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Inquiry into Regulatory oversight of Housing Association

Dear Members and supporters,

You may be aware that the National Assembly for Wales is undertaking an Inquiry into Regulatory oversight of housing association.

This is being undertaken by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chaired by Nick Ramsay AM. The role of PAC is to ensure that proper and thorough scrutiny was given to Welsh Government expenditure. The Committee considers reports prepared by the Auditor General for Wales on the accounts of the Welsh Government and other public bodies, and on the economy, efficiency and effectiveness with which resources were employed in the discharge of public functions.

Details about the inquiry thus far can be found here: http://senedd.assembly.wales/mgIssueHistoryHome.aspx?IId=16191&Opt=0

In addition to holding an open meeting with tenants member of the committee, and the evidence sessions, of which a wide range of stakeholders are attending, PAC are also undertaking an online survey. The links are as follows:

Welsh: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/CC-Cymdeithasau-Tai

English: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/PA-Housing-Associations

This is a relatively short survey that will take a few minutes of your time. We would be grateful if this could be completed. We will not see your response, only the Senedd committee secretariat.  Online survey to be completed by 3rd March 2017

Thank you for your co-operation.

 

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Office furniture to sell

closing1As you are aware the Welsh Tenant will be closing the office on 31st March 2017, as a result we need to sell most of the office furniture beforehand.

Click here to view the items to sell flyer Dec 2016

If you would like to visit the office to view items on the list or other items we have, please contact Sharon Dean on 01685 723922 or info@welshtenants.org.uk for further details.

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Celebrating the RIGHT TO ADEQUATE HOUSING

Friday the 16th December 2016 marks the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) which came into force 10 years later on the 3rd January 1976. The ICESCR incorporates  among other principles the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) adopted prior.

The ICESCR is a multilateral treaty adopted by the United Nations General Assembly. The convention commits parties to work toward (among others) the granting of economic, social, and cultural rights (ESCR) to individuals, including:

  • labour rights,
  • right to health,
  • right to education, and
  • a right to an adequate standard of living.

Within the latter component contains the right adequate housing which is a central importance for the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights which is enshrined in most major human rights instruments adopted by the United Nations[1] and the enjoyment of this right may not be subject to any form of discrimination.

The UN Commission on Human Rights has repeatedly stressed that the right to adequate housing is a core component of the right to an adequate standard of living (see, e.g., Resolutions 2002/21 and 2003/27) and its successor, the Human Rights Council, has also followed in the commissions footsteps.

Importantly, the right does not mean simply a roof. It should be seen as the right to live somewhere in security, peace, and dignity.

The requirements for adequate housing have also been defined in General Comments 4 and 7 of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. According to the Committee, the core content of the right to adequate housing includes:

a) Security of tenureSecurity of tenure is the cornerstone of the right to adequate housing. Secure tenure protects people against arbitrary eviction, harassment and other threats. Security of tenure is a key issue for all dwellers, particularly women. Women who are particularly vulnerable include those experiencing domestic violence.

b) AffordabilityThe principle of affordability stipulates simply that the amount a person or family pays for their housing must not be so high that it threatens or compromises the attainment and satisfaction of other basic needs. In affluent countries, individuals and families living in poverty find it increasingly difficult to find affordable adequate housing. In many developed countries, when rental housing is unaffordable, tenants’ security of tenure is threatened as they can often be legally evicted for non-payment of rent.

c) HabitabilityFor housing to be considered adequate, it must be habitable. Inhabitants must be ensured adequate space and protection against the cold, damp, heat, rain, wind, or other threats to health, or structural hazards

d) AccessibilityHousing must be accessible to everyone. Disadvantaged groups such as the elderly, the physically and mentally disabled, HIV-positive individuals, victims of natural disasters, children and other groups should be ensured some degree of priority in housing.

e) LocationFor housing to be adequate it must be situated so as to allow access to employment, health care services, schools, childcare and other social facilities. It must not be located in polluted areas.

f) Cultural adequacyThe right to adequate housing includes the right to reside in housing that is considered culturally adequate. This means that housing programmes and policies must take fully into account the cultural attributes of housing, which allow for the expression of cultural identity and recognise the cultural diversity of the world’s population.

