Allocations and lettings Policy

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1 Allocations and lettings Policy Summary: This policy applies to the allocation and letting of social housing managed and owned by Genesis Housing Association. In addition, it covers the policy in relation to transfers where there is a priority need Version: 3.3 Information on letting of any of the following can be found in the appendices of this policy: Key worker accommodation lettings Market rent lettings Temporary housing lettings This is a high level policy statement. Lettings arrangements relating to specific schemes or resident groups are not detailed in this document. This does not apply to re-ablement accommodation where we provide accommodation and support on a short-term basis for respite or similar needs. The letting of this accommodation will be subject to criteria set out in specific contracts with our partners. Lettings to board members, employees and their relatives are covered by a separate policy. This policy does not affect or negate any nomination or lettings arrangements entered into with local authorities.. Effective from: 12 June 2017 Planned review date: 01 June 2020 Who to contact: Voids and Lettings Team Alloca017 Page 1 of 32

2 Contents 1. Purpose Definitions Access to accommodation Eligible applicants Transfers Tenancy type and rent level Property allocation criteria Accepting and refusing applicants Accommodation available for letting and letting standards Appeals and complaints Confidentiality and information sharing Monitoring and targets Involving customers Diversity and inclusion Related internal documents Legislation, regulation and guidance APPENDIX 1 Market and intermediate market rent properties APPENDIX 2 Key worker accommodation APPENDIX 3 Temporary Housing (assured shorthold tenants) Page 2

3 1. Purpose This policy describes the different ways in which we let our homes. The objectives of this policy are to: Meet local housing need and prevent homelessness by working in partnership with local authorities and other agencies Create sustainable tenures and contribute to the development of stable communities by effectively and responsibly letting homes Make the process of letting our properties as efficient and transparent as possible Enable mobility for residents by facilitating transfers. Information about how we let market and intermediate market rent properties, key worker accommodation and temporary housing properties can be found in appendices 1, 2 and 3 respectively. As a major social landlord we need to understand and address the housing and related needs of our residents in the communities where we operate. We ensure that no one applying for accommodation is discriminated against or treated less favourably than any other person because of a protected characteristic. 2. Definitions Allocation refers to how we decide the suitability of a property for an applicant. Letting refers to the process whereby we let a property. Social housing refers to properties let at a sub-market rent. Affordable rent is a social rent product charging up to 80% of market rent. Social Sector Size Criteria refers to Government rules for the size of accommodation that Housing Benefit will cover. 1. Access to accommodation Access to housing is largely managed with partners using nomination agreements, referral arrangements or choice based lettings schemes. We work with our partners to verify any information given by applicants to ensure that our housing is allocated and let according to the appropriate priorities. 1.1 Nomination agreements Nomination agreements are an arrangement whereby a certain proportion of homes provided by a housing association are allocated to applicants (nominations) proposed by another body, such as a local authority, for the purpose of an offer of housing. We are committed to working with local authorities in order to assist them with their statutory duties in relation to the homeless and those in priority need. We work with partners and agencies to reach an agreement on the proportion of empty homes to be offered to nominations. This proportion varies according to local arrangements. We also work with partners to enable move-on accommodation for applicants living in supported accommodation. Page 3

4 1.2 Choice based lettings (CBL) CBL refers to a way of letting homes which allows applicants living in certain local authorities, including existing tenants who want to transfer, to apply for accommodation. Applicants are awarded a banding through the use of priority banding, which prioritises applicants with an urgent need to move. Applicants can see the full range of available properties, which are advertised widely, and can bid for any home to which they are matched. We continue to meet obligations under nomination agreements where they exist. 1.3 Referral arrangements with specialist agencies A number of properties are made available to referral agencies with which we have an agreement. Agreements are made with both voluntary and statutory agencies in order to help residents with particular needs to secure housing. Agencies include homeless charities, domestic abuse support programmes, local health authorities, social services, adult social care and police. The most effective route for households applying for social housing is through the local authority housing register. However, for some of our schemes we also operate an open waiting list or direct access. 1.4 Alternative letting routes Some of our properties are let in accordance with alternative letting routes (e.g. Housing Moves). Any additional criteria for people applying through this route are clearly set out when the property is advertised. 1.5 Re-lets Some nomination agreements set out a proportion of properties that we have the right to offer to existing tenants transferring to another home. We use these properties to accommodate the following: Tenants who have an urgent need to move on medical grounds Tenants moving to independent living from supported housing Households who are overcrowded or under-occupied To support balances and sustainable communities through a local lettings plan (see 2.3) Management transfers (see 4.1) and direct offers (see 4.2) Decants. This is where there is an urgent need to move an existing tenant because of major works or to allow for the redevelopment of the scheme. Further information is provided in our decant policy. We advertise these homes, with the exception of direct offers, through CBL. 2. Eligible applicants We seek to provide housing for those who are not adequately served by the commercial housing market. Our aim is to let our homes to those in most need. All applicants must meet our eligibility criteria set out below. We follow all current legal and regulatory requirements in assessing applications from people subject to immigration control. 2.1 Eligibility criteria (new customers) Applicants must: have a housing need Page 4

