Your rights as a tenant
- Transferring your tenancy to a member of your family:
This is called an ‘assignment of tenancy’. A tenancy can be transferred to another member of your family when we have given you approval. An assignment of tenancy can also take place by obtaining a court order. If you would like more information on transferring your tenancy please speak to your local neighbourhood team.
- Swapping your home with another customer:
You can swap your home with another of our customers, a customer of another housing association or a council housing customer, but you need to seek permission first.
- Taking in Lodgers:
You may take in lodgers as long as you don’t have too many people living in your property it. If you want to do this you must first obtain written permission from us by putting the request in writing and providing us with the name and details of your potential lodger. By taking in lodgers it may affect your entitlement to housing benefit/universal credit and you will be responsible for the behaviour of your lodger.
- Make your home look better:
If you want to make improvements and changes to your home you must obtain advice and written permission from us before the work starts. Some examples of improvements are: Putting in extra heating, a room divider, an extra room, a shower, laying laminate or wooden flooring, putting up a shed or satellite dish, changing the kitchen or bathroom fittings. If you don’t get permission first, we may charge you for putting right any alterations that have been made.
- Compensation for any improvements:
You may be able to claim compensation for any improvements that you have made when you end your tenancy; to qualify you will need to have obtained permission at the time of doing them. This compensation will only be paid within limited guidelines. These will be explained to you when you contact us about your improvements.
We will recharge you for any damage you cause to your property.
When your tenancy ends, we will inspect your home. If we find any damage, it will be your responsibility to put it right, in line with your tenancy agreement.
We will offer you two options – you can either arrange for the repairs to be carried out and pay for them, or ask us to complete the work, which you will then be charged for. You can choose to pay us in full, or agree a repayment plan. Any work must be completed in 28 days.
In addition, if you ask us to carry out a repair outside our normal office hours, and it turns out not to be an emergency situation, we may also need to charge you for this.
- Death of a customer (succession):
When you die your tenancy will usually pass to a joint tenant. If there’s no joint tenant, your partner or someone in your household may sometimes be able to take over the tenancy. This is called ‘a succession’. A succession can only happen once and the criteria set out in your tenancy must have been met. The neighbourhood officer must be contacted as soon as possible following the death of a tenant and they’ll give you advice.
- Who can end a tenancy when someone has died?
When someone dies it does not automatically end their tenancy. This means that someone who represents them needs to do this. This could be the next of kin or someone who has power of attorney. In the event that there’s nobody to do this, we’ll need to apply to the public trustee to legally end the tenancy.
- What information do you need to end the tenancy?
If you’re the next of kin or have power of attorney of the person who has died, we can accept the notice to end the tenancy over the telephone, initially, but we’ll also need a copy of the death certificate for our records and a filled-in notice to quit form. The notice period will start from the following Monday and end four weeks later on the Sunday. Click here to download a Notice to Quit form.
- What about the rent?
The four weeks’ notice period is subject to normal rent charges. However, these will be charged to the estate of the person that’s died and not passed over to the next of kin. If the person was in the receipt of any benefits you should contact these agencies immediately as benefit entitlement usually ends on the Monday after the customer passes away.
- Marriage breakdown:
Both tenants in the marriage can apply to the court for an order transferring the tenancy to their sole name. This is something both tenants should speak to a solicitor about. If there are children involved, the court will normally give the tenancy to the person who is given custody. We won't get involved in deciding which party should become sole tenant. The other party to the dispute may apply to go onto the housing register but should seek independent advice about this or guidance about the housing register.
- Running a business from your home:
Please ring us to let us know or speak to your neighbourhood officer if you're thinking of running a business from your home or garage. This is because you must get our permission first. You'll also need to get advice from the local authority to find out whether you need planning permission too. Your business must not cause a nuisance to your neighbours.
Your responsibilites as a tenant
- Service charges and ground rent
Ground rent is the rent charged for the piece of land that your home is built on. It is usually a small amount and details of the cost and how often it is paid are set out in your lease.
Service charges are payments made to us for the services and maintenance. Service charges will differ from one area to another and will depend on the type of home and the terms of your lease.
Each year we will give you an estimate of what we think the cost will be for providing our services and this will be the amount that will be charged. At the end of the year we calculate what was actually spent which may be higher or lower than estimated. The difference between the estimated and actual costs is then carried forward to the charge for the following year (unless your lease does not allow us to do this in which case you will be asked to pay the difference if the cost was higher than estimated or we will refund the difference if the actual amount was lower than estimated).
Generally we will charge you for each financial year – 1 April to 31 March - but this will be confirmed in your lease. We will let you know the estimated charge for the year ahead at least one month before the charge changes.
Your service charge may include the following:
- Communal cleaning
- Communal lighting
- Communal water
- Door entry system
- Fire alarm system
- Grounds maintenance
- Insurance for the building Lift
- TV aerial (if there is a communal system)
- Sinking fund
Sinking funds or ‘reserve funds’ are used to collect money to pay for major items that need to be replaced or maintained. Your lease will explain whether or not a sinking fund can be put in place and what it can be used for.
The sinking fund applies to the property and not to the owner. If you decide to sell your home any payments you have made will stay in the fund.
- Your garden
We expect you to keep the garden in good condition by keeping it tidy and and preventing it from becoming overgrown by cutting the grass, trimming hedges and shrubs, looking after fences and paths not put in by us, and anything in your garden like patios, decking or terraces.
You can do some gardening and planting but you need our agreement in writing to put up a shed or greenhouse, and to cut down any hedges or trees.
- Communal gardens
If your property has a communal garden, you are welcome to make use of this but you should act in a neighbourly way and not cause a nuisance to other customers. If you use the garden you are responsible for clearing up after yourself, for example: children’s toys should be cleared away and rubbish put in the bin. We look after some shared gardens but for others, you and your neighbours must take turns looking after the garden. If you are unsure about the arrangements for your property, please speak to your neighbourhood officer.
Before you get a household pet you must get written permission from us. If you are granted permission for a pet you must clean up after your animals, including in your own garden. If you let your pets cause a nuisance we can withdraw our pet permission and stop you having any.
- Breaking the terms of your tenancy agreement
All of our tenancy agreements contain a number of rules and conditions and once a tenancy agreement has been signed you must not break these rules. If you do break the rules you put your tenancy agreement at risk of being ended. For us to end your tenancy we have to take you to court and get an order for you to move out.
We insure the building you live in, but not your belongings. We recommend you take out contents insurance to protect your personal belongings. Click here for details about the My Home Insurance Scheme arranged in conjunction with the National Housing Federation.