livin Tenancy Management Policy
Date Approved by Board
30 November 2011
Date Policy Effective From
Tenancy Management Procedures
Equality Impact Assessed
People & Communities
Content of Policy 1.0.
Tenancy Agreement Rights and Responsibilities
Tenancy Advice and Support
10.0. Legal Occupation 11.0. Abandonment 12.0. Anti-Social Behaviour 13.0. Rent arrears management 14.0. General Tenancy Conditions and Breaches of Tenancy 15.0. Consultation 16.0. Monitoring and Review
This policy aims to deliver effective tenancy support and management across all tenancy types (including fixed term tenancies) specifically in order to increase the number of tenancies which are sustained.
Modern tenancy management focuses on pre-tenancy sign up and ongoing support, advice, assistance and signposting to tenants in accordance with their specific needs. Tenancy management services aim to sustain tenancies through support and intervention with enforcement action being a last resort. Importantly, effective tenancy management must ensure fixed term tenancies are implemented reasonably and in ways that maintain and create sustainable communities. Purpose
This application of this policy will help to ensure that all tenants fully understand their rights and responsibilities as set out in their tenancy agreements and the specific conditions attached to the different tenancy types, particularly around the length of fixed term tenancies. In applying this policy livin will undertake its duties in compliance with good practice, relevant legislation and statutory guidance. Principles
Effective tenancy management is based upon the following key principles: ⇒ offering the most appropriate tenancy type for the community and individual tenant ⇒ promoting a holistic and people centred approach to the management of tenancies, concentrating on preventative measures ⇒ complying with regulatory requirements as set out in TSA standards ⇒ complying with statutory and contractual duties to tenants as set out in relevant legislation and the tenancy agreement
livin will ensure that tenants are fully informed of the conditions that are attached to fixed term tenancies and the implications for the tenant after the tenancy has expired.
livin will make sure tenants are fully informed about their tenancy rights and obligations from the pre tenancy sign up stage onwards.
livin will provide proportionate, reasonable support and intervention based on individual tenants’ needs. Supporting Procedures
This policy is supported by the following procedures designed to enable managers to undertake effective and consistent management of services; • •
assured short hold (starter) tenancy procedure ( Comp-01) assured short hold (starter) tenancy procedure (appeals) (Comp-02) -3-
• • • • • • •
annual tenancy visit procedure (Comp-18) starting a tenancy procedure (TM0-6) ending a tenancy procedure (TM0-7) rent arrears recovery procedure (RM-01) fixed term tenancy - issuing/extending criteria and procedure (to be developed) fixed term tenancy – appeals procedure (to be developed) fixed term tenancy – procedure for providing assistance to tenants in finding alternative accommodation (to be developed)
livin supports the creation of sustainable communities through the efficient and effective delivery of tenancy support and management services. The Tenancy Management Policy reaches beyond core housing management functions into the following areas: Information All literature, including tenancy agreements, leaflets and the Tenant’s Handbook, will be produced in a variety of media to suit tenants’ needs. Advice Advice will be given on a wide range of housing and non-housing issues directly and indirectly affecting tenancy sustainability. Support Intensive and measured housing management support will be offered where tenants are identified as being at risk of not being able to sustain their tenancy in accordance with the tenancy agreement. Signposting Tenants will be signposted to a variety of stakeholders who will be able to offer help, advice and assistance to improve tenants’ wellbeing and their ability to sustain their tenancy. Intervention Early action will be taken if a tenant breaches their tenancy agreement making every effort to prevent matters escalating and putting the tenancy at risk. Enforcement Tenants who have a high level of rent arrears, cause or engage in any form of serious nuisance, crime or anti-social behaviour regardless of whether it is caused by visitors to the property will have enforcement action taken against them. However, enforcement action will normally only be taken when all other options to remedy the situation have been exhausted. In all circumstances enforcement action will be proportionate, reasonable and will consider all facts relating to the breach of the tenancy.
The following tenancy functions are covered by this policy:⇒ signup ⇒ tenancy types -4-
⇒ tenancy agreement rights and responsibilities ⇒ use of joint tenancies ⇒ mutual exchange ⇒ succession ⇒ tenancy advice & support ⇒ legal occupation ⇒ abandonment ⇒ anti-social behaviour ⇒ rent arrears management ⇒ general tenancy conditions and breaches of tenancy ⇒ consultation
Sign Up and Starter Package livin will conduct a sign up visit with all new tenants to ensure they fully understand their rights and responsibilities, and where appropriate the conditions attached to the tenancy type being offered. The tenant’s attention will be drawn to key elements of their new home. The sign up will include an explanation of livin’s approach to tenancy management, particularly with a focus on financial inclusion and potential future support needs. A tenancy support visit will follow the sign up visit within 6 weeks of the commencement of tenancy to ensure the needs are being met.
Tenancy Types livin will offer the following tenancy types depending on tenants’ circumstances: Starter Tenancy A probationary tenancy lasting for 12 months from tenancy sign up, after which the starter tenancy will convert to an assured tenancy or a fixed term tenancy, provided that the probationary period has not been extended or legal action has not been taken to end the tenancy. Mortgage Rescue An assured shorthold tenancy for a term of 3 years. Conversion to full assured status will be at the discretion of livin. Transferring Assured Tenancy A tenancy for tenants who transferred to livin from Sedgefield Borough Council will continue to have preserved rights as existed with their previous tenancy agreement.
