Tenancy management policy
This policy outlines how we will provide our tenancy management service in line with our responsibilities, and covers a number of key areas of tenancy management.
The tenancy management policy sets out our approach to providing an efficient and effective tenancy management service. The policy is in place to ensure we provide a service which reflects Magna's responsibilities which are set out in our tenancy agreements. By providing robust and consistent tenancy management, we are doing everything reasonably possible to ensure our customers can maintain successful tenancies.
The policy covers the following areas:
- Mutual exchanges
- Repossession and eviction
- Customers' home alteration and improvements
- Pet and animals
This policy should be read in conjunction with our other policies detailed below:
- Access and customer care policy
- Tenure policy
- Repairs policy
- Tenancy fraud policy
- Aids and adaptations policy
- Community safety policy
- Tree management policy
The customer is responsible for telling Magna when they have changes to their household. This includes persons moving in, persons leaving the property, and to their marital status or the number of children in the household. This should also include changes to contact details or vulnerabilities. Information on how to contact us can be found on our website here.
We aim to make the best use of our properties and ensure they are occupied by the person(s) to whom we have allocated them.
Abandonment occurs when a customer does not occupy their property as their principal home and where it is reasonable to assume they have no intention of returning, of subletting the property or of allowing someone else to live there. Properties that are not being occupied by the customer as their principal home, but which are being used as a second home, sublet, or otherwise occupied by person(s) not entitled to occupy them will be dealt with in accordance with our tenancy fraud policy.
In accordance with our tenancy agreements, customers are required to notify us if they intend to leave their home for four consecutive weeks or more. In practice many do not for a variety of reasons such as unawareness of this requirement, forgetfulness, accident, or illness resulting in hospitalisation, family crisis, extended holiday, imprisonment, business commitment or deliberate abandonment.
If we suspect abandonment, we will carry out a series of appropriate checks to satisfy ourselves, as far as possible, that the property has been permanently vacated. If and when all the criteria for these checks have been met, we will serve an abandonment notice at the property. We may also serve a notice to quit. When the notice(s) expire, if we have received no response, we will consider the property to be abandoned and change the door locks.
If we have reason to doubt that the property has been vacated permanently, we will serve a notice to quit. We may also serve a notice seeking possession to run concurrently. When these notices expire, we will normally seek a court order to repossess the property. We will take legal advice before moving to this step.
We will store any furniture and belongings left in abandoned properties for 21 days. After 21 days we will sell or otherwise dispose of any unclaimed items. We will recharge the former occupier for the storage, removal and / or disposal of their furniture and belongings. We will offset and monies raised from any sales, less the cost of selling, from any debt owed to Magna by the former occupier.
We will monitor the number of abandonment investigations we carry out and the number of properties we recover as a result of these investigations.
A mutual exchange is a mechanism by which customers can swap homes. We will support customers who wish to undertake a mutual exchange and subscribe to one or more internet-based mutual exchange services that enable them to gain access to opportunities to exchange their home.
The following customers have the right to undertake a mutual exchange set out in their tenancy agreement:
- Periodic assured customers
- Assured shorthold customers with fixed term tenancies for a period of two or more years
- Customers can exchange with our other customers who have the right to exchange, or with customers of other registered providers or local authorities who have the right to exchange
Our written consent is required before a mutual exchange can take place, as well as the written consent of any other landlord involved.
We will only refuse consent on the grounds set out in our tenancy agreements and / or schedule 3 of the Housing Act 1958 and / or schedule 14 of the Localism Act 2011. You can find a summary of these grounds at the bottom of this page under Summary of grounds for refusing consent to a mutual exchange. If we intend to refuse consent, we will make our reasons clear.
Consent may be given subject to the customer performing any obligation of their tenancy or remedying any breach of their tenancy. Except in exceptional circumstances (which include where we think an exchange would be in our interests), consent for customers with a debt will be given subject to them clearing their debt in full.
Where permission is given, exchanges will be carried out in accordance with our tenure policy.
Mutual exchanges between two periodic assured customers or a periodic assured customer and a secure customer will be by way of assignment, whereby each customer takes over the tenancy of the customer with whom they exchange.