For 50 years, the convention has been the cornerstone for the progressive way we provide housing in Wales and elsewhere around the globe. Housing professionals and activist have regarded the treaty as fundamental to how we ensure that housing continues to provide the bedrock of a civil society, because without adequate housing we cannot build society, and without society we cannot meaningfully progress our nation and all it stands for.

Now wouldn’t it be refreshing if politicians and housing professionals marked the event with an action or activity that helped a tenant improve or sustain their home as we approach Xmas. Please let us know what that action or activity was. Please RT or send your action to info@welshtenants.org.uk

[1] Article 25 UDHR; Article 11 ICESCR; Article 14 CEDAW; Article 5 CERD; Article 27 CRC; Article 43 CMW; and Article 28 CRPD. In addition, it is included in Article 31 of the European Social Charter (revised) and Article 21 of the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees.

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100 Days to close

Recently, the Welsh Government decided it will no longer continue to provide core funding to the independent representative voice for tenants, Welsh Tenants. Funding will cease in 100 work days, on the 31st March 2017. Although we had an opportunity to bid for project funding, we were unsuccessful.

Rents paid in Wales generates billions to the Welsh economy in the housing association, LSVT and private rented sectors, with increasing amounts not paid wholly through housing benefit. Wales needs a strong consumer advocate voice that gives renters a platform from which to speak collectively.

According to landlords there are 1200 volunteers working for them generating approximately £4.3m of voluntary effort and that’s just those recognised or approved by them. According to recent government backed research, giving tenants an independent voice to challenge service delivery generates around £23million of potential value for money savings annually to the sector in Wales, in addition to the unquantified other social benefits that strong confident communities can bring.

Our role is different to one of supporting tenant involvement through promotion and training. Welsh Tenants is your organisation, its mission is to enhance and promote the rights, representations and housing standards for people who rent in Wales, a role that we will have undertaken for 30 years in 2017. While we support the good work being done in housing, our role is to also challenge decisions and highlight in whose interest decisions are made.

As you already know, for the last ten years, we have seen social tenants demonised, welfare claimants penalised, and paying tenants demoralised, as we argue for a better deal for renters regardless of the sector they are in.

There are now 7.6m people living in the UK below the poverty line (less than 60% of median income), a million more since austerity programmes were announced, with hundreds of food banks having to be set up, and 4.6m working poor struggling to pay rent and other housing costs. Tenure security is being eroded, with greater reliance on insecure forms of tenure with high risks of eviction.

These are national conversations, that need strong representation not just locally, but regionally, nationally, and indeed internationally as a member of the International Union of Tenants. We don’t want landlords to speak for us, we want to speak for ourselves.

We need 108k per annum to continue to provide a basic national representative voice in Wales, that’s 9,000k a month to continue to facilitate that role. If we want to attend conferences, undertake research, provide support to tenant representative structures and provide testimony to people in power. If you believe there should be an independent voice for renters beyond the 100 days remaining, we are ask you to do one thing. Get in touch with us 01685 723922 or email steve@welshtenants.org.uk or indicate your support here:

Support Us

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScx-I99T9nPEmDHNPbC3qEXmX775maQPKphfLNRs1AsAqNVZg/viewform

 

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Governance Arrangements in Wales

survey moneyWelsh Tenants are due to present themselves for questioning to the National Assembly for Wales Public Accounts Committee regarding regulation of the registered social landlord sector (housing associations and Large Scale voluntary transfer LSVTs) the following questions.

This is not as a analytical survey, purely to ensure that we have your views on regulatory issues in mind when preparing our response.

Click here to take the survey

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CIH Cymru Housing Awards 2016

cih awards

CIH Cymru Housing Awards 2016

Thank you for the invitation to the CIH Awards by HouseMark Cymru, always a pleasure to support HouseMark Ltd in their role supporting tenants to understand and interpret performance information as well as a range of other advice. We enjoyed the excellent company as always.

Congratulations to all the award winners at the 2016 CIH Cymru awards held at the Vale Hotel. We would particularly like to mention former TAP member Lyn Bond – Newydd Housing Association, Housing champions award sponsored by Lovell, and not forgetting former company solicitor for Welsh Tenants CEO of Bron Afon Duncan Forbes who helped write our constitution all those moons ago, in receiving An Outstanding contribution to housing in Wales award sponsored by Merthyr Valleys Homes.

