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Housing matters require a wide range of knowledge, we have endeavoured to answer some tenancy related questions that may assist you with your enquiry in relation to specific situations that can arise during the term of a tenancy.  If you have not found the answer you are seeking please contact us at htenancy@middevon.gov.uk or on 01884 255255, your enquiry will be directed to an appropriate officer to assist you with your query. 

How do I report ASB?

We need to know the following information:

  • Who is causing the problems
  • What is the complaint about
  • When did the incident happen
  • Was there any witnesses to the incident

We will send diary sheets which you will need to complete with a mediation leaflet.  All residents are expected to help resolve their own issues, mediation can take a number of forms and we will encourage you to attend mediation, often minor issues are not resolved by the Council becoming involved. 

Your complaint will be logged and details of complaint will be sent to the relevant Neighbourhood Officer to investigate.  If we cannot assist with your complaint you will be encouraged to mediate and your case will be closed. 

I would like permission to have pet/animal?

You will need to provide us with the following information in writing bearing your signature:

  • Your name and address.
  • The type of pet/animal you wish to have.
  • Is the pet/animal an assistance animal?
  • What other pets/animals do you already have at your property?
  • What is the reason for your request?
  • Is the pet from a rehoming centre, if yes, then the rehoming centre may require a sight of the permission letter if agreed.
  • When are they hoping to have the pet/animal?

Once all information is received this will be passed to the relevant Neighbourhood Officer to look into your request.

How do I report fly tipping on housing?

If the land is Council owned, we pass this to our Street Scene service.  Relevant details and information are required for us to respond to your request.  We will also inform the relevant Estate Neighbourhood Officer who will record this. 

The information we need to know is:

  • Where fly tipping has occurred
  • What items have been fly tipped
  • How long the items have been in situ
  • Has anyone witnessed the fly tip
  • Are there any Health & Safety Concerns

How do I report parking issues where I live?

Where the parking issues are happening on Housing land, Council land or Devon County Council (DCC) land?

If DCC land, you will need to report by contacting DCC or report to Police on 101.

If the land is in the ownership of the Council, the following information will be required and will be passed onto our Street Scene Service for action. 

We will ask you the following questions:

  • The make, model, colour and VRN of vehicle?
  • Who is responsible for the vehicle?
  • The owners address?
  • The owners name?
  • Have you approached the owner of the vehicle to discuss their concerns? (We encourage you to do this where it is safe to do so). 
  • What are the issues?
  • How long have the issues occurred?
  • Do you any health & safety concerns, if yes, what are these?

If you are unable to provide the above information we will ask you to obtain this and report back to us. 

How do I report graffiti?

We will need your details and we will need to establish if the graffiti on Council land.  The following information will be required:

  • Where is the graffiti?
  • Is the graffiti offensive? Can you provide details or a picture of the graffiti?
  • How did you know about the graffiti?
  • Do you know who did the graffiti?

We will pass this to our Street Scene Services to remove the graffiti, we will also inform your Neighbourhood Officer to monitor the estate going forward. 

If the graffiti on Devon County Council land, you will need to contact DCC with above details for them to action.

You can call DCC on 0845 155 1015 or log onto their website at:

https://www.devon.gov.uk/roadsandtransport/

How do I report grounds maintenance issues?

We will need the following information:

  • Tell us what the issue is?
  • Advise us of any Health & Safety risks identified?
  • How long has this been an issue?
  • Provide photos of the issue via email to htenancy@middevon.gov.uk
  • Is the issue on Council land?

We will pass this to our Street Scene Services to take the required action and we will inform your Neighbourhood Officer. 

Can I rent land from the Council?

In order to rent a piece of land from the Council you will need to contact us by letter or email to submit your request. 

We will need to know:

  • Where the piece of land is that you are requesting to rent.
  • What purpose you intend to use the land for.

You need to know:

  • Once the request is received, this will be passed to the relevant Neighbourhood Officer to look into this.
  • There will be an admin charge/legal fee the legal agreement to be drawn up which is to be paid in advance if we agree to your request. This amount is dependent on the size of the plot you wish to rent.
  • We will draw up the legal agreement once the payment has been received and not before.
  • We will request that you pay the annual charge before the agreement can be sent to you for you to sign.
  • Any land rented from the Council is to be paid annually, we cannot accept part payments or make an arrangement.
  • The rental cost can be increased as per the terms of the signed agreement.
  • All rental increases go through full Council to be agreed.

It is therefore important to ensure that you can meet the current and ongoing costs of renting land. 

How do report an abandoned property e.g the tenant is no longer living at the property as their main and principle home?

We will need the following information:

  • Your details.
  • Tenant’s name and address where property has allegedly been abandoned.
  • Why you think the property has been abandoned?
  • When did they last see the tenant or members of their household?
  • Who do you think should be living in the household?
  • Is there anyone living at the property still, if yes, do you know who they are?

This information is passed to your Neighbourhood Officer to investigate.  We are happy to take further information about the alleged abandonment that may help our investigations, however please note that we will not be able to advise you of the action we may be taking. 

Investigations take time we have to be sure that we have legal grounds to recover possession of our property.  It may not be visible to you but rest assured that we will take the necessary action. 

I have given notice on my property and would like to retract my notice, can I do this?

What you need to know:

  • Once a valid notice is served we are unable to retract the notice.
  • We would encourage you to seek independent legal advice.

We ask for the following information:

  • Your name and address.
  • Why you originally gave notice to end the tenancy.
  • Why have you have changed your mind about ending the tenancy.

Once your Notice period expires the Council must house you in accordance with its Allocations Policy and we may only be able to grant a new tenancy if one of the limited exemptions as set out in that policy applies. If an exemption does not apply, you will need to apply to Devon Home Choice and/or Homelessness if you wish to be added to the waiting list for housing and homelessness accommodation.

Household changes, people moving out or moving in with you?

Households change and it is your responsibility as a tenant to inform us of anyone who moves out of your property or moves in. 

If you have had a baby we would request the following:

  • Sight of the original birth certificate, which you can take a photo of and send in via email to htenancy@middevon.gov.uk
  • You will also need to notify Revenues, Benefits or DWP if in receipt of any housing costs/Council Tax reduction to advise them of your change of circumstances.

When we receive the birth certificate we add the child to household details on our Housing Management System and save a copy of birth the certificate to your tenant file.

We also check permitted number of people at property against number of household members.  If this exceeds permitted number a Neighbourhood Officer would contact you to give appropriate advice on your accommodation needs.

How do I inform you that someone has moved back into the property?

We need the following information:

  • Name of person who has moved in with you.
  • Their date of birth.
  • Their National Insurance number (if 16 or over).
  • What relationship they are to you.
  • The date that they have moved back into the property.
  • Why they have they moved into the property.

If you are in receipt of any benefits, you will also need to contact Revenues, Benefits or DWP if in receipt of Universal Credit and update them with your change of circumstances

We will add the person to your household on our Housing Management System and save a copy of any relevant supporting documentation to your tenant file.

We also check permitted number of people at property against number of household members.  If this exceeds permitted number a Neighbourhood Officer would contact you to give appropriate advice on your accommodation needs.

How do I report that someone has moved out of my household who is not a tenant?

We need to know:

  • The name of household member.
  • The date they moved out.

If you are in receipt of any benefits, you will also need to contact Revenues, Benefits or DWP if in receipt of Universal Credit and update them with your change of circumstances

We will remove the person from your household on our Housing Management System and save a copy of any relevant supporting documentation to your tenant file.

I have recently got married, how do I change my name on my tenancy?

We will request the following information:

  • Sight of the original marriage certificate, which you can take a photo of and send in via email to htenancy@middevon.gov.uk

When we have received this we will update our records to your new married name.

How do I report the death of a household member who was not a tenant?

We will need to know the following information:

  • The name of the person who has passed away.
  • The date they passed.
  • What relationship they were to you.
  • Sight of the original death certificate, which you can take a photo of and send in via email to htenancy@middevon.gov.uk

We will update the household details and add the date the person passed away to our records. 

How do I request a permission to make alterations/improvements to my home?

Depending on what type of tenancy you hold with Mid Devon District Council will depend on whether you have a legal right to request permission to make improvements to the property.  In order to consider any improvement request you will need to tell us:

  • Your name and address.
  • The type of tenancy you hold with us.
  • What improvement you would like to make.

If you hold an introductory tenancy you do not have the right to make alterations or improvements to the property during the first 12 months of the tenancy.  You can decorate, erect curtain poles and lay carpet and you do not need consent to do this.    

The Council can use their discretion and allow certain types of permissions which are considered health and safety risks.  Examples include, putting up a fence to keep children safe, erecting a shed to store items, install a shower where there is a medical need to do so.

Any request need to be put in writing with plans and confirmation of why the request is considered to be health and safety concern.

If you make any improvements or alterations without consent we can take enforcement action for you to change this back at your cost. 

If you hold a flexible tenancy you do not have the right to make alterations or improvements to the property.  You can decorate, erect curtain poles and lay carpet and you do not need consent to do this.    

The Council can use their discretion and allow certain types of permissions which are considered health and safety risks.  Examples include, putting up a fence to keep children safe, erecting a shed to store items, install a shower where there is a medical need to do so.

Any request need to be put in writing with plans and confirmation of why the request is considered to be health and safety concern.

If you make any improvements or alterations without consent we can take enforcement action for you to change this back at your cost. 

If you hold a secure tenancy all requests need to be put in writing with plans. 

Once the relevant information has been received, this will be passed to the relevant Neighbourhood Officer to action. 

No improvements or alterations should be carried out unless you have received written consent to do this by Mid Devon District Council. 

If you make any improvements or alterations without consent we can take enforcement action for you to change this back at your cost. 

We offer a Handyperson Service you may wish to contact them for a quotation for works, once you have consent to carry out this work by Mid Devon District Councils Housing Service.

Can I claim compensation for any works that I have carried out at my property?

There are certain improvements you make to a property that you can be compensated for Tenant Compensation Policy 2020 V1.3.1 (middevon.gov.uk) – section 8.0 Statutory Compensation. 

We will ask for the following information:

  • Your name and address.
  • The type of improvement.
  • When the improvement was carried out.
  • Are you vacating the property, if yes, when does the tenancy end?
  • Do you have receipts for the works carried out?
  • Did you obtain permission form the Council for the works, do you still have a copy of this?
  • What type of tenancy do you hold?

