Your New Tenancy
What you can expect from us – our service standards
- We will follow our responsibilities clearly set out in the conditions of tenancy and our procedures.
- We will tell you what your rights and responsibilities are as a tenant.
- We will make decisions on requests for changes to your tenancy within 10 working days of receiving all the information.
- We will take prompt and appropriate action against anyone who breaks their tenancy conditions.
- We will only take legal action if the tenancy conditions are broken persistently or in a serious way.
- We will provide a written explanation of any action we have taken.
- Customer Service standards – when you contact us
- Feedback – for comments, compliments and complaints
Welcome to your new tenancy with The Community Housing Group. As you move into your new home, there will be a lot of things to organise. We hope this helpful guide with make it easier for you to remember what you need to do.
If you need help at any time, please contact your Housing Officer. You will have been given their contact details when you signed for your tenancy. If you are not sure who to contact, call our Customer Service Centre on 0800 169 5454.
We always change the locks when a new tenancy starts, unless you are doing a mutual exchange. When you sign your tenancy agreement we give you two sets of keys for your new home. We do not retain a spare set, so you must look after them. If you lose them you will be recharged for the full cost of replacing the locks. Spare keys/fobs to communal areas can be purchased from our Foley Grove Office.
We will make sure that your new home is to an agreed lettable standard. The works we complete if necessary include:
- Ensuring the property is clean and tidy throughout.
- Removing all rubbish and furniture and clearing the garden (once you have started your tenancy).
- Walls will be checked as far as possible without stripping existing wall coverings to ensure the plaster is sound.
- A gas, electrical and heating safety check will have been undertaken.
- All doors/drawers (external, internal and cupboards) will open and close correctly.
- Locks will be changed on all external doors and window keys will be provided.
- Floors, stair treads and hand rails will have been checked to ensure that they are safe.
- Kitchen and bathroom vinyl floors will have been checked to ensure that they are waterproof.
- The bath, hand basin and toilet will have been checked for cracks and stains and the condition of tiles, sealant around the bath and hand basin will have been checked.
- The smoke alarm and any heat detector will be checked and if necessary a new battery installed/hard–wired system installed.
When viewing your property you will be told if any decorating vouchers will be provided. The amount offered is intended to be a contribution towards the cost of redecorating – it will not cover the whole cost of decorating your property.
Vouchers will be issued after you’ve signed your tenancy agreement and it must be spent on decorating materials and tools. It covers paint and some decorating equipment.
If you wish to make alterations or improvements to your property, you should put the request in writing to the Customer Service Centre providing as much details as possible. You must not start any works until after permission is given.
You will be responsible for setting up utility accounts in your name for your new home.
Paying your rent is your responsibility
We understand that sometimes, it’s tempting to leave your rent for a week or so because you want or need to spend the money on something else. But did you know that by doing this, you are breaking your tenancy agreement which you signed when you first moved into your home?
If you think you may have difficulty in paying your rent, you should contact us immediately to discuss the situation. You may be able to get help with your rent payments by claiming Housing Benefit or Universal Credit.
If we don’t know about your situation, we can’t help you. Our staff are specially trained to advise you. We may make an arrangement with you to pay off the arrears on a regular basis and will do our best to make sure this arrangement is fair and affordable.
What happens if you don’t pay your rent?
If you simply don’t pay your rent, or don’t pay the agreed amount to reduce any rent arrears, we may contact you by:
- Text Message
- In person at your home
We do this to make you aware of the situation and so that you can take steps to pay off the arrears.
Please don’t ignore letters or phone calls. The arrears will not go away, and we will work extremely hard to collect them. We use the income from rents to deliver services and provide new homes, so we owe it to all tenants and to you to ensure all rent and arrears are collected as quickly as possible.
Remember: You are at risk of losing your home if you do not pay your rent.
Ways to pay
We want to make it as easy as possible for you to pay your rent. Here are details of the different ways you can use to pay.
Priority and Non-Priority Bills
Your main priority bills are rent, Council Tax, TV Licence, gas, electricity and water and you should always ensure that these are paid on time. If you do not pay these, you are putting your tenancy and belongings at risk. You can even face fines and imprisonment for non-payment of your Council Tax and TV Licence.
Non-priority bills include loans, credit cards and catalogues. These are debts of which you have received credit through companies and you are expected to pay them back. You usually have to pay interest on what you receive.
Always remember that your priority bills should be paid over non-priority bills. If you are having money worries, there are many agencies including Citizen’s Advice that can assist you.
Gas and Electric
Paying by Direct Debit and having the same supplier for your gas and electricity (dual fuel) generally saves you money on your bills. Please note not all properties have a gas supply, so all electric property energy costs will be higher than stated. Pre pay meter tariffs are also more expensive than standard credit or direct debit tariffs.
Costs will vary depending on the utility company you choose and how much fuel you use.
Top tips on energy efficiency
Lighting – Fit lower wattage or energy efficient bulbs wherever possible.
Heating – Turn your heating thermostat down and save on your energy bill. The recommended temperature is 18°C. Use timers and programmers to make sure that the heating and hot water are only provided where and when you need them.
Laundry – Washing clothes at 30°C saves energy.
Cooking – Only fill kettles with as much water as you need.
Appliances – TV’s, DVD players and Music Systems use up to 90% energy in standby mode so make sure they are turned off at the socket or use a power down device which will automatically turn them off when you switch off your appliances.
For free energy advice visit www.uswitch.com for further information.
Council Tax 2020/21 charges for Kidderminster
Band A – Full charge £1,292.36 – 20% of this charge will be £258.47.
Band B – Full charge £1,507.76 – 20% of this charge will be £301.55.
