Tenancy Management Policy

Lead: Tenancy Services Manager

Version No. 6 Purpose/Changes: Full review – Approval Date: 16/01/2023 – Approved By: Community Voice – Suggested Review Date: January 2026

1. Our policy is…

1.1 To recognise the variety of issues that may arise during the life of a Tenancy Agreement and the need ensure that matters are dealt with in a fair, transparent and efficient way.
1.2 To meet our statutory and regulatory requirements in relation to the type of tenancy agreement and terms of occupation.
1.3 To ensure that our communities are kept clean and safe, and that Ongo Homes tenants can live safely and sustainably in their homes, through exercising all the legal powers available to deal with any breaches of tenancy and by working with other agencies.
1.4 To reference how we deal with serious breaches of tenancy, which are covered in our Anti-Social Behaviour and Income Collection Policies. Issues affecting neighbourhoods and gardens are covered in our Neighbourhood Management Policy.

2. This policy applies to…

2.1 All our potential, current and former tenants of Ongo Homes, including those under the Right to Buy scheme, specifically covering issues relating to the management of the tenancies held.

3. Because we want to…

3.1 Ensure that:

    • Ongo Homes employees (our colleagues) and tenants fully understand each other’s responsibilities as outlined in the Tenancy Agreement
    • Tenancies are managed effectively and consistently
    • We are compliant with the Regulator of Social Housing’s standards
    • Sufficient and appropriate support is provided to tenants to help them maintain their tenancies.

4. We will…

4.1 Probationary period
4.1.1 All new tenants to Ongo Homes will undergo a 12-month probationary period, excluding those tenants who are transferring from another local authority or registered provider on a secure or assured tenancy
4.1.2 If we have concerns about the conduct of the tenancy within the first 12 months, we may take action to extend the probationary period or end the tenancy.
4.1.3 Tenants have the right to request a review of a decision to end or extend the probationary period as outlined in our Tenure Policy.
4.1.4 Our Tenure Policy describes the process for how changes to the type of tenancy held may be made.

4.2 Support Needs
4.2.1 At all stages of their tenure, Ongo Homes tenants will be provided with access to clear and relevant advice about their housing options.
4.2.2 Ongo Homes’ colleagues will develop and deliver processes and advice in a way which supports all actual and potential tenants with support needs. This may include referrals to internal services or signposting to external support and / or advice.

4.3 Tenancy changes
4.3.1 A joint tenancy can be assigned to a sole tenancy and will be considered under the assignment procedures if both parties agree and depending on the circumstances.
4.3.2 Once a sole tenancy has been created, we are not able to ‘add’ another person to that tenancy in law. We will not approve any requests for a change from a sole to a joint tenancy.
4.3.3 Tenants can exchange their tenancy with another tenant by way of internet-based mutual exchange services. They can also be arranged between tenants outside of this service.
4.3.4 Ongo Homes subscribe to an internet based mutual exchange service for those tenants who wish to exchange their tenancy with someone else. We will publicise the availability of any mutual exchange service(s) to which we subscribe, to our tenants. Details of the internet based mutual exchange services which we subscribe to are available on our website or through our Customer Experience team.

4.4 Succession
4.4.1 In the event of the death of a tenant, an occupant residing in the same property may have a legal right to succeed (take over) to the tenancy.
4.4.2 The right of succession is a legal right as defined in the Housing Act 1988 and depends on the type of tenancy and terms the Tenancy Agreement that apply. The right may also be dependent on whether there have been any previous successions, whether the proposed successor is living in the property and their relationship to the tenant.
4.4.3 A succession is the transfer of a tenancy not the property. No new tenancy is created as the existing tenancy effectively passes to the successor.
4.4.4 The Lettings/Tenancy Officer responsible for the management of the tenancy will advise any prospective successors of their rights and assist them as efficiently and sensitively as possible. When considering applications relating to succession, we shall ensure due consideration is given to all relevant legislation and also the suitability of the applicant to succeed when responding.
4.4.5 Where no right of succession exists, Ongo Homes will provide advice and assistance on finding alternative accommodation.
4.4.6 Where successions will result in under-occupation or where a specially adapted property is no longer needed, we will seek to offer suitable alternative housing provision between 6 and 12 months of the death of the tenant.
4.4.7 We will respond to applications relating to succession within 20 working days from receipt of all the relevant documentation.