5 be over 18 years of age, however we will house 16 or 17 year olds where they have a guarantor in place or the service is contracted to work with them have leave to remain in the UK and recourse to public funds and not be subject to immigration control or be a European Economic Area (EEA) national exercising their treaty rights not own their home or their own residential accommodation elsewhere not hold another tenancy elsewhere not currently be serving a custodial sentence have not been previously evicted breach of tenancy from a Genesis property, including antisocial behaviour, non-payment of rent or charges, tenancy fraud or misrepresentation. not known to have or members of their household are known to have caused serious antisocial behaviour e.g. have been evicted or convicted due to antisocial behaviour. not have outstanding debts to Genesis Housing Association as a result of failure to pay rent, court costs, rechargeable repairs or any other debt be able to demonstrate that they can sustain a tenancy and manage risk, with support where required, including afford to pay the rent be nominated, or bid, for the appropriate size property that they are eligible for using our bedroom standard 2.2 Local lettings plan We introduce local lettings plans to address housing management issues and to help develop a sustainable community in a specific area. We adopt tailored eligibility criteria for these lets, which take into account the needs of a defined area in terms of building a balanced and sustainable community, rather than concentrating on meeting housing needs alone. Where we adopt a local lettings plan, we consult with partner organisations including the local authority(ies) to ensure that the plan reasonably balances the competing demands of local housing need and the desire to address the specific issues in the locality. Local lettings plans are regularly reviewed to ensure that they continue to meet the initial aims. 2.3 Sensitive lettings Where there has been a housing management issue at a specific property we may decide to treat the letting of that property as a sensitive let. Rather than concentrating on housing needs alone, we take into account other factors, such as support needs, when determining if an applicant is eligible to apply and the property is suitable. By carrying out a sensitive let, we allocate the property to the most appropriate, priority applicant. Details of any sensitive let are fully recorded on housing management files. 2.4 Eligibility criteria (existing customers) A transfer applicant must: have a housing need be able to demonstrate that they can sustain a tenancy in the new home, with support where required, including afford to pay rent have no outstanding debts to Genesis, including rent, court costs or charges be an assured, secure or fixed term tenant have maintained the property in good condition have complied with the terms of their tenancy to apply for the appropriate size property that they are eligible for using our bedroom standard Page 5

6 In exceptional cases, we consider requests to transfer where a tenant does not fulfil the criteria set out here. Exceptions for tenants with rent arrears or facing legal action are considered through our management transfer process. 2.5 Household members Eligible household members include a person who is included as part of the household on the original tenancy file or is recorded as being added to the household (e.g. children). We investigate and verify applications where intentional overcrowding has occurred. We expect potential adult household members to supply evidence that the tenancy address is their main and principal home. We reserve the right to determine the appropriate property size for applications that include additional household members. 3. Transfers We consider transfer requests from tenants who wish to move from their current home because it is no longer suitable for their needs. Some residents do not have the right to transfer, including licensees and assured shorthold tenants. 3.1 Management transfers A management transfer can be requested by a tenant who requires a move due to a serious housing management issue, domestic violence, harassment or severe financial hardship. An offer of accommodation is made through CBL. We assess each case on its merit and must be satisfied that problems causing the transfer request will be alleviated by a move to a new home. We request evidence of any risk through reports provided by external agencies, such as the police, the GP or social services. We award priority banding based on the evidence provided and our assessment of the case. Where a transfer is granted due to domestic abuse and the perpetrator and victim of domestic abuse are joint tenants, we offer a new tenancy to the victim and seek possession of the property. We regularly review all management transfers after they are approved to confirm that the tenant s circumstances remain the same and they still require priority status. 3.2 Direct offers In cases where a tenant faces an imminent risk by remaining in their home, and has provided evidence of this, we make a reasonable direct offer. A direct offer is a single offer of an available property made directly to the tenant, not through CBL. A reasonable offer is one that alleviates the imminent risk to the household by moving them to a different location. The direct offer and the property the tenant moves from will be like-for-like, with the same number of bedrooms. We do not consider housing circumstances such as overcrowding when making a direct offer. In cases where, due to unavailability, we have been unable to find a like-for-like property within three months, we consider offering a similar property. We only make one direct offer. Where a tenant refuses a reasonable direct offer, we consider whether the transfer request can be dealt with as a management transfer. 3.3 Under-occupation We recognise that the welfare reforms and the size criteria adversely affect some of our tenants and may lead to financial hardship. We support tenants to move to accommodation most appropriate to their needs and financial circumstances. Page 6

