soil vent pipe Clear blocked drain or manhole if your utility company has confirmed not their responsibility Clear blocked gulley, guttering or downpipe Make safe manhole cover Renew manhole cover (following make safe) Repair or renew gulley surround or gulley grid

Emergency

24 Hours

Emergency

24 Hours

✓ ✓ ✓ ✓

Standard Emergency Standard Standard

15 Days 24 Hours 15 Days 15 Days

4 Asbestos

Investigate asbestos and remove if required

Standard

15 Days

5 Pest

Infestation of pests, i.e. ants, wasps, bees, fleas, mice, maggots, rats, cockroaches, bird nests and squirrels in your home ✓

Standard

15 Days

Standard

15 Days

Standard Standard

15 Days 15 Days

Standard Standard

15 Days 15 Days

1 Heating

and Gas

Plumbing

2 Repairs

Drainage

3 and

Guttering

Control

Bathroom

6 and

Kitchen

Repair or renew bath or bath panel Repair or renew electric shower, shower tray, screen or door Repair or renew shower curtain and/or rail Repair or renew flexible shower hoses and head (excludes fixed shower heads) Repair or renew tap, sink or wash basin Repair or renew toilet or cistern Repair or renew toilet seat or toilet roll holder Renew plug and chain to basin or bath Replace defective wall tiles Repair or renew vinyl floor covering Repair or renew cabinets and shaver lights Cleaning and removal of mould growth as a result of life style conditions

Swan Repair Standards correct as of January 2016

✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓

✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓


Activity

Repair type

Swan You

or renew individual kitchen unit, door, 6 Bathroom Repair drawer front and worktops and Kitchen

7 Electrics

Standard

15 Days

Immediate

4 Hours

Standard

15 Days

Standard

15 Days

Emergency

24 Hours

Standard

15 Days

Emergency

24 Hours

Standard

15 Days

Emergency

24 Hours

Emergency

24 Hours

Standard

15 Days

Standard

15 Days

Emergency

24 Hours

Standard Planned

15 Days 45 Days

Standard

15 Days

Renew plug and chain to sink

Repair or renew pelmet lights to kitchen cabinets

Reinstate electrics following loss of power supply to property Repair or renew defective electrical fittings (if fitted by Swan) Repair minor electrical faults i.e. socket, light switch etc. Undertake electrical test after a leak Repair or renew immersion heater (where supplementary source to gas boiler) Repair immersion heater (if main source of hot water) Renew immersion heater (if main source of hot water) Repair individual electric night storage heating or convection heater Repair or renew TV aerial, cable or Satellite TV Repair or renew mains wired smoke alarm or CO alarm Repair or renew battery operated smoke alarm or CO alarm Repair or replace extractor fan Replace light bulbs, fluorescent tubes, starters, fuses or battery operated door bells Repair electrical appliances fitted as part of any adaptation works Repairs to stair lifts and through floor lifts Move electric meter (NICEIC approved contractor)

Minor cracks to plastered walls and ceilings 8 Plastering Plaster repairs to walls and ceilings Renew plasterboard ceiling or plaster wall Remove polystyrene ceiling tiles or coving

✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓

✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓

9 Decorations Internal decorations to all parts of the property Redecorate following a repair Redecorate following a repair caused by subsidence, structural defect or water leak Clean and remove mould growth as a result of life style conditions

Repair Cat Timescale

✓ ✓ ✓ ✓

Swan Repair Standards correct as of January 2016


Activity

Repair type

Doors and Repair (including ease and adjust) door, window, frame, catches, hinges or locks Renew individual windows including skylight or velux window or misted double glazing Draughtproofing if fitted with original door or window Repair or renew window vent Replace lost window keys Board up or make safe any door or window if crime reference number provided Repair or renew any item (including glass/ glazing) damaged by the police forcing entry to the premises Replace defective lock to front or back door Replace lock to front or back door (as a result of lost or stolen keys) Replace lost door keys Renew front or back door Repair or renew internal door or door handles Draughtproofing (if not fitted with original door) Oiling hinges Shaving bottom of a door to fit over carpets Additional door security, such as locks, chains and spy hole