4.5 Assignment
4.5.1 Assignment is the process by which a tenancy can be passed on to another person whilst the tenant is still alive. The whole tenancy is given by one person to another.
4.5.2 The ability to assign a tenancy is dependent on the tenure type held and will only be permitted where the tenancy agreement specifically allows for such.
4.5.3 We will respond to applications to assign tenancies within 20 days from receipt of all of the relevant documentation.
4.5.4 In some circumstances, while we may allow an assignment of the tenancy, we may also assist the person taking over the tenancy to move to a more suitable property if, for example, the property which the tenancy currently applies to: ✓ would become under-occupied ✓ has been adapted for a person with disabilities and there would no longer be a person with those disabilities living there ✓ is not suitable and the person taking over the tenancy does not meet the criteria ✓ Would be unaffordable to the person taking over the tenancy via affordability tests and/or the person is not financially secure

4.6 Abandoned properties
4.6.1 We will take all reasonable steps to locate the tenant prior to commencing action to recover possession of a property if we suspect it has been abandoned.
4.6.2 Should we need to carry out a lock change to recover possession, we reserve the right to recharge the costs associated with this work to the current tenant.

4.7 Lodgers
4.7.1 We respect the rights of our tenants to take in lodgers as stated in their Tenancy Agreement. Ongo Homes will however seek to ensure that such arrangements do not cause problems for neighbours.
Tenants who take in lodgers are required to tell us on request the name, age and gender of any lodger or any intended lodger. Any information retained by Ongo Homes shall be subject to our Data Retention Policy.

4.8 Sub-letting, Tenancy Fraud and Illegal Occupation
4.8.1 Tenants may, if their tenancy agreement allows them to, sub-let their property. However, you must contact us to obtain permission before they do so. Tenants are required to tell us on request the name, age and gender of the person they are sub-letting part of their property to. This information will be processed and stored in line with our Data Protection and Data Retention policies.
4.8.2 Where a tenant has failed to obtain our permission or we have evidence that substantial profit has been made as a result of the sub-letting of a property, we reserve the right to pursue legal action against the tenant.
4.8.3 We have a responsibility to ensure that our properties are let to those in housing need in accordance with our Lettings Policy and any Choice-based Lettings (CBL) Policies in place.

We aim to prevent squatters and illegal occupiers through:

    • The appropriate security of empty properties
    • Minimising the time that a property is empty
    • Regular estate inspections
    • Working closely with partner agencies such as the relevant local authority, the Police or any other agencies to prevent tenancy/benefit fraud
    • Verifying the identity of tenants at sign up and validating this within the first four weeks of the tenancy
    • The use of tenancy audits and other internal checks
    • Training all front-line and repairs colleagues on the identification and management of tenancy fraud
    • Raising awareness amongst the local community and providing a range of reporting mechanisms

4.8.4 We will not tolerate any unauthorised occupants of any property and will take all steps available to us to remove any unauthorised occupants of a property as quickly as possible. We will issue ‘use and occupancy charges’ (known as Mesne Profit) on all illegal occupants to ensure revenue is received throughout the process.

4.9 Tenancy audits

4.9.1 We may carry out tenancy audits to verify that the correct tenant is living in the property.

4.9.2 Where possible, the audit visit will be used to achieve a number of other objectives which can be summarised as follows:-

    • See if the tenant has any support requirements
    • Check that the data we hold about the tenant is correct, for example ethnicity, age, gender, next of kin details
    • Make sure that the tenant is looking after the property and abiding by the conditions of the Tenancy Agreement
    • Offer advice about security and other services provided by us

4.9.3 We consider the process of tenancy audit an important one for both landlord and tenant. Should the tenant fail to allow reasonable access we will take legal steps to enforce this under the Tenancy Agreement.

4.10 Imprisonment
4.10.1 Where a sole tenant receives a prison period of custody longer than the period for which welfare benefit would normally continue to be paid in support of the rent due, we will advise the tenant of their options.
4.10.2 If a tenant in this situation is unwilling to relinquish their tenancy and/or adequate provision is not made to pay the due rent and/or charges, we may take legal action to terminate the tenancy and seek possession of the property.
4.10.3 Where other persons remain in a property following the imprisonment of the tenant, we will consider such cases according to individual circumstances.

4.11 Relationship Breakdown
4.11.1 We will be sensitive to the wishes of tenants and their partners suffering relationship breakdown.
4.11.2 We will:

    • Provide information on housing options to both parties should they request it, including the right to make an application under homeless legislation
    • Discuss options for transferring the tenancy and the mechanisms by which this might be achieved
    • Consider various methods of balancing the rent account, including consideration of benefit entitlement and whether this can be backdated
    • Usually accommodate the adult with whom the children are resident providing they are legally entitled to act as parent or guardian.
    • In all such cases, information and assistance will be offered to the outgoing partner to help them find alternative accommodation.

4.11.3 Where an informal agreement cannot be reached, we will advise the tenant to seek independent legal advice to obtain a decision through the courts.

4.12 Overcrowding
4.12.1 We recognise that in some instances accommodation may, due to family circumstances, become too small for the household to live in. Therefore, the tenant and their family may be considered to be living in overcrowded conditions.
4.12.2 Where such issues arise, we will work with the tenant to find the most suitable housing option available to them through our Lettings Policy and any CBL Policies in place.
4.12.3 In cases of statutory overcrowding, where a tenant has been found to be in breach of their Tenancy Agreement and they do not work with us, we will take enforcement action.

4.13 Under-occupation
4.13.1 We recognise that in some instances accommodation may become too large for the household needs. Therefore, the tenant and their family may be considered to be living in a property which is under-occupied.
4.13.2 Where such issues arise, we will work with the tenant to find the most suitable housing option available to them.

4.14 Condition of property & garden
4.14.1 Tenants are expected to keep the inside of a property, including the decorations, fixtures and fittings in an acceptable standard as explained in our Tenancy Standard Document. This includes the standard of cleanliness.
4.14.2 If a property is not kept to an acceptable standard, we can refuse to work in the property and the tenant may be deemed to be in breach of their Tenancy Agreement. This could result in legal action being taken against the tenant to gain possession of the property or we may enter the property and carry out cleansing work in default. This may result in a recharge to the tenant for the full cost of the work.
4.14.3 The obligation to ensure a property is kept to an acceptable standard also applies to the external area associated with a property. This is outlined in our Neighbourhood Management Policy.
4.14.4 Tenants that have exclusive use of a garden, shall be responsible for ensuring that all parts of the garden are maintained to an acceptable standard. Tenants should not allow gardens to become overgrown or untidy. Tenants must ensure that the garden does not endanger the health and safety of others or cause damage to any property.
4.14.5 We will work with tenants who do not maintain their garden and provide support and assistance when required. We understand that some of our tenants will require additional support to help maintain their garden. We will ensure that those tenants are directed towards our Tenancy Services Team or other support networks.
4.14.6 Failure of the tenant to meet their responsibilities may be viewed as a breach of their Tenancy Agreement.
4.14.7 All avenues for resolving tenancy breaches will be utilised which may include use of the powers of external agencies, recharging tenants where necessary and formal legal remedies.
4.14.8 Although we have no ability to take action against landowners who do not maintain their garden or property, we will, where appropriate, refer matters to the Local Authority. Where a property has been purchased under the Right to Buy or Right to Acquire schemes, we may look to enforce any covenants relating to garden maintenance.
4.14.9 Ongo Homes will ensure that the gardens to empty properties are brought up to the defined clean, safe and secure standard. Please refer to our Lettings Policy and Lettable Standard.

4.15 Infestations
4.15.1 Any infestation within the rooms of the property or garden will be considered the responsibility of the tenant to remove.
4.15.2 Where infestation can be directly attributed to a tenant’s living conditions or habits, the tenant will be responsible for any remedial work required to bring the property or garden up to standard in order to resolve and prevent future infestations. This could include, if deemed necessary, Ongo Homes recharging the tenant for any remedial works.
4.15.3 If an infestation occurs at a location that is identified as a common or communal area and not part of a tenant’s home, such as shared corridors, lifts, garden areas and shared drainage routes, Ongo Homes will take steps to eradicate the infestation and prevent it from recurring. The response time for responding to infestations will depend on the type of infestations and the severity, however we will respond to all reports within 10 working days. Where a statutory nuisance exists, we will respond within 24 hours.
4.15.4 Where the infestation relates to a fault in the fabric of the building, which includes under floors, within cavity walls and in the loft space, Ongo Home shall be responsible for infestation treatments.
4.15.5 In all other circumstance the tenant shall bear the cost of any infestation treatments.
4.15.6 Where required, we will work with the Local Authority to assist with any statutory nuisance arising from infestation.
4.15.7 We will ensure that all empty properties are free from infestations before being let which includes all external areas in line with our Lettable Standard.

4.16 Access to property
4.16.1 Ongo Homes (or contractors acting on our behalf) are obligated to perform certain repairs and maintenance to its properties. We may therefore require access as per the Tenancy Agreement, after giving 24 hours’ notice, to carry out necessary repairs, safety checks or inspections. If access is not granted, we may take legal action to enter the property and recharge the tenant for any costs incurred.
4.16.2 In cases of emergency such as gas, water or sewage leaks or where buildings are unsafe, we can enter without giving written notice and recharge the tenant for any costs incurred.

4.17 Use of property & communal areas
4.17.1 Tenants must use the property as their main and principal home.
4.17.2 We may take action to terminate the tenancies of those tenants who fail to comply and do not inform us of any extended absences (which for the purpose of this policy shall mean any period longer than 6 weeks) from the property.
4.17.3 Tenants are required to request permission from Ongo Homes to run a business from their property. Normally we will not refuse, however, action may be taken and permission can be withdrawn should the business cause a nuisance or an annoyance.
4.17.4 We would not give permission for any business that would:

    • Be illegal
    • Compromise the health and safety of the resident, other occupants, or neighbours
    • Cause damage to the property
    • Require major adaptations to the property
    • Not satisfy the requirements other relevant agencies, for example by obtaining planning, DBS (Disclosure & Barring Service) check
    • Involve heavy or noisy machinery
    • Attract large numbers of visitors to the home
    • Need to stock flammable products, such as gas canisters, white spirits, petrol, cooking oil
    • Involve a large number of animals, birds, or reptiles
    • Need to store a significant number of items within the property or outside space, e.g., cooking ingredients and large electrical equipment
    • Involve storage of a significant number of vehicles in curtilage of property or Ongo land or public highway
    • Involve car or motorcycle repairs4.17.5 There may be instances where conditions are attached if we give permission for a business to be run from the home. These could include:
    • Restrictions on business use hours
    • Probation period
    • Proof of any licences and consents supplied (these should be supplied before approval is given)

4.17.6 Permission can be withdrawn at any time subject to nuisance complaints or advice from other agencies (e.g., licences or certificates no longer being valid).
4.17.7 Tenants must not use the electricity plug sockets located in communal areas for their own personal use.

4.18 Repairs
4.18.1 Any disrepair or damage should be reported by the tenant to us immediately.
4.18.2 Ongo Homes are committed to ensure its properties are compliant with the Decent Homes Standard. As such, if the problem falls within our responsibilities, we will carry out all repairs in an efficient manner and in accordance with our Maintenance Policy.
4.18.3 However, if it does not, we will give tenants the opportunity to do the repair within a reasonable time before taking any remedial action ourselves and recharging the cost to the tenant.

4.19 Improvements
4.19.1 We recognise that many tenants wish to improve or alter their home to meet their own preferences or needs, anyone wishing to make an alteration/improvement must obtain our permission before starting any work.
4.19.2 We will not unreasonably refuse permission for a tenant to carry out alterations or improvements, providing the work is undertaken in accordance with the terms and conditions set out in the Tenancy Agreement.
4.19.3 Tenants on an Assured Short-hold Tenancy do not have a statutory right to make improvements or claim compensation for improvements within the first 12 months of their tenancy.

