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Rights & Responsibilities

Your Tenancy Agreement

When you accepted your home you signed a Tenancy Agreement. Your Tenancy Agreement is an important legal document which you should keep safe. It includes the rights and responsibilities you have as a tenant and the rights and responsibilities we have as your landlord. Your Tenancy Agreement will be either Assured (Shorthold) or Assured (Non-Shorthold). For further information see below.

Different tenancy types
  • Preserved/Transferred Assured (Non-shorthold);
  • Starter tenancy Assured (Shorthold)
  • Fixed Assured (Shorthold) Probationary;
  • Fixed Assured (Shorthold);
  • Equitable (Shorthold);
  • Mortgage Rescue, Assured (Shorthold);

If you are not going to be using your home as your main residence, for example going into hospital or living elsewhere for an extended period, please let us know. You will need to tell us how we can get in touch with you and who will be looking after your home whilst you are away.  It is important to remember to continue to pay your rent if you will not be living there for a while, the best way to do this is to set up a Direct Debit.

Preserved/Transferring assured (non shorthold) tenancy

If you had a tenancy with Sedgefield Borough Council at the time of transfer (31 March 2009) and are still a tenant, you have protected rights that existed at the time of transfer.  You will retain these rights when moving to another livin property.

Assured (non-shorthold) tenancy

This is a standard Tenancy Agreement. It allows you to stay in your home for as long as you keep to the conditions of the Tenancy Agreement. We will give Assured (non-shorthold) Tenancy Agreements to new tenants who have transferred from another Registered Provider or Local Authority, and to those tenants who have held an Assured (shorthold) tenancy (starter tenancy) with us for 12 months, unless they have broken the tenancy conditions.

Fixed term tenancy

We offer new tenants (who currently hold an assured (shorthold) tenancy) this Tenancy Agreement. This Agreement will be valid for a period of 5 years and will be reviewed six months prior to the end of the fixed term, where an assessment will be undertaken to determine whether to end or extend the tenancy.  The decision and options open to you will be discussed when the assessment is made.

Assured (shorthold) starter or probationary tenancy

If you are a new tenant and have not transferred from another Registered Provider or Local Authority, we will give you an Assured (Shorthold) tenancy (Starter tenancy) Agreement or a Fixed Term Probationary tenancy. The Agreement lasts for 12 months.

If there have not been any problems with the conduct of your tenancy, we will convert you to an Assured (Non-Shorthold) tenancy or a Fixed Term tenancy after those 12 months. If you break the tenancy conditions, we may take legal action against you which could lead to you losing your home. This could be because of unpaid rent, nuisance problems, moving out of the property without telling us or if you are neglecting the property.

We may also extend your Starter or Probationary tenancy for a period of six months. If you are an Assured (Shorthold) tenant (Starter or Fixed Term Probationary tenant) you will not have the following rights:

  • Right to make improvements
  • Right to compensation for eligible improvements
  • Right to exchange
  • Right to acquire (in certain circumstances)
  • Right to take in lodgers and sub-let part of your home (Starter tenants do have this right, with written permission)
  • Right to transfer (Fixed Term Probationary tenants only)
Equitable tenancy

An Equitable Licence is offered to 16 and 17 year olds. All Equitable Licences must have a guarantor and trustee in place and all parties must sign this Agreement. Once you turn 18, you will then be given an Assured (Shorthold) Starter or Probationary tenancy.

Mortgage rescue tenancy

A Mortgage Rescue tenancy is similar to a Starter/Probationary tenancy however it runs for a period of three years. Following the three year Starter tenancy, a decision will be made to extend the tenancy for 6 months or to convert the tenancy to an Assured (Non Shorthold) tenancy. If you are a mortgage rescue tenant you will not have the following rights:

  • Right to make improvements
  • Right to compensation
  • Right to exchange
  • Right to acquire (in certain circumstances)
Demoted tenancy

The Anti Social Behaviour Act 2003 enables livin to demote Assured tenancies to Assured (Shorthold) Starter or Probationary tenancies for a period of 12 months. At any time during this period of demotion the tenancy can be brought to an end. If no action is taken during the demotion period the tenancy will become a fully Assured (Non-Shorthold) tenancy after 12 months.

