We have written this handbook to give you information about us, Albyn Housing Society, and your rights and responsibilities as a tenant
Section 1 Welcome to Albyn Housing Society Limited
We are Albyn Housing Society Ltd. We are your landlord and own the home you live in. We are a non-profit-making housing association, and also a Scottish Charity. We were formed in 1973 to provide good-quality rented homes for people working in new industries in the East Ross area. Since then we have grown to cover most of the Highlands and part of Moray, and have become involved in many new areas of work.
Our head office is in Invergordon, and we have over 2,500 homes across the following parts of The Highland Council area.
Badenoch & Strathspey
We also have a small number of properties in The Moray Council area. Most of our homes are for rent, and are a mixture of houses, flats and bungalows in both towns and rural areas.
Our main activities are as follows.
Looking after the homes we own and rent out
Managing homes leased to us by other property owners for us to rent out
Providing estate-management services to property owners within our communities
Building new homes to meet housing needs
Helping our tenants to manage their tenancies
Supporting and encouraging communities to improve their economic, social and physical conditions
Our services are provided by staff based at our offices in Invergordon and Inverness. Wealso have a member of staff who, for part of the week, is based in the Caithness and Sutherland area with a small office base at the PPP Building in Huddart street. Staff at that office provide local housing support to our tenants in Caithness and North Sutherland.
We are a registered social landlord, registered with the Scottish Government. This means we have set rules, and that we are inspected from time to time to make sure we are providing a good standard of housing and housing management. The inspection is carried out by the Scottish Housing Regulator who also checks how our business is run, and makes sure that there are opportunities for you to become involved if you want to.
We are run by a board of volunteers. There are between seven and 12 Board members who have been voted onto the board. To put yourself forward to be voted onto the Board you have to be a member of Albyn Housing Society Ltd. You can become a member by paying a one-off charge of £1.
If you want to become a member of Albyn Housing Society Ltd, phone the Corporate Office on 01349 852978 or send an email to email@example.com.
The Board meets 10 times a year to discuss and make decisions on how we are run. This includes planning, setting budgets and making policies.
The Board appoints our Chief Executive. Along with the Chief Executive, senior managers make up the Leadership Team, and this team is responsible for making sure that the Board’s decisions are carried out.
Where to find us
We have three main offices.
Albyn Housing Society Ltd, 98 – 104 High Street, Invergordon, IV18 0DL
Albyn Housing Society Ltd, 68 MacLennan Crescent, Inverness, IV3 8DN
Albyn Housing Society Ltd, c/o PPP, Huddart Street, Wick, KW1 5AZ
When you can contact us
Our office hours are 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday (except bank holidays or occasional training days).
Our repairs line is open 24 hours a day.
How to contact us
North Area - Invergordon Office 0300 323 0990
South Area - Inverness Office 0300 323 0991
By email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Through our website: www.albynhousing.org.uk
You can visit our offices. However, if you do not have an appointment you may not always be able to see the officer for your own area.
Ring the repairs phone line on:
North Area - Invergordon Office 0300 323 0990
South Area - Inverness Office 0300 323 0991
What we will do when you contact us
General queries can be about the following.
- How to get housing
How to claim Housing Benefit
Estate management, including looking after shared areas
Rent and late payments (rent arrears)
Adaptations and extra services for elderly or disabled people
Help available to vulnerable tenants
Options if you need to move to another home
How to get involved with our work
An assistant will often deal with your first call. If they cannot give you an immediate answer, they will put you in touch with someone who can. Our officers will work with you on the issues you need help with. They will discuss options and agree an appropriate course of action. They will give you help and advice that takes account of your needs. If necessary, they may refer you to another organisation that has the particular expertise to help you.
A housing services assistant will discuss the repair with you, and will then arrange for the work to be inspected or carried out by one of our approved contractors.
You can report repairs at any time, including at evenings and weekends. If the office is closed you can leave a message for us and we will deal with it as soon as we open.
There is also a special emergency phone number for repairs that cannot wait because they put you or your home at risk. For more information about our repairs service and how to report a repair, please look in section 3, Repairs and maintenance
We believe that our customers are central to our business. Our customers are people who live in our homes or neighbourhoods or who have applied to live in them.
Our main aims are to make sure that:
our everyday business is built around meeting our customers’ needs;
we provide the highest standards of service possible with the resources available to us;
everybody can have a say about what we do; and
we are accountable to people who use our services.
We will meet our aims by achieving the following standards.
We will routinely identify our customers’ needs and provide services that meet those needs.
We will regularly ask you for your views on our services.