Community involvement was very much on the forecourt with;

Wildmill youth revivalWildmill Youth Club & Valleys to Coast Housing, Empowering and involving communities

Tenants’ voice, First Choice Housing Association, Communications and publications award – sponsored by WHQ

Customer cultureCardiff Community Housing Association, Customer excellence award – sponsored by Pobl

Cause for concernCharter Housing Association, Promoting equality, inclusion and support, sponsored by Cardiff Metropolitan University

And the tenants and staff at Merthyr Valleys Homes who received a highly commended award for their approach to developing a community co-operative.

Other worthy winners included:

Reuse, reduce, recycleBron Afon and TRAC 2, Collaboration award (RSL lead) – sponsored by Contract Services (South Wales)

Urban VillageCoastal Housing Group and partners, New development award – sponsored by Blake Morgan

Bringing Emmaus to WalesEmmaus South Wales with Valleys to Coast, Collaboration award (LA/Other) – sponsored by Contract Services (South Wales)

Little by littleMelin Homes, New idea award – sponsored by Mi-space UK

Home partnerCartrefi Conwy, CIH members’ choice award – sponsored by Coastal Housing Group

Leaving a legacyContract Services (South Wales), Community focused contractor award – sponsored by BRC

Mark Gardner and Anthony WhittakerAlso made up a trio of Outstanding contribution to housing in Wales award – sponsored by Merthyr Valleys Homes.

A copy of the compendium can be downloaded here: Curtsey of sponsors HouseMark Cymru

http://www.cih.org/cymru/welshhousingawards/goodpractice16

 

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Understanding CO Risk in Vulnerable Households

CO Researc

What is the purpose of this research? This research is investigating carbon monoxide risk in households. Carbon monoxide (CO) is a highly poisonous gas which cannot be seen, smelt or tasted. It can be produced by faulty household appliances burning gas, wood, oil or coal, along with poor ventilation in the home. This research will explore with households their heating and cooking practices, along with CO awareness, to better understand exposure to CO in homes.

Who is carrying out this research? This research is led by National Energy Action (NEA), a registered national fuel poverty charity. It is funded by The Gas Safety Trust and Liverpool John Moores University is providing support to NEA on the project.

What does the research involve? In Year 1 of the research (winter 2015/16) NEA carried out in-home interviews and CO and temperature monitoring with over 70 households. In Year 2 of the research (winter 2016/17) we plan to further explore and test key findings from Year 1 through additional in-home interviews along with a postal questionnaire.

What types of households is the research targeting? In Year 2 we are targeting private tenants, including private rented sector tenants. We are seeking households who use one of gas, LPG, coal, oil or wood to help heat their home (i.e. not electric only).

Why have I been contacted? Past experience of undertaking research has shown that working with trusted third parties or those that already provide services to target groups can be one of the best ways to reach them – for example statutory services and local authorities, health sector services, housing services and services offered by community and voluntary groups.

What would my participation involve? We are requesting your support to help distribute the postal questionnaire to tenants or relevant forums. Examples of this could involve posting the questionnaire out to tenants for whom you have contact details (we can cover second class postage) or distributing and/or promoting the questionnaire at events, via services, etc. Alternatively, the questionnaire will be available online if there is an opportunity for you to disseminate the link electronically.

What would the household’s participation involve? The household will be asked to complete a short questionnaire that covers combustion appliances in their home, their heating, cooking and servicing behaviours, along with some demographic information. It should not take any longer than 10-15 minutes to complete.

How will my organisation benefit? Your participation will be acknowledged in the final report of the research and we may also be able to share anonymised and aggregated data from your clients, if this is of interest to you. More broadly, it is hoped this research will contribute to a body of evidence that will enable government and policy makers to better Page 2 of 2

support households stay safe from CO risk in their homes and also landlords to fulfil their obligations with regard to gas safety.

How will households benefit? Households who complete and return the postal questionnaire will be entered into a prize draw to win one of three high street shopping vouchers: £100 (First Prize), £50 (Second Prize), £25 (Third Prize).

Will I have to share any personal contact details of service users with NEA? No, you will not have to share any data as we will provide you with pre-packed questionnaires to distribute and for households to complete and return.

What are the project timelines? The research is taking place over two years: Year 1 (2015/16) is now complete and Year 2 (2016/17) is scheduled for completion at the end of March 2017. A report of the research will be launched in May/June 2017.

Any other questions or interested in helping?

