Tenancy Guide

We do not expect you to read this tenancy guide all in one go but use it as a handy source of bite-size information about all of the services available, and expectations of you, as a Westfield tenant. You will find practical advice about your home, guidance on your responsibilities as a tenant and how to access information about other support services provided for you.

This guide is in three sections:

Starting your tenancy | Maintaining your tenancy | Ending your tenancy

If you have any suggestions for further topics for this guide, please contact us and we’ll add more to the guide where possible.

Starting your Tenancy

What is a Tenancy Agreement

This is a legal contract that sets out the terms of your tenancy, making it clear what you are responsible for and what we are responsible for.  Westfield Housing Association have different types of tenancy:

  • Secure Tenancy under the housing act 1985

Tenants who lived in a Council property in 1990 and were transferred to Westfield Housing Association will have a Secure Tenancy. This means they may have preserved rights such as the right to buy.

  • Assured Tenancy under the housing act 1988

Most housing association tenants up until 2012 have this type of tenancy. It is the most secure kind of tenancy you may have the ‘right to buy’ if you were originally a council tenant prior to the stock transfer.

Please keep your tenancy agreement in a safe place as it is your legal agreement. If you have any questions you can contact us on 01900 602906 or through your tenant’s portal.

Moving In

By the time the property you have been offered is ready to let,  your Housing Services Officer will have already made arrangements with to sign your tenancy agreement and other documents required.  You will have also have been informed how to access your keys.  

We will give you all the keys we have, we do not keep any spare keys for your home.  The property will have been inspected and be in a good state of repair.

A rent payment is required on the day your tenancy starts. 

Paying your rent and service

Your rent pays for:

  • Managing and repairing your home
  • Repaying the money, we borrow to build new homes
  • Our programme of major improvements

Your service charges pay for services such as:

  • Cleaning shared areas, including the removing dumped rubbish
  • Cutting grass and looking after planted areas
  • Repairs to shared facilities such as door-entry systems, television aerials and lighting
  • Providing firefighting equipment, including repairing and testing emergency lighting and smoke alarms
  • Providing water, electricity and gas supplies to shared areas

Your rent and service charge payments are your responsibility, and you must pay on time to prevent your account getting into arrears.

If you claim help to pay your rent, your benefits may be paid directly to you and it will be up to you to manage the amount you are paid and ensure that your rent is paid to us. If you need any help understanding the payments you receive or how much rent to pay, please contact us.

You will receive a rent statement every three months. If you have any query about a statement, we will respond as soon as possible.

How much do I pay?

Your rent is on your rent schedule or your most recent rent review letter. If you want to pay monthly, confirm a payment arrangement or request a direct debit form, please contact us.

Please see the paying your rent page. for ways to pay your rent and to access information about our money and benefit advice service

Rent Review

Our rents are reviewed no more than once every 52 weeks and usually in April. Your rent can increase or decreased, and you will always receive one month’s notice of this.

Utilities

You are responsible for the Council Tax and utilities at your property at all times. Even if you do not move in on the date the property is signed over to you or you are away for a period of time, you remain responsible for organising supply and for paying all bills at your address.  It is your responsibility to register yourself as a new tenant with the utility supplier as soon as your tenancy starts.  Where possible your Housing Services Officer will advise you who the supplier is during the tenancy sign up. 

Home Contents Insurance

Why do I need it?

If you are a tenant who rents, then your landlord may not cover your contents as part of the tenancy agreement. It’s a good idea to consider what a home contents insurance policy would cover you for in order to help you make an informed decision on whether you need one.

Contents insurance is designed to help protect your possessions. No matter how careful you are, there’s always a risk that your belongings could be broken, damaged or stolen so home contents insurance can help provide peace of mind.

To help you decide whether home contents insurance is right for you, Westfield Housing Association have teamed up with Thistle Tenant Risks, and  Ageas Insurance Limited who provide the My Home Contents Insurance Scheme, a specialist Tenants Contents Insurance policy.

The My Home Contents Insurance Scheme can offer you insurance for the contents of your home including cover for items such as furniture, carpets, curtains, clothes, bedding, electrical items, jewellery, pictures and ornaments.

