Supporting our tenants

Richmond Fellowship is a social landlord. We’ve a range of accommodation to cater for people’s different needs.

We’ve shared housing where people have their own private rooms but share kitchens, bathrooms, toilets and living rooms. This creates a community spirit that can help people develop their independent living and social skills in a safe environment.

Some of our schemes have staff on site round the clock to provide support to residents. In other schemes staff have a base on site and are available during normal working hours with an out-of-hours system in place should someone need help outside these hours.

We also have self-contained flats where people are effectively living independently on their own. We’ve floating support teams who work with these individuals to help them maintain their independence.

At Richmond Fellowship we directly own and manage a number of properties, providing around 370 placements. We also manage around 470 placements on behalf of other social landlords.

Information for tenants

If you’re a tenant with Richmond Fellowship you can find all the information you need from our Tenants Handbook or by clicking on the links below:

About your tenancy agreement

We house adults who need support related to their mental health. We accept new tenants on the basis of the type of support they need and what we can offer them through our housing and support services.

Some of our services can only take referrals from hospitals, social services, community mental health practitioners or GPs. But for other services, individuals can refer themselves.

In all cases we have to receive a formal application for a placement. Decisions about whether to accept someone onto one of our schemes are made by at least two people and we’ll always interview the individual before deciding if we can help. Sometimes we may ask an individual to live temporarily in one of our houses so that we can assess more fully whether or not they would benefit from a placement with us.

There are lots of different types of tenancies but at Richmond Fellowship the most common type we give people is what’s called an assured shorthold tenancy. This means that we’ve an agreement with the individual to provide them with accommodation in exchange for rent for a set period of time.

In some circumstances we’ll give someone a licence rather than a tenancy. This is usually when we have to provide a lot of care and support to someone such as giving them their meals, helping them to bathe and dress, and helping them go to the toilet. It could also happen if people are sharing a room or if we have staff based on site 24hrs a day. A licence means an individual has fewer rights over their accommodation than if they are a tenant.

In some circumstances someone will be living in a property that is managed by Richmond Fellowship but owned by another housing association. If this is the case for you then you’ll have a tenancy agreement with that housing association, not us, but you’ll always be told who your landlord is and how to contact them.

Your tenancy agreement:

Before you moved into your home, you’ll have signed a tenancy agreement. This sets out rights and responsibilities for you as the tenant and for the landlord. Your tenancy agreement is a legal document and you should keep it in a safe place.

Your rights:

  • You have a right to privacy and respect for your lifestyle as long as it doesn’t interfere with the rights of others
  • You have the right to safe and well maintained housing and for repairs to be carried out in a timely fashion
  • You have the right to be safe and free from harassment
  • You have the right to be given information about your tenancy and rental charges
  • You have the right to information about our policies.

Your responsibilities:

  • To pay your rent
  • To be considerate to other residents living in the same property as you
  • To keep noise and disturbance to a minimum
  • To take responsibility for any visitors
  • To report repairs and broken equipment
  • To avoid fire risks
  • To keep your home secure by locking windows and doors.

Paying your rent

We try to keep our rents and service charges as low as possible while still allowing us to maintain our properties and services to the highest standards possible.

Rents for our housing can be made up of the following charges:

  • Core rent – covers the costs of maintenance, building insurance, some staff costs and any mortgage or lease we may have on the property
  • Communal service charge – covers the costs of lighting, heating, cleaning and maintaining any communal areas at the property
  • Support charges – Our services which are not registered care homes receive Supporting People Funding. Your support worker will let you know whether this funding applies to your circumstances and if so how you can claim this from the local authority.
  • Personal service charge – covers the costs of heat, light and a proportion of the water rates to your room as well as food and cleaning (if this is part
    of your tenancy agreement)
  • Care charges – cover the cost of providing physical and therapeutic care.

Your tenancy agreement will set out exactly which charges apply to you.

If we have to change the rent and service charges, we’ll only do this once a year and you’ll always get at least one month’s notice before any changes are made.

When you move in your support worker will discuss with you the best way for you to pay your rent. This can be weekly or monthly and should normally be done by standing order.

You’ll be given an up to date rent statement once a month. Your support worker can take you through this.

You may be entitled to housing benefit to help cover the costs of your rent. You can talk to your support worker about what you may be entitled to and how to apply. They can also help you to deal with the Housing Benefits Office and the Benefits Agency and help you get independent financial advice if you want it.

If you don’t pay your rent you’ll be in breach of your tenancy agreement and could eventually lose your housing.