Then please contact us, we’d love to hear from you:

Juliette Burroughs Senior Research and Policy Officer

NEA

0207 250 8319

Juliette.Burroughs@nea.org.uk

OR

Andy Stephenson

Policy Officer

NEA

0191 269 2912

Andy.Stephenson@nea.org.uk

CO Research Info Sheet for Tenants

 

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Letting agency / Landlord fees

ten kicked

As from today, 24th November 2016, any landlord or letting agency that isn’t licensed is breaking the law – yes acting illegally. Their failure to be licenced mean they may incur a fixed penalty notice (£150 – £250), have rent stopping orders imposed on them, rent repayment orders, unable to serve a valid section 21 notice, or/and criminal prosecutions and fines.

An estimated 50% of private rented properties have not registered in accordance with the rules and timescales set out by the licensing authority Rent Smart Wales. So, if you are a landlord or letting agent operating illegally, it’s only a matter of time before you are found.

If you are a tenant, you can check with Rent Smart Wales to see if your landlord / letting agent is registered by checking here: https://www.rentsmart.gov.wales/en/check-register/

 Why we think the whole issue of tenant fees and charges need major reform.

We were pleased to see the announcement in England of the intention to follow Scotland in abolishing letting agency fees and urge the Welsh government to consider their commitment to do the same, as soon as practicable.

Wales also need to ensure that letting agency fees to tenants are also addressed, but we also need to ensure landlord fees and charges are addressed too. One of the often-unreported issues is the ‘In tenancy’ fees charged by landlords contained in written tenancy agreements with or without the aid and support of letting agencies. So, we must not forget that we need to bring these into line with letting agency fees also.

In case you were wondering why charges should be abolished. We have included an example of why we should do so. The following comprises a list of charges on the tenant that could potentially run into thousands for what could be deemed minor breaches of the tenancy agreement that ordinarily will be dealt with by a friendly landlord by saying ‘get that sorted’ – ok Governor, and that’s that!

But what tends to happen more frequently by unscrupulous landlords and letting agencies, is that we get people inspecting properties with a clip board that potentially prints money for them. The way tenancy agreements are constructed means the landlord could basically charge what they like for admin, works and materials. In this example, it does say that these are minimum charges only, and are (of course) subject to labour and admin costs.

You may also think that these are collection of charges gathered up from different letting agencies and landlords. Wrong! these charges we found in one single tenancy agreement. Yes one!

In agreements such as these, the ‘handyman’ is often the landlord, (who gets a nice little earner from spotting tiny imperfections and charging to put them right, or a good friend who is self-employed builder who also happens to help out with the odd inspection. There’s also the admin fees of course to notify you by letter.