How do I get further information?

•              Ask your local housing officer for an application pack.

•              Call Thistle Tenant Risks on 0345 450 7288

Alternatively, please visit the www.thistlemyhome.co.uk for more information or to request a call back.

The National Housing Federation is an Appointed Representative of Thistle Insurance Services Ltd. Thistle Insurance Services Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority FRN 310419. Registered in England under No. 00338645. Registered office: Rossington’s Business Park, West Carr Road, Retford, Nottinghamshire, DN22 7SW. Thistle Insurance Services Ltd is part of the PIB Group.

Our Data Protection Privacy Policy is online at https://www.thistleinsurance.co.uk/Privacy-Policy

Maintaining Your Tenancy

Subletting and lodgers

Tenancy fraud falls into four main areas:

  1. Not using the property as the sole or principle home including abandoning the property, unlawfully subletting the property and succeeding or assigning the tenancy without the landlord’s permission after the legal tenant has left the property or died.
  2. Unauthorised exchange and assignment
  3. Obtaining or attempting to obtain a home using false documents i.e. claiming to be someone else, forged passports, or false statements such as claiming to be homeless.
  4. Obtaining or attempting to obtain a home under false declaration of income and assets

Before taking in any lodger you must inform the Association of their name, age and sex of the intended lodger.  Your Housing Services Office may need to carry out a pre-tenancy assessment with them. 

Pets

We understand that many of our residents would like to have pets in their home. To have a pet you must call, email or write in and ask for permission. Only when you have received written permission can you go ahead and get a pet, there will be conditions you have to follow and if you do not we will ask that you rehome the pet.

Dogs

If you are given permission to keep a dog, it cannot be a dangerous or illegal dog, you must always keep it under control and pick up the dogs’ litter immediately. Your dog must also be microchipped, kept on a lead and wear a collar and tag.

Animal Nuisance

You must not keep any animal that is restricted or requires a licence including dogs under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 (as amended).

Your pet must be kept under control at all times and you must ensure that your pet cannot escape from your home and garden by making sure there is adequate fencing. Any fencing provided by you must be maintained by you and attached to its own posts not those provided by Westfield Housing Association’s existing fencing. You must not allow your animal to foul in your home or shared areas and you must ensure you are disposing of it correctly.

Livestock is not permitted.

For information about pet nuisance see our Guide to Anti-social behaviour- Pets

Business Use

You will always need to seek our written permission if you want to run a business from your home.

We will not unreasonably withhold this permission, but we need to be satisfied that it will not cause a nuisance or annoyance to other tenants or break the law.

A nuisance could occur if the business creates, for example:

  • Noise
  • Fumes
  • Dust
  • Parked vehicles
  • Deliveries
  • Visitors

Some businesses may need planning permission so you will need to check with the local council if any permission is required from them.

We will not normally give permission for you to run a business from home if this requires significant alterations to be made to the property.

We will withdraw permission by giving you 48 hours’ written notice where we have evidence you have broken these requirements

Parking

Parking is a very sensitive issue that can upset both residents and non-residents. Westfield Housing Association do not to get involved in any parking disputes and you will need to resolve these types of dispute yourself. We ask that you abide by the terms of your tenancy agreement, requirements of the local authority that you live in and the Highway Code.

Remember you are responsible for all members of your household and all visitors to your property.

Please;

  • only park on the street or in marked parking spaces,
  • ensure you have a parking permit or ticket, and it is displayed correctly
  • do not park on grass areas, paths or verges,
  • you must not park cars, trailers commercial vehicles, caravans or boats or similar in your garden or Westfield Housing land.

If you, a member of or visitor to your household has abandoned a vehicle on Westfield Housing land we will give you notice to remove the vehicle. If the vehicle is not removed, we will report it to the local authority. Tenants will be responsible for any costs involved with the removal of the vehicle

We will treat any vehicle as abandoned if it is on our land and untaxed or unroadworthy.

If we are aware that vehicles are not taxed or appear to be abandoned, we will notify the DVLA. You can also report an abandoned vehicle via Allerdale Borough Council website.

If you need to dispose of a vehicle, please look online for companies who may be able to assist or contact your local council.

