Changes to the Tenancy Agreement and New Service Charge Policy

Information about changes to the tenancy agreement and new service charge policy

Information about the variation of the Councils tenancy agreement and new service charge policy:

We have completed our formal consultation on changes to the tenancy and the introduction of service charges. We also consulted with our Tenancy and Neighbourhoods Panel and local Councillors.

All tenants who have secure or introductory tenancies received details of the changes to the tenancy agreement and an explanation of why we wanted to make these. The main proposals were:

  • To allow us to charge for existing services that are already provided and any new services that are introduced.
  • To allow us to force access to a property to carry out annual gas safety inspections without the need to obtain an order from the Courts.
  • To provide additional contractual succession rights for those secure tenants who move and were social housing tenants before 1 April 2012.
  • To make it easier to recover debts from former tenants who remain tenants elsewhere within the Council’s housing stock.
  • To make it easier to remove items left in communal areas.
  • To prohibit smoking in internal communal areas.
  • To prohibit those living or visiting tenants from disposing of rubbish incorrectly.
  • To clarify the Councils repairing obligations once a right to buy application has been submitted.

There were other changes to the layout of the tenancy agreement so that we can use one version for all of our tenants. There were other small changes to update information and to make the tenancy easier to understand.

The changes do not affect any rights that tenants have in law e.g. Housing Act 1985, the type of tenancy you have, just the terms, or mean that your tenancy is ending.

Service charges:

We proposed the following:

1. Limit the service charges to communal cleaning and gardening, communal electricity, communal bulk refuse removal and administration. We may introduce other charges in the future.

2. Gradually phase in charges.

  • December 2018/19 – Communal cleaning and gardening, administration of 10% on existing charges.
  • April 2020/21 – Communal electricity.
  • April 2021/22 – Communal bulk refuse removal.

3. A cap in place so that no tenant will be charged more than £5.00 per week until April 2023/24. 

  • December 2018/19 - £3.00
  • April 2020/21 - £3.50
  • April 2021/22 - £4.00
  • April 2022/23 - £5.00
  • April 2023/24 – Full charge

It is mainly those tenants who live in flats who will have to pay a service charge. The average charge will be £2.29 per week increasing to £4.17 by 2023/24.

Charges for some properties may be higher but will not exceed the cap that we have in place until 2023/24. There are some examples below of the weekly amounts due from December 2018:

 

General needs flat

Senior living flat

Communal gardening

£1.58

£1.90

Communal cleaning

£1.37

£1.50

Admin on existing charges

£0.00

£0.27

Total

£2.95

£3.67 capped so tenant will only pay £3.00 per week until April 2020/21

 

The charges that we are introducing are eligible for housing benefit and universal credit.

You can get an idea of the benefits that you can claim by visiting our website.

Why are we introducing service charges?

Your rent is paid for the exclusive use of your home. In return the Council must:

  • Repair the structure and exterior of your home (including drains, gutters and external pipes)
  • Repair the installations that supply water, gas and electricity and sanitation (including basins, sinks, baths and sanitary conveniences
  • Repair the installations for heating and heating water (boilers, immersion heaters)

We also use your rent to pay for basic services including dealing with anti-social behaviour, lettings, estate management and improvements to your home. This helps us to effectively manage our housing stock.

The additional services that we provide are over and above what is covered by your rent. Recovering the cost of these additional services will enable us to invest more in the basic services that we provide, repairing and improving our homes and providing new homes.

Response to formal consultation

We received around 100 responses from tenants to the proposals. They contacted us by phone, e-mail or attended one of our drop-in sessions.

  • Some were worried about how the changes would affect their tenancy, for example would it mean that they would lose their secure tenancy.
  • Tenants asked questions about service charges, how they would be calculated and how would they pay them.
  • Some asked why every tenant did not receive the preliminary notice.
  • Most were happy with the proposals.
  • One said that they were unhappy with the proposals regarding service charges. However, most understood why we were making this change and did not mind paying, but wanted to make sure that they would receive a good service that represented value for money.

Following the responses, we:

  • Looked at the information that we provided with the final Notice of Variation to make it easier for people to understand the changes and not be concerned about the effects on their tenancy.
  • Agreed to spend some additional money to enhance the service that we provide and raise the standard of the communal gardens. This one-off work will not be included in the service charge calculation and will be covered by the Council.

What happens now?

The formal consultation to vary the terms of our existing tenants’ tenancy agreements has now ended.

A formal Notice of Variation (under section 103 of the Housing Act 1985) should now have been sent to all tenants affected by the change.

It included a copy of the new tenancy agreement and said what date the changes would apply from.

If service charges are applicable to your property, then we will give you an additional 28 days’ notice of these new charges.  

You can still contact us if you have any queries:

  • Kinson Hub – 01202 451915 or 0800 281870
  • In writing to Seamus Doran, Tenancy Services Manager, Housing and Communities, Kinson Hub, Wimborne Road, Kinson BH11 9AP or
  • email: seamus.doran@bournemouth.gov.uk

Where can I find more information?

We have added some documents which you may find useful: