Decant Policy – August 2022

Lead Officer: Jane Crookes, Lettings and Homeless Services Manager

Version 7.0

Purpose/Changes Full review following org review

Approval Date 23/08/2022

Approved By Community Voice

Suggested Review Date August 2023

Version 6.0 – Purpose/Changes Health check – Approval Date 01/02/2018 – Approved By HoST – Suggested Review Date February 2021

Version 5.0 – Purpose/Changes Health check – Approval Date 03/09/2014 – Approved By HoST – Suggested Review Date August 2017

1.1 There may be times, for safety reasons or to avoid excessive disruption to the household, when we ask our tenants (and those who live with our tenants) to move from their home to another one either temporarily or permanently. We call this ‘decanting’.

1.2 Sometimes, unforeseen emergencies occur that we have no control over – for example, a fire or a flood. In these instances, it may be necessary to decant our tenants (and those who live with them) for a short period of time.

2.1 This policy applies only to tenants (not leaseholders) who are required to move from one home to another on a temporary or permanent basis.

3.1 The aims of this policy are to make sure that:

  • The health, safety and housing needs of our tenants and their households are considered at all times
  • Disruption and inconvenience are kept to a minimum for our tenants, and their household
  • Our tenants and their households are appropriately supported and kept informed for the duration of the decant

4.1 There are several reasons a decant may be required:

• Where an unexpected event has caused a property to become uninhabitable, for example a fire or flood or another emergency incident

• When structural work is required e.g., knocking down and rebuilding of walls, roofs or floorboards which may raise health & safety or well-being concerns

• When works are in progress and the property cannot be secured overnight

• When vital facilities such as hot water/heating/toilet and bathing facilities will be unavailable for prolonged periods

• Pre-planned major improvement works, demolition or de-commissioning of current home, can result in need for long term or permanent move being necessary

4.2 We will assess all cases individually, taking our tenants and their household’s personal circumstances into account when deciding as to whether a decant is required. When coming to a decision, we will consider the following:

  • The expected duration of the works
  • If any services will be unavailable and what they are
  • The level of disruption, inconvenience, noise, dust and other health, safety and wellbeing risks

4.3 Wherever possible, if a decant is required, we will give our tenants at least 2 months’ notice to ensure they are able to prepare. This will not be possible in the case of emergency decants.

4.4 We will keep our tenants informed of progress throughout the duration of the works providing regular updates as agreed.

4.5 Where a decant is required for less than 28 days, we will work with relevant Local Authority homeless teams to arrange and provide temporary accommodation. The tenant’s belongings will remain in the permanent home.

4.6 Where a decant will be required for longer than 28 days, we will arrange alternative accommodation from within our own stock, ensuring the essential needs of the household are met. It may not be possible to meet all preferences, such as access to a garden or a ground floor flat, unless there is a specific need. We will always consider location preferences to minimise travel distance to work, schools, or support networks.

4.7 If a planned permanent decant is required, tenants will be given priority for all properties they are eligible for in line with the appropriate CBL scheme or offered a direct match.

4.8 In circumstances where a Direct Let is required, in the case of two decanting tenants wanting the same property, priority will usually be given based on the length of the current tenancy except where:

  • A tenant has serious extenuating circumstances e.g., terminal illness
  • The property is adapted – a professional opinion will be sought to ensure the property meets the tenant’s requirements

4.9 In circumstances where we are unable to re-house a tenant from within our stock, we will work in partnership with other housing providers & local authorities to maximise opportunities.

4.10 We will normally make up to three reasonable offers of alternative accommodation when there is a need to move for health and safety reasons or redevelopment/refurbishment of their home. If the tenant continues to refuse offers of accommodation that meet their essential accommodation needs, as a last resort we may have to commence court action to remove the tenant (and their household) from the property.

4.11 We want to minimise inconvenience and / or financial loss as a result of the disturbance. Each case will be assessed on individual circumstances.

4.12 Where a decant is a result of an incident that may lead to an insurance claim, Ongo’s Insurance team will be notified at the earliest opportunity. The Insurance team will conclude whether the insurance provider should be notified and whether a claim will subsequently be made.

4.13 We may be able to cover costs for alternative accommodation, storage of contents and the cost of accommodating domestic pets, depending on the insurance policy we have in place at the time.

4.14 Home loss payments

4.14.1 Home loss payments are governed by the Land Compensation Act 1973 and the amount payable is fixed by statute. The payments are intended to compensate for the upheaval and personal upset involved in an involuntary move. The home loss payment is reviewed every year in October in line with the Home Loss Payments (Prescribed Amounts) (England) Regulations for the appropriate year.

4.14.2 A tenant is required to meet all the following criteria in order to qualify for a home loss payment:

  • They must have occupied the property as their sole and principal home for a period of one year prior to the date of displacement
  • The move must be permanent
  • The tenant must be an assured tenant or any person with any ‘interest in the dwelling house*’
  • The tenant must be unable to move back to the property. It will not apply if a tenant could move back but chooses not to do so
  • The property must be substantially different and unsuitable for the tenant after the building works have been completed

* Obtain legal advice prior to approving a home loss payment for any person who is not a tenant but states that they have “an interest in the dwelling house”

4.14.3 We will deduct from the payment any rent arrears, rechargeable repairs, court costs and any other monies that are owed to us.

4.14.4 Joint tenants share one payment between them. One payment per property is allowed.

4.14.5 Tenants can make a claim for home loss payments up to 6 years after the move and payment must be made within 3 months of claim.

4.14.6 We will where the tenant is deemed to be vulnerable, purchase essential household items and deduct the cost from the home loss payment with the prior agreement of the tenant.

4.15 Licence agreements

4.15.1 During a temporary move, tenants will sign a license agreement for use and occupation for the temporary accommodation. Tenants will not be charged rent in respect of the temporary accommodation.

4.15.2 We remain the landlord and the tenant will retain existing tenancy rights and responsibilities and must continue to pay rent for the permanent home.

4.15.3 Once the work is completed tenants are required to return to their existing or new permanent home.

4.15.4 We will give reasonable consideration if the tenant requests to remain at the temporary accommodation as a permanent address. This may be possible but will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. If the application to remain is refused but the tenant does not move back, we will apply for a court order that instructs the tenant to return to their permanent home.

5.1 The Lettings & Homeless Service Manager will monitor the impact of this policy to make sure it is applied appropriately and consistently throughout the organisation.

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

  • Defective Premises Act 1972
  • Housing Act 1985 and 1996 Page 6 of 6
  • Home Loss Payments (Prescribed Amounts) (England) Regulations
  • Land Compensation Act 1973
  • Landlord and Tenant Act 1985

7.1 This policy will be reviewed in one year and then move to a three-year review cycle. If there are changes in legislation and/or regulation, or deficiencies are found we will review earlier.

Decanting:

A legal definition used to explain the process where tenants are required to move from their homes for the reasons outlined in section 4.1

Permanent Decant:

When a tenant is moved out of their property and there is no intention for them to return, or the tenant has been moved on a temporary basis and it is then agreed by all parties that the new property is more suitable for the tenant to remain in.

Temporary Decant:

When a tenant is moved out of their property to allow work on the property to be carried out, with the intention of returning them to their property at the earliest opportunity.

Dedicated Officer:

A Support Officer will be responsible for supporting and helping tenants through all of the decant process, with the exception of routine improvement work decants. In these instances, the Regeneration Support Officer will be responsible.