Will Nixon's posts
Posted in: Career in housing..but which degree
From personal experience, most people I have worked with in housing has stumbled into the profession rather than it being a chosen path. That was certainly the case with me. I am therefore really heartened to hear that you have really enjoyed your work experience within a housing association and are looking at housing as a future career. I have met a colleague who has recently joined Aspire and they were also clear that a career in housing was what they wanted, they undertook a housing degree and are thoroughly enjoying what they are doing. I'm sure that the person would happily have a chat with you if that would help.
From an employers' perspective certain job roles will ask for a housing degree or equivalent, so I don't think undertaking a geography degree would be a restrictive step in you wanting to work in housing, but obviously a housing degree is more focused. So I guess a key question for yourself is where do you see your future career? If you believe that this is in housing then a housing degree would appear to be the natural choice. When considering any degree there are obviously a range of factors that you will need to take into account in terms of the Universities that offer the courses, location of Universities, fees etc but I'm sure you are already considering these.
I don't think that you would regret taking a housing degree and I certainly don't think you will regret choosing housing as a career. I wish you all the very best and hope that I am reading about your future successes in the very near future.
Posted in: What defines a 'living' room
The crux of the issue is whether the property is deemed to be "more extensive" than required and the criteria will be contained in the Landlord's own policies and procedures.
In terms of the legislation relating to overcrowding and related definitions of room standards and space standards, this is contained in the Housing Act 1985 Part X - "Definition of Overcrowding". S 326 refers to space standards and states that " a room is available as sleeping accommodation if it is of a type normally used in the locality either as a living room or as a bedroom". However, this is not linked to the legislation in respect of Mutual Exchanges.
In the Housing Act 1985 the grounds for refusal of a mutual exchange are contained in Schedule 3. The relevant ground in this instance relates to Ground 3. This states that refusal can be made where the property size is substantially larger than one of the exchange partners needs. The guideline states that the existence of one spare room would not make the property "more extensive" than required and it seems to be the practice of most landlords to allow an extra bedroom for this.Some tenancies, however, offer a contractual right to a mutual exchange and therefore additional refusal reasons can be relied upon.
It is best to check the tenancy conditions and with the individual landlord concerned as to what their policy states in relation to this. Tenants may not exchange without the permission of their landlord but the landlord must give their decision in writing within 42 days of a request to exchange and provide details of any reasons for refusal.
I would advise the customer to check the Landlord's Policy with regard to their criteria. It might be that they include the existence of two downstairs rooms in their definition of the additional room allowance.
Posted in: joint secure tenancy
The person I think has a pretty good understanding of the issues already, but I think really needs to seek a meeting with their landlord.
The succession rule will apply to joint tenancy arrangements so there could be no further successions in the future. The under occupation benefit rules will also apply regardless of the succession assuming the occupants are of working age when they succeed to the tenancy.
In respect of whether the landlord would ask them to move due to under occupancy, the decision to invest in redecorating the property etc I think it would be advisable to arrange to meet with the landlord to talk through the issues and hopefully the person will have a much clearer view after that meeting.
Posted in: Static rent arrears
That is a bit of a difficult one without knowing all of the details of a particular case. Customers can be in static arrears for a number of circumstances.
Most static rent arrears are customers on full housing benefit, if the arrears are more than 4 weeks and they are claiming certain benefits the organisation can apply for a stoppage from their benefit towards the arrears.
If the arrears are less than 4 weeks or the customer is not on a benefit that an organisation can get a stoppage from the customer.
The problem comes when the customer does not engage, if the arrears are high enough for it to be appropriate to take recovery action then that avenue can be followed should all other attempts fail.
For accounts with static balances that are not appropriate for possession proceedings, we can go to court for a monetary order, however there is a risk that you may pay out costs and not recover anything.
For small amounts that are not cost effective to chase these could be considered for write off.
Hope this helps
Posted in: Advice about change of use
I don't feel that we can be 100% sure on this as there aren't sufficient details given here about the organisation, the use of the property, the likely rent which may all have an impact on the advice given.
I am not sure what size of property it is and the number of rooms or type that are available to be let. It may be that they will have to register with their Local Authority as a Home in Multiple Occupation. If that is the case, then they could use licence agreements.
If the property is classed as an HMO there are numerous regulations that go along with that.
However, if the property is to be more like self contained flats then they should be granting Assured Shorthold Tenancies for either a fixed period or from month to month (periodic tenancy).
Also, is this arrangement compatible with their charitable and company status?
There is a helpful booklet produced by the CLG called 'Assured and Assured Shorthold Tenancies: A guide for landlords', but I think it would be in the organisations best interests if they received full legal advice about what they are proposing.
S106's are not my area of expertise........but
Off site provision for the affordable element is a perfectly reasonable option but would expect the need prior agreement from the local authority by way of the S106 agreement on Site A and a deed of variation on Site B.
It may be that the distance between sites would cause an issue with the local authority it depends on local needs and whether the developments are related through settlements and or services.
I am unsure they would necessarily be supportive of doubling the affordable element of Site B as this does not fit within the ethos of mixed communities and you also need to take account of the increased density of the affordable housing element with regard to management and impact on shared ownership sales.
If you did wish to take it forward there may be opportunities to change the affordable tenure types such as shared equity.
Hope this gives a steer.
The options open to you here are to ask the landlord to remove the storage heaters; to request installation of a separate meter; or to request apportionment of the charges on a more equitable basis. While its widely recognised that storage heaters maybe an inefficient and expensive means of heating a space, they serve a purpose in the communal area by preventing condensation build up, so removal of the heaters may lead to long term maintenance problems.
Installing a separate meter will incur additional standing charges, so it will be important to understand whether the savings realised would offset the extra expense. Requesting fairer apportionment of the charges may be the best way forward. Ofgem has issued guidance (The resale of gas and electricity - guidance for resellers) which indicates that the reseller must have a methodology for apportionment and be prepared to explain how the shares have been calculated. It should be apparent through this process that your flat ought not to bear the cost of the storage heaters.
Posted in: Management Agency's of a Housing Association
In relation to this question, ultimately your legal relationship is with the landlord rather than with the agents, so the correct course of action in circumstances where you are unhappy with an agent is to approach the landlord directly. You should ask to see a breakdown of the service charge affecting your block and flat, as the landlord is obliged to provide this to you upon request. You can also have the service charges independently audited, although this would invariably incur some expense.
Turning to the problems caused by the supermarket, there are two possible remedies here. In your tenancy agreement or lease, the landlord will have covenanted to provide you with "quiet enjoyment" of your home and will be in breach of this promise if their commercial tenant is causing a noise nuisance. You should also ask the Local Authority about any planning conditions associated with the supermarket's approved hours of operation and report your concerns to Environmental Health if you think there is a breach of conditions.
Remember that your landlord is required to operate a complaints procedure that escalates through several stages to the Ombudsman and this is a cost effective way of pursuing any grievance in the first instance.
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The Borough Council should have a system whereby a change of circumstances can be notified and assessed which may alter the current banding.
The first step is for the customer to approach the Borough Council who should be able to advise the customer of the next necessary steps.