We will make it easy for you to give us your comments and complaints.
We will listen to your feedback, pass it on to the right people, and take it into account when we make decisions.
Our staff will be polite and treat you with respect. (We expect the same from you.)
We will keep to all laws and best practices that are relevant to our services.
We will develop policies and procedures that meet the aims and standards set out above. We will develop an action plan and service promises to make sure we meet our aims and standards. We will make sure that all our staff and the board members know their obligations, take responsibility for meeting them, and have the training and resources they need to do so.
Our service promises to you
We aim to provide the best possible customer service at all times. To help us do this, we have set ourselves standards in eight main areas. These are our ‘service promises’. They let you know what you can expect from us. Below is a shortened version of our ‘service promises’, If you would like a detailed version, please contact the main office, or find it on our website
We will make sure that everybody has full access to our houses and services where possible.
Keeping in touch
We will set standards and time limits for handling your enquiries.
Rent and service charges
We will keep you informed and take action quickly.
Repairs and maintenance
We will set and check standards, act on your feedback, and offer advice.
Offering new tenancies and transfers
We will make it clear how we offer properties, make sure you know about other housing options, and rent out our empty homes as quickly as possible.
Supporting our communities
We will respond to complaints quickly, and work with community groups and other organisations.
Keeping you informed and involved
We will offer you more ways to be involved and make it easier for you to let us know what you think.
Complaints and appeals
We will make it easier for you to understand our complaints procedure and make sure you know how to make a complaint.
What we expect from you
We expect you to be polite, let us in to your home to carry out repairs, let us know about any problems you have, respond to our letters, respect your community, and know what your responsibilities and rights are as a tenant.
You can be involved with us as much or a little as you like. If you don’t want to be involved, that’s fine. But our aim is to make sure that anyone from our communities who would like to have a say about what we do and how we do it can do so when they want to, so that you can influence changes and improvements to the services we provide.
If we are changing anything to do with how your tenancy is managed, or to do with how we maintain or improve the home you live in, we will ask for your views. Depending on how much time you have and how much you want to contribute, you can be part of a regular group, or you can just call us or fill in feedback forms, or contact us on particular issues you are interested in. We will also send out a regular newsletter and information and keep our website up to date so that you can always find out what is going on.
We have developed a number of ways for you to be involved. These include the following.
Joining tenants’ or residents’ groups
Joining registered tenant organisations
Registering an interest in a particular issue
Taking part in area forums
Filling in questionnaires
Local tenant contacts
Going to our tenant conferences
Taking part in our resident satisfaction surveys
For more details, phone our Community Involvement Team on 01349 855972 or 01349 855976
We are registered with the Information Commissioner’s Office. Under the Data Protection Act 1998, you are entitled to see any information that we hold about you. We can give you copies of the information. We may charge you up to £10 for this. We will not pass any information you have given to us to anybody outside the society unless:
- when we collected the information we told you who we would pass it on to and why; or
- we have your permission.
We will only use the information you give us for the purposes that we told you about when we collected it from you.
If you would like more details, please contact the main office, or find it on our website
Section 2 Beginning your tenancy
When you receive your offer of a tenancy, there are various issues that you should consider before you sign your tenancy agreement. We have set out some of them below.
Can you afford the rent and any charges?
As well as the rent, there may be service charges for the property. You will have to pay council tax and fuel bills. You may also have transport costs if you have to travel to work or hospital or to visit someone regularly. We can help you work out what the total costs may be and tell you about any benefits you may be entitled to.
If you intend to have a joint tenancy, have you discussed what you will do if you decide to separate in the future?
The decision of whose name goes on the tenancy agreement can have implications for you in the future. Our Customer Services team can give you advice on what those implications are likely to be so you can make the best decision when you sign the tenancy agreement.
If you are moving to a new area, have you considered all of the changes this will mean to your lifestyle?
Whether you are moving into the next street, village, county or city, there will be some changes to your daily life. For many people, these changes will be small, such as having to put their bins out on a different day. And some people may benefit (for example, being nearer a bus stop). However, some changes could cause problems, so you should consider carefully what any changes will mean for you. Some things to consider would be the following.
Where is the nearest hospital?
Where are the nearest shops?
What services and facilities are there in the area?
Are there any groups or clubs for you to join?
How big is the garden and can you manage it?
Does the house have a type of heating system that you can live with?
Are there any shared areas that you think will upset you if they were not kept exactly as you would like?
How long will it take to visit friends and relatives, and for them to visit you?
Do you feel you can live in a block of flats if you previously lived in quite an isolated property, or do you feel you could live in a very rural village if you are used to the city?