Garages

Westfield Housing own a number of garages and garage plots to rent.  Please contact us if you are interested in renting one 01900 602906 or email enquiries@westfieldha.org.uk

Gardens

You must keep your garden tidy and maintained, including cutting grass regularly, pruning shrubs and trees and keep it free of rubbish. All hedges and trees must be maintained to a reasonable height and not obstruct any road, footpath or alleyway.

You must not remove or change any tree, fence or wall at the Property without our express written permission. Fences provided by Westfields Housing Association will be maintained by Westfield Housing Association.

You must not plant any trees or hedging without our express written permission.

You cannot install decking without written permission.

Permission must be sought if you would like a shed and/or greenhouse. Permission will be given in writing and the requirements specified must be adhered to. If permission is granted you will need to remove it at the end of your tenancy and reinstate the ground or you will be charged.

If your garden is untidy and/or overgrown, we will give you the opportunity to clear this.  If you do not take action as advised by us, we will remove the items and the cost of this will be recharged to the tenant.

Where gardens are shared there is normally a service charge which will cover the cost of maintaining the garden.

Shared Areas

This section only applies if your home is a flat with shared entrances, staircases, corridors or balconies. You, your family, friends and relatives, or anyone living with or visiting you (including children) must:

  • not leave anything in the communal areas or use communal areas to store anything and not obstruct common areas, balconies, staircases, lifts or lift entrances. You must not keep mopeds, motorbikes, bicycles, pushchairs or other items which might cause an obstruction in the common areas or allow any members of your household or visitors to do so.
  • keep all shared areas such as entrances, stairways, corridors, lifts and landings clean and free from obstructions. You should not leave any personal belongings or rubbish in these areas.
  • keep washing and drying areas and any other shared areas clear of rubbish and obstacles.
  • not throw anything from any landing, balcony, corridor or window.
  • not smoke in any communal areas, as this is illegal.
  • not allow your pet to foul in any communal area.
  • keep any communal cupboards clear.

If items are found in communal areas, they will be removed and disposed in accordance with our procedure.

Repairs & Maintenance

When it comes to repairs and the maintenance of your property, there are some areas for which we are responsible but others that fall into your responsibility as a tenant.

Our responsibility

  • Outside walls, outside doors, window sills, window catches, sash windows, frames including any decorating needed outside but not replacement glass
  • Drains, gutters, outside pipes and the roof
  • Chimney stacks, Chimneys and flues.
  • Footpaths, steps or other access points.
  • Boundary walls and fences but not those you share with your neighbours.
  • Keeping installations for water, gas, electric, sanitation in working order.
  • Wear and tear in communal

You are responsible for

  • Keeping your property well ventilated to prevent the build-up of condensation and damp
  • Bath panels, toilet seats and covers, shower hoses, heads and riser rails
  • Unblocking toilets, baths and sinks within the property (not including external drains and
  • (stacks)
  • All cleaning, internal decoration (including following a repair) and garden maintenance
  • Repairs to internal doors and fixings (including re-hanging and replacement), replacing door handles
  • Repairs to any type of letterbox
  • Replacing all light bulbs (including starter motors for fluorescent tubes)
  • Filling minor cracks in plaster
  • Replacing glazing, locks and handles to windows
  • Replacing worktops, floors and any other item due to misuse by you, your family or visitors
  • Repairing any goods installed by you or accepted by you at the start of your tenancy and making good any damage caused by the failure of such installations (for example washing machines, dishwashers, security lights, cookers, flooring etc be aware that gas cookers must be fitted/removed by a Gas Safe contractor)
  • Fittings for gas cookers (this must be carried out by an approved Gas safe registered fitter)
  • Bleeding and ventilating radiators
  • Replacement and repair of washing lines (does not include communal lines)
  • Replacing lost/stolen keys or keys snapped in locks
  • Keeping your smoke/carbon monoxide alarms clean and regularly tested
  • Repairing/replacing TV aerials (except where it is a communal one)
  • Conservatories
  • Pest control

Westfield Housing Association recommend you take out home contents insurance as this can cover some of the perils mentioned above.

