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Your tenancy or licence agreement

This is a guide to understanding your tenancy and what your main rights are. It does not cover all the conditions and obligations within your occupation agreement. It is a summary only; you must refer to your agreement for full details. This summary does not override any conditions or obligations within your agreement.

There are clauses in your tenancy agreement which set out your rights and exactly what you can and cannot do, as well as what we can and cannot do. These clauses are important.

What types of Magna tenancies or agreements are there?

We have:

  • Starter tenancies

  • Fixed term assured shorthold tenancies

  • Assured tenancies

  • Periodic assured shorthold tenancies

  • Licence agreements.

What are starter tenancies?

A starter tenancy is an assured shorthold tenancy that is used for a time-limited period. It covers the first 12 months of a new tenancy. At the end of this 12 month starter period, the tenancy becomes a full assured tenancy unless we have taken steps to gain possession.

What are fixed term assured shorthold tenancies?

A fixed term tenancy is an assured shorthold tenancy that ends automatically at the end of its term. The ‘term’ is a period of time, agreed at the start of the tenancy. As long as the tenant does not break the conditions of their tenancy agreement within the fixed period of time, or need to move out for works to be undertaken, their tenancy will continue until the end of the fixed term.

What are assured tenancies?

As an assured tenant a limit has not been set on how long you may rent your home from us. This means that you have security and cannot be evicted from your home unless we have a court order. An assured tenancy will carry on until
the tenant decides they want to leave or, until a Court decides to give us possession of the property when we ask for it. Assured tenancies are sometimes referred to as ‘lifetime’ tenancies.

What are periodic assured shorthold tenancies?

As a periodic assured shorthold tenant you may rent your home from us until we give you notice to leave. Assured shorthold tenancies are less secure than assured tenancies: they have an additional mandatory ground for possession (called the shorthold ground) under section 21 of the Housing Act 1988. As long as the tenancy is terminated properly, the court must make a possession order.

Do we use any other types of agreements?

We also use licence agreements, but only for a small number of people. We provide information on licence agreements separately.

What are assured tenancies?

As an assured tenant a limit has not been set on how long you may rent your home from us. This means that you have security and cannot be evicted from your home unless we have a court order. An assured tenancy will carry on until
the tenant decides they want to leave or, until a Court decides to give us possession of the property when we ask for it. Assured tenancies are sometimes referred to as ‘lifetime’ tenancies.

What are periodic assured shorthold tenancies?

As a periodic assured shorthold tenant you may rent your home from us until we give you notice to leave. Assured shorthold tenancies are less secure than assured tenancies: they have an additional mandatory ground for possession (called the shorthold ground) under section 21 of the Housing Act 1988. As long as the tenancy is terminated properly, the court must make a possession order.

Do we use any other types of agreements?

We also use licence agreements, but only for a small number of people. We provide information on licence agreements separately.

Your right to a written tenancy agreement

Before you move into your property you will sign a tenancy agreement. This is the contract between you and us, telling you:

  • Our full name and address

  • That we are registered with the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA)

  • What type of tenancy you have

  • When your tenancy starts

  • If you have a fixed term tenancy it will also state the period of the tenancy

  • Your rights and responsibilities

  • Our rights and responsibilities

  • Your rent and any other charges you must pay and how these will be reviewed

  • How the tenancy can be ended.

Once you have signed your tenancy agreement, any changes can only be made with your agreement. This does not apply to certain changes which may be made following appropriate consultation or to changes to your rent and service charges, which can be made following an agreed period of notice from us.

Your right to live in your home

You have the right to stay in your home for the term of your tenancy in accordance with the conditions set out in your tenancy agreement or in housing law. If you stop using your home as your only or main home, we have the right to apply to a county court to evict you.

  • We can also take possession of your home under certain circumstances. The reasons are defined in the Housing Acts of 1988 and 1996. These are the main circumstances in which we might seek possession of your home:
  • We intend to demolish, rebuild or improve your home or part of your home and we cannot do this unless you move out. In this case, we would offer you suitable alternative accommodation

  • You have not paid your rent or service charges or you have persistently delayed payment of your rent or service charges

  • You have broken or failed to fulfil any of the conditions of your tenancy

  • You, or a person living with you or visiting you, has behaved in a way causing or likely to cause nuisance or annoyance to other people

  • You, or a person living with you or visiting you, have been convicted of using the property or allowing it to be used for immoral or illegal purposes, or of an arrestable offence committed in or in the locality of your home

  • You, or anyone living with you, have caused damage to, or failed to look after, your home or the communal parts of the building in which you live

  • You, or anyone living with you, have ill-treated any furniture provided by us

  • We need your home for someone who requires its special amenities or services and you do not. In this case, we would offer you suitable alternative accommodation

  • The tenant has died and the person claiming to succeed to the tenancy is not entitled to succession and there is no other qualifying successor

  • When you applied for the tenancy you knowingly made a false statement

  • Where there are joint tenants living as a married couple or civil partners or a couple living together as husband and wife or as if they were civil partners, and one partner leaves because of violence or threats of violence by the other towards them or a member of the family, and the court is satisfied that the partner who has left is not likely to return

  • Your home was let as a service tenancy and you are no longer in that employment

  • Some tenancies will end when they reach the end of their term.

Your right to be treated fairly

We recognise that certain groups and individuals are discriminated against within society. We believe such discrimination is wrong. We aim to ensure that no person or group of people receiving our services or applying for accommodation will be treated less favourably than any other person or group of people because of their sex, gender reassignment, sexual orientation, marital or civil partnership status, pregnancy or maternity status, race, colour, ethnic or national origin, nationality, religion or belief, political beliefs, disability, age, class, responsibility for dependents, part time or shift workers, unrelated criminal offences or any other matter which causes a person to be treated with injustice and which is not justified in law or relevant to our work. For our equality and diversity policy, refer to the ‘Equality and diversity’ section.