Your Rights

Right to take in lodgers and sub-let part of your home

You may take in lodgers as long as you do not grant a sub-tenancy or exceed the number of people allowed to live in your home. You must first obtain our written consent and approval will be given subject to reasonable conditions. You must not grant a sub-tenancy of the whole of your home. As detailed above this excludes Starter and Fixed Term Probationary tenancies. 

Right to make improvements to your home

You may make improvements, alterations and additions to your home, including external decoration and alterations to our fixtures and fittings, as long as you get our written permission and all other necessary approvals (for example Planning Permission or Building Regulations approval) beforehand. If in doubt, please ask us first. When you move out we will ask you to pay the cost of putting right any alterations you have made to the property without our permission. This excludes Starter and Fixed Term Probationary tenancies. 

Right to compensation for eligible improvements

If you carry out certain improvements to your home and then you end your tenancy, you may be entitled to some compensation towards the costs of these improvements. This will be explained further at the time you apply for permission to carry out the work. Compensation will only be given where prior permission was sought. This excludes Starter and Fixed Term Probationary tenancies.  

Right to mutual exchange

If you want to move house, you may have the right to exchange your tenancy by way of assignment with another Assured tenant living in one of livin's properties, or another Registered Provider (or Secure tenant of a Local Authority). This exchange would be subject to undertaking the appropriate application process.

Right to consultation

If we are planning to make any significant changes to anything affecting your home or your tenancy, then we will consult with you beforehand in a timely manner.

Right to buy

If you were a tenant of Sedgefield Borough Council and your home transferred to livin, and you live in a general needs home (this is a property that is not for elderly or disabled people), then you may have a preserved Right to Buy. This means you may be able to buy your home at a discounted price.

Right to acquire

You may be able to buy your home through the Right to Acquire.  To find out if you are eligible visit www.gov.uk/right-to-acquire-buying-housing-association-home or contact us on our main website. 

Right of succession – the right to pass on your tenancy

If you die, your husband, wife or civil partner may have the right to take over the tenancy. This is called “the right of succession.”

By law a tenancy can only be succeeded once. This means that if your tenancy was passed to you when someone died, it cannot be passed on again when you die.

If a property has been specially built or adapted for a disabled person and where there is nobody in the household who needs these features after you die and the property is not deemed to be too large or small for the successor, we may offer more suitable alternative accommodation to the successor. 

For further information contact the Housing and Communities Team at housingteam@livin.co.uk

Right to assign your tenancy

Passing your tenancy to someone else while you are alive is called assignment. In certain circumstances you may be able to assign your tenancy to another person who is living with you and who would qualify to take over the tenancy. This will depend on the circumstances and the type of tenancy agreement you have. We will normally only agree to an assignment if the person would have been entitled to “succeed” to the tenancy. If there has already been an assignment or a succession, legally there are no further rights to take over the tenancy. You cannot pass your tenancy to someone else if you leave your home because, by leaving, you will no longer be an assured tenant.

Responsibilities

Your responsibilities as a tenant

Your main responsibilities are:

  • To pay your rent and other charges when due
  • To use the property as your main home
  • To insure your personal belongings, furniture and decorations against fire, theft, vandalism or burst pipes
  • To keep the property, any communal areas and garden areas in a clean and tidy condition
  • To ask our permission before carrying out any alterations or improvements to the property
  • To have our consent in writing before subletting part of the property
  • To make sure that you, your family, or any friends or visitors to the property, do not cause nuisance or harass your neighbours or anyone living or working in the area
  • To ensure you look after your pets and that they do not cause a nuisance to others, or compromise the hygiene of your home
  • To allow our employees, contractors or agents acting on our behalf access to your home at reasonable times and subject to reasonable notice - particularly in relation of gas safety checks, electrical checks and home fire safety checks
Our responsibilities to you

We will:

  • Let you live in your home for as long as you want to or for the term of your tenancy, as long as you keep to the conditions of your tenancy
  • Carry out any important repairs to your home – please see the “Repairs” section of your handbook
  • Let you know about any changes we want to make to your tenancy agreement or changes to the services we provide
  • Listen to your views about any proposed changes and give you at least four weeks’ notice before any changes start
  • Insure the structure of your home, but not the contents (you are responsible for insuring your personal belongings)
Hoarding and fire risk

We want you to live in your home safely and comfortably but we know that sometimes people need extra help and support.  Hoarding is a complex issue usually identified by accumulating lots of items in your home without getting rid of any, even if they do not have a high monetary value or practical use.