EXAMPLE OF A SCHEDULE OF FEES AND CHARGES

These were in size 8 font and formed part of a 14 page tenancy agreement

  1. Schedule of additional tenant charges that could arise during the Tenancy period: (minimum guide only & subject to material & extra labour & admin costs as charges varies according to the size, quality of furniture and the existing decoration of the property):
  2. Rent arrears per letter £25,
  3. Preparation of Section 8 Notice £25,
  4. Returned Direct Debit/Standing Order/ Cheque payment, Late rental or invoice payment £25,
  5. House visit for purpose of collecting rent arrears £50,
  6. Cancellation/lost cheque £25,
  7. Council tax reminder letter £25,
  8. Change of utilities £25,
  9. Reference charges (per person) £25,
  10. Call out charge (lock out, blocked sink, drain, toilet, failed access etc.) £25,
  11. Call out charge for unnecessary maintenance £50,
  12. Replacement of tenant 25% of monthly rent,
  13. Return of overpaid rent at end of tenancy £25,
  14. Renewal of contract -25% of monthly rental with £50 as minimum (unless signed 60 days prior to contract end),
  15. Doors & Fittings (per item) £25 + materials: Replace door handle, Replace door hinges, Replace door closer.
  16. Replace exterior door lock £100,
  17. Replace interior door lock £50,
  18. General (per item) £80
    1. Redecorate wall, ceiling, £30 Replace stained/damaged carpet/vinyl flooring per sq meter, £60 Replace laminate floor per sq meter, £60 Replace/replenish fire extinguishers if misused, £25
    2. Replace fire blanket, £100,
    3. Re-glaze per sq meter £75,
    4. Replace curtains/blinds each room £100
    5. Replace curtain track £50,
    6. Replace worktops per 3 meter length £100,
    7. Replace cupboard door, Rehang & adjust cupboard door £75,
    8. Replace damaged taps, Replace cooker/oven wire shelves, Replace cooker glass, Replace fridge/freezer shelf/drawer, Fridge internal lining damage, Replace cooker/oven grill pan £50,
    9. Replace damaged hobs if separate, £150,
    10. Replace damaged microwave £150
    11. Replace washing /dryer machine £400,
    12. Replace fridge/freezer £300
    13. Replace vacuum cleaner £150,
    14. Replace dining chairs each £35,
    15. Replace dining table £150,
    16. Replace armchairs each £75,
    17. Replace 3 seat sofa £400,
    18. Replace coffee table £35,
    19. Replace bed base £100,
    20. Replace mattress single £100:
    21. Replace mattress double £150,
    22. Replace desk £100,
    23. Replace desk chair £50 ,
    24. Replace wardrobe £ 150,
    25. Replace chest drawers £100,
    26. Replace bedside cabinet £50,
    27. Bathroom: Replace shower head £50,
    28. Replace shower curtain £50,
    29. Replace shower screen £150,
    30. Unblock washbasin/bath £50,
    31. Replace taps £60,
    32. Replace mirror £50,
    33. Re-grout resealing bath £75,
    34. 4 bedroom house cleaning £200,
    35. Average cost cleaning carpet per room £50,
    36. Replacing of carpet £200,
    37. Rubbish removal per bag £10,
    38. Returning furniture to original location £50,
    39. Removal of items not recorded on inventory £25 per item
      1. (a) £25 charged per communication to the tenant as a result of a direct breech of any of the covenants on the part of tenant herein contained, each time a cheque or payment fails to clear or each written reminder of overdue rent or arrears not received with contractual date.
      2. (b)£25 charged when Landlord’s agent is required to refund any overpaid rent as a direct result of the non-cancellation of standing order payments by the tenant after the tenancy period has ended. The agent or landlord will not be held liable for any bank or other charges incurred by the tenant in overpayment of rent during or after the tenancy.
      3. (c) If tenant renews & enters into a new tenancy agreement 60 days prior to contract end the ½ monthly rental (minimum £200) fee will be waived.

 Deposit re-registration is charged at £50.

Contract renewals, or new or amendments /changes in Guarantor forms will be charged at £50.

(d) 1 month rent fee is payable should the tenant vacate the property before the end of the fixed term. Where replacement tenants are used to fulfil their tenancy term, 50% monthly rent fee is charged.

Please note that tenants are fully responsible for their tenancy obligations until new tenants sign a tenancy agreement relieving their duties.

(e)A fee of £200 as well as the cost of replacement keys/fobs will be issued to the tenant for the non-return of any keys/fobs at the end of the tenancy or for the cutting of lost keys/fobs during the course of the tenancy.

A Charge of £25 will be made to the tenant each time we have to write to the tenants regarding any unreturned keys/fobs on temporary loan to the tenant during the tenancy.

(f)A fixed £50 is payable for checkout and inventory appointments.

Additional £50 will be charged for out of hours (9am – 5pm, Monday to Friday) and additional £75 for Bank holidays & weekends.

(g)Failure to attend or vacate, or changes to the prearranged agreed check out or inspection times will result in a £50 charge.

  1. h) )If any damage due to smoking is caused to the fixtures and fittings at the property, it will have to be made good by the Tenant by having all carpets, curtains and soft furnishings professionally steam cleaned.
  2. i) On issue of an Inventory of the Statement of Condition of The Property at the beginning of the Tenancy, Tenants should check, sign and return the document. If the Inventory is not returned within 5 days of issue the Inventory will be assumed to portray an accurate description of the Contents and Condition of The Property. If no Inventory is provided by Landlord, The Tenant will carry out his or her own Inventory and present it to Landlord for agreement and signing.
  3. j) Notice shall be considered sufficiently served by the Landlord or Tenant should it be sent by 1st or 2nd registered or recorded delivery post (if the letter is not returned undelivered) with an allowance of a two working day period for delivery or through confirmed electronic email where read receipts is saved.
  4. k) Bicycles & scooters are not permitted anywhere inside of the properties or any communal passageways, unless agreed in advance and a charge is payable of £50. If found obstructing any communal doors, passageways or fire exits, it will be removed & left outside the property at the tenant’s risk & costs.
  5. l) The tenant agrees that in relation to the Utility Accounts for the property to include, Gas, Electricity, Water and Council Tax to waive their rights to data protection and allows the landlord or his agent can contact the utility companies on their behalf and where necessary give the companies contact details to allow initial accounts to be created or bills to be finalised on the behalf of the Tenants. In the circumstance that the Tenant is receiving Housing Benefit payments the Tenant gives the Landlord and his agent authorisation to discuss their account with local Council.