If you do not drive, is there a good public transport system?
You should consider where you need to go, how often you need to be there, how long it would take and how much it would cost. In many areas, especially more rural areas, there may be limited public transport. You should check timetables and work out if you can get to where you need to be at the times that suit you.
Are there schools, shops, entertainment, doctors, dentists and so on close by, if that is what you need?
Consider what services and entertainment you would need to have access to, and find out if this is available within travelling distance of your new home.
You have three days to decide whether you want to accept the offer. You can confirm your decision by emailing us or calling the appropriate telephone number which is listed at the bottom of the Offer Letter.
What happens next?
Your housing services officer will then go over with you what needs to be done next. This will include the following.
- Arranging a convenient date for you to sign your tenancy agreement.
- Agreeing how you will pay your rent – AllPay, standing order, CallPay, Direct Debit, cash or cheque. Your housing services officer will go through these payment methods with you so you can choose the one that suits you best.
- Telling you whether you will receive redecoration vouchers which you can use to buy paint, brushes, and so on. This will depend on the state of your home when you first get it. Your housing services officer will discuss any redecoration vouchers you may be eligible for.
If you think you may be eligible for Housing Benefit, your housing services officer will work with you to work out what benefits you are entitled to, and help you to fill in the necessary forms. They will also be able to tell you what to do if you are only entitled to some Housing Benefit and have to pay some of the rent yourself.
If you need extra support to help you live in your own home, your housing services officer will be able to tell you what support is available and deal with the relevant support agencies where necessary.
If you need help to furnish your home, your housing services officer may be able to help you to to apply for the Scottish Welfare Fund to assist with this.
On the day you are due to sign your tenancy agreement your housing services officer will meet you in your new home and go through the process with you. This will include the following.
- Showing you round the property.
- Going through the tenancy agreement in detail and getting you to sign it.
- Going through our tenants’ handbook, highlighting the parts on repairs, rent, involving tenants and our contact details.
- Going through our customer care standards and complaints procedure.
- Collecting the first month’s rent.
- Checking your entitlement to Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit, and filling in a claim form with you if necessary.
- Agreeing how you want to pay your rent in future, after explaining the AllPay system, standing orders and other payment methods.
- Providing full details about the house (for example, where the stopcock is, how the heating works and what the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) is).
- Providing information about any shared areas.
- Handing over the keys for the property, including a key to the meter box if necessary, and explaining any security measures.
- Making a note of any support you have asked for, to pass on to external support agencies.
- Checking that you have your wheelie bin and that it is in the correct place.
- Showing you where your meter is and taking meter readings.
Moving house is one of the most stressful things you will ever do. Here is a checklist to help make it less stressful.
Before you move in
- Contact electricity, gas and oil suppliers to let them know when you will be moving in. They may want to talk to you about how you are going to pay your bills.
- Contact a phone company if you want to arrange for a landline to be provided or reconnected.
- Let your local authority know that you are moving.
- If you are on Housing Benefit, let your local authority’s benefits section know when you are going to move in and when you will stop paying rent for your current home (this might not be the same date that you move out). You might be able to get Housing Benefit paid on two homes during your notice period. Ask your housing services officer or your local authority’s benefits section for advice on this.
- Make a list of everybody who will need to have your new address – bank, building society, schools, work, friends and family. You can arrange to have your mail redirected by Royal Mail, though they charge for this service.
Our staff are always available to help you at this time if you need it. Just contact your housing services officer and they will arrange for you to get the help you need.
As soon as you move in
- Check your keys. Have you got a key for each lock? Do you know which key is which and do they all work? Sometimes you will have an electronic key or a code number. Here is a list of keys that you might need for your home.
- Front and back doors
- Shared entrances
- Bin stores
- Other stores
- Meter boxes (you get these keys from your gas or electricity supplier)
- Delivery boxes, such as those for mail or milk (you get these keys from the previous tenant)
- Take meter readings and let the electricity, gas or oil suppliers know that you have moved in and what the readings are.
- Find out where your stopcock is and how to use it.
- Find out what day the bins are emptied and where you have to leave them.
- Make sure you know where your smoke detectors are and how they work.
- Make sure you know how your hot water and central heating work.
- Take time to work out how you would get out if there was a fire or other emergency.
Contact us if you need help with any of these.
The best way to find out about your new neighbourhood is to speak to your neighbours. They can tell you a lot about the local area and you might make some new friends.
If mail for the previous tenant is delivered to your home, do not open it or send it on to us. Write ‘Gone away’ on the envelope and pop it in a postbox to return it to Royal Mail.
