Your tenancy agreement
This is the contract you signed when you became a tenant of LSHA. Your tenancy agreement sets out what you, as a tenant, and we, as your landlord, are duty bound to do, by law. We go through the main terms of the tenancy agreement when you sign it. It is however quite a complex document and we do encourage tenants to reread it in their own time to ensure they fully understand the obligations of both parties. Your housing officer is more than happy to explain anything that you do not understand. Just call us.
Your tenancy agreement gives you certain rights and responsibilities by law. The following sections explain the terms you agreed to by signing the tenancy agreement. They also explain your rights.
Signing the tenancy agreement was also your guarantee to us that you had given us a truthful account of your housing situation at that time. If any of this information was not true, you run the risk of losing your home; we will and do check this information with other agencies.
Secure and assured tenants
LSHA’s assured and secure tenancy agreements are almost identical because of changes that we made to them ourselves. Other housing associations may give their assured tenants slightly fewer legal rights but LSHA have adopted the Tenant Services Authority’s tenants charter which adds extra rights to those they have by law.
If you become our tenant before January 1989, you probably have a secure ‘fair rent’ tenancy. You have a legal right to keep this tenancy if you move to another of our homes or if you swap homes with another housing association or council tenant with a secure tenancy. If you signed up to your tenancy after 15 January 1989 you – like most housing association tenants – will have assured tenancy.
The main difference between the two tenancies is that the secure tenants rents are set by the local rent officer service and we set rents for assured tenants.
If two of you sign up to your tenancy, this makes you ‘joint tenants’. It does not mean that you are only responsible for what you do as our tenant – if the other joint tenant breaks your tenancy agreement, by not paying their half of the rent for example, it will affect you too. Both tenants are jointly and severely liable for any breach they or their joint tenant makes.
We will use all our powers available to us under the law to protect you if you suffer harassment or if someone abuses, or threatens you in or near your home. If the person doing this is another LSHA tenant, we will use our legal right to evict them, even if they live with you.
Of course this works two ways. As our tenant, you are responsible for making sure that neither you, nor anyone in your household or visitors to your home, abuses, harasses or acts offensively to anyone else – that includes our staff.
The three boroughs we work in are home to a diverse mix of people and we hope this is reflected in our lettings and on our workforce. We are strongly opposed to discrimination against anyone on the grounds of their colour, race, religion, nationality, sex, marital status, a disability, learning disability, or because of their sexuality (whether they are straight, lesbian, gay or transsexual), are HIV+ or have AIDS, or because they are asylum seekers or refugees.
We do our best to offer equal access to our homes and jobs.
We will get all important documents translated or put onto audio-tape for tenants who are not able to read English or who have impaired sight and will arrange for interpreters when their help is needed.
Information we hold on you
You have the legal right to know what information we hold on you on our paper files and on our computers. LSHA is registered with the Information Commissioners Office and If you would like to see any of this, please contact our housing officer. We will need some time to collect all the information and to photocopy paper files so we will agree, with you, the best time for you to come to the office to see it. There is also a small fee of £10 for each search.
Unless we have permission in writing, we cannot show you confidential information which other people have sent about you, a doctor or social worker for example. Nor can we show you documents which include information on other people unless they agree to it, in writing.
If you believe that any of the information we hold on you is wrong, you can ask us to change it. We will need proof before we do so. If you cannot prove it, we can still make a note stating that you believe the information is not true.
Checking your identity
Because of the very high demand for properties in London, housing associations are finding that many of their homes are being sublet illegally by tenants who have moved on. To avoid this we now ask tenants to let us have a photograph. We only use these photographs to check that out homes are not let to bogus tenants.
We also undertake periodic tenancy audit checks to confirm that property is not being illegally sublet.
Passing on information to others
We will use some information about you, such as why you needed to be housed, for statistics. This can be done without letting anyone know details like your name and address. But we may need to give more detailed information to council departments or government agencies.
Examples of information that we would pass on to other organisations include:
Housing benefits claims: if you have asked for your benefit to be paid direct to us, we may need to discuss your claim with housing benefit staff.
Gas, water and electricity companies: we tell them when a new tenant moves into one of our homes so that they know not to charge you any money owed by the last tenant.
Council tax: we have to tell the council your name, address and the date you moved in. it is unlikely that we tell this section anything else.
Police, social services, Department of Social Security, Inland Revenue: we will give them any information about you if we have to by law.
Other housing associations and councils: if you apply to move to another housing association or council home or want to swap with another tenant, we will have to send them information about you. We will not pass on any sensitive details without your permission.
Ending your tenancy
If you want to end your tenancy, you should let us know – in writing – four weeks ahead. If you want to leave earlier, you will still have to pay rent for those four weeks. This is to give us time to find a new tenant.
During these four weeks, we have the right to enter the property to check any repairs that need to be done before you go. If works are needed to repair anything you should have put right, we will give you a detailed description of what needs to be done and how much it will cost. You can arrange to have this work done yourself, before you leave, or pay us to do the work. We will need to be sure that the work is done properly if you get it done.
You must make sure that the properly is reasonably clean and tidy when you leave. We do not expect the decorating to look brand new but it must be in a reasonable state. Please take all your belongings with you and check that you have not taken anything that belongs to LSHA. You should return the keys to our office.
If you leave anything behind in the property, we will treat it as ‘abandoned property’. If we have to spend money repairing damage or clearing away any other items left behind, we will chase you for payment.
This is the step of last resort for us. As long as you stick to the terms of your tenancy, most tenants have a legal right to stay in your home for as long as they like unless we need to move you out to carry out serious repairs or demolish the building. The exception to a life time tenancy is where the property is four bedrooms or more in size or where it is a designated mobility home.
If you stop living in the property as your ‘main or only home’, you will no longer have a right to your tenancy. We have the right to end it by giving you four weeks notice in writing.
If you breach your tenancy agreement we can apply for a court order to evict you. We cannot evict you without a court order. Unless we are confidant that you are no longer using the property as your sole or principle home.To get a court order, we need to prove that you have broken the rules, for example, refusing to pay your rent or causing a serious nuisance to your neighbours. If we plan to apply for a court order, we will write giving you four weeks warning. The law lets us take very quick action against tenants who will not pay their rent.
In very serious cases, we do not have to give you four weeks notice. If you are a danger to other people or have caused serious nuisance or harassment, we can take immediate action. You will have to pay any legal fees or professional fees that we run up.