7 3.4 Transfer applicants with no priority need We do not consider transfer requests from tenants who do not present a priority need. We offer tenants who have no priority need advice about appropriate housing options including mutual exchange, London Housing Moves, shared ownership and market rent opportunities. 4. Tenancy type and rent level 4.1 Fixed term tenancy Applicants who have not held a tenancy before are issued with a five year fixed term tenancy. Existing customers and customers from another landlord transferring to a property advertised as a fixed term tenancy will retain their security of tenure, where their original tenancy was granted before 1 April 2012 e.g. periodic assured tenancy for life. 4.2 Affordable rent property Where the property is being let at an affordable rent, the applicant is offered the property at that rent, except in the following circumstances, where the applicant: has been accepted as a band A urgent medical need has been given decant status has been given management transfer status has been made a direct offer is under occupying their property and wishes to downsize 5. Property allocation criteria When allocating a property, we take into account the household size of the applicant, the support needs of the applicant and the type of property being let to determine whether the property is suitable for the applicant. 5.1 Bedroom size When allocating homes we observe Part X of the Housing Act 1985 in relation to statutory overcrowding. We take account of the number, and floor area, of rooms available for sleeping, and allocate properties to the appropriate sized household. 5.2 Bedroom standard The Welfare Reform Act 2012 included the Department of Work and Pension (DWP) social sector size criteria, which introduced housing benefit reductions for working age tenants who are considered to be under-occupying their homes. Our allocation criteria reflect the social sector size criteria. We allow for one bedroom for each person (single adult) or couple living as a household and an extra bedroom for: any other person aged 16 years or over two children of the same gender under the age of 16 two children who are under the age of 10 regardless of gender a child or adult who requires overnight care from a non-resident carer a child or adult who is unable to share a bedroom because of disability a foster child where the resident is an approved foster carer, whether they have a child placed with them or not (as long as they have been approved or had a placement in the last 12 months). 5.3 Adapted properties In line with our policy on adaptations, properties which have been specially adapted for use by those with disabilities are, wherever possible, re-cycled to a resident with a disability or a support need to ensure best use of stock. Page 7

8 5.4 Affordability All applicants are required to undergo an affordability assessment to ensure that the rent is affordable. We aim to meet the objective that no household should pay in excess of 40% of their net household income on housing costs (rent including other charges owed to Genesis). Whilst we accept that this may not be achieved in all cases, where a household will be paying in excess of 40% of their net household income, the property is considered unaffordable unless the applicant can demonstrate through the affordability assessment the ability to meet their financial obligations, to sustain rent payments and meet other essential living costs. 5.5 Tenancy support We aim to create sustainable tenancies. Where appropriate we carry out needs assessments to identify who may require additional assistance to at the start of their tenancy to establish a new home. By offering this support we aim to reduce the incidence of failed tenancies and subsequent homelessness. Support may be provided by us or by referral to partner support agencies. Such support is not exclusive to new residents and can be available to residents at times throughout the tenancy where support needs arise that impact on the management or sustainment of a tenancy. 6. Accepting and refusing applicants We seek to let our homes in a responsible manner. We want to create sustainable tenancies and communities and avoid establishing tenancies that will fail. We may refuse to let a property where an applicant is unable to demonstrate their ability to manage their tenure or where the applicant needs a level of support which we or another provider cannot facilitate. Where we refuse an offer of accommodation we give clear reasons why. 6.1 Nominations and referrals We request and accept nominations from our partners in accordance with nomination agreements and the eligibility criteria set out within this policy. Each nomination is carefully considered before an offer of housing is made in order to ensure that the property is suitable for the proposed occupier. We may need to request additional information from the nominating local authority, statutory agency or housing association to support a nomination. Additional information could include medical evidence, risk assessments, occupational therapist reports, tenancy record from previous landlord and eviction dates (for those facing homelessness). On some occasions it may be necessary to reject a nomination from a partner organisation or authority. Grounds for rejection vary, but may include submission of inaccurate or insufficient information, unsuitability of property for the applicant s needs or applicant s inability to sustain the tenure. We do not take into account factors such as perceived housing management difficulties when deciding to accept or reject a nomination. We work with the local authority and agencies in cases where the applicant has a history of serious offences, for example: arson, drug use or sexual assault. We have a separate policy covering the housing of serious offenders. This seeks to ensure that everyone has fair and equal access to housing but also to enable us to manage the potential risk posed by serious offenders, and hence protect residents and local communities from offences. If an applicant refuses an offer of housing we ask them to give their reasons for refusing and record the reasons. These details are included in any reports to nominating partners. Page 8