Shared Owners, RTB and Leaseholders are responsible for all their repairs, we welcome any enquiries

Keeping your property clean

You, your family, friends and relatives, or anyone living with or visiting you (including children) must keep the property clean and tidy, including any outside areas. If we have to do any work to bring the property back to a reasonable standard, such as removing rubbish or undertaking a heavy clean, we will charge you for this.

Rubbish removal & bin collection

Allerdale Borough Council is responsible for your bin and recycling collections.  You can find out what your bin collection day by using the “myAllerdale” app or on their website www.allerdale.gov.uk

You must put all refuse in appropriate bins and dispose of them in the correct manner.  This means not using your neighbour’s bin and not disposing of rubbish away from the allocated bin storage areas for example, on the floor of a bin store area.

For larger items contact Allerdale Borough council to make arrangements for the removal of items (there may be a charge for this service).

You must not use the property’s garden any communal gardens or any other external area to store scrap metal, vehicle parts including tyres, gas bottles or any other items.

If Westfield Housing have to clear any rubbish from your property, including the garden, you will be charged for this.

Your Safety

Abuse is when someone causes you harm or distress – this can happen to anyone.  Abuse can take many forms, please see our Anti-social Behaviour page for further information.

If you feel that you are the victim of abuse, or you believe that someone you know if the victim of abuse, it is important you speak out. Start by speaking to someone you trust – any member of the Housing Services team will be able to offer you information and support with contacting the relevant services.

Professional Boundaries

Professional Boundaries are a set of guidelines which we follow when working with residents. The purpose of these rules is to ensure that we maintain high standards of professionalism, fairness and courtesy in all our dealings with residents and other service users.

A guide to Professional Boundaries:

  • We will act in good faith at all times, acting in your best interest and the best interests of Westfield Housing Association.
  • We will conduct ourselves with a high standard of integrity, commitment and courtesy and expect the same in return.
  • We will not enter your property unless you have let us in or we are concerned that you are unwell and require assistance.
  • We will not lend you money or other items or ask to borrow money or other items from you.
  • We are not permitted to give you personal gifts and are unable to accept gifts, hospitality or other benefits from you – this is to ensure that everyone is treated fairly, and judgement remains uncompromised.

Confidentiality

Anything you discuss with us will remain confidential and will not be shared with any other resident.

Any conversations with you about personal, confidential or contentious issues will be carried out in private.

Confidential information is only given to employees and agencies working on our behalf where there is an essential need to know.  As explained during your tenancy sign up.

Safeguarding

Safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility and all staff who, during the course of their employment have direct or indirect contact with children and vulnerable adults, or who have access to information about them, have a responsibility to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and vulnerable adults.

There is a duty on organisations to make appropriate arrangements to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and vulnerable adults. Also, government guidance makes it clear that it is a shared responsibility and depends upon effective joint working between agencies and professionals that have different roles and expertise.

Westfield Housing Association’s safeguarding policy is based on the six principles of safeguarding:

Empowerment The presumption of person led decisions and informed consent.
Prevention It is better to take action before harm occurs.
Proportionality Proportionate and least intrusive response appropriate to the risk presented.
Protection Support and representation for those in greatest need.
Partnership Local solutions through services working with their communities.  Communities have a part to play in preventing, detecting and reporting neglect and abuse.
Accountability Accountability and transparency in delivering safeguarding.

 

Under the latter, Westfield Housing have and will exercise their duty to co-operate with local authorities implementing their statutory duties around safeguarding. 

Ending your tenancy

Ending Your Tenancy

If you intend leaving your home, you must give us four weeks’ notice in writing.  You can do this by sending a letter to our address:

Westfield Housing Association
Minto Centre
Nilsson Drive
Westfield
Workington
CA14 5BD

You can notify us by email that you wish to give four weeks’ notice to end your tenancy.  We will send you a letter confirming your tenancy end date and a date that we will carry out a pre vacation inspection of the property.

Your tenancy will end on the Sunday four weeks after the date the written notification has been received.

You must provide your forwarding address

Before you move out

During the notice period, you must allow access to your property so it can be inspected to assess what work will need to be carried out to let the property to the next tenant. 

However, during the Covid-19 restrictions these inspections will be carried out over the phone.