Secure tenants may have a statutory right to claim compensation from the Council for certain kinds of Improvements.  Please note that Flexible and Introductory tenants have no right to compensation.

The information you give us will be passed to your Neighbourhood Officer to action and respond to your directly. 

Can I run a business from home? How do I go about this?

Requests to run a business from home will be considered, we have to take into account the impact the business may have on other residents to include parking, anti-social behaviour, (noise nuisance), that running a business from home may cause.  You must submit your request in writing with the following details: 

  • Your name and address.
  • The type of business.
  • Where you plan to operate the business e.g. in the main house, outhouse?
  • Do you need to install any equipment, if so what?
  • Have you got Public Liability Insurance? Please provide a copy to us.
  • Does your house insurance cover working from home?
  • Will the business increase foot fall/increase traffic to the property?
  • Will anyone be employed, if yes how many people?

Are you or the people that will be working for you claiming benefits?The above information will be passed to your Neighbourhood Officer for consideration who will respond to you directly. 

In some cases the Council may refuse permission if it has reason to believe the business will disturb your neighbours, or damage your home. It may also refuse permission if it thinks that running a business will result in a material change of use of the property.

You can find some further advice/guidance on running a business from home at:

https://www.gov.uk/run-business-from-home 

Please note do not commence working from home until consent has been received in writing from Mid Devon District Council’s Housing Service. 

How do I request a sole to joint tenancy?

In order for us to consider your request you will need to provide the following information in writing:

  • The name and address of the current sole tenant.
  • The type of tenancy you hold with us.
  • The name, Date of Birth and National Insurance of person you wish to create a joint tenancy with.
  • The relationship to the sole tenant?
  • Evidence that person wanting to be added to the tenancy has lived at the property for the past 12 months, you will need to supply this. Evidence required would be a Council Tax bill in joint names, utility bills addressed to the property where you wish the joint tenancy to be created, bank statements, DWP letter if applicable.
  • Any legal advice you have sought in respect of the implications of creating a joint tenancy.  

This will be passed to the relevant Neighbourhood Officer to action. 

Please note it is important to obtain independent legal advice if considering creating a joint tenancy.  Only Secure joint tenants have a legal right to end the joint tenancy without requiring the other joint tenant to agree to this. 

How do request a joint to sole tenancy?

We will need the following information in writing:

  • Your name and address.
  • The reason for request.
  • Are all joint tenants in agreement with the request?
  • Evidence in writing from the joint tenants wishing to end their joint tenancy and reasons for wishing to end the tenancy.
  • A notice signed by all parties to the tenancy, (see terminating your tenancy FAQ’s).
  • The person vacating the property, must state in their notice that they have left the property and they have taken all their personal belongings and do not wish to return to the tenancy. Complete Notice to Quit form on our website or request one from htenancy@middevon.gov.uk
  • The person remaining at the property must state in writing that they request a sole tenancy in their sole name and the reason for this. This information will be passed to the relevant Neighbourhood Officer to action.

Please note it is important to obtain independent legal advice if considering ending a joint tenancy.  When a notice is received there is no guarantee that the sole tenant can remain at the property as this is based on their housing need. 

What happens to my daughter/son who lives with me if I die, will they lose their home?

In the event of a tenant’s death where a household member remains at the property, the Neighbourhood Officer deals with each case on an individual basis.

We take the following information into account when making a decision:

  • Are there any succession rights for any remaining household member?
  • How long household members have lived at the property?
  • What relationship the household members were to the tenant?
  • Are the remaining household members eligible for social housing?
  • Are the household members registered on Devon Home Choice?
  • What the household members housing need is?
  • Has the property been adapted?
  • Do the remaining household require an adapted property?
  • Who else lives at the property?
  • Are there any vulnerabilities?
  • The property size?

You will work with the Neighbourhood Officer to establish your eligibility to social housing, property type and size.  We would encourage household members to apply on Devon Home Choice, https://www.devonhomechoice.com/ so your individual needs can be considered at the earliest opportunity. 

How do I obtain a copy of my tenancy agreement?

In order to give you a copy of your tenancy agreement you can contact us by phone and request this. 

We will need to:

  • Go through some security questions with you.
  • We need to know your name and address.
  • The reason for the request.
  • Where your original tenancy is.

We can normally post out a copy to you within 24/48 hours.  We cannot send requests via email as the document is too large. 

How do I report a pot hole?

We need to know the location of the pothole to establish whether this is in Mid Devon District Council’s ownership or Devon County Council’s.  If this is in our ownership we will need to know:

  • The location of pothole.
  • Approximate size of pothole.
  • Has this been reported before, if yes, when?
  • If you have any health & safety concerns, if yes, what are these?

If the road belongs to Devon County Council you can report by phone 0845 155 1015, or online at https://www.devon.gov.uk/roadsandtransport/

How long can I be away from my home before reporting this to the Council?

If you are planning to leave your home for more than 28 days, you must inform the Council, you request must be:

  • In writing.
  • Bear your signature.
  • The date you intend to leave.
  • The date you intend to return.
  • Contact details for you whilst you are away.
  • Contact details for someone the Council can contact in the event of an emergency who will act on your behalf.
  • If someone is looking after the property.
  • How you will keep this secure if no one staying at the property.

