Starter Tenancy Policy
Policy Ref: POL-HOU-START
Version Number: 2.1
Policy Owner : Neighbourhood Managers: Catherine Taylor and Laura Dalton
UNCONTROLLED IF PRINTED
1. Aim of policy
The aim of this policy is to achieve sustainable tenancies and the creation of stable and balanced communities, providing support and sustainability
for City West starter tenants through the settling in process.
A starter tenancy is an assured short hold tenancy that lasts for a minimum of one year. It gives new tenants a trial period in which to demonstrate they can manage their tenancy to a satisfactory standard. The broader aim is to create stability and cohesion within the neighbourhood by reducing tenancy turnover. New tenants are supported through the starter tenancy period, through settling in visits taking place at 1, 5 and 9 month periods.
The Starter Tenancy allows City West Housing Trust to reduce anti-social behaviour, nuisance and other breaches of tenancy, amongst new tenants whilst also providing a means to deal with such tenants more quickly than would be the case with Assured Tenancies, should enforcement action be required.
2. The policy
We will use starter tenancies as an opportunity to build a positive landlord and tenant relationship by providing information, advice and support as needed. If the starter tenancy has been conducted satisfactorily at the end of the twelve months the tenancy will convert to an Assured Tenancy, following the processes outlined within the Starter Tenancy procedure. Where there are problems identified within the twelve month period, we may either extend the starter period for a further six months, or we may decide to end the tenancy.
This policy covers the following areas:
• The rights of a starter tenant
• What will happen if there has been a breach of tenancy conditions
• What will happen at the end of the starter tenancy period.
Starter Tenant’s Rights
New tenants sign an Assured Shorthold Starter tenancy agreement at the start of their tenancy. This has fewer rights than an Assured tenancy:
• No right to take lodgers
• No right to exchange the tenancy
• No right to carry out improvements
• No right to acquire
• No right to sublet part of the property
Breach of Conditions During Starter Period
We will visit the property at least three times in the first twelve months of the tenancy. We will review the tenant’s conduct at each visit carried out. If we fail to gain access at the pre-arranged visit this will be taken into consideration as part of the assessment. If there are breaches of tenancy, we can seek legal action before the end of the starter tenancy if:
1. The tenant, members of the household or visitors to the property have committed severe / significant and / or persistent acts of anti-social behaviour, as highlighted in the tenancy agreement or Ground 14 Housing Act 1988, this includes but is not limited to:
• Using or threatening violence to other residents and staff
• Intimidating behaviour and abusive language
• All hate crimes, including racism and homophobia
• Domestic abuse
• Creating noise at a level that is unreasonable, intrusive, or disturbing to neighbours
• Criminal convictions for offences committed in the home or neighbourhood
• Persistent alcohol use that causes a nuisance
• Drug dealing or using drugs at the premises or in the neighbourhood
• Using the property for unlawful or immoral purposes
2. The tenant has breached other tenancy conditions including but not limited to:
• Dumping rubbish or graffiti
• Not keeping pets under control
• Operating any business at the property
• Subletting or abandonment
• Not allowing access to the property following a request
• Not maintaining their garden to an acceptable standard
• Failure to keep property to an acceptable standard
3. The tenant is in arrears but has either refused to make a repayment agreement or the agreement has not been complied with and the arrears are escalating.
If the tenant breaches his or her tenancy conditions, we may serve a ‘Notice Requiring Possession’ under Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 at any time. City West will only use a Section 21 notice for breaches of tenancy detailed in points 1 above.
If the tenant breaches the tenancy as detailed above in point 2 and 3, we may serve a ‘Notice of Seeking Possession’ under Section 8 of the Housing Act 1988 at any time.
When dealing with nuisance behaviour from a starter tenant, City West’s response will at all times be proportionate to the behaviour being reported and any enforcement and support actions will be in line with the stipulations of the Anti-Social Behaviour Policy and Procedure and all other related polices.