9 7. Accommodation available for letting and letting standards We only allocate empty properties that are physically fit for long term human habitation in accordance with our minimum lettings standard, which can be found on our website. 8. Appeals and complaints A customer can appeal a decision if they are dissatisfied with the way their application, selection, offer or allocation has been handled. Appeals are considered by officers who were not involved in the original decision. If dissatisfied with the appeal decision, customers are advised to follow our complaints process. 9. Confidentiality and information sharing Information regarding our customers is sensitive and we maintain confidentiality in line with our confidentiality and data protection policies. However, responsible information sharing plays a key role in the letting of our homes. We follow information sharing protocols with local authorities and partners where they are in place. 10. Monitoring and targets We operate robust monitoring systems to ensure that our lettings service is fair and managed in accordance with regulation and strategic key performance indicators (KPIs). We work closely with authorities to monitor our nomination arrangements and provide regular lettings data (LA returns ). The monitoring and provision of data may vary between local authorities. We provide standardised data to regulators as necessary, including Continuous Recording of Lettings (CORE) data collection. We seek feedback from residents once they have moved in to their new home to gauge their satisfaction of the lettings service. 11. Involving customers We consulted all the customers on our transfer list for feedback about the transfer process. The changes we have made as a result include: closer monitoring of the transfer list to ensure that housing is allocated to those most in need; and an improved void standard. We also consulted our customer scrutiny panel. The main change made in response to their feedback as well as in response to the feedback from transfer applicants was an improved void standard. 12. Diversity and inclusion We conducted a diversity and inclusion assessment and concluded that this policy does not adversely impact a particular group of customers. It did highlight that we have increased the number of lettings to young adults, and as a result we have updated our affordability assessment procedure to ensure that these customers are aware of the welfare reform changes that may affect them. To request a copy of the diversity and inclusion assessment, please contact us 13. Related internal documents Anti-social behaviour policy Domestic abuse policy Hate incidents and hate crime policy Serious offender policy Page 9

10 Adaptations policy Tenancy policy Rent setting policy Decants policy Mutual exchange policy This is not an exhaustive list 14. Legislation, regulation and guidance The policy takes account of the government s social housing reforms as set out in the Localism Act 2011 and Welfare Reform Act The Localism Act gave local authorities greater discretion to determine who can register for housing. The Welfare Reform Act 2012 introduced measures to reduce the amount of welfare benefit that a household can receive if they are deemed to under occupy a social rented home. Some of the key pieces of legislation and guidance are: Housing Act 1985 Housing Act 1996 Local Government Act 2000 Homelessness Act 2002 Housing Act 2004 Equalities Act 2010 Housing Regulator s Tenancy Standard Homes and Communities Affordable Homes Programme Framework Guidance Localism Act 2011 Welfare Reform Act 2012 We have a duty under the Housing Act 1996 to co-operate with local authorities, so far as it is reasonable, to offer accommodation to people in priority need under local authority letting schemes. Author: Alexandra Derham, Policy Manager Iona McHugh, Policy Officer Approval date: 06 June 2017 Approved by: Policy owner: Accountable Director: Policy Review Group Head of Voids and Lettings Director of Care and Support Page 10

11 15. APPENDIX 1 Market and intermediate market rent properties We accept direct applications for our market and intermediate market rent lettings Eligibility criteria We use a nominated referencing agency to ensure all applicants are: able to demonstrate that they have the right to rent in the UK considered to be credit worthy and have the means to pay rent appropriate to the property they would like to rent. If the applicant is unable to provide references, we ask that they pay the entire term of the tenancy in advance Financial Criteria Applicants must provide a deposit equivalent to six weeks rent which will be protected via the Deposit Protection Service Lettings standard All our market rent properties are well-maintained apartments that come with a host of high specifications and quality white goods. All feature: quality integrated appliances including a hob/oven, a fridge freezer and a washer/dryer modern kitchen/bathroom Applicants have the option of paying additional charges for a furnished home. Furniture packs are charged back over 12 months in addition to the monthly rent. 16. APPENDIX 2 Key worker accommodation We accept direct applications for our rented accommodation to key workers. If accommodation is not filled by key worker staff, we consider applications from students Eligibility criteria Applicants must: demonstrate that they have the right to rent in the UK (this is done by an external company and has a charge of 5) provide proof of employment as a key worker or proof of student status not currently serve a custodial sentence not have been previously evicted for a breach of tenancy from a Genesis property, including anti-social behaviour, non-payment of rent or charges, tenancy fraud or misrepresentation. not be known to have or members of their family are known to have caused serious antisocial behaviour not have with outstanding debts to Genesis Housing Association as a result of failure to pay rent, court costs, rechargeable repairs or any other debt We consider direct applications when we have been unable to let a property within the timescales set out in the agreement with the trust Financial criteria Trust applicants must: provide proof of income/nomination from a trust and to agree to wage deduction pay a reservations fee, which is deducted from the first month s rent Non-trust applicants must: provide a deposit of one month's rent pay a reservations fee, which is deducted from the first month s rent Page 11