As per your tenancy agreement section 3.13 you must advise us if you intend to be away from your property for more than 28 days.  If you do not inform us that you will be away, we may treat this as you parting with possession of the property and take action to repossess the property.

Do I need house insurance?

It is advisable to take up home contents insurance to protect against internal/external damage which can cover personal possessions to include items you may store in a shed or outhouse. 

  • The Council provides cover for the structure of the building and any fixtures and fittings that belong to them, however it is up to the tenant to obtain contents insurance.
  • We strongly recommend that you take out your own contents insurance for their personal belongings, carpets and decorations.
  • There are various insurance companies around, therefore shop around for the best deal.

Can I take in a lodger?

You cannot take in a lodger before writing in for formal consent from Mid Devon District Council’s Housing Service. 

We will consider the following information before consenting or denying your request:

  • The type of tenancy you hold, (Introductory Tenants will not be granted consent for a lodger).
  • The length of the tenancy.
  • How your tenancy has been conducted.
  • Any debt with the Council.
  • Any Anti-Social Behaviour.
  • If you are under a court order.
  • Whether the property will become overcrowded.

What we will ask for:

  • Your name and address.
  • Obtain name and DOB of lodger
  • Whether you are in receipt of Benefits, Council Tax Relief, sole occupancy discount for Council Tax or Universal Credit, (It is your responsibility to report changes to benefits).
  • The full name, date of birth, National Insurance number, the last known address of the person you would like to take in as a lodger.

Ultimately you need to be aware that the behaviour, conduct, payment of lodging fees or if you decide to ask them to vacate the property if you no longer wish them to live with you.  Any agreement you make with your lodger is your responsibility to uphold and maintain.  This includes making sure they comply with the terms and conditions of the tenancy agreement you hold with Mid Devon District Council.

Can I sublet my property?

Secure and Flexible tenants are permitted to sublet part of the property with written consent, you are not permitted to sublet the whole of the property.  Introductory tenants are not permitted to sublet in any form.  In order to obtain consent to do this you need to put this in writing, bearing your signature.

We will need to know:

  • Your name and address.
  • The type of tenancy you hold with us.

If permission is granted, the tenant is responsible for the behaviour of any sub-tenant, this includes making sure they comply with the terms and conditions of the tenancy.

How can I report tenancy fraud?

You can report alleged tenancy fraud by contacting Mid Devon District Council on 01884 255255 or emailing htenancy@middevon.gov.uk

The information we will need to investigate this is as follows:

  • The address of the suspected tenancy fraud.
  • Tenants/household details, if known.
  • When you last saw the tenant/members of their household.
  • Who is living at the property?
  • Why do you suspect tenancy fraud?
  • Any other relevant information.
  • Your contact details.

We will investigate the allegation, however due to Data Protection we will be unable to discuss tenancy matters, we can only discuss this with the legal tenants of the property. 

I require additional recycling boxes, how do I request these?

You can request additional boxes by contacting our Streetscene Service on 01884 255255 or by emailing streetscene@middevon.gov.uk

They will need to know:

  • Your name and address.
  • The type of recycling boxes requested e.g food caddy, black or green boxes.

Our Refuse Operatives will drop off the additional boxes to your property the next time they are doing a collection in your area. 

I require kerbside assistance with my rubbish, how do I go about this?

You can request assistance by contacting our Streetscene Service on 01884 255255 or by emailing streetscene@middevon.gov.uk

They will need to know:

  • Your name and address.
  • The reason you require assistance.

Streetscene will contact you directly to advise if they are able to offer you an assisted collection. 

I have just moved into my property, when do I put my refuse out?

Check our online collections calendar at https://www.middevon.gov.uk/residents/recycling-rubbish/check-collection-dates/ or call us on 01884 255255. 

Please note:

  • All refuse must be disposed of securely, safely and hygienically.
  • You are responsible for your refuse until it is collected by the Council.
  • You must not dispose of any medical waste in refuse bags, bins, food caddies or recycling boxes.
  • If you need to dispose of medical waste, please contact Streetscene Services to request medical waste collection or needle box.
  • Refuse must not be put out on the street until the evening before collection is due, after 18.00pm or this can be put out on the morning of collection.
  • You are responsible for disposing any other material that we do not normally collect by paying for it to be collected or by taking it to a refuse disposal centre.
  • Any recycling boxes or refuse is not permitted in enclosed communal areas except where designated facilities are provided.
  • Bulky items can be disposed of using the Council’s bulky collection service by contacting Streetscene Services. Further details can also be found on the Council’s web pages.

You should only deposit waste for collection after 6pm the evening before a collection or 6am on the morning of the collection. If you deposit waste outside of these hours then the Council will take action in accordance with its Compulsory Recycling Policy which may result in you receiving a fixed penalty notice.

I am due an annual gas service, do I need credit on my gas and electric meters?

There must be sufficient credit on gas and electric meters to enable the engineer to carry out your annual service.

If you do not have enough credit, please call and inform us prior to your scheduled appointment date. 

Can I assign my tenancy to someone else?

An assignment can only take place where permitted by law as follows:

  • An assignment by way of exchange (mutual exchange).
  • An assignment in pursuance of a court order made under family provision.
  • As assignment to a person qualified to succeed to a secure or flexible tenancy.

If the tenancy is Introductory, the tenancy must not be assigned except where permitted by law as follows:

  • An assignment in pursuance of a court order made under family provision.
  • As assignment to a person qualified to succeed to a secure or flexible tenancy.