4.20 Ending a tenancy
4.20.1 We require tenants to give a minimum of 28 days’ written notice to terminate a tenancy. This can be completed through the MyHome app, an e-mail (from the verified e-mail address that we hold for the tenant), a message via social media (providing we can clarify the person sending the message is the tenant) or a letter or completed, signed Tenant Notice to Quit (TNTQ). The only exceptions to the minimum notice period are when the tenant:

    • Dies
    • Moves into a residential care home
    • Moves as an internal transfer

4.20.2 In the case of Assured Tenancies, that notice will end the tenancy of both/all joint tenants. We will then use our discretion to decide if the other joint tenant(s) can stay in the property with a new Tenancy Agreement. There is no automatic right for the other joint tenant to stay in the property but we will treat each case sensitively.
4.20.3 In the case of Fixed Term tenancies, the tenancy will only end if all parties have signed the notice and deed of surrender.
4.20.4 If a tenant hands in the keys or vacates the property after the notice period has expired we reserve the right to charge the tenant for a loss of rent. Where the tenant leaves the property before the end of the notice period they will still be responsible for paying rent until the end of the notice period.
4.20.5 We may accept the keys from some other person where it reasonably appears that the other person is returning the keys on the tenants’ behalf and a Tenant’s Notice to Quit has been signed
4.20.6 The outgoing tenant must ensure that all fixtures and fittings, and any furnishings provided by us, are left in a reasonable condition.
4.20.7 The rent account must be paid in full before the tenant leaves the tenancy, or an arrangement must be made to pay the balance and details of a forwarding address must be provided.
4.20.8 No one else is allowed to live at the property when the tenant moves out, without our permission.
4.20.9 Once written notice to end a tenancy has been given, the tenant has no right to extend or retract the notice. We will usually refuse such requests but may use our discretion to take alternative steps in exceptional circumstances.

4.21 Death of a tenant
4.21.1 In the event of the death of a sole tenant, we will accept written notice from the executor of the late tenant’s estate under a valid will or from the late tenant’s personal representative where no valid will exists.
4.21.2 On recovering possession of the property, we will inspect it. Any outstanding rent liability and repairs or redecoration for which the late tenant was responsible will be recharged to the late tenant’s estate.

4.22 Storage of Goods
4.22.1 When vacating a property, the tenants are expected to remove all of their contents.
4.22.2 Where a tenant has failed to remove any items from a property, we reserve the right to store or dispose of the items. When considering what action to take regarding contents abandoned in a property, Ongo Homes shall give due consideration all appropriate legislation and guidance. Where any costs for storage or disposal of items are incurred by Ongo Homes, we reserve the right to recharge the outgoing tenant the full costs.

4.23 Tenancy Management and The Preserved Right To Buy / Right to Acquire
4.23.1 The preserved Right to Buy / Right to Acquire may be exercised providing the tenant (s) of the property meet the eligibility criteria.
4.23.2 Circumstances where the Preserved Right To Buy / Right to Acquire will be denied or suspended include (but are not limited to the following):

    • If the tenant(s) is an undischarged bankrupt, have a bankruptcy petition pending against them, have entered into an Individual Voluntary Arrangement or have obtained a debt relief order
    • If the property is situated within a rural designated area (Right to Acquire only)
    • The court has made an order for possession of the property
    • The property has been served with a demolition notice
    • The property is particularly suitable for the elderly or those with a disability
    • An Anti-Social Behaviour case for the property is opened or already open, Ongo Homes may choose to suspend the application through an application to the court4.23.3 Ongo Homes will conform with Government set Legislation and Regulations when dealing with Preserved Right To Buy and Right To Aquire applications and make sure all our tenants have the information and support they need to exercise their Preserved Right To Buy or Right To Acquire should they choose to purchase their home.

4.23.4 Please refer to Ongo Homes’ Right to Buy/Right to Acquire Policy in relation to how applications for the schemes will be administered.

Making sure we do what we say…

5.1 The Head of Landlord Services is responsible for implementing and monitoring this policy.
5.2 The Tenancy Services Manager is responsible for ensuring this policy is adhered to on a day-to-day basis.
5.3 We will set and monitor a series of KPIs in relation to the policy.
5.4 We will also monitor tenant satisfaction via regular surveys and by analysing trends in complaints, comments or compliments.