A Westfield Housing Association representative carrying out the inspection and with the information disclosed will give an indication of any repairs that you will be responsible for, or if there have been any recharges identified.  

Please be aware that there will be a further inspection carried out once the property is void, at which point there may be further damage discovered which may be recharged to you at that stage

You will be issued with a leaving your home booklet, which gives a guidance of what condition Westfield Housing Association expect your property to be in when you hand the keys back.

You must remove all your furniture and personal belongings from the property (including any loft space) and from any sheds or garages you rent with the property.

During your pre vacation inspection you will be asked to sign a TORTS (Interference with Goods) Act 1977disclaimer.  Agreeing that it is tenant’s responsibility to remove all goods from the property before handing the keys back.  Confirming that any items left in the property are no longer required and permission is therefore given to Westfield Housing Association to remove and dispose of the good.  

We accept no responsibility for any belongings you leave in the property after your tenancy has ended. If you do leave any belongings, we will dispose of them after taking reasonable steps to tell you, following the TORTS (Interference of goods) act 1977 recommendations.  We will charge you for any cost accrued during this process. We may also consider selling the goods you have left behind to recover some of the costs you may have accumulated.

You must pay all rent and any other charges up to the date of the end of your tenancy.

If you leave the property owing a debt to a utility company which supplied you during your tenancy, we reserve the right to give them your new address where we have it, without your permission, if you have not already done so.

At the end of your tenancy, we may hold any money you have overpaid to Westfield Housing Association, or money paid to us on your behalf, to use to cover any outstanding rent or charges that you owe (for this or any other property), or other debts to Westfield Housing Association (e.g. sundry debts or repairs recharges). We will calculate and process any charges as quickly as we can after you have ended your tenancy so that we can advise you of any credits we owe you or debts you owe us.

If any other work is required that is your responsibility, including rubbish clearance, we will recharge you for the cost of employing a contractor to undertake this work.

You must allow viewings of your property by prospective tenants to take place, where appropriate.

Joint tenancies

A joint tenancy is where two adults who live in the property are named on the tenancy agreement.  Each joint tenant is equally responsible for meeting the tenancy obligations for example, ensuring the rent is paid, even if one of you moves out

Each may apply for benefits unless one was a dependant of the other before the joint tenancy started.

If one joint tenant dies, the tenancy is transferred to the other tenant, this is called succession by survivorship.  This is providing both tenants have been living in the property for a 12 months period prior to the death of the joint tenant.

If a relationship breaks down neither joint tenant may evict the other. If this happens, you need to come to an agreement about the future of the tenancy and you may want to take some independent legal advice.  Westfield Housing Association cannot make a decision for you about who should remain in the property.

If one joint tenant leaves the property and does not intend to return, you must ask Westfield Housing Association permission to complete the process of ending the joint tenancy and obtaining a sole tenancy.  This is an Assignment of tenancy, joint to sole.

One joint tenant may end the whole joint tenancy by giving four weeks’ notice in writing, see ending your tenancy.

When a tenant or joint tenant dies

Dealing with the death of someone close is difficult. Please phone us to let us know if someone has died and we will explain what the next process will be.  

Passing the tenancy on if you die

(a) any surviving joint tenant(s) if they occupied your Home as their only or principal home will become the Tenant; or

(b) if there is no surviving joint tenant, your Partner as long as they occupied your Home as their only or principal home at the time of your death, will become the Tenant by succession as long as you were not a successor as defined in the Housing Act 1988.

The law only allows one succession of the Tenancy.

If a sole tenant has died will need to serve notice to quit on the tenancy.  (A Notice to Quit form is a legal document and is required when a tenant has died to enable us to legally end the tenancy).   The Notice to quit runs for a period of four weeks,

We will need a copy of the death certificate so that we can make the amendments to our systems.

You also need to know:

  • Housing benefit or the housing element of Universal Credit stops on the day the tenant dies.
  • You will need to cancel the utilities and services (e.g. gas, electric or Sky TV subscriptions).
  • Rent is still payable until the representative of the tenant has legally ended the tenancy.
  • Keys must be given back to Westfield Housing Association; a housing services office will arrange this process with you.