We will require the following information in writing if assignment is in pursuance of a court order or a person is qualified to succeed to a secure or flexible tenancy:

  • Your name and address.
  • Sight of any court orders where applicable.
  • Details of any person qualified to succeed.
  • The relationship to tenant.
  • What type of tenancy you hold with us.
  • When your tenancy commenced.

If carrying out a mutual exchange our Allocations Team manage this process.  If doing an Assignment by court order or for a qualifying assignee then your Neighbourhood Officer will assist you with this. 

What is a Flexible Tenancy?

The Government when revising the legislation in 2011 recognised that a social housing tenancy should not be ‘for life’ and that tenants’ circumstances change, both financially and in family make-up.  The Council is keen to use flexible tenancies because there is a shortage of available accommodation and we are required to make best use of our housing stock.

The Council provide flexible tenancies for a term of 2 or 5 years.  Prior to the fixed term of the tenancy ending, a Neighbourhood Officer reviews the tenancy to see if the tenant is still eligible for social housing.  The Neighbourhood Officer will carry out the review, to do this they will need to see evidence of income, savings, benefit entitlement and household details.

Once the review is carried out, we will notify you of the decision of the review.  If the tenancy is not renewed, we will direct you to our Housing Options Officers for Housing Advice.

 

 

Do I have a Joint Tenancy?

If you and your ex are both named as tenants in the tenancy agreement you have joint tenancy.  You are each responsible for the whole of the rent, not a share of it. You each have the full right to occupy the property under the tenancy.

My relationship has broken down, what about my tenancy?

If you and your ex are joint tenants then your ex has full rights to access the property and live there. This will continue unless resolved-see possible steps outlined below. Please note the Council has no power to remove a joint tenant from the tenancy even when all the joint tenants are in agreement.

It should be noted that a joint tenant without the consent of the other joint tenants has the power to end the tenancy (this only applies if the tenancy is not a Flexible Tenancy). Your ex therefore has the power to end the tenancy. In some circumstances, it may be possible for one joint tenant to prevent the other joint tenant's notice to quit by obtaining a court injunction.  Please see below for further information on this.

Alternatively it may be that you want to end the joint tenancy but your ex doesn’t want to. As indicated above as a joint tenant you have the power to do this (provided your tenancy is not a flexible tenancy).

In the case of a Flexible Tenancy all the joint tenants have to agree to end the tenancy. So your ex cannot end a flexible joint tenancy without your agreement nor can you end the flexible joint tenancy without the agreement of your ex. You tenancy agreement will indicate whether it is a flexible tenancy or not.

If the joint tenancy is not terminated you will remain joint and severally liable for any ongoing rent charges, rechargeable repairs, court costs and any other tenancy breaches.  This is the case even if you are no longer living in the property and your ex remains there.

Applications to court to transfer the tenancy

It is possible to apply for a court order to be made transferring a joint tenancy into one tenant’s sole name.  It is advisable to take independent legal advice before making a court application. The court will consider a range of matters and you may not be successful in making an application.

If you are married, then it is possible to apply for an order that the tenancy be assigned to you solely under the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 but this must be within divorce or judicial separation proceedings, not at any other time.

If you are not married but have children under 18 Children Act 1989 it is possible to make application transfer the tenancy to one of the parents alone for the benefit of the children.

Both married and unmarried people, with or without children, can apply to the court under the Family Law Act 1996 for the transfer of the tenancy. The Court can only make an order in relation to a dwelling-house which was a home shared by the parties.

We would need to see any court order before we can update our records to show the change in the tenancy. 

Domestic Violence

In cases where there is Domestic Abuse Allegations, the Council can offer support and advice and signpost to appropriate agencies.  We work with agencies that safeguard individuals such as:

  • The Sanctuary Scheme
  • The Police
  • Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub where children are present in the home
  • MARAC – Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference - for high risk Domestic Abuse cases
  • Devon County Council to safeguard Vulnerable Adults
  • Splitz - a Domestic Abuse support service
  • A current GP – Doctor, if you have one. 

Consideration should be given to making a homeless application to the Council.  A person is homeless if it is possible that continuing to occupy their accommodation will lead to violence against him or her or member of the household. Violence is defined as “violence from another person or threats of violence from another person which are likely to be carried out”. This includes physical violence, threatening or imitating behaviour and any other form of abuse which directly or indirectly may give rise to the risk of harm. 

The council has a duty to house applicants who have a priority need. This includes pregnant women, those with dependent children and those considered vulnerable as a result of having become homeless because of violence. 

Occupation orders

An occupation order is sometimes sought though the court to deal with the immediate risk to an individual but does not end a legal joint tenancy.  If an occupation order is granted it excludes an individual from a property for a period of time.  It is advisable to take independent legal advice before making a court application. The court will consider a range of matters and you may not be successful in making an application.  Occupation orders do not give the Council the legal right to end a joint tenancy, a transfer of tenancy is the only order where we can update our records.

Protecting a joint tenancy which is not a flexible tenancy

Where the ex has left and it is a joint tenancy, you are at risk of your ex terminating the tenancy without you being able to do anything about it.   