m) The Tenant must ensure that should they or the landlord provide a television in the property the Tenant is responsible for any Television License charges unless otherwise stated in the tenancy agreement.

n) The property must be kept in a clean and organised state at all times. You agree that We reserve the right to ask for contribution towards cleaning. Should the property attract rats, mice, vermin, wasp or bees: the tenants will be held responsible for any Pest Control services required; payable at actual or minimum £50 per call out unless it can be shown and shown it is caused by structural pre-existing issues or failure by Landlord

o) If the Tenant reports any disrepair, damage or defect in the Property and it is deemed to be caused either directly or indirectly by the Tenant, or through the actions of the Tenant; the Tenant will be held fully liable for payment to the contractor. If a contractor attends and finds the call out to be false or unnecessary, the Tenant will assume full responsibility of payment of a reasonable call out fee payable directly to the contractor.

p) All bond monies returned in respect of this Tenancy Agreement will be the responsibility of the Lead Tenant to distribute

q) If you believe your fire alarm is sounding falsely, or if the control panel shows a fault, please contact you agent or alarm installer. The alarm system will usually have to be re-set.

r) Any electrical equipment installed at the property by the tenants is done so at their own risk. Any irregularities noted by the tenants when using any of the electrical appliances provided by the landlord must be reported immediately and usage stopped.

s) From time to time we may choose to share your information with relevant third parties. By signing this Agreement you consent to this sharing of information. Should you wish to opt out at any time during the Agreement you may do so by putting your request in writing to us.

t) Please ensure that any Fire Fighting Equipment provided is not tampered with or moved from its station unless for its intended use.

u) Unless otherwise expressly stated in this Agreement any garages, sheds, unconverted attics, basements and any other uninhabitable areas that fall within the property boundaries are not to be used by the Tenants and will not form part of this Agreement.

v) Tenants must ensure that all fire escape routes in the property are kept clear and unobstructed by any furniture, items, rubbish or articles. Unwanted furniture, appliances or other items shall not be permitted to accumulate in these areas and will be removed without notice at tenant’s costs.

w)Tenants are to ensure that all common areas of the property including hallways, stairways, landings, communal kitchens, communal bathrooms or other communal areas including communal external court yards, gardens or porches shall be kept in a clean and tidy condition.

x) Prior to the end of your tenancy you will be required to make a reservation for a ‘Check out’ appointment on your vacating day in order that an accompanied check out inventory can be completed with the Lead (or nominated Lead) tenant. At this time all keys will need to be surrendered (including any additional copies that may have been cut) to the Landlord or Agent present at the appointment.

y) Special Notes and additional Condition – NB All breach is £50 plus cost of materials and labour per breach

This is a strictly non-smoking property. The tenant agrees not to smoke inside or on the grounds or perimeter of the property. Tenant and their visitors may smoke outside the property away from open doors or windows and to keep the exterior of the property clear of ashtrays and discarded cigarettes etc. If the tenant breaches this clause then they are responsible for the reasonable costs of rectification of any appropriate cleaning, fumigation & contract breach of £50

You agree the deposit or bond is paid to cover potential damages, payable, fines, liabilities and any associated costs to the property and tenancy. When you move the property should be left in a Clean, tidy and without any damaged conditions.

Any damages deemed to have been caused by tenants is payable immediately for repairs to be carried out.

Where not included in the rental, a scanned copy of tenants named Council tax, TV license, electric & gas bill, to be sent within 14 days of contract commencement.

Tenants are required to insure their own and property contents to include “accidental damage”. Copies to be sent within 14 days of contract start by email.

Consuming or storage of foods is not permitted in bedrooms, except kitchen or allocated dining room or areas, where applicable.

Internal house shoes to be worn to prevent internal damage to property flooring & carpets.

Not to use any electrical heaters, fan heaters or cooling machines or generators at any time.

