Intensive Tenancy Management Policy. Policy to take effect from: August To be reviewed: August Version No. 5.0

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1 Intensive Tenancy Management Policy Date submitted to Operations Committee: 21 st August 2009 Policy to take effect from: August 2009 To be reviewed: August 2012 Version No. 5.0 Introduction In many respects our approach to Tenancy Management is probably far more sophisticated than any other social landlord in the country. Our allocations process enables us to collect valuable information relating to the potential risks and vulnerabilities associated with a potential tenant: the provision of intensive housing management under the auspices of a menu of actions helps us address risks that have been identified. Similarly, this approach puts forward an explicit concept of conditionality in deciding whether to make a tenancy permanent. Aims of the Policy Intensive Tenancy Management is aimed at sustaining tenancies and will enable us to: Update the risk status of tenants (e.g. if people lose income, undergo changes of circumstances, breach their tenancy conditions) Introduce positive social behaviours, attitudes and skills Ensure that the needs of all our tenants can be addressed, not just those in greatest need Focus on addressing the issues that we can deal with. Most others (e.g. mental health, skills, fuel poverty, and debt management) have been not been considered, but referred to specialist organisations where appropriate. Put a system in place that is not overly complex and expensive to administer. Policy Statement We are committed to providing decent homes and supportive environments for people in housing need. We are also committed to making Bentilee sustainable, and recognise that the appropriate management of properties has a key role in delivering this commitment. Page 1 of 6

2 The toolkit for Tenancy Management Within Tenancy Management we have a number of systems, processes and measures in place that can assist with the delivery of this service: Tool Purpose Nature of information This helps us to identify the Applicants applicant s needs, situation, aspirations and risks. We can also check information provided in order to verify the integrity of the application. Housing application form The Tenancy Agreement The sign up discussion and menu of actions This forms the contract between us and the tenant. It tells them what to expect of us and what we expect of them. We use Assured Shorthold Tenancies for the first 12 months these are easier to terminate if necessary. The sign up discussion can be used to give information about the new tenancy, new responsibilities and the general area. The likelihood is that the new tenant won t pay much attention and will be focused upon their new home. give information to us. We use the information to frame the housing offer and make an initial assessment of how much management will be needed. The tenancy agreement is the basis of the contract between us and the tenant. We give information. Planned Visits The points system The menu of actions is much more important as it will form the basis of the management of the tenancy. The tenant will choose up to 3 areas where EPIC will help them and we will choose up to 5 areas where we will help them. The areas we choose will be based on our view of the risk profile, of the tenant, completed when they apply to be housed with us. These will be used to check progress and will involve gathering information relating to tenancy conduct, occupation and progress against the plan. We will award or deduct points based on progress against the action plan and management issues. For a tenant to be granted a permanent tenancy they must have a least 120 points. After a tenancy has been made permanent the points system will lapse. We use information to develop an agreed plan. We will use the information to update the plan, update the risk profile and inform any sanctions we may need to take. We give information to the tenant about what is expected. Page 2 of 6

3 The quarterly statement Letters of warning and warning visits The Notice Of Seeking Possession The Section 21 notice Eviction notice This tells the tenant how many points they have at the end of each quarter. If problems are arising we need to tell the tenant in clear and simple terms. Standard letters should be avoided. Letters should also, wherever possible, be preceded by or followed up with visits. This is the initial step in taking formal proceedings to evict the tenant. This is the first step in ending an Assured Shorthold tenancy. This is the final stage of ending a tenancy. We will identify any problems and also recognise successes. We will use the information to take management decisions. The tenant should know there is a problem, should be aware of what they need to do about it and should be encouraged to sort out the issues. This needs to convey the seriousness of the issue and the seriousness of our intent. This sets out our intention to end the tenancy. This gives a date for the tenant to leave the property. The proposed framework There will be three key stages in managing tenancies: Stage 1 Before the tenancy is created The four key activities to complete in this stage are: 1. Risk identification and quantification 2. Need identification and quantification 3. Identification of preferences and aspirations 4. Negotiating the nature of the proposed tenancy offer To an extent the housing application form deals with some aspects of activity 1 and 2. The form will gather the information in an efficient manner and allows for considered analysis prior to offers of accommodation. Activity 3 is covered within this new system of Housing Management and activity 4 previously applied to supported tenancies only, in the new approach all new tenancies will receive this activity. Housing application form This has now been revised to help us find out information which can help us to decide how much management assistance the tenant will need. Page 3 of 6