Review of Starter Tenancy
We will review the tenant’s conduct throughout the starter tenancy period. At the end of the twelve months, we will decide whether or not to end the tenancy or convert the tenancy to an assured tenancy. We may also choose to extend the starter period for another 6 months. If we decide to convert the tenancy to an assured tenancy, we will send a ‘conversion notice’ advising them they are now an assured tenant.
End of Starter Tenancy
If we decide to end the tenancy for the reasons stated above we will serve a ‘Notice Requiring Possession’ under section 21, at least two months before the end of the starter period. After two months of the service of this notice and providing it is at least six months from the date the tenancy started, we may apply to the court for possession of the property. In these cases, possession should always be granted as long as our policy and procedure have been followed.
This means that when the notice expires, we can apply to the courts who must give us possession of the property.
Right to Appeal
If we serve a ‘Notice Requiring Possession’ under section 21, we will give the tenant fourteen days to appeal in writing to the area housing office, guidance for tenants on how to appeal will be included with the ‘Notice’. If the tenant appeals and is successful we will withdraw the ‘Notice’. If the tenant does not appeal or is not successful, we will ask the courts for possession of the property after the ‘Notice’ has expired.
Given the importance of the appeal process, Neighbourhood Officers will ensure that any information given out in respect of the process is accessible and easily understandable to tenants from all backgrounds. If necessary, special consideration should be given to providing appeal information in different formats and allowing flexibility around the attendance at appeal hearings to ensure that no tenants are disadvantaged in any way.
3. Legislation and Regulation Standards
City West promised all existing residents at the time of transfer from Salford City Council that we would use starter tenancies for all new tenants. We are required to have a clear policy to show how we will make the best use of these tenancies. We also need to ensure residents understand what it means to have a starter tenancy and what is required to secure a full assured tenancy. Starter Tenancies exist within the framework of the 1988 and 1996 Housing Acts.
4. Delivery and Monitoring
The effectiveness of this policy will be assessed through regular monitoring. This will also ensure that equal opportunity issues are being considered, the scheme is being operated fairly and consistently and any necessary changes to the policy are identified and actioned as soon as possible. The starter tenancy process will be monitored through the Management Assurance Framework through quarterly audits. Individual teams will also be responsible for monitoring the following information:
• Number of tenancies created
• Number of Section 21 notices served
• Main breaches of tenancy for which a notice has been served
• Number of tenancies extended
• Main breaches of tenancy for which a tenancy has been extended
• Number of appeals against a notice or extension
• Number of appeals upheld and why
• Number of appeals rejected
• Number of court orders obtained
• Number of evictions carried out
• Level of turnover and reasons for leaving.
• Percentage of 1st visits completed within 6 weeks of the tenancy commencement date.
5. Equality And Diversity
The Starter Tenancy Policy and its aims will be delivered fairly and equitably to all of City West’s tenants. From the point where new tenants are identified and throughout the duration of their tenancy, City West Neighbourhood Officers shall identify any support needs that new tenants may have. They will also ensure that the service will be equally accessible to any tenants from identifiable minority and equalities groups by putting appropriate assistance and safeguards in place.
An Equality Impact Assessment Screening Document has been completed and identified no negative impacts from this policy.
6. Related procedures
In order to effectively implement this policy, the Neighbourhood Management teams must follow the guidelines outlined in the Starter Tenancy Procedure that accompanies this Policy Document.
Other related procedures:
ASB Racial Harassment & Hate Behaviour Procedure
ASB Domestic Abuse Procedure
Compliments, Comments and Complaints Procedure
Rent and Income Collection Procedure
7. Related policies
Allocation and Lettings Policy
Anti-social Behaviour Policy
ASB Racial Harassment & Hate Behaviour Policy
ASB Domestic Abuse Policy
Compliments, Comments and Complaints Policy
Rent and Income Collection Policy
Equality & Diversity Policy
Tenancy Sustainability Policy