To actively switch off all lighting and electrical sockets when not in use and not leave in standby

Visitors are not permitted on the premises between 2300 and 0800 hours daily unless prior written permission from the Landlord/Agent with a maximum overnight stay of 5 days per contract period by the same person(s).

Fire & smoke doors must be kept closed at all times, if found otherwise £50 deterrent fine is payable within 7 days of notification. Invoice level or £50 charge per visit PER event will be payable for

(a) loss/theft of keys to open door locks

(b) to unblock a sink, bath or toilet

(c) improper use of fire hydrant, radiators, fire doors including forced opening of doors

(d) Internal waste and rubbish mismanagement & failure to take bins & rubbish on Council listed days in manner specified

(e) garden, property boundary maintenance and cleanness and management issues that needs direct action or intervention from ourselves

(f) any missed appointment

(g) Non emergency visits, admin requests including parking, references, contract & inventory related emails, texts, phone and phone related

electronic communications (but not e-mail) that are not emergency or out of hours is liable at £25 per item and £2.50 per email or electronic text / messaging/per phone call.

Where advised by Landlord in writing, any damages or contract breach caused during the tenancy by the tenant and is the tenant’s responsibility, will be fixed within 7 days of being advised or agree to repairs at own costs. Common cause of damage during occupation includes:

  1. Damage to walls by nails or blue tack, bicycles, other objects
  2. Damage and stains, cuts or marks, on carpets and flooring or walls
  3. The window in the bathroom must be kept open when taking a shower or bath. Failure can lead to condensation and mould growth and decorations issue
  4. No clothes on heating systems. Such abuse of decorations cannot be regarded, as “fair wear and tear”. Such damage will require repair and redecoration and increase in utility costs, leads to condensation, mould & dampness all of which will make the tenant liable for associated repairs and costs.
  5. Advisable for external shoes not to be used within the property 6. All curtains should be replaced back on the windows.
  6. All keys to be returned at inventory checkout or tenant remains liable for weekly rent over the agreed leaving date.

The extent of any damage(s) will be decided by the agent or his appointed representative, and can be disputed at tenant’s own costs for an independent registered professional assessor(s).

If the property is not to a presentable and marketable standards within 60 days prior to contract end (or if the is contract terminated earlier) when advised of viewings you agree it will be professionally cleaned and the costs payable by yourself.

If tenants decorate the property it will be professionally decorated back to its original manner by the Landlord at tenant’s cost.

By signing below you agree that you have taken appropriate advice, guidance, and are of good mental capacity to have read, understood and accept fully all the terms, conditions, schedules, associated fees & charges. You agree to waive any current & future legal challenges by signing this document.

 

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A positive Autumn Statement for renters?

autumn statement

In a low key, ultra-cautious budget, the chancellor presented a dramatic picture with the government still in the red! The news that the UK government will continue with their austerity programme impacting on millions after 6 years is depressing.

In housing terms there were a few anticipated announcements:

Building homes –Housing has finally been recognised as being high on the UK populations agenda and has had a response from the UK government. Tenants broadly welcome the chancellor announced for a push on infrastructure committing £1.4bn for the building of an additional 40,000 homes to add to the commitments already made.

[The Homes for Wales campaign received widespread support in Wales, with a recognition from all political parties of the need to build more homes, as a consequence the Welsh Government has responded with a commitment to provide support for the sector to deliver 20,000 homes of which 16,000 has been earmarked as being affordable homes]

Universal Credit –At least some recognition that the ‘taper rate’ for those in work and on UC is too harsh and not a sufficient incentive to take on additional hours. UC taper rate being reduced from 65p to 63p or 2p in every £1 will be welcomed from April 2017 but will be quickly swallowed by rising rents and prices. The injection of £700m is less than was asked by back benchers whose communities are feeling the impact. It was also disappointing not to see the Employment Support Allowance (ESA) get a reprieve for the planned cuts coming into force April 2017.

Letting agency fees – A triumph for greater consumer transparency   

The government brought in consolidation changes in the Consumer Rights Act 2015 that also included the requirement for letting agencies to display their fees. What it exposed in a relatively short time, was the range of fees letting agencies were charging. The move was a triumph for those who argue for greater transparency because what it demonstrated was the extortionate charges to consumers, ranging from £40-£700 – and some argue that this information would have been more difficult to obtain without the Act.