4 When the application form has been analysed the applicant should be placed into one of the following groups: Group Management hours Number of visits in first 12 months High management Medium 30 6 Low 10 4 In some cases we may be concerned that the applicant may need a higher level of Tenancy Management than we can offer and in these cases we should make a referral to Smartmoves, which is the consortium providing floating support services within the city of Stoke-on-Trent. Stage 2 The Assured Shorthold Tenancy The four key activities to complete in this stage are: 1. Building the relationship with the tenant 2. Checking on progress against a menu of actions (with some SMART targets and objectives) 3. Identifying and dealing with any behavioural issues 4. Making a considered judgment about whether to grant a permanent tenancy This stage may take from 12 to 18 months dependent upon the tenant managing their tenancy. Guidance, support, monitoring and evaluation will be key to this stage, and this will be done through: The sign up and menu of actions At this meeting a member of staff will go through a menu of actions and work with the tenant to identify what can be achieved and when. A date for the first visit should also be agreed. The tenant should be made very aware that EPIC is firm but fair in its approach and will look unfavourably upon people who do not take their responsibilities seriously. At the same time help and advice should be offered and we should signpost people to other agencies that can help. Visits to the tenant s home These are the essence of the whole procedure. The intentions of these visits are to: check on tenancy conduct learn more about the tenant and their needs emphasise our strong approach to tenancy management update the risk profile update the menu of actions check on progress complete certain tasks e.g. HB benefit forms, etc. It is vital that we form a trusting but professional relationship with our tenants. We must emphasise mutual responsibilities, what is and is not tolerable and we should celebrate success. Where problems are occurring we must try to understand the causes and issues and decide whether we can help the tenant manage these issues or whether the tenant must manage them themselves. The points system We will operate two systems as a trial for one year only. In both systems tenants will have to have been awarded 120 points in order to graduate to Assured status. In system 1 tenants will have to earn points. In system 2 Page 4 of 6

5 tenants will be automatically awarded points but will suffer deductions for problems. System 1 In order to achieve 120 points most tenants will be expected to be awarded around 30 points per quarter, example: Keeping an appointment 2 points (up to 4 points total) Rent account clear at the end of the quarter 10 points No breaches of other tenancy conditions 5 points Completing key tasks on the action plan 2 points per action (up to a total of 12 points) In this system there will be no need for deductions as problems will mean points are not awarded. Any serious problems such as breaches of tenancy should be dealt with in the normal manner and can result in Section 21 or NOSP proceedings. System 2 In these cases the tenancy automatically attracts 10 points per month but deductions are made in the reverse manner to System 1 above, example: if the rent account is not clear at the end of the quarter 10 points are deducted. Any serious problems such as breaches of tenancy should be dealt with in the normal manner and can result in Section 21 or NOSP proceedings. The quarterly statement Within one week of the end of each quarter the designated staff member should prepare and send a quarterly statement to the tenant. This should, as a minimum, include the following: o The amount of points awarded o Identify any issues of concern o Confirm details of any tenancy breaches o Congratulate or warn the tenant Warnings The designated officer should warn the tenant about concerns as soon as they are known i.e. they should not save them up for the quarterly statement. Warnings should be issued verbally and then followed up in writing. Intensive Tenancy Management also involves trying to find out what is going wrong and hence wherever possible the action plan should be adjusted after a warning has been given. Stage 3 Managing the permanent tenancy This stage becomes business as usual in so much as we no longer carry out intensive management. Our engagement with these tenants will be done through the following activities: A scheduled annual visit which checks and records circumstances, needs and preferences A trigger system for intervention e.g. a tenant moves onto full housing benefit, arrears start to accrue, access is denied, correspondence is not replied to. Adoption of a high, medium or low system for monitoring risk linked to triggers. This is covered within the Annual Visits Policy. Page 5 of 6

6 Equality and Diversity Statement We are committed to ensuring and promoting equality of opportunity for all. We are therefore opposed to unfair discrimination on any grounds, including race, religion, gender, marital status, sexual orientation, disability, age, or any unjustifiable criteria. We will provide a range of methods for prospective applicants to access our service. We will also make information available to applicants in a variety of formats on request. Monitoring and Reporting We will produce performance indicators for our tenancy management service and report these regularly. We will provide an annual summary of all performance to residents in our company annual report. Responsibilities The Tenancy Management Team will be responsible for carrying out all processes relating to Intensive Housing Management, and for ensuring that all aspects of the service are customer focused. The Operations Manager will be responsible for reporting performance and will be accountable for the Tenancy Management service as a whole. Discretion The Operation Manager has discretion to review cases on an individual basis and award or deduct points as appropriate. Review Mechanism This policy will be reviewed every three years. Page 6 of 6

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