Mutual exchanges between a fixed term customer and a periodic assured or secure customer or between two fixed term customers will be by way of surrender and grant of a new tenancy. Magna stopped using fixed term tenancies in 2020, therefore any remaining customers still on fixed term tenancies will be granted a new periodic assured tenancy.
The following customers do not have the right to undertake a mutual exchange:
- Periodic assured shorthold customers (except those still on a fixed term tenancy)
- Starter customers, within the first 12 months of the tenancy or during any extension period
- Demoted assured shorthold customers
- Customers whose home is involved in a planning agreement and there is a covenant restricting who can live in the home which would be breached if the exchange were to take place
Repossession and eviction
For the purposes of this policy, seeking possession and applying for a warrant for possession refers to the point at which Magna applies to the County Court for a possession hearing or an eviction date.
We define an eviction as a tenancy ended by a court order and the subsequent execution of a bailiff's warrant.
We will support and sustain tenancies in circumstances requiring intervention and whenever this might contribute to a constructive outcome. We regard eviction as a failure and eviction is normally only applied as a final resort after other workable options have been exhausted:
- We will seek to ensure that customers understand the terms of their tenancy agreement, the consequences of breaching these terms and what action they can take to remedy any breach.
- When we become aware of breach or possible breach of tenancy agreement, we will make reasonable attempts to intervene at an early stage and to investigate and consider the individual circumstances of each customer.
- We will seek to ensure that customers receive appropriate support to help them keep their homes.
In the case of breach of tenancy, we will seek possession of a property only after reasonable steps to ensure compliance with the tenancy agreement have failed:
- Where customers have rent arrears, we will seek possession only where appropriate preventative methods have failed to resolve the problem. We will not normally seek possession if a customer is maintaining an agreement to repay arrears unless there are other breaches of tenancy in addition to rent arrears.
- In the case of anti-social behaviour or harassment by the customer, their visitors or any other person living in the property, or neglect of the accommodation and other breaches of the tenancy agreement, we will not normally seek possession until we have pursued all appropriate interventions, each case will be reviewed based on the information, severity, and evidence we have.
- In cases other than those involving breach of tenancy, we will seek possession only after full consideration of the circumstances, including the needs of the individual(s) concerned; local housing demand; our tenancy agreement and our charitable objectives; the need to make best use of our housing stock; and the views of the relevant local authority where appropriate. Such cases include but are not limited to:
- Where one joint customer serves a valid Notice to Quit, ending the tenancy agreement, but the remaining customer (who becomes a trespasser) objects.
- Where a tenancy agreement has otherwise been ended legally and a member of the customer's family or other occupier remains as a trespasser.
- Where a customer dies leaving a successor who does not require the size or type of property they are occupying.
- Where a customer occupies a property that Magna leases from another landlord and the lease is nearing an end, where vacant possession is required in order to meet our obligations under the lease when returning the property to the landlord.
In all cases, we will follow the Ministry of Justice pre-action protocol for possession claims by social landlords. As part of this protocol, we will undertake an assessment of customer vulnerability and the proportionality of the action we propose to take prior to seeking possession. A warrant for the possession can only be authorised by senior colleagues. This would be a member of the executive team and supported by the Head of Customer Experience and Home Services or the Head of Customer and Community Support.
Customers' home alterations and improvements
We define an improvement as any alteration, addition, or extension to our property. A list of improvements requiring our permission is contained in our permissions procedure.
This applies to customers on starter, assured and fixed term tenancies as long as they have our written permission and any other necessary approval (for example planning permissions or building regulations approval).
All homeowners (leaseholders, shared owners and where we have sold the freehold to the property): specific terms will be found in the individual lease agreement or conveyance.
Customers on assured shorthold agreements or licences do not have these rights but we will consider all requests.
Customer must provide us with accurate details of the requested improvement as well as all appropriate compliance requirements so that we can make an informed decision. Larger improvements (eg structural alterations) may need to be considered by a Magna surveyor. We are not responsible for the works and the customer must appoint their own appropriate qualified contractor where appropriate.