The scope of re-chargeable costs were also imaginative and could include; tenancy agreements and fees for additional copies, administration fees, referencing charges, check in – checkout fees, inspections, solicitors fees for processing guarantors, deeds of guarantee, non-attendance fees for repair call-outs and others. There were also a range of dubious charges for repairs and call outs not deemed to be a landlord responsibility. What was more annoying for both landlords providing the properties and tenants who rent them, was that some of these fees were also being charged to the landlord.

Welsh Tenants supported the campaign spearheaded by Shelter Cymru in Wales to ban letting agency fees along with Vicky Spratt from Change.org where the petition received more than a ¼ million supporters. The evidence from Scotland (who introduced a ban in 2012) suggests there were no significant rent increases as a consequence of the Scotland ban. However, this is disputed by letting agencies who suggest landlords have passed on their costs to tenants through rent increases.

We will no doubt have to wait for further research of the impact. Letting agencies who are unable to spread their costs suggest that business rate increases, a rise in the minimum wage to £7.50, and registration charges for Welsh landlords/ Letting agents will find it difficult to survive and could look to have on-line presence only potentially giving up their often costly high street presence.

No assistance for the disabled and vulnerable

I suppose we were not going to have mentioned any role back of austerity programme for the tens of thousands of people hurt by austerity, particularly the disabled and vulnerable. It was however still disappointing there were no announcements to ease the burden being carried by these groups, particularly in light of the recent supreme court ruling.

Many tenants would have seen the results of the FOI (freedom of information) request conducted by the BBC Victoria Derbyshire show that detailed;

  • Multiple sclerosis (MS) – 93% of DLA claimants got the higher rate of the mobility component, but under PIP this has dropped hugely to 50%.
  • Parkinson’s suffers – 82% of DLA claimants got the higher rate of the mobility component, but under PIP this has more than halved to 40%.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis – 83% of DLA claimants got the higher rate of the mobility component, but under PIP this has plummeted by more than two thirds to 24%.
  • Early onset Alzheimer’s – Award of PIP, eighteen months later are found to have improved to the extent that they no longer qualify for anything.
  • ESA sanctions almost doubled in the 6 months between Jan 16 and June from 900 to 1,750 (DWP’s statistical release)

For many campaign groups like ‘DPAC’ and ‘Benefits and work’, it was clear at the outset that PIP’s main purpose was to cut costs, irrespective of the condition of people receiving DLA. Or, additional funding to cover the bedroom tax and people who look after a person with severe life threatening illnesses and disability that save the government 100s of millions yet penalised through the unfair bedroom tax. These are not a ‘just about managing’ (JAMs) group, but people struggling to sustain their homes. We want to see the government introduce an exemption for people who require a spare room to rest where they have a disabled partner and are unable to share a bed and require an overnight carer, as won in the supreme court decision Rutherfords.

Even the basic calls have gone unheeded. On making legitimate appeals and enquires to the DWP, we were expecting a compassionate statement to provide some reprieve for tens of thousands making high cost calls to the DWP.

Many people on benefits can’t afford a landline, having to resort to pay as you go mobile contracts that charge 45p a minute to call the DWP 0345 enquiry number. The government refused the requests from campaign groups and the Social Security Advisory Committee who urged the DWP to provide free 0800 numbers, but they have consistently refused stating it would cost them £7m.

It would appear therefore, that if you aren’t on the web, or you don’t have the internet because of rural connectivity or land line connectivity you are being unfairly penalised.

The government also seemed to hint at ending the “triple lock”[1] in 2020 that has safeguarded pensioners. As this is unlikely to be implemented before an election, given the size of the constituency, this may be a hint that an election is more likely in 2019.

From a Wales perspective, it was encouraging to see a consequential of a £400m capital boost for 2020-21 and commitment to support for the Swansea and North Wales city deal projects that will help regeneration in those areas, but the real hurt for Wales is austerity. With a benefit cap being maintained with no inflationary rises wales is sure to continue to feel the hurt with little gain.

[1] The triple lock is the mechanism currently used by the government for uprating the Basic State Pension (BSP). Under the triple lock, the BSP is increased each April by the higher of the growth in average earnings, the Consumer Price Index (CPI), or 2.5%. The triple lock was introduced by the Coalition Government in 2011.

 

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Calling all Housing Association Tenants

 

Any queries, please contact SeneddPAC@assembly.wales by 25th Nov.

Stakeholder session

 

Stakeholder session flyer for download

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