Please contact us if you want to discuss anything at all to do with your tenancy. Your tenants’ handbook contains most of the information you will need, but if there is anything you are not sure about, please get in touch.
Enjoy your new home!
Section 3 Your home
Your tenancy agreement is the most important document you have for your new home. It sets out your rights and responsibilities as a tenant. You should keep it in a safe place as you may need to refer to it again. We will have gone through the most important parts of your tenancy agreement with you before you signed it. This handbook explains parts of your agreement in more detail. It also tells you where you can get more information if you need it.
If two or more people have signed the tenancy agreement, each one is a joint tenant and is responsible for making sure that all the tenancy conditions are met. You can apply for someone to be added to your tenancy agreement as a joint tenant after your tenancy has started.
Changing your tenancy agreement
Once it has started, your tenancy agreement can only be changed in four circumstances.
- If we increase the rent or service charge in the way described in paragraph 1.7 of the agreement.
- If you or we apply to the Sheriff under Section 26 of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2001 for an order to change the tenancy agreement, and the Sheriff grants that order.
- If we agree with you in writing to change it. (This will only happen in exceptional circumstances. For example, we may agree to change the period of notice you need to give to end your tenancy.)
- If an antisocial behaviour order is made against you. In this case, the tenancy may change to a short Scottish secure tenancy. This would mean that you would have fewer rights and less security on your home.
Once you have been in your new home for a few weeks, we will contact you to arrange a settling-in visit. There is usually so much going on when you’re moving in that we don’t have time to make sure that you know about all the services that we provide. During the visit you have the opportunity to let us know if there are any problems you need us to help you with or any support that you need. We can also let you know about activities we do that you can join.
Your rights and responsibilities as a tenant
The following is a summary of the main rights and responsibilities you have as a tenant. However, you should see your actual tenancy agreement for more details.
1 Your rights
- To have the security of a tenancy agreement
- To enjoy your home
- To have a joint tenancy, take in a lodger, sublet your property, transfer (assign) your tenancy or swap homes with another tenant (a mutual exchange)
- To have a home that is weather-proof and fit to live in
- To have certain repairs carried out
- To improve or alter your home
- To receive information and be consulted
- To complain
2 Your responsibilities
- To live in the property as your main or only home
- To pay your rent
- To avoid damage to the property
- To respect others
- To report repairs and keep your home well decorated
- To give us access to carry out repairs
Paying rent and service charges
The rent and service charges that you pay cover the costs of us managing and maintaining your home. You will only have to pay a service charge for services to both you and other tenants (for example, gritting, cutting grass on your estate or cleaning stairways in a block of flats). Our charges do not cover Council Tax or any charges raised by the Scottish Water Authority.
You must make your first rent payment when you sign for your tenancy. Your rent is due to be paid on the first day of each month for the month ahead. It is up to you to decide how often you want to make payments into your rent account, as long as you pay enough to cover your monthly rent charge.
How to pay your rent
You can pay rent in various ways.
- By Direct Debit. This may be the easiest method for you to make sure you don’t forget to pay as any changes to your rent are made automatically. Ask us for a Direct Debit form.
- Using ‘Allpay’ at any PayPoint using your Allpay card, or by ‘Callpay’ over the phone using your credit card or debit card.
- By standing order from your bank account. Ask us for a form.
- By cheque. Make the cheque out to Albyn Housing Society Ltd. You must write your name, address and tenancy agreement number on the back of the cheque so we know it is you who has paid the money.
- By cash at any post office or at any branch of the Royal Bank of Scotland. We will give you a card to use when making payments.
- By cash at our Invergordon office (not in Inverness).
- Through online banking. Please ask for details.
What we use your rent for
We use the rent you pay to:
- repair and maintain your home;
- manage the services we provide to you; and
- repay loans, and the interest on them, taken out to buy or build houses.
Sometimes we provide services to look after areas that you share with your neighbours, such as cutting grass and cleaning stairways. We will make a charge to cover the costs we have to pay for that service, and you must pay it with your rent.
Full details of the income we receive and how we use it are included in our Annual Report. We will make this available for you each year.
How do we set charges?
We set your rent in line with the Rent Setting Policy agreed by our Board. Information on this policy is available from the Manager of our Finance and Corporate Services Department.
The rent for each home depends on the size, type and general features of the home. So, for example, a three-bedroom detached house with a private garden and garage will have a higher rent than a one-bedroom flat with a shared drying green.
We aim to make rents affordable to people on low incomes and to make them similar to the rents paid by other housing association or council tenants in the area.