12 16.3 Lettings standard Most of our accommodation is single-person rooms with shared facilities. All rooms feature: a bed a wardrobe a desk and chair an en-suite bathroom (if no shared bathroom) 17. APPENDIX 3 Temporary Housing (assured shorthold tenants) We receive all our applications for temporary housing via the local authority, so applicants must register their interest with them Eligibility criteria Applicants must: have a housing need be over 18 years of age have leave to remain in the UK and recourse to public funds and not be subject to immigration control or be a European Economic Area (EEA) national exercising their treaty rights not own their home or their own residential accommodation elsewhere not hold another tenancy elsewhere not currently serve a custodial sentence not known to have or members of their household are known to have caused serious antisocial behaviour be able to demonstrate that they can sustain a tenancy, including afford to pay the rent be nominated, for the appropriate size property that they are eligible for using our bedroom standard Lettings standard Some properties are furnished, and include some or all of the following: fridge a cooker a dining table and chairs a settee or armchair a wardrobe or set of drawers Page 12

13 Decants Policy Summary: This policy outlines our approach to decanting residents. It includes details of our legal and regulatory obligations. Version: 2.0 This policy applies to all customers who live in properties owned or managed by Genesis Housing Association. Effective from: 01 September 2015 Planned review date: 07 September 2018 Who to contact: Local Business Manager Page 13 of 32

14 Contents 1. Purpose Definitions... Error! Bookmark not defined. 3. General principles... Error! Bookmark not defined. 4. When a decant can happen... Error! Bookmark not defined. 5. Offer of accommodation permanent decants... Error! Bookmark not defined. 6. Planned decants Emergency decants Freehold, leasehold, shared ownership and non-residents Where Genesis is not the landlord Designated decant properties Home loss Disturbance and other payments Payment arrangements Disputes and appeals Diversity and inclusion Related internal documents... Error! Bookmark not defined. 17. Legislation, regulation and guidance... Error! Bookmark not defined. 18. Appendix 1 Suitable alternative accommodation guidelines Page 14

15 1. Purpose This policy sets out Genesis approach to decanting residents. It sets out the circumstances where the decant policy will be applied and the appropriate payments residents are entitled to if they are required to move. This policy aims to: Provide information and clear guidance about when residents may be required to move to enable works to be carried out by us Ensure that residents receive the appropriate payments they are entitled to if they are required to move Ensure stakeholders and housing partners are made aware of decisions regarding disposal or major refurbishment of stock where residents will need to be decanted Enable staff to offer assistance and advice on housing opportunities and moving costs to residents at all stages of the decanting process. There are circumstances which will not be covered by this policy, they include: Payments made to leaseholders for the compulsory purchase of their property The liability for damage for residents personal possessions during storage; this will rest with the nominated contractor s insurers. 2. Definitions Where this policy refers to we or us, this means Genesis. Resident - a tenant or leaseholder living in property where Genesis is the landlord or freeholder. Decant - When a resident is moved from their principal home into alternative accommodation due to planned major works, an emergency situation or because of the demolition or sale of a property. Emergency decant: a move to temporary accommodation following an emergency such as a flood, fire or from violence or abuse in the home Planned decant - when a resident is moved out of their property, to enable work on the property to be carried out, with the intention of returning them to the property as soon as the work is completed. Permanent decant - when a resident is moved out of their property and there is no intention for them to return to the property. Decant property - a property temporarily occupied by a Genesis resident on a licence, while improvements or major repairs are carried out to their normal home which they are unable to occupy. Home loss payment: a statutory sum payable to some residents to compensate them for the permanent loss of their home if they are forced to move. Page 15