It is possible to apply for an injunction order from the court to stop your ex serving a notice to quit. However, this can only be for a limited time, just a temporary protection. It is advisable to take independent legal advice before making a court application. The court will consider a range of matters and you may not be successful in making an application.

In the case of flexible tenancy there is no need for an injunction order as a joint tenant cannot terminate the tenancy unless the other joint tenants agree. 

We both want to terminate the tenancy.

If both parties wish to terminate their joint tenancy, then please follow the process for ‘How do I end a tenancy’ (link here).

I want to terminate the tenancy but my ex does not

You can terminate the tenancy even if your ex does not want to do so provided the tenancy is not a flexible tenancy. Please follow the process for ‘How do I end a tenancy’ (link here).  If your tenancy is a flexible tenancy this option is not open to you.

I want to remain in the home

If you wish to remain in the home in the event of a relationship breakdown you should be aware of several things.

  • As indicated above your ex, if the tenancy is not a flexible tenancy, could decide to terminate the tenancy without your consent. It is possible to stop this by applying for a court injunction. In the case of a flexible tenancy this is not a concern as all joint tenants have to agree to terminate the tenancy.
  • As indicated above if the tenancy remains in joint names your ex has full rights to access the property and live there.
  • As indicated above even if you agree with your ex that the tenancy should be transferred to you it is not possible for the council to change the agreement from a joint to tenancy to a sole tenancy unless ordered by the court.
  • If you want the tenancy to be transferred to your own name then you may have to consider applying to Court to transfer the tenancy to your own name.

What happens if I become homeless because the tenancy is terminated by a notice to quit?

You should make a homelessness application to the Council and you should register or re-register with Devon Home Choice.  The Council will assess your situation and indicate what duty it owes to you.   

Warning

You are advised to seek independent legal advice from a solicitor before taking any court action.  Taking court action is a serious matter involving potential adverse consequences if you lose, including paying the other party’s legal costs as well as paying your own.  For more information about your rights free advice can be obtained Shelter, CHAT or Citizens Advice Bureau.

Why have received a rent statement?

As part of our landlord obligations we send out a quarterly rent statements to all Housing customers, so they have a record of payments made and received on their account.  If the balance on the statement shown has a minus sign in front of it this means your account is in credit.  Rent is due weekly on a Monday, accounts should show a reducing credit throughout the month as per the tenancy terms and conditions, and you must not run a debt with us at any time. 

-£313.00 – is a credit balance

 £313.00 – is a debt

What happens if I get behind with my rent?

If you are finding it difficult to pay your rent you should contact your Housing Income Officer as soon as possible. We will work with you to agree repayments that you can afford.

Alternately you can also contact the Money Advice Service based at Phoenix House, Tiverton on 01884 255255. 

If you do not make an agreement to pay arrears or if you break an agreement, we will take further action. This may include court action in some cases. 

We want to help tenants to remain in their homes but if they refuse to engage with our Officers in a meaningful way, then sometimes we may have no option but to take cases to Court in order to enforce conditions of tenancy.  In line with our standard tenancy agreements, rent is due weekly on a Monday and failure to pay means that a condition of the tenancy has not been met.

A tenancy agreement is a contract and therefore tenants are obliged to pay the rent and can be held to account if they fail to work with us to make up any shortfalls. 

The Housing Service needs to ensure that income levels are maintained to avoid a shortfall.  If there are not enough funds available, it could impact the ability of the Council to manage and maintain those homes in our ownership.

Seeking an order for possession of a property is a last resort but is sometimes the only option available given the need to protect the interests of the Council and to enable it to continue to keep those homes in our ownership in good order. 

If we need to take court action we will ask the court to make the tenant pay our legal costs as well as the outstanding debt.  You also need to be aware of the type of tenancy you hold, explained as follows: 

  • If you are an Introductory Tenant if we ask for possession of the home you live in a District Judge does not have discretion and will award MDDC outright possession, meaning you will become homeless. After you have moved out of our property, we will still pursue any outstanding debt including the costs of the court proceedings. 
  • If you hold a Flexible Tenancy, then the District Judge can make a Court Order to repay the debt by installments and the Councils costs, this could affect the Council’s decision to renew your tenancy when due. If you fail to adhere to the terms of the Court Order then the Council can ask for Outright Possession of our property, this could result in you being homeless.  After you have moved out of our property, we will still pursue any outstanding debt including the costs of the court proceedings. 
  • If you have a Secure Tenancy the District Judge can make a Court Order to repay the debt and the Councils costs. If you fail to adhere to the terms of the Court Order then the Council can ask for Outright Possession of our property, this could result in you being homeless.  After you have moved out of our property, we will still pursue any outstanding debt including the costs of the court proceedings. 

Failing to pay your rent or not responding to letters about rent arrears could lead to you losing your home and is a breach of the Court Protocol, S:\Housing Services\Court Protocol, (this will need to be added to the website).  The Court Protocol dictates that we are clear with our customers that non-payment of rent and arrears could result in tenants and their household members losing their home. 

The cost of each eviction is high for all those concerned and it is for this reason that our Officers will try to work with those who owe rent to establish a regular pattern of payment.   

How does MDDC help to prevent rent arrears?