Customers must obtain and provide proof to us of any necessary approvals relating to building control (eg local authorities, energy, and water supplies).
We will normally allow alterations and improvements subject to the following conditions:
- After checking the tenancy agreement / lease for any restrictions which may prevent the work from going ahead. In some cases, permission will be required from a Head Lessee.
- All work is conducted competently and where necessary by a qualified contractor and does not adversely affect the future use of the home. If we have to carry out work to make safe or make good, we will charge the customer.
- All work is started only after the customer has received our approval in writing.
- All work is paid for entirely by the customer and they have the funds available to do this.
Where homeowners are requesting alterations then we will normally charge an administration fee for approval as allowed for in the lease agreement.
Customers (including leaseholders), wishing to carry out alterations or improvements to communal areas must also obtain written permission from us before starting any work. Where a customer (including leaseholder), requests permission to improve or alter a communal area or any part of our property we will consult all customers affected by the proposal prior to giving or refusing consent.
If we do not agree to the proposed work, we will put our reasons for refusing permission in writing.
We may make it a condition of giving permission that the customer will be responsible for the future maintenance, repair, replacement or removal of the alteration or improvement as and when necessary. We may also request further conditions are met and that relevant paperwork is provided to prove this.
We will not alter the rent of customers and their successors as a result of improvements carried out by the customer, or by the customer from whom they succeeded or a person who assigned the tenancy. We may review the rent in light of any work carried out when the home is re-let.
When a customer (excluding homeowners) leaves a home, they may be compensated for certain improvements which they have made in accordance with our compensation policy and procedure. We will not pay compensation if permission has not been sought and / or given or the work has not been carried out to the agreed standard. A list of qualifying improvements, and the notional life of each item, is included in our compensation and other payments procedure.
If works are not carried out to a satisfactory standard, or if work is started or carried out without permission, we may take legal action for failure to comply with tenancy conditions.
Occasionally, to allow for major refurbishment, demolitions, or major repair, we may require customers to move from their homes. Whenever possible and where it is safe and practical to do so, we will work around the customer to avoid the need for them to move.
Such moves can be permanent or temporary and are usually necessary where a property is:
- Due to be refurbished or modernised; or
- Due to be rebuilt or redeveloped to enable effective asset management; or
- In need of major repair following an emergency such as flooding or fire
If a temporary move is necessary, the customer will usually retain a legal right to return to their original home. Wherever possible, customers will be encouraged to stay with friends or family.
Where this is not possible, we will work with customers to identify suitable alternative accommodation for them and grant them an additional temporary, supplemental tenancy. When they return to settled accommodation, we will ensure that they have no less security of tenure than they had previously, unless explicitly agreed by the customer, for example, we will be limited to granting an assured shorthold tenancy if the customer selects a property that we lease in.
We will consult with leaseholders about any major works prior to discussions around decanting. We have no automatic right to decant leaseholders but will negotiate where decant is a necessity.
We aim to manage the move in an efficient, effective, and flexible manner and cause the least possible disturbance to customers who are obliged to move on either a permanent or temporary basis.
We will appoint a lead officer who will provide consultation, guidance, and information to customers throughout the process.
In accordance with our compensation policy:
- Where customers are required to move permanently from their home because it is due to be demolished, improved, or redeveloped, we will pay a home loss payment in accordance with the Land Compensation Act 1973 and associated regulations. This compensation applies where the property is the customer's only, or principal home and the customer has been living at the property for at least one year. Home loss payments are not payable where customers are required to move so that repairs can be carried out.
- We may pay disturbance allowances when customers are required to move out of their home temporarily so that we can undertake major works or improvements. Disturbance allowances are intended to cover reasonable expenses associated with moving out.
- We may pay disturbance allowances in addition to home loss payments where customers are required to move permanently.
- In addition to any home loss or disturbance payments we will consult with leaseholders to negotiate a surrender of the lease at full market value, as determined by an independent RICS qualified surveyor.
- Payments to customers where there is no statutory right will be at the discretion of the Head of Customer Experience and Home Services and subject to there being adequate budget provision.
We will ensure adequate budget provision is made to cover all moving costs, including any rent payable to a third party.