New Assured Tenancy A tenancy transferred to livin from another Registered Provider or where the tenant has satisfactorily completed their 12 month starter tenancy. Full assured status will be granted. Equitable Tenancy A tenancy for tenants under the age of 18 years. Under this tenancy type the tenant requires a guarantor. Providing that the equitable tenancy has not been breached a starter tenancy can commence following the 18th birthday of the tenant. Fixed Term Tenancy A tenancy for a predefined fixed period of time (minimum of five years). Such tenancies will normally only be offered where a property is let on an affordable rent basis. The following factors will apply when making a decision about offering and/or extending a fixed term tenancy: ⇒ livin reserves the right to issue the most appropriate type of tenancy to take account of the individual circumstance of the applicant to ensure it would not have an adverse effect on the tenant or wider community ⇒ Fixed term tenancies will normally be extended. if the tenant’s household circumstances have not changed ⇒ Where a tenant does not have their fixed term tenancy extended they will have the right to appeal the decision in accordance with an agreed procedure ⇒ When a fixed term tenancy is not extended, advice and assistance will be provided that fully considers the housing options available to the household 5.0
Tenancy Agreement Rights and Responsibilities
The terms and conditions of each tenancy type will be fully explained to all tenants as part of the sign up process to ensure they are fully understood. In addition, new tenants will receive a follow up visit within six weeks to ensure the terms and conditions of the tenancy have been adhered to and remain understood.
Tenants’ rights will be protected when they are transferred through succession or assignment.
livin will provide appropriate advice and assistance to tenants about tenancy support and management matters.
Joint Tenancies livin will only normally grant joint tenancies on request to two persons living together as partners, regardless of gender or marital status or a relevant family member as defined in the tenancy agreement. Where by deed of assignment a tenancy becomes joint, preserved rights will remain where applicable but the right of further succession will be lost.
Mutual Exchanges livin will process applications for assignment of tenancy by mutual exchange in accordance with part IV, section 92 of the Housing Act 1985. -6-
livin will process applications for succession in accordance with the current statutory and contractual tenancy agreement requirements.
In accordance with the transferring tenants protected rights, livin will allow one new succession from the date of transfer. Succession will normally be by means of continuation of the existing tenancy arrangement, or when granting a new tenancy agreement if appropriate.
Tenancy Advice and Support
livin will ensure that all tenants are aware of their full range of rights and responsibilities. Information is provided in a variety of ways to suit tenants’ needs, including the tenancy agreements, tenants handbook and website.
livin will provide support to ensure tenants sustain their tenancies through a variety of options, for new tenants starter visits will be provided throughout the probationary period. Annual tenancy visits will be carried out to all tenants along with additional support visits as required to vulnerable tenants (as defined).
Where a fixed term tenancy is not reoffered, support and advice will be offered to the tenant to help find them alternative suitable accommodation.
As part of the annual visit, information will be collected to ensure that accurate and up to date records are maintained in relation to all tenants and other household members and details associated with any identified service needs will also be collected.
livin will use information gained through the annual visit to identify and take action in relation to any incidents of overcrowding, under occupation and unauthorised occupation.
10.3 livin recognise that some tenants may wish to take in lodgers or sub-let part of their home. Allowing tenants to have a lodger or sub-let can also help make better use of the housing stock, help meet housing needs and promote tenancy sustainability. Tenants will be required to obtain livin’s consent pending satisfactory references to take in lodgers or sub-let part of their home and consent will not be unreasonably withheld. Consent will not be grant to a sub-tenancy of the whole of the home. 10.4 While dealing with cases of squatters and unauthorised occupation, livin will write to the occupier to inform them of their legal status and the Association’s intention to recover the property. livin will not to make reference at any time to ‘rent’, ‘tenant’ or ‘tenancy’ as this could prevent the recovery of the property. 11.0
11.1 livin recognise that tenants may be away from their homes for an extended period of time for a variety of reasons. In such circumstances tenants will be obliged to inform the Association. -7-
11.2 Where livin believes that the tenant has abandoned their home, it will take prompt and appropriate action in accordance with legislative requirements to recover the property. 12.0
livin is committed to dealing with Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) to ensure that tenants enjoy their basic right to use their homes and the community in which they live with quiet enjoyment and security.
livin has a separate Anti-Social Behaviour Policy and Strategy for dealing with ASB.
livin considers abusive or threatening behaviour towards staff to be a serious issue and will deal with such as a serious breach of tenancy.
livin will take proportionate and reasonable intervention based on individual needs prior to implementing enforcement action.
Debt Management livin is committed to supporting tenants to manage their finances and meet their debt commitments. livin will maintain an income management approach that focuses on providing early advice and support to ensure that tenants do not fall into arrears and that any enforcement action is proportionate. This approach will be underpinned by livin’s emerging financial inclusion strategy.
General Tenancy Conditions and Breaches of Tenancy In addition to the issues already outlined in this policy, the tenancy agreement has a number of other enforceable conditions for tenants. These include conditions regarding:• • • • •
Gardens Vehicles Animals General condition Operating a business from an livin home
Consultation livin has a legal obligation to consult with tenants on any proposed changes to their tenancy agreement, services or significant decisions regarding the future of their homes.
Monitoring and Review The policy will be reviewed bi-annually or when a change in legislation or external policy requires such a review.
End of Policy -8-
This policy aims to deliver effective tenancy support and management across all tenancy types (including fixed term tenancies) specifically...