So it’s really important to keep up with your payments and pay on time. However, if you’re experiencing financial difficulties or are struggling to make payments then you should let us know as soon as possible before the situation gets too serious.

Contact your support worker or a member of the support team and explain the situation to them. They’ll then work with you to agree a way for you to repay any debts and to manage your payments going forward.

If you don’t let anybody know then we’ll formally write to you and ask you to repay any outstanding rent. If you ignore this then we’ll begin legal proceedings to recover what you owe us or to seek possession of the property.

Taking legal action is always a last resort and we’d much rather work with you to help you manage your finances better so it’s always best to talk to your support worker rather than ignore any problems.

Our arrears policy gives more details about this process. Ask your support worker to see this.

Moving in

Moving into your own home can be an exciting time but it can also be stressful. We want your move to go as smoothly as possible and will support you to settle in.

If you feel unsure about a certain topic speak to your support worker for specific arrangements at your scheme.

Setting up your bills – Where your weekly rent includes water rates and other charges we will pay such charges to the relevant authority. Otherwise, you’re responsible for setting up your utilities and council tax payments. Your support worker can help you with this if you’re not sure how to do this.

Contents insurance – We don’t provide contents insurance for tenants so you should consider taking out your own policy to cover your personal possessions. Your support worker can help you with this if you’re not sure how to do this.

Decorating your home – We keep all our properties to a high decorative standard. However, if you want to decorate your own home you can as long as you get permission from your landlord first.

Keeping pets – We recognise that pets can have a therapeutic benefit and help you with your recovery. However, we have to balance this against what’s appropriate given the type of accommodation you’re staying in. If you’d like to keep a pet discuss this with your support worker first.

Smoking – If you’re in shared accommodation you’re only allowed to smoke in your own room or in a designated smoking shelter outside. Smoking is not permitted in common or shared areas as this is against the law. If you do smoke in common or shared areas we may have to take action to end your tenancy.

Having people to stay – Your accommodation is for single people only and under your tenancy you mustn’t have anyone else staying with you permanently. There will be different rules for having visitors and overnight guests depending on the type of accommodation. What applies to you will be explained when you move in.

Absence and abandonment – You must inform your support worker in writing and in advance if you intend to be away from your home for more than 14 days. You must not abandon your home and tenancy. If you fail to occupy your home as your only or principal home for a period of more than 14 days and we have reasonable cause to believe that your home has been abandoned, then we’ll take steps to end the tenancy and take possession of the property.

Maintaining your property

We aim to keep all our properties to the highest standards possible but, as with any home, this can only be done with regular maintenance and timely repairs.

As the tenant you’re responsible for keeping your home to a reasonable standard.

If we’re the landlord, we’re responsible for carrying out bigger maintenance and repair jobs. If we’re providing you with support but you’re living in accommodation not managed by us then you’ll need to contact your landlord about any repairs. We can support you do this if you’re not sure what to do.

Repairs

Our properties department manages all our repairs so they need to be informed as soon as you notice something is wrong. You can contact our property services team directly via a new Freephone telephone number or by email:

  • Freephone: 0808 8000 140
  • Email: property@richmondfellowship.org.uk

Always try to give us as much information as you can when reporting a repair such as details of the problem, which room it’s in and how it might have been caused. This will help us respond as quickly as possible.

Once you’ve reported a repair we’ll arrange for a contractor to come out to fix it. We’ll prioritise your repair which will determine how quickly we can get it dealt with:

  • Emergency repairs – this is any repair which is needed to avoid immediate danger to you and other residents or to avoid serious damage to the property such as a complete failure of the heating or water system, broken or defective doors or windows which reduce your security or exposed wiring or serious electrical faults. We aim to respond to emergency repairs within four hours.
  • Urgent repairs – this is any repair which needs urgent attention such as a water leak or a blocked toilet. We aim to respond to urgent repairs within 24 hours.
  • Routine repairs – this is all other repairs that are not an emergency or urgent such as fixing a fence or general plumbing. We aim to respond to routine repairs within five working days.

You must allow reasonable access for our staff and contractors to be able to inspect, service and maintain your home or an adjoining property.

We’ll normally give at least 24 hours’ notice when we need access to your home but we may need to have immediate access in an emergency or if we have reasonable concern for your health and safety or the health and safety of others.  We’ll keep a copy of the key to your home for use in such circumstances.

You must allow our staff and contractors to access any communal facilities at all times.