Wyre Forest District Council charges Council Tax for the services it provides plus a contribution to the Police and Fire Service.
Most of The Community Housing Group’s properties are Band A or Band B. Wyre Forest District Council will tell you the band of your new home or visit www.counciltaxfinder.com.
If you live in the property alone you may be entitled to a 25% discount off your bill.
Depending on your circumstances you may be entitled to Council Tax Reduction. Complete the Housing Benefit and Tax Reduction Form. Request an appointment for a new claim by calling 01562 732928.
Council Tax Reduction
Everybody who receives Council Tax reduction has to pay towards their Council Tax bill.
- Most people will now need to pay at least 20% of their bill.
- The maximum period of backdating will be one month.
- If your new property already has a water meter, we will explain how it works when you sign your tenancy agreement. You will be charged for the amount of water you use instead of paying a fixed amount. A water meter can’t be taken out. If there is no water meter you will have a fixed charge.
- Water rates are based on the Rateable Value of your property.
- Severn Trent Water supplies most properties in the Wyre Forest.
- If the property does not have a water meter and you think that having one could save you money, contact your supplier. A single person may benefit from having a water meter but a family with children would be unlikely to. For further advice contact Severn Trent Water’s Metering Team on 0345 709 0646. or go to www.stwater.co.uk to apply online.
Top 7 Water Saving Tips
- Make it go further - Reuse unused water: for example, pour leftover glasses of water on houseplants and avoid wasting water from running taps while waiting for hot water.
- Turn it off - A running tap wastes more than 6 litres of water a minute, so turn off the tap while brushing your teeth, shaving or washing your face – and use cold water if you don’t need hot.
- Fill ‘em up! - Make sure that washing machines and dishwashers are full before you use them, and always use the most efficient water and energy savings settings. When it’s time to replace your appliance, look for the Energy Saving Recommended logo.
- Don’t be a drip - A dripping tap can waste more than 5,500 litres of water a year, so make sure your taps are properly turned off and change washes when taps start to drip.
- Suds law - Using a sink of water to wash up twice a day rather than having the hot water tap running could save around £34 a year on your gas bill and around £25 on your metered water bill. If you need to rinse utensils or wash vegetables, use cold water and don’t leave the tap running!
- Change your head - If a family of 4 replace their shower head with a water-efficient one they could save around £72 off their gas bills and around £72 off their water metered bills each year. That’s a total saving of £150.
- Snub the tub - If everybody in a family of 4 replaces one bath a week with a 5 minute shower, you can save up to £18 a year on gas bills and up to £21 on a water bill, if metered.
If you use any type of television equipment or receive or record television programmes, you are required by law to have a TV licence. This includes TV sets, video recorders, set-top boxes, PCs and mobile devices.
If you have moved to a new home and have a licence at your old address, inform TV licensing by visiting www.tvlicensing.co.uk – the figures below show how much a colour TV costs.
Please note that you’ll usually pay for your first TV Licence within 6 months so payments may be higher for your first licence. If you, or someone you live with, are aged 75 or over, you may be able to claim a FREE over 75 TV licence. Please contact TV licensing to apply, otherwise you will be unlicensed. Also if you are registered blind you could qualify for a 50% concession.
How do I buy a TV licence?
You can buy your licence by:
- Direct Debit
- Debit/Credit Card
- Shop or Post Office with PayPoint
You may want to spread the cost of your TV licence, you can make payments of as little as £5.00 at any post office branch or PayPoint outlet. For more information please call TV Licensing on 0300 790 6130 or visit www.tvlicensing.co.uk.
Cable and Satellite packages
Many people now choose to subscribe to cable or satellite packages that include TV channels, broadband and landline calls. You will need our permission to install a satellite dish so contact 0800 169 5454 for details.
You may need the internet for claiming a benefit, conducting job searches or paying your rent so you should consider how you can get connected. You could either have broadband fitted in your home for a monthly fee or you may prefer internet access on the move for your mobile phone, laptop or tablet that you can subscribe to through by contract or pay as you go.
Landlines and Mobile Phones
Line rental costs vary and call costs may vary, check with individual suppliers for details. If you have a mobile phone, remember to budget for your contract, call charges or top-up costs. To compare prices and tariffs visit www.uswitch.com.
Moving in day
One of the first tasks is to take readings of your gas, electricity and water meters and provide them with your meter readings (if you are moving out of your property, then you should take your final meter readings too). You should also contact your Local Authority and make arrangements to set up your Council Tax account.
There are other people you need to tell such as:
- Old and new landlord
- Housing and Council Tax (benefits)
- TV Licence (required by law)
- Electoral role (this can help with your credit score and contribute to your digital footprint)
- Utility providers (now would be a fantastic time to check you are getting the best offer)
- Your employer/Job Centre/Her Majesty Revenue & Customs
- DVLA for driving licence and vehicle registration (required by law)
- Internet and television providers
- Royal Mail (there may be a charge to have your mail redirected, try to inform people before you move)
- Any companies you have borrowed money from or owe money to
- All bank/building societies
- Family and friends
Useful ContactsWyre Forest CAB
21 – 23 New Road
Telephone: 03444 111444
Website: www.wyreforestcab.org.uk Worcestershire HUB
Kidderminster Town Hall
Telephone: 01562 732928 The Money Advice Service
Telephone: 0800 138 7777
Email: email@example.com Vestia Training
Telephone: 01562 733133
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org National Debtline
51 - 53 Hagley Road
Telephone: 0808 808 4000
Rubbish & Recycling
You can check when your rubbish and recycling will be collected by visiting Wyre Forest District Council’s website www.wyreforestdc.gov.uk. You will also find some useful information about the different ways you can recycle your rubbish and the services available for the removal or larger items or garden waste.