  • We explain rent accounts clearly.
  • We discuss issues sympathetically and confidentially.
  • We advise you on entitlement to welfare and Housing Benefit or refer you for specialist advice.
  • Refer you to Community Housing Support Officers/Agencies to help you to complete Housing Benefit/Universal Credit claim forms if you are unable to do so.
  • Provide details of other agencies that can help you with money advice, such as the Citizens Advice Bureau, WiserMoney or CHAT, depending on the type of support you need and how long you may need that support.

How does MDDC tackle rent arrears?

If you fall behind with your rent we will:

  • Send you a letter explaining what you need to do. We will then try to contact you again. If we cannot contact you by telephone we will invite you into our office for an appointment to discuss this. If you do not come to the appointment, we will continue to write to you to ask you to contact us. If you do not contact us we will send you further letters explaining what you need to do.
  • We will try to reach an agreement with you to repay any arrears, taking into account your income and expenditure and offer to refer you for independent money advice.

How can I make payments?

Will MDDC take legal action if I do not pay my debt?

We will ask the Court to make an Order to repay the debt. A Court Order will affect your credit rating and may make it more difficult to get credit and may impact on your future housing prospects.

What steps does MDDC take before legal action?

Before taking any legal action, we will make sure advice is always available to you, and we have given enough warnings, including:

  • Sending letters.
  • Calling you on the telephone, if we have an up to date number for you.
  • Sending emails, if we have one.
  • Sending text messages, if we have a mobile number.
  • Telling you the situation.
  • Offer of a video appointment using social media including WhatsApp or Zoom, where possible.
  • Offer of an office appointment, where not possible.
  • Inviting you to submit supporting evidence to a Rent Arrears Hearing.

We will treat vulnerable tenants sensitively and try to resolve any issues affecting payments before legal action is taken.

Remember that any debt could affect you in the following ways:

  • Prevent you from being re-housed.
  • Affect you getting a mortgage, as details of debt will be given to mortgage companies or local authorities or housing associations.
  • Affect your credit rating.
  • Affect your right to buy your Council house.

What happens if I fall into arrears on my garage?

Garage tenancies are held by both Council house occupiers and private tenants who have to pay VAT on garage rent.

Contact the Housing Income Team on 01884 255255 immediately and inform us about your payment problems.

A “Notice To Quit” will be served if payments are not made with a notice period of one week. The tenant is notified that at the end of notice period the garage lock will be changed and the garage will be reallocated to the next person on the waiting list. If the debt is not cleared this is referred to either Legal Services for small Claims Court action or referred to a debt collection agency.

If you have difficulty paying your garage rent, please contact us for help on 01884 255255. If you fall into arrears, it is very important to make contact with us so that we may come to an arrangement to clear the arrears.

Please Note: garages are not seen as priority expenditure, if you are also in arrears with your property rent we may make a decision to serve notice on your garage. 

What happens if I fail to make the annual payment on my garage ground rent plot or car parking plot?

Garage Ground Rent Plots, Car Parking Plot and Land Licence tenancies are held by both Council house occupiers and private tenants who have to pay VAT on their annual charge.

Contact the Council’s Customer Service Centre on 01884 255255 immediately and inform the rents section regarding the problem.

A “Notice To Quit” will be served if payments are not made with a notice period of one calendar month , (31 days). The tenant is notified that at the end of notice period they must remove any structure from the GGRP and this will be reallocated to the next person on the waiting list. If the debt is not cleared or you do not remove the structure we will also recharge you for this.  To recover any outstanding debt we will either refer your case to Legal Services for small Claims Court action or refer to a debt collection agency.

If you have difficulty paying your annual charge, please contact us for help on 01884 255255. It is very important to make contact with us so that we may come to an arrangement to clear the arrears.

Please Note: GGRP’s/CPP’s are not seen as priority expenditure, if you are also in arrears with your property rent we may make a decision to serve notice to end the tenancy or licence. 

What happens if I do not clear my account and the tenancy ends?

Tenants of the Council are required to give 4 weeks’ notice in writing of their intention to end their tenancy and to provide a forwarding or contact address. During this time the tenant will be sent a letter advising them of the end date of their tenancy.

If at the end of the tenancy there remains rent that is unpaid, the former tenant will be sent a further letter advising legal action/referral to debt collector if payment of the outstanding debt is not made. We can come to an agreement to make sure that the debt is cleared by paying in instalments.

Continued failure to respond means the debt will be forwarded for either legal action or passed to an approved Debt Collector.

What does a debt collection agency do?

  • The most common service provided by the agency is tracing. If the tenant has not provided a forwarding address when leaving the property or has moved on again and we do not know where to, the agency will find out and forward the correct address to us. We will then contact the former tenant to recover the debt.
  • The agency will also contact the former tenant directly and when appropriate we will ask the agency to collect payment on behalf of the Council.

What happens if a tenant passes away and they have outstanding arrears?

A claim is made against the estate. The Next of Kin is not responsible for paying the outstanding debt and the Council cannot take recovery against a next of kin for a deceased tenant.  We will often contact a next of kin to establish if there is an Executor or Administrator of a will or if there is an estate from which to repay any debt from.  If there is an Executor/Administrator we will make contact with them and not the next of kin to establish if there is an estate to pay the outstanding debt from.  We do this because the executor/administrator is the person who has the legal right to end a tenancy and is empowered to act on the deceased tenants behalf.  If there is no estate we may consider writing off the debt. 

What is a write off?