Planned maintenance

As well as responding to repair issues we also carry out a programme of planned improvements to ensure our properties are always of the highest standard such as redecorating and replacing out of date furniture and appliances.

We regularly inspect our properties to identify if any improvements are needed and will consult with you as to any changes that are needed and when the work will be carried out.

Adaptations

We want people to live as comfortably as possible in our properties. If you need help using the bathroom or getting up steps then we may be able to install some adaptations such as grab rails or ramps to make your life easier.

Speak to your recovery worker who’ll be able to advise how to make a request for adaptations.

Safety checks

Gas
We’ve a legal duty to get all our gas appliances inspected and serviced every year and to keep records of these. A copy of the most up-to-date gas safety certificate is kept at the property should you wish to check it.

Fire
All our properties are fitted with smoke alarms and are routinely checked to make sure they’re working. You can help reduce the risk of fire by unplugging electrical appliances before you go to bed or when you go out and not leaving naked flames such as candles or cigarettes unattended. You should also keep exits clear of obstruction.

Moving on

Our supported housing schemes are there to help you to develop your independent living skills. This means that hopefully after you’ve completed the term of your tenancy you’re ready to move on. We’ll be there to help you.

If you need it, we can help you to:

  • identify what ongoing support you may need
  • find alternative suitable accommodation
  • find suitable employment, education or training opportunities
  • apply for any ongoing benefits you may be entitled to
  • register with medical services and local authorities.

However, we understand that in some circumstances you may want to move on or transfer to other housing sooner than the end of your tenancy. For example, you want to be nearer to family or work or you don’t like the area you’re living in.

You should discuss your reasons for wanting to move with your support worker who may speak with other agencies involved in your care such as your GP or social worker to agree what should be done. Where possible we’ll do our best to accommodate your wishes by transferring you to another Richmond Fellowship scheme, nominating you to another housing association or council, or helping you secure private sector accommodation.

You must give us at least four weeks notice in writing when you wish to end your tenancy.

Being part of the community

We want you to feel safe and comfortable in your home and to become a valued part of your community. We’ll support you to achieve this.

At the same time, though, we expect all our tenants and their visitors to consider their neighbours and not cause a nuisance. Our homes must not be used for any criminal, immoral or illegal purposes, and we will not accept any antisocial behaviour, harassment or hate crime of any type against a person or group. We’ll involve the police and take legal action if necessary.

Noise – You and your visitors mustn’t play any radio, television, hi-fi equipment or musical instrument so loudly that it causes or is likely to cause a nuisance or annoyance to any other  resident or neighbour, especially between the hours of 11pm-7am.

Rubbish – You and your visitors must keep your home reasonably clean and tidy and assist in keeping the common parts of the property, including any garden, clean and tidy.

Parking and roads – You or your visitors mustn’t block local roadways and other vehicle access. You must keep them and car parking spaces clear of unroadworthy vehicles and other obstructions.

Equal opportunities – This means no member of staff, volunteer, contractor or other tenant can treat you any less favourably than anybody else because of your race, religion, gender, age, disability or sexuality. If you feel you’re being discriminated against by an individual or by our organisation then you have a legal right to make a complaint. Our equality and diversity framework gives more details about this.  Ask your recovery worker to see this.

Harassment – This is any kind of threatening behaviour, damage to your property or physical assault that is based on prejudices about your race, religion, gender, age, disability or sexuality. We take all reports of abuse or harassment extremely seriously and will investigate all cases. We’ll involve the police if a crime has been committed. If, after investigation, we find that a member of our staff has been abusive then we’ll take appropriate action against them which could include them losing their job. Our harassment and safeguarding policies give more details about this. Ask your recovery worker to see these.

Confidentiality – We’ve a policy to make sure any information you give us is treated carefully, sensitively and securely. We don’t pass on any of your personal information to other agencies without written permission unless we believe that you or others are at risk, have been involved in a serious crime, or there are concerns in relation to child protection.

Get involved – There are lots of ways you can get involved with Richmond Fellowship to help us improve the services we provide and to make the right strategic decisions about how we take our organisation forward:

  • Be on one of our interview panels for selecting members of our Board and other key posts
  • Take part in one of the many quality reviews we carry out of our individual services. We’ll provide you with training so that your valuable perspective is taken into account
  • Be part of our national Working Together forum which gives people the chance to find out about the main developments in our organisation and to share their views on key strategic issues
  • Join in with your local service meetings and events which are organised by our staff to give you a say in how your scheme is run and the chance to get involved in your local community.

To find out more about how to get involved speak to your recovery worker.