16 3. General principles We carry out improvement works and major repairs whilst the resident remains in their home where possible. We recognise that each situation is different and will be judged on its own merits to ascertain whether it is reasonable to expect the resident to remain in their home during the course of the work. If issues around the health and safety of either the resident or the contractor arise and works cannot be completed with the resident continuing to occupy the property, we will arrange alternative accommodation. While the wishes and needs of the resident will be taken into account, the final decision as to whether to move the resident or not will always lie with Genesis. 4. When a decant can happen We may require a resident to move due to the sale of their property, redevelopment and regeneration of the area, improvement, major works or maintenance to the property or estate, or for emergency reasons. As a general rule residents are offered a temporary move unless one or more of the following conditions apply: The property is to be sold The property is to be demolished The property is to be enlarged or reduced beyond the existing household size or Our solicitors advise a permanent move. Where we decide to decant, we involve residents from the outset and keep them informed throughout the decant process. We identify the needs of the household and do everything we can to provide the most suitable accommodation. In the case of a planned move we seek to decant a resident for the minimum time necessary to carry out the repair or improvement works. We inform them as soon as possible when they can return to their property and make arrangements with them for the move. Where the resident refuses to leave the decant property we take legal action and seek possession of the property under the relevant grounds. 5. Offer of accommodation permanent decants Permanent decants will be registered with the relevant local authority allocations scheme and given the appropriate priority. In some cases we will make a direct offer. Where tenants are underoccupying and are happy to move to a smaller property additional incentives may be available, appropriate to their household need. 5.1 Permanent decants non sales Where a resident is moving permanently, they are entitled to one offer of accommodation which must meet the test of suitable alternative accommodation. Definitions of suitable alternative accommodation are set out in the respective Housing Acts. Residents will have a set period in which to bid for suitable properties; if they are unsuccessful we will make one direct offer of accommodation. Page 16

17 If a resident refuses a direct offer, we can seek possession of the property on the relevant ground; this is particularly important when we require the property urgently due to health and safety issues or when we would be liable for disrepair. Details of suitable alternative accommodation according to tenure are available in appendix Permanent decants non sales If we require a resident to move permanently due to the sale of their property we cannot force them to move to a property of our choice; any decanting and compensation paid to them must be through negotiation. We are not limited to making only one offer of accommodation, and will fully cooperate with any negotiations to help resolve the move as easily as possible Where a freeholder or leaseholder accepts the valuation for their existing property, and the home loss and disturbance payment from the association, we expect them to make their own arrangements to find suitable accommodation. However we may offer Shared Ownership or a Leasehold Swap. 6. Planned decants Where we ask a customer to move temporarily because of planned works to their property they are entitled to one offer of accommodation. Wherever possible this will be from our designated pool of decant properties. The formal tenancy continues on the original property being repaired, even if the resident is decanted for some time. If the resident is temporarily moved to self-contained accommodation, they occupy this property only on a licence to occupy, which they must sign before moving in to the property. Residents living in a sheltered scheme may be able to make use of the vacant sheltered flat reserved for decants. Where the move is of a very short duration (7-10 working days), we may offer the resident a cash incentive to stay with friends or relatives; if it is more convenient we offer hotel or B&B accommodation, if this is necessary we cover the cost of the accommodation and any agreed reasonable expenses. Suitable alternative accommodation Where the resident is moving temporarily, the alternative accommodation does not have to meet the criteria set out in the Housing Acts but should suit the resident as far as possible in terms of location. Wherever possible, offers of temporary accommodation will be made from the pool of designated decant properties, and, where possible, be the same size as their permanent accommodation. Where a resident is under-occupying their home, an offer may be made that is smaller than their existing home, but suitable for the needs of the household. 7. Emergency decants In emergency situations we may require a resident to move to alternative accommodation following an event such as a flood or fire making the property uninhabitable, or because it is no longer safe for the resident to stay there because of violence or abuse in the home etc. Where residents live in temporary accommodation and have to move in the event of an emergency we will liaise with the nominating local authority and other additional support agencies to resolve the situation. We will assist residents where possible but also encourage them to approach their local authority to seek assistance and declare themselves homeless. Page 17

18 Once the immediate emergency situation has passed, we will either return the resident to their home or continue with the normal decant procedure. By their very nature, no two emergency situations will be the same; however our priority will always be the safety of our residents and we will work closely with local authorities and agencies to provide the most suitable accommodation and support. 8. Freehold, leasehold, shared ownership and non-residents Any decanting and compensation paid for leaseholders or their tenants are always made through negotiation. If such a situation arises we will consult with them about any major works prior to any discussions around possible decanting and strive to seek the most equitable solution. It is possible in some cases Genesis may have a right to decant a leaseholder to enable major works to be carried out under the terms of their individual lease. If we are unable to discharge our repair and maintenance responsibilities (likely to include major works to the structure of the building) we take legal advice on the way forward. Where we are working in partnership with a local authority to regenerate a community, and they exercise their powers of compulsory purchase, we agree jointly any responsibility for consulting with and compensating those leaseholders and freeholders who may be affected. 9. Where Genesis is not the landlord Where we manage properties on behalf of another landlord, their decant policy applies. If there is no decant policy this policy should be used as guidance. 10. Designated decant properties There may be occasions where properties within our permanent stock are available to use as designated decant properties. Any permanent stock identified as a potential decant property will need to be approved and adapted according to the appropriate procedure. A review of existing decant properties will take place to ensure the stock is being used as effectively and efficiently as possible and may be returned to permanent stock portfolio. 11. Home loss We make statutory home loss payments to qualifying residents who are required to move to enable extensive works to be carried out to their home. This is a fixed sum to cover the loss of their home and the costs associated with the move Conditions of entitlement to statutory home loss payments In general, residents will qualify for this statutory payment where: The resident has been in occupation of the dwelling or a substantial part of it, as their only or main residence throughout the period of one year ending with the date of displacement. The displaced resident has been in occupation by virtue of a legal interest or right - this may include a previous period when the customer was resident in the property under another person s tenancy. The displacement as a direct result of the improvement or redevelopment of the property. The move must be permanent to qualify for a home loss payment. A temporary move from a building which is to be totally redeveloped (e.g. demolished and rebuilt) is counted as a permanent Page 18