Other things to bear in mind…

6.1 Further information on anything relating to your tenancy can be found on the Ongo Homes website or through our Customer Experience team.

6.2 This policy also links to our:

    • Anti-social Behaviour Policy
    • Complaints and Feedback Policy
    • Domestic Abuse Policy
    • Lettings Policy
    • Income Collection Policy
    • Maintenance Policy
    • Neighbourhood Management Policy
    • Pet Policy
    • Recharge Policy
    • Storage and Disposal of Tenant’s Belongings Procedure
    • Safeguarding Policy
    • Tenure Policy
    • Tenancy Management, ASB, Income Collection and Lettings Procedures
    • Tenancy Agreements
    • Tenant Handbook
    • Unacceptable Behaviour Policy

      6.3 The main pieces of legislation and regulation relevant to this policy include:

    • Civil Partnership Act 2004;
    • Children Act 1989;
    • Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994;
    • Equality Act 2010;
    • Family Law Act 1996;
    • Housing Acts 1985, 1988, 1996, 2004;
    • Human Rights Act 1998;
    • Localism Act 2011;
    • Matrimonial Causes Act 1973;
    • Protection from Eviction Act 1977;
    • Torts (Interference with Goods) Act 1977;
    • Regulator of Social Housing – Tenancy and Consumer Standards.

We’ll look at this again…

7.1 In three years’ time unless any regulatory or legislative or other changes occur which have an impact on this policy.

What we mean…

Introduced by the Housing Act 1988, it is a form of tenancy that grants a degree of security to the tenant. An assured tenant cannot be evicted without a reason. This type of tenancy is granted on successful completion of a Starter Tenancy.

These tenancies were granted on the transfer from North Lincolnshire Council to North Lincolnshire Homes (now known as Ongo Homes).

This is a form of assured tenancy with limited security of tenure which was introduced by the Housing Act 1988 with important changes made by the Housing Act 1996. This type of tenancy is used for Starter Tenancies and Fixed Term tenancies.

Choice Based Lettings. We let our homes using the Home Choice Lincs system, which allow applicants to register their interest in moving and to ‘bid’ for a suitable property they see advertised. We advertise vacant properties on a weekly basis and applicants are prioritised according to their housing need.

Tenants are obliged to inform us of any absences in excess of 6 weeks.

Definitions of family members:
✓ The tenant’s parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, nephew or niece;
✓ Step and half relatives will be treated as full relatives.

A tenancy that lasts for a set period of time. At the end of the set period of time the tenancy will end if the appropriate procedures have been followed. Our use of Fixed Term Tenancies is outlined in our Tenure Policy.

Illegal occupation does not refer to cases where tenants have taken in a lodger or sublet with our consent, but does include unlawful subletting. The following list is not exhaustive, but demonstrates the most common types of illegal occupation and tenancy misuse:
Unlawful subletting, including:
Subletting the whole property to a single household, or
Multiple sublets within one property;
Non-occupation by tenant as their principal home;
Wrongly claimed succession – retention of a tenancy following the death or vacation of the tenant following a previous succession, or of a non-qualifying person;
Unauthorised assignment;
‘Key Selling’ – where the tenant leaves the property and passes on the keys in return for a one-off lump sum payment or favour;
Fraudulently obtaining a social housing tenancy, including
Misrepresentation of identity
Misrepresentation of circumstances.

An occupant who, although he/she has his/her own bedroom actually lives with the tenant. A lodger will not have exclusive use of any part of the property but may share some with the tenant (e.g. living room).
Lodgers may also receive some service from the tenant (e.g. meals).

Sum of money paid for the use and occupation of land to a person where no permission has been given for that occupation.

Where accommodation is much too small for the household. A home may be overcrowded under the law if there are not enough bedrooms or physical space for the number of people who live there.

Relationships shall include married and cohabiting couples in households with or without children and same sex couples.

The level of protection which a tenant enjoys in relation to the occupation of their home.

For the purposes of this policy is defined as where the tenant has died and there are other members of the household who wish to have the tenancy transferred to them.

Where a tenant is living in a property which is too large for their housing needs or they are classed as under-occupying for Housing Benefit purposes.