10 Windows

11 Roofing

Repair or repoint brickwork Carry out temporary repair to roof or chimney Carry out minor repair following roof leak Carry out major repairs following roof leak Repair fascias, soffits and bargeboards Renew fascias, soffits and bargeboards Repair defective chimney

12 Gardens

Repair or relay uneven rear path and patio Make safe uneven or defective front path or driveway if installed by us and a potential hazard Repair or relay uneven front path or driveway if installed by Swan Repair or renew front gate if provided by us Repair or renew gates, boundary walls and fences if owned by Swan and next to public footpaths or land, rights of way, garage access ways or unadopted highways Repair or renew all other gates, fences and boundary walls including neighbouring Swan residential properties Repair any form of garden structures, including decking, trellis, pergolas or other garden features Repair garages, sheds, bin stores and outbuildings if we provided them, we may remove them if they become unsafe

Swan Repair Standards correct as of January 2016

Swan You

Repair Cat Timescale

Standard

15 Days

Planned

45 Days

Standard

15 Days

Standard

15 Days

Immediate

4 Hours

Emergency

24 Hours

Planned

45 Days

Planned Emergency Standard Planned Standard Planned Planned

45 Days 24 Hours 15 Days 45 Days 15 Days 45 Days 45 Days

Standard

15 Days

Planned

45 Days

Standard

15 Days

Standard

15 Days

Standard

15 Days

✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓

✓ ✓ ✓


Activity

12 Gardens

Repair type

Swan You

Renew garages, sheds, bin stores and outbuildings if we provided them, we may remove them if they become unsafe

Standard

15 Days

Standard

15 Days

Immediate

4 Hours

Repair works to remedy sewage overflowing

Immediate

4 Hours

Repair or renew guttering or downpipe

Standard

15 Days

Reinstate electrics following loss of power supply to common parts

Immediate

4 Hours

Repair or renew any electrical fitting

Standard

15 Days

Attend to person trapped in lift

Immediate

4 Hours

Broken down lift including lighting

Standard

15 Days

Emergency

24 Hours

✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓

Emergency Standard Emergency Standard Standard

24 Hours 15 Days 24 Hours 15 Days 15 Days

Immediate

4 Hours

Standard

15 Days

Repair or renew any form of clothes line including tidydrys and rotary clothes driers

Maintain gardens, including grass cutting, pruning and weeding of borders, hedges, ivy and trees

Removal of rubbish and debris

Repairs or renew garage doors and door locks

Repair or renew of dustbins, waterbutts and other receptacles Communal Repair gas leak after Transco attended

13 Areas

Repair Cat Timescale

Loss of water supply except if interruption caused by a utility company Make safe floor coverings if a trip hazard Repair to floor coverings Repair fire safety equipment system and installation Repair or renew parts to TV aerial systems Repair or renew parts of laundry equipment Attend to rectify fault to Door Entry System where preventing access Repair Door entry (access available, but system inoperable)

Door entry fob replacement unless system fault

Repair or renew parts to CCTV system

Standard

15 Days

Repair or renew parts to washing line/drying facilities Repairs to bin stores and bin chutes Any non-essential repairs not listed above

✓ ✓ ✓

Standard Standard Standard

15 Days 15 Days 15 Days

Emergency

24 Hours

Standard

15 Days

Standard

15 Days

Emergency

24 Hours

Standard

15 Days

Stairs and Make safe loose or defective stairs and stair

14 Woodwork rails and balustrades if a potential hazard

Repairs to timber stairs, newel posts, balustrades, balusters, hand rails and strings Repair or renew curtain rails, curtain battens and curtain hooks Repair or renew skirtings, architraves, picture rails and dado rails Make safe loose or defective timber floorboards if a potential hazard Repair or renew timber floorboards

Swan Repair Standards correct as of January 2016


You can report a repair by calling the Freephone number 0800 783 2768 (020 3597 2067 if calling from a mobile) 24 hours a day, by emailing swanresidents@axiseurope.com or via our website www.swan.org.uk

WWW.SWAN.ORG.UK


WWW.SWAN.ORG.UK

The new Swan Tenant Handbook  

This is your tenants’ handbook which contains useful and important information about your tenancy with us. We have set out in clear sections...

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