We will make every effort to identify alternative accommodation which is suitable for the needs of the displaced customer and where necessary, their family and any pets, taking into consideration workplace, school location, property type, including any necessary adaptations and cost. Wherever possible, customers will be encouraged to stay with family or friends.
We will make every effort to ensure the alternative accommodation complies with the Magna Standard. In circumstances where this is not possible, we will always ensure the alternative accommodation complies with the Decent Homes Standard and is safe.
Where a move is permanent, we will ensure the new property is always up to the lettable standard.
An assured customer could lost their right to acquire / preserved right to buy if they permanently move to a property without it. We will explain this to the customer prior to any move.
We may require a customer to vacate their garage should major repair or improvement work be necessary which cannot be undertaken whilst the garage is occupied. We will not charge any licence fee until the works are complete.
We will, where we are able to, offer the customer a temporary replacement garage. We will charge a licence fee of the replacement garage.
If the customer moves their possessions out of the garage into alternative storage which is not a replacement garage, for the duration of the works, this will be at the customer's own expense.
Pet and animals
Under the terms of their tenancy agreement with Magna Housing, customers have a right to enjoy their home. Magna aims to ensure customers are free to make their own lifestyle choices and for some customers, this may include keeping a pet, and we recognise that keeping pets can offer significant health and social benefits to their owners.
The following clauses apply:
- Customers must obtain our written permission to keep any dog, cat, or other animal at their home. We will not unreasonably withhold permission to keep an animal and will give a reason for our decision not to allow permission. Our permission may include a limit on the number of pets or animals which may be kept. Where Magna is not the freeholder of the building, permission may need to be obtained from the Head Lessee.
- Customers must ensure that any animal they are allowed to keep at their home is kept under control at all times in order to avoid nuisance or disturbance to neighbours. If any animal causes annoyance or nuisance to neighbours, or for other good reason, we may at any time withdraw our permission and require the animal to be permanently removed from the home.
- We will not give consent to keeping at home any dangerous or illegal dogs as prohibited by the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991.
- We will not allow animals to be kept in any communal area.
Magna has clauses in its standard shared ownership lease regarding animals. Customers must not:
- Keep any bird, dog, or other animal in the premises without the landlord's prior written consent which may in the landlord's discretion be withheld if the landlord considers that annoyance may thereby be caused to any other owner, lessee or occupier of neighbouring or be granted subject to conditions or be revoked if in the landlord's opinion such annoyance as aforesaid does result.
As part of this policy, we will:
- Work with the RSPCA and other agencies to help prevent irresponsible pet ownership, which causes suffering to animals and nuisance to neighbours, and to promote responsible ownership.
- Grant permission for assistance dogs to be kept unless there is a good reason not to.
- Require evidence that a dog is micro-chipped before permission will be granted for it to be kept in one of our homes.
- Assess the suitability of the home before granting permission and may consider some homes unsuitable for a certain size or type of animal. Examples include but are not limited to flats above ground level, home with shared communal areas and facilities, homes without an enclosed garden and homes where there are restrictive covenants concerning pets and animals.
- Require that all dogs must wear a collar and tag and in addition to being 'under control' must be on a lead when in our communal areas.
- Treat nuisance from animals such as noise, fouling, bites, etc as a breach of tenancy or lease and will investigate reports of this nature in line with its procedures.
- Will grant special permission for dangerous, exotic, or wild animals, based on their suitability for domestic premises. Where such animals require a licence, we will need to see this.
- Will not allow any business or activity involving commercial breeding or selling of animals on any of our premises including garages.
- Will recharge any costs we incur in dealing with irresponsible pet or animal ownership and for dealing with flea infestations in either current tenancies or when a customer leaves a home.
The Director of Customer Operations is the accountable person in relation to all aspects of tenancy management, and is responsible for the development and review of the tenancy management policy, ensuring that this meets all regulatory requirements and guidance.
The Head of Customer Experience and the Operations Managers are responsible for the operational delivery of this policy.
Governance, performance management and review
The policy will be considered and approved every three years in accordance with the policy review timetable.
The performance of this policy is covered under our Performance Management Framework.