Suitable alternative accommodation?
08/02/2010 10:20 am
Secure and assured tenants of a housing association have been served notices of possession as their studio flats are being demolished. They have been offered one bedroom flats in the new development on the same site. The tenants have been living in studio flats for 10 – 30 years. It's estimated that the rent and service charges for the new flats will mean tenants paying an extra 20/30% a month. Do the tenants have any grounds for arguing that these flats don't meet the 'suitable alternative accommodation' test? Some of the tenants are on low incomes and the move will mean financial hardship for them. Also is there any way a cap can be put on the service charges social tenants have to pay?
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08/02/2010 10:42 am
Did your Housing Association consult with you before making any plan for demolition and did they make all the issue you raise now clear to you or you to them?
08/02/2010 1:36 pm
Hi I just have a fellow tenant go via this ugly system well thank God he was a Security Tenant because he/she can get like for like on accommodation and rent. All other's was a different story poor thing's due to being only assured tenant agreement. Most took a increase in rent. Again different horse's for different course's.
All nice when selling the package but when it comes to the bottom line again I say depends on your Tenancy Agreement.
Ensure the Housing Associaton does change any secure tenant agreement. I suggest you get a meetng together with a expert in the field to ensure everybody rights are deal with accordingly.
That what my friend.
p.s. will be expecting the Tenant's to bid against each other.
Lots to think about and I mean lots to think about and I just hope you not will a Careless Housing Association and ensure any meetings with the Housing Association and the group being decanted that you get a transcript of the Minutes of the Meeting.
Another point telling tenant can get a each room. Well not the one's on benefit's.
Do not listen to these HOusing Association
Lots of pit holes - go speak to a expertise in the field
09/02/2010 5:14 pm
The tenants were consulted over some aspects of the development but have only recently been given notice of the new rents and estimated service charges after many requests. Do you think the Secure tenants would have a case to keep their rents/service charges at present level as that's what they've been accustomed to paying and they aren't moving by choice. Also if tenants have any say in the matter would they be better asking if they could have fixed or variable service charges?
09/02/2010 6:30 pm
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16/02/2010 5:50 pm
In my view, if the tenants are likely to pay rent and service charges of an extra 20-30% then they may be able to argue that the accommodation is not suitable alternative accommodation having regards to their means. However, the proposed rent and service charge increase alone is of itself not the determining factor as the relevant circumstances set out in the Housing Act 1985 and 1988 will be considered.
In decanting schemes, it is usual for the an Independent Tenant Adviser ("ITA") to be engaged to advise on these issues and I think it is prudent for the tenants to raise this matter with their ITA
17/02/2010 11:41 am
Really appreciate the advice from everyone. Abimbola mentions in his reply about consulting an Independent Tenant Adviser. Unfortunately the tenants don't have one. Is that something the Housing Association or developers should have provided/funded? What could be done about finding one now?
19/02/2010 11:42 am
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22/02/2010 3:15 pm
My general advice would be to seek advice through a CAB. I'd speculate that what is happening here is that either, a) the previous properties were still some distance from the Government's target rent, and the new properties have gone straight to target rent or, b) the new properties have been considered to be of a significantly higher market value - a major component of the target rent formula and therefore pushing up the target rent. If it’s the former, then there may not be a lot that can be done about it - if it’s the latter, then tenants could at least ask for information regarding the basis for the new homes being considered to have a higher market value - and compare that information with similar local owner occupied properties. If not satisfied, and if tenants consider they have a reason to make a complaint (ie. that they don't think the market value of the new properties has been assessed correctly, or perhaps if tenants feel that they were insufficiently consulted in the first place when it was first being considered that the homes would be demolished - for example, were tenants informed from the outset that they would have to pay much higher rent and service charges?), tenants can make a formal complaint to the landlord, and follow the complaint through its various stages within the organisation, and if still not satisfied with the answers given, make a complaint to the Housing Ombudsman, which would result in an objective opinion being given. Some tenants consider that making a complaint might make them vulnerable. This should not be the case - landlords should welcome complaints because it is one means by which tenants can give the landlord their views about their services - and if tenants consider that the landlord is not responding positively to a complaint being made - they should make a formal complaint about that as well!
With regards service charges, the service charges should be calculated on the basis of the costs of the services provided, and the landlord should set that out for the tenants. Tenants are within their rights to challenge service charges - challenging items that they consider cost too much and can be done with more value for money in other ways - saying that they don't want particular services - saying that they'd be prepared to do some of the services themselves. The thing to look out for is that the landlord can charge for administration and "sinking fund" charges for long term maintenance in service charges - but don't be shy about asking for details of how that and the other services have been calculated. There is a possible problem that with the previous properties, separate service charges may not have been charged - and so the services effectively came out of the rent. If this is the case, then the landlord is entitled (and would have been entitled to with the old rent) to extract the service charges - and then work out the remaining rent on the basis of the Government's target rent - which would lead to a much higher total weekly charge.
The only other final point to make - other than ask someone who has legal knowledge about this - is that with a higher rent/service charge, tenants might be entitled to some or more housing benefit, although of course no one who isn't currently claiming housing benefit would want to go through the hassle of claiming - and this won't necessaril
22/02/2010 3:16 pm
Cont ...The only other final point to make - other than ask someone who has legal knowledge about this - is that with a higher rent/service charge, tenants might be entitled to some or more housing benefit, although of course no one who isn't currently claiming housing benefit would want to go through the hassle of claiming - and this won't necessarily help people above the housing benefit threshold but on low incomes.