19 move because the building the tenant will return to is so different it can be seen as a totally new home Right to return In circumstances where a resident has moved to a new property because their original property is being redeveloped (e.g. demolished and rebuilt) we may offer the right to return. If the resident has been in the new property for more than 12 months and accepts the right to return to an equivalent property, this second move does not constitute a decant and therefore there is no entitlement to a further home loss payment, unless we compel the resident to move. We will pay all agreed reasonable expenses for that second move Discretionary home loss payments For those who meet the conditions of entitlement to home loss but have been in occupation for less than a year, we may make a discretionary home loss payment similar to the current statutory sum. This payment will be made pro-rata, paid in respect of each month or part-month that the resident has been in occupation, and up to a maximum figure set by the Land Compensation Act (Home Loss Payments Regulations updated 2014) Qualifying for payments: Tenants Tenants are entitled to home loss payments as laid out in the Land Compensation Act Lodgers and licensees Lodgers and licensees do not qualify for home loss payments. Sub-tenants Sub-tenants do qualify for a home loss payment but if they share any accommodation with the tenant e.g. kitchen or bathroom or living room, they are only entitled to a share of the home loss payment. If the sub-tenant occupies self-contained accommodation within the tenant's house a full home loss payment must be paid to each person. Joint tenants Joint tenants are only entitled to one home loss payment. Leaseholders and freeholders Where a property is owned by a leaseholder or freeholder and it is due to be demolished, we will pay the market value of their home in addition to a home loss payment Amount of payment Tenants The amount of compensation available under a home loss payment is determined by Government regulations, as set out in The Home Loss Payments (Prescribed Amounts) (England) Regulations - Statutory Instrument 2014 Leaseholders/Freeholders Resident leaseholders and freeholders receive a home loss payment of 10% of the market value of their home, between the minimum and maximum standard home loss payment as set out in The Home Loss Payments (Prescribed Amounts) (England) Regulations - Statutory Instrument For non-resident leaseholders or freeholders we pay either 7.5% of the market value or 75,000, whichever is the lower amount 2. 1 Home loss payment is increased using statutory instruments. The most recent is The Home Loss Payments (Prescribed Amounts) (England) Regulations - Statutory Instrument Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004, Sec 106, point 33A. Page 19

20 12. Disturbance and other payments Disturbance Payments Disturbance payments are statutory payments given to cover the reasonable expenses of moving home. To qualify for a statutory disturbance payment a resident must have been in lawful occupation on the date we acquired the land by agreement. No higher court has ruled on whether this means the date we bought the land, or the date we required the resident to move. We have chosen to use the latter as it provides protection for more of our residents. In order to qualify the move must be permanent and as a result of redevelopment or improvement. The amount payable will vary according to the circumstances of each case. It should equal the reasonable expenses incurred by the person displaced. The resident should be in no better or worse financial position after displacement and is entitled to claim only for actual losses, ensuring that these are mitigated as far as possible. Interest is payable on any amounts the tenant has spent from the day the expense was incurred to the day payment is made. Disturbance payments would normally include: Removal costs. Adapting carpets and curtains or being compensated if carpets and curtains are not adaptable. Disconnection and reconnection costs of telephones, gas, electricity, washing machines, dish-washers, TV aerials, cookers (It should be noted that if a cooker is condemned as part of the process it will not be possible to move this to the new property and Genesis will not fund the replacement cooker) and other installations. Additional expenses might include: The dismantling and reassembling of approved fixtures and fittings Re-direction of mail for the duration of the temporary move. Additional cost of travel by public transport or private motor vehicle for any household member to their place of work or study for the period of the temporary move. For private motor vehicles, mileage payments will be made to the equivalent of Genesis casual car-user allowance Advice from legal and valuation advisors (specifically for leaseholders an freeholders) Other payments Where we require a resident to move permanently and they are not eligible for statutory disturbance payments we will consider a discretionary disturbance payment in line with statutory disturbance payments. Where we require a resident to be moved temporarily or in an emergency we will, as a general rule, pay all reasonable expenses, agreed in advance. Examples of these additional expenses can be found in the relevant decants procedures. 13. Payment arrangements Service budgets In most cases the directorate or service requesting the decant will be responsible for paying the costs associated with the move. Rent account Page 20