Often living spaces will become so cluttered there is little room to move around in, and areas can no longer be used for the reason they have been designed.  Examples of this include a kitchen being so cluttered that food can no longer be prepared in it, or a bedroom having so many items in it that there is no space to sleep on the bed.

People who live in the property may be at risk of harm, for example if items are stacked high they may fall and injure someone in the household. Their quality of life may also deteriorate as they become unable to function properly in everyday life.

We know that people who hoard are at greater risk of house fires and may also suffer from other health problems caused by their living conditions.  We can work with our tenants to make this situation better. We can assist with removing items from properties and can make referrals to the Fire Service, who can offer advice and equipment. We can also help tenants to access support for hoarding and any other medical problems that they may have.

You do not have to hoard items for your house to be at risk of fire.  Be aware of everyday items in your house, such as cookers, tumble dryers, irons, extension leads, etc. and ensure they are located in the right place and being used in the right way. For example you should not plug one extension lead into another. This is called "daisy chaining" and increases the risk of fire. Smoking in bed is also not advised, and seasonal items can also cause fires, for example BBQ lighter fluid if left in a window on a sunny day.

Always make sure that exits are kept clear so that you are able to escape if a fire does occur.

You can get free advice on fire safety from the Fire Service and they will also provide you with safety equipment if necessary. You can contact them direct or get in touch with us and we will make a referral for you.

We take the safety of our tenants very seriously so if you, or anybody you know, needs help with hoarding or fire risk problems please get in touch.

Tenancy visits

We carry out tenancy visits to all of our tenants at least once within a 3 year period. This visit allows us to ensure we have up to date contact information, check ID, assess the condition of the property and discuss any concerns or required support to help you to maintain your tenancy.

An appointment will be sent out to you, however, if the proposed appointment is not convenient, please email housingteam@livin.co.uk and an alternative time will be arranged.

Home contents insurance

Tenants are responsible for insuring their personal belongings, furniture and decorations against fire, theft, vandalism or burst pipes. To make it easier for our tenants to get home contents insurance, we have negotiated a Home Contents Insurance scheme designed specifically for our tenants.

You can insure the contents of your home in an easy and affordable way. The benefits of the scheme include:

  • No hidden costs
  • Cover for theft and loss of keys
  • New for old cover (except clothing and household linen where an allowance for wear and tear is deducted)
  • Easy payments weekly, fortnightly, monthly or annually

For full details of the scheme, please visit the Home Contents Insurance section of our main website.

Buildings insurance

This covers the structure of your home. As your landlord we are responsible for insuring all its buildings including your home.

Communal areas

Everyone living in your block is responsible for keeping the shared communal areas neat, clean and tidy. This includes the stairs, landing and hallways.

You must not leave rubbish on the stairs or in the hallways. You must not place any items of furniture in the hallways or on landings – this could be a hazard if people need to leave the block quickly in an emergency. Keep communal areas secure by keeping doors shut when not in use.

We inspect shared areas on a regular basis.

Please contact us if you need to report any problems or if you would like to know more about the inspections for the shared areas near your home.

Being a good neighbour

Everyone is entitled to enjoy their home quietly and peacefully. You must not cause nuisance or disturb your neighbours. You must also make sure that anyone living with you or visiting your home behaves responsibly.

As a good neighbour, please be considerate by:

  • Keeping the volume of televisions, radios and stereos at a level that does not disturb your neighbours
  • Trying to avoid installing music systems against walls that divide you and your neighbour
  • Carrying out work to your home during reasonable hours
  • Parking vehicles responsibly and respecting your neighbours’ parking and access needs
  • Returning your rubbish bin back to its normal storage area when it has been emptied
  • Being a responsible pet owner, for example, if you have a dog, make sure it does not bark or whine for long periods and arrange for it not to be left alone if you are away from home for a long time. Do not let it soil communal areas inside or outside flats
  • Controlling your children when they are playing outside your property
  • Making sure any visitors respect your neighbours and the area you live in whilst they are travelling to and from, and while they are in your home