This information is for:
Adactus Housing Group, Adactus Housing Association, Beech Housing Association, Chorley Community Housing

Statement

In order to communicate effectively our position when offering new tenancies to housing applicants, this policy confirms the:-

  • Type of tenancies granted
  • The circumstances in which we will do so
  • The length of tenancy terms
  • The circumstances in which a further tenancy will be granted

Aims

The main aims of a robust Tenancy Policy are twofold. 

  • To act to support and sustain tenancies.  To this end, when we become aware of breaches of tenancy agreements, we will intervene at an early stage and fully investigate and consider the individual circumstances of the tenant / tenancy. We will seek to ensure that tenants receive appropriate support to help them keep their home. Residents in supported and sheltered housing will have a support plan identifying the type of support needed and these will be reviewed regularly.  We will refer vulnerable residents in general needs housing to floating support services or other support services where applicable. 
  •  
  • To ensure that new tenants understand the terms of their tenancy (or licence) agreement and the consequences of failing to keep to those terms.  Where tenants have rent arrears, we will seek possession only where all preventative methods such as financial inclusion advice have been reviewed and exhausted.

 

This will contribute to the following corporate goals:

  • Increase resident satisfaction: achieve a 4 percentage point increase in resident satisfaction with overall service to 85% by 31st March 2015 (average across the Group). 
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  • Ensure a sustainable future for the business: achieve efficiency savings of £1m during 2010/11 in comparison to 2008/09 from the existing business (i.e. excl the benefits of expansion) and maintain these savings to 2015.

Scope

The policy will cover all general needs, sheltered and extra care tenants of Adactus Housing Group where new tenancies have been created.

Context

The Tenancy Policy is required to ensure the organisation and its customers understand the types of tenancies offered, the circumstances that determines the type offered and that this is clearly communicated to all.  Additionally, the Tenancy Policy will include newly introduced arrangements such as Affordable Rent Tenancies (Assured Tenancy let as Affordable Rent) and will suitably capture the organisation's position in terms of offering lifetime or fixed term tenancies.

Definitions

  • Corporate Goals - These are the goals set by the Association as a whole. They outline how the Association aims to improve in the future.
  • Assured Tenancy - An Assured Tenancy is a form of residential tenancy in England and Wales that grants a degree of security of tenure to the tenant. A tenant under an assured tenancy may not be evicted without a reason and the rent under the assured tenancy will often fall under the supervision of a Rent Assessment Committee. Assured tenancies were introduced by the Housing Act 1988 and replaced tenancies protected by the Rent Acts.
  • Assured Shorthold Tenancies - An Assured Shorthold Tenancy is the default tenancy for most dwellings in England and Wales. It is a form of Assured Tenancy with limited security of tenure (usually 12 months), which was introduced by the Housing Act 1988 with important changes made by the Housing Act 1996.
  • Affordable Rent - Affordable Rent is the rent levels that social landlords can now charge to a portion of new tenancies.  This initiative allows social landlords to charge up to 80% of a market rent in the locality, as opposed to social rent which is generally lower.
  • Equality and Diversity Impact Assessment - A process which is followed in order to identify whether or not a service can be accessed equally by everyone or whether there is something about how a service is running which makes it harder for some people to access, for example because of their age or religion.
  • Equality and Diversity Policy  - Written document explaining how the organisation will ensure that customers have equal access to services, regardless of their abilities, age, religion, sexuality, gender or ethnic heritage etc.
  • Tenancy Agreement - A tenancy agreement is a contract between a tenant and their landlord. It may be written or oral. A tenancy agreement gives certain rights to both tenant and landlord, for example, the right to occupy the accommodation and the landlord’s right to receive rent for letting the accommodation.

Our Approach

We will provide new tenants with a written agreement (a Tenancy Agreement) that sets out their rights and responsibilities and our rights and obligations.  This will be fully explained at the lettings interview.  The overwhelming majority of our tenants have a 'tenancy agreement', with a few residents in supported housing having a 'licence agreement'.

We will grant new tenants the most appropriate form of tenure when letting our property. The new tenancy may be an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (starter tenancy), an Assured Tenancy, an Assured Tenancy let at Affordable Rent or a Secure Tenancy.

We will grant Assured Shorthold Tenancies (starter tenancies) to most of our new tenants in general needs and sheltered housing, in accordance with our Starter Tenancy Policy. Assured Shorthold Tenancies will  run initially for twelve months. Should there be no breach within the first twelve months of this tenancy, this will automatically convert into an Assured Tenancy.

We will grant Assured Tenancies (or Secure Tenancies) to new tenants where they already have security of tenure, i.e. they already have an Assured or Secure Tenancy.  These could be applicants who are transferring from within the association, have completed a mutual exchange / transfer from another registered provider or have preserved Secure Tenancies.

We will grant Assured Tenancies let at Affordable Rent for all our new build homes and a small number of general relets. These tenancies are let at a rent rate which is 80% of the market rent in that locality and will be in accordance with our Affordable Rents Policy. These tenancies will be clearly marketed as such.

For both Assured / Secure Tenancies and Assured Tenancies let at Affordable Rent, these will be offered as Periodic Tenancies (also known as lifetime tenancies).  Should there be no contractual breach either side, the tenancy will continue.

A small number of other new tenancies will be offered as part of a licence agreement, such as to supported housing scheme residents.

Responsible Persons

Contact Centre staff and Lettings staff will be responsible for the management of in-bound queries from prospective new tenants. Good communication with prospective new tenants will ensure that they are aware of the conditions of the new tenancy being offered, and that all parties understand the terms of the tenancy.

Service Standards

All new tenants will receive clear guidance on the type of tenancies offered by the organisation.

Equality and Diversity

This policy has an overall positive equality impact. It is likely to have a positive impact on the well-being and prosperity of the new tenants and existing tenants who want to stay in their home.

Monitoring and Evaluation

The Assistant Director, Tenant Maintenance Services will have overall responsibility for ensuring the implementation of the policy, procedure and performance management.

As this is a new policy, the Assistant Director, Tenant Maintenance Services will ensure that an interim evaluation of the policy is completed by February 2012. This will include a review of customer and staff feedback in order to assess whether service standards and policy aims are being met.