Rents

In general, our rents are lower than those charged in the private sector in your local area. For more information about how we set our rents, see our section on rents and service charges.

We will not increase your rent more than once a year, unless by mutual agreement. You will receive at least four weeks’ notice before we make any changes to your rent.

Service charges

You may pay a service charge in addition to your rent. These service charges are to cover the cost of services, works or facilities which are provided to you or to your home such as communal heating, cleaning, gardening and caretaking. We will give you at least four weeks’ notice before we increase your service charge.

You are entitled to have the following information from us:

For our policies for dealing with neighbour nuisance and anti-social behaviour, please see the ‘Anti-social behaviour, neighbour nuisance and harassment’ section.

We will make every effort to help you stay in your home, and will only apply for an eviction order as a last resort. You have the right to live in your home without interruption or interference from us.

  • A summary of our policies for setting rents and service charges

  • A summary of service charge costs for the last year

  • The standard of service you can expect.

Repairs and maintenance

We will maintain your home in good order and ensure that it is safe and fit to live in. We will maintain the structure of the building and keep the plumbing, heating and electrical systems in proper working order. Please refer to your tenancy agreement for details on what repairs we are responsible for and those you must do.

For further information on repairs and related issues please see the ‘reporting repairs’ section.

Improvements to your home

We have a programme for improving our properties. These improvements cover things such as new roofs, installation of double glazing and external re-decoration. If we intend to improve your home, we will let you know and may ask for your views on the changes.

You may be able to make certain improvements to your home yourself, such as installing a new kitchen or bathroom. You do have to ask permission first, but we will not refuse permission without a good reason.

If you are an assured or fixed term tenant and you leave your home, you may be able to claim compensation for improvements you have made. We only pay compensation if you have asked our permission to carry the work out before you start. For more information, see our section on compensation and other payments.

If we wish to carry out work on your home and you have to move out to allow us to do it, you may be offered alternative accommodation.

Your right to information

You are entitled to the following information from us:

  • A summary of our policies for setting rent or accommodation charges and service charges
  • The standard of services you can expect

  • A summary of service charge costs in the last year

  • Certain personal information we hold about you on our computer or on paper

  • How any support needs will be met and reviewed

  • How we will deal with breaches of tenancy or licence agreement and repossession.

Your right to invite other people to live with you

You have the right to invite anyone to live with you so long as:

  • There is no payment involved

  • The property does not become overcrowded

  • All members of your household keep to the tenancy conditions.

If you want to charge someone for living with you, you can do so as long as you don’t give them total control of all or part of your home. You also need to ask our permission first. We will not refuse permission without good reason. Having someone live with you may affect your Housing Benefit entitlement, so you need to notify your local council’s Housing Benefit Section so they can re-assess your benefit claim. Council details are included in the ‘Who to contact’ section.

Your right to pass on your tenancy

You have a right to pass on your tenancy when you die to your husband, wife, civil partner or a person who has been living with you as your wife or husband or civil partner providing:

  • It is their only or main home
  • Your tenancy has not been passed on to you from someone else after their death.

In addition, if you have an assured or fixed term tenancy and there is no spouse or civil partner, we would normally offer a new tenancy to an immediate family member provided that they had been living in your home for the 12 months prior to your death. If there is no immediate family member, we may offer a new tenancy to another member of your household, if that person was living in the property as their main home for the twelve months prior to the tenant’s death.

In such cases, when we are deciding whether to offer a tenancy, we will consider the person’s circumstances and the housing need in the area. If we do offer them a tenancy, it may be in another home better suited to their needs.

In the event of a relationship breakdown or divorce we cannot decide who should become the sole tenant. Only you or a court can do this.

Exchanging or buying your home

People on certain tenancies are able to swap their homes with other tenants. You may be able to swap your home and tenancy with another of our tenants, a tenant of another housing association or a local council. All the tenants and landlords involved must first agree to the exchange.

Your tenancy rights may transfer to the tenant moving into your home and your tenancy conditions may change. You should ask whether you will lose any of your rights, refer to the ‘Mutual exchanges and other ways of moving home’ section.

Your right to be consulted and involved

You will be informed or consulted if we are considering any of the following:

  • Substantial changes in the management and maintenance of your home, such as the contracting out of these services

  • Improvements or major repairs to your home or near to your home

  • Demolishing your home

  • Transferring your tenancy to another landlord

  • Decorating the interior communal areas of your scheme or installing new communal furniture or equipment.
    We will also consult you, in reasonable ways, about the services that you receive and the standards of those services. For more information about resident involvement, refer to the ‘Resident involvement’ section

Your right to complain to us

If you have a complaint about the way you have been treated or about the service you have received, you should let us know. For information about how to complain, refer to the ‘Formal complaints’ section.

Your right to buy your home

If you were a tenant with West Dorset or West Somerset Council and you transferred to us from that council you will be known as a Guaranteed Assured Tenant. This means that you may have the preserved right to buy your home.

For further details on the right to buy your home, please contact your housing officer.

Relatives of board members or staff

Our policies state that we cannot offer tenancies to people who are related to our staff or board members without advance notice. You must tell us if this applies in your case.

If you do not tell us, and you enter into your tenancy or licence agreement, your rights under the tenancy or agreement may be at risk.

Further information

If you need any further help you can contact your housing officer, a solicitor, the Citizens Advice Bureau or any other advice service. Contact details for advice services are in the ‘Who to contact’ section.

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