We request that a debt be written off once we have pursued payment as far as our procedures demand. If we are unable to recover the debt, approval to write it off is requested.  It does not mean that it is completely cancelled, in fact we can and we do use small claims court action and debt collectors to recover outstanding debts.  Also, if a former tenant applies for housing in the future, we would still request payment of the debt.

If the debt is written off, it can be reinstated at a later date.  The debt is written off for accounting purposes but remains on file and we can still pursue the debt after write off.

 

 

How do I end a Tenancy for a Property, Garage, Garage Ground Rent Plot or Car Parking Plot?

You must complete a Notice to Quit, giving legal notice to end your tenancy with Mid Devon District Council. 

To end your Secure, Introductory and Demoted Tenancy

You will need to complete the NTQ1 – refer to the help sheet to complete this. 

You must as per the terms of the tenancy:

  • Give 4 weeks’ notice in writing
  • In a prescribed way
  • It must bear the legal tenants signature, if this is a joint tenancy, we only require one of the joint tenants to sign this.
  • The property must be left clean and clear of all items of furniture and rubbish
  • You must return the keys on the Monday after the tenancy has terminated by 10.00am

It is easier to use the prescribed form, as you must ensure we have this information if this to be deemed to be a valid notice.  If you do not provide the information needed to be deemed a legal termination this causes delays and extra costs as until a valid termination is received rent continues to be charged weekly which you will continue to be liable for. 

To end your Flexible Tenancy

You will need to complete the NOT1 for Flexible Tenancies – refer to the help sheet to complete this.

You must as per the terms of the tenancy:

  • Give 4 weeks’ notice in writing
  • It must bear the legal tenants signatures, (if joint tenancy, both joint tenants are required to sign this) – if the relationship has broken down you can completed two separate NOT1’s
  • There must be no tenancy breaches when the tenancy terminates, such as no rent owing
  • The property must be left clean and clear of all items of furniture and rubbish
  • You need to advise that you have no intention of returning to the property
  • You must return the keys on the Monday after the tenancy has terminated by 10.00am

It is easier to use the prescribed form, as you must ensure we have this information if this to be deemed to be a valid notice.  If you do not provide the information needed to be deemed a legal termination this causes delays and extra costs, as until a valid termination is received rent continues to be charged weekly which you will continue to be liable for. 

To end your Garage Tenancy

You will need to complete the NTQ1 for Garage Tenancies – refer to the help sheet to complete this.

You must as per the terms of the tenancy:

  • Give 1 weeks’ notice in writing
  • It must bear the legal tenants signatures
  • You must confirm all items will be removed from the garage prior to termination
  • You must return the keys on the Monday after the tenancy has terminated by 10.00am

It is easier to use the prescribed form, as you must ensure we have this information if this to be deemed to be a valid notice.  If you do not provide the information needed to be deemed a legal termination this causes delays and extra costs, as until a valid termination is received rent continues to be charged weekly which you will continue to be liable for. 

To end your Garage Ground Rent Plot Agreement

You will need to complete the NTQ1 for Garage Ground Rent Plots – refer to the help sheet to complete this.

You must as per the terms of the agreement:

  • Give 31 calendar days’ notice in writing
  • It must bear the legal tenants signatures
  • You must confirm all items will be removed from the plot to include any structure prior to termination

To end your Car Parking Plot Agreement

You will need to complete the NTQ1 for Car Parking Plots – refer to the help sheet to complete this.

You must as per the terms of the agreement:

  • Give 31 calendar days’ notice in writing
  • It must bear the legal tenants signatures
  • You must confirm all items will be removed from the plot prior to termination

Terminating a property when a family member or friend has sadly departed

You must advise us if you have the legal right to terminate the tenancy on behalf of a family member or friend.  If you have been named the legal executor or administrator of a will we will ask you to provide us  with evidence naming you as executor/administrator.  We would also require you to complete a ‘Tell us Once’ with the Registrar or provide us with a death certificate.      

If you do have the legal right to end the tenancy you will need to complete the NTQ2 if you wish to terminate a property, garage, garage ground rent plot or car parking plot – refer to the help sheet to complete this. 

As per the terms of the tenancy:

  • Give 4 weeks’ notice in writing, if this is a property, (if they held a tenancy for a property and a garage, or multiple garages, you will need to complete an NTQ2, to terminate each of these separately)
  • Give 1 weeks’ notice in writing, if this is a garage
  • Give 31 calendar days’ notice in writing, if it is a garage ground rent agreement or car parking plot agreement
  • In a prescribed way
  • It must bear the Executor/Administrators signature.
  • The property must be left clean and clear of all items of furniture and rubbish
  • You must return the keys on the Monday after the tenancy has terminated by 10.00am – unless otherwise negotiated

It is easier to use the prescribed form, in order for this to be deemed to be a valid notice.  If you do not provide the information needed to be deemed a legal termination this causes delays and extra costs as until a valid termination is received rent continues to be charged weekly.  We seek to recover costs from the Estate of the person who held the legal tenancy, if there is no estate we will discuss the process with you to finalise this matter. 

If there is no named executor or administrator, the council are legally required to serve a ‘Notice to Quit’ on The Public Trustee to legally end the tenancy.  We will liaise with the Next of Kin to arrange removing items from the property and agree reasonable timescales for you to empty the property.

 

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