21 Where we provide alternative accommodation, the resident continues to be responsible for the rent on their permanent home, even though they are not in occupation. If the rental charge on the decant property is lower than the rental charge on the resident s property we will refund the difference. If the resident makes their own accommodation arrangements, the rental charge on the permanent property continues but will be set at zero. When we make a decision to decant and the resident is in receipt of housing benefit, we will contact the relevant housing benefit department to inform them of the changes so they can review the resident s benefit entitlements and can make any necessary adjustments. Where the local authority's housing benefit policy conflicts with our own arrangements we will liaise with them to ensure the resident is not disadvantaged. Rent and other arrears Where we require residents to move permanently and they are in arrears, we will negotiate a payment plan. Council tax Where residents accrue arrears whilst living at the decanted address, arrears recovery action will be taken in the usual way as if the resident had not moved temporarily. We may, at our discretion, require the resident to move permanently. If this creates a statutory entitlement to a home loss payment we will seek the resident s written consent to offset the relevant amount against any outstanding arrears. We cannot offset rent arrears or other outstanding debts against a disturbance payment. The resident is responsible for the payment of council tax at the permanent address, unless advised otherwise by the local authority. The resident is not responsible for council tax at the property they have been decanted to, unless the move is permanent. Home loss payment There is a statutory limitation period of six years for home loss payment claims. Disturbance and other payments It is our policy to pay suppliers (i.e. removal companies) directly where possible, particularly in cases where residents are vulnerable. Where this is not possible we will pay reasonable expenses, agreed in advance, on production of receipts. All receipts must be received within three months of a move. 14. Disputes and appeals A resident appealing the decant policy or procedure will be advised to follow our Complaints Procedure. If a resident exhausts our internal procedures without resolving their dispute they may submit their complaint to the Housing Ombudsman. If a resident has any dispute as to the amount of home loss payment made to them they may apply to the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber) to appeal the decision. It may be appropriate to offer mediation or arbitration as a way of resolving a dispute. 15. Diversity and inclusion A Diversity and Inclusion Assessment has been completed as part of this policy review and a copy is available on request. To request a copy please contact us at Page 21

22 or for further information on our commitment to equality and diversity at Genesis please visit our website. 16. Related internal documents Anti-social behaviour policy Complaints, comments and compliments policy Compensation policy Domestic abuse policy Disrepair claims policy Responsive repairs policy Occupancy agreements Voids procedure 17. Legislation, regulation and guidance Legislation relating to decanting residents includes: Equality Act 2010 The Home Loss Payments (Prescribed Amounts) (England) Regulations Statutory Instrument 2008 No Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 Housing Act 1996 Planning & Compensation Act 1991 Local Government and Housing Act 1989 Housing Act 1988 Housing Act 1985 Land compensation Act 1973 Author: Erik Nolander Approval date: 01 September 2015 Approved by: Policy owner: Accountable Director: PRG Head of Region 2, Neighbourhoods Neighbourhoods Director Page 22

23 18. Appendix 1 Suitable alternative accommodation guidelines Secure tenants If the resident refuses the offer of accommodation we may seek possession under Ground 10 or 10A, Schedule 2 of the Housing Act The ground is not subject to the requirement that it is reasonable to make an order, but suitable alternative accommodation must be available. Suitable alternative accommodation The requirements are that the accommodation is reasonably suitable taking into account the following: Assured tenants the nature of accommodation usually let by the landlord to persons with similar needs to the tenant distance from place of work or education needs and means of the family distance from member of family who receives or provides support terms compared to existing tenancy provision of furniture, if furniture provided under existing tenancy If the resident refuses the offer of accommodation we may seek possession under Ground 9 or 6, Schedule 2 of the Housing Act This is a discretionary ground and the court must also be satisfied that it is reasonable to make an order. An alternative is to use Ground 6 of the Housing Act 1988 where the works involve demolition, reconstruction or other substantial works. This is a mandatory ground and suitable alternative accommodation does not have to be provided, although it is good practice to do so. Suitable alternative accommodation The accommodation must be reasonably suitable to the needs of the tenant and their family as regards: proximity to place of work; and either similar as regards rental and extent to the accommodation provided in the neighbourhood by the local authority for persons whose needs are, in the opinion of the court, similar to those of the tenant and their family, or reasonably suitable to the means of the tenant and to the needs of the tenant and his or her family as regards extent and character, and provision of furniture, if furniture provided under existing tenancy. Page 23

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