Our board reviews our rents and other charges each year, and any increases usually come into force on 1 April each year. We will contact you towards the end of each year to let you know about any changes we are proposing for the following year and to ask for your views.
If you have been a tenant with us since before 1989, you may have the right to have your rent set by the Rent Service Scotland. In this instance we can only apply for a rent to be reviewed every three years.
If you were a tenant of Scottish Homes before we became the landlord of your home, we will only increase your rent in line with the agreement we made with you at that time.
If you need more information or think that your rent has not been set or increased correctly, phone our Finance Department on 01349 855963.
Difficulty paying rent
If you cannot pay your rent on time, or there is a problem with your Housing Benefit, get in touch with us straight away. We can only help you if you let us know there is a problem. If you do not pay your rent you are in danger of losing your home.
If you do not pay your rent when it was due or when you said you would, we will write to you asking you to pay. If we contact you (by phone, email, text message, letter or otherwise), you must get in touch with us, even if you think you have paid what is due. When you contact us we will try to find out if you are getting all the help you are entitled to. You can talk to us in confidence, either in our offices or in your own home. We will be able to look at your circumstances and agree with you how much you can afford to pay to cover your rent and pay off any rent arrears. We might put you in touch with another organisation that specialises in debt or benefit advice.
If you do not contact us after getting reminder letters, we will take stronger action to get the rent and rent arrears. This could mean that we take you to court and get an order. This could lead to you being evicted. If we have to take you to court you will also have to pay our legal fees, which will be high. You might also find that your credit rating is affected.
We would rather not take court action against our tenants, and we will always try to help tenants avoid getting into debt in the first place. However, we depend on all our tenants to pay their rent so that we can manage our housing properly and keep it in good repair, and keep future rent increases as low as possible.
Remember, the sooner you talk to us about any problems you might have, the sooner we will be able to help.
If you have paid more rent than you owe, you can ask for a refund by writing to your housing services officer. They will confirm the amount you are due and arrange to have a cheque sent to you
Who lives there
The property must be your main or only home. If you do not live in the home we will take action to end your tenancy.
When you filled in your application for housing you told us who will be living with you – your household. This can change over time, and you must let us know if someone moves into or out of your home. This includes family members who count this as their home but don’t live there all the time. We need to know this so that we can:
- make sure the home is not getting overcrowded;
- let all adults in the household know if we are going to do anything that may affect their rights; and
- be sure who might have a right to take the tenancy over if anything happens to you.
If you want to take in a lodger, you must get our written permission first. To get our permission, contact your housing services officer.
Going away from home
If you are going to be away from your home for four weeks or more, you must let us know, even if someone will be looking after your home. You will continue to be responsible for paying the rent while you are away.
Going away in cold weather
If your home is going to be empty for any length of time during cold weather you must let us know. This is so that we can take appropriate action if we have reports of frozen or burst pipes. You must make sure your water is turned off and the pipes drained. If you want us to do this we will charge you. If you don’t know where your stopcock is, ask your housing services officer.
Make a note of where your stopcock is located.
Before you go you must make sure your home is ‘frost-proof’. See the Repairs and Maintenance section for what to do to make your home frost-proof.
Going away and not telling us
If you go away from home and don’t tell us, we might think you have moved out and are not coming back. We would then take steps to recover your home. This could mean that you lose your home and anything left in it. We do not need to go to court to do this, but we must send a notice to the property telling you what we intend to do. We can force our way into the home and change the locks if we think the house or its contents are not safe or secure.
If you do not respond to the notices we send to the property we can end your tenancy after four weeks. If you have left anything in the property, we will store them for up to six months, but only if it is worth more than the total of the cost of storing it and any amounts you owe us (for example, unpaid rent). Otherwise we will simply sell or dispose of your belongings.
We can also take action to end the tenancy of a joint tenant who has left the home leaving another joint tenant there. The remaining tenant will take over the tenancy in their name only.
Subletting your home
You might want to sublet your home if you have to go away for a few months but intend to come back. If you are thinking about doing this you must get our written permission first. We will ask for information about the arrangement and how long you intend to be away. We will not generally give permission for you to sublet your home for more than six months. To get our permission, contact your housing services officer.
We have a joint project with the Highland and Islands Fire Rescue Service as part of our commitment to safety in your home.
Between three and six months after you move in, we will help to arrange your free fire-safety check.
The safety check will involve a Community Safety Advisor (CSA) visiting your home and, where necessary, making recommendations which will help reduce the risk of fire.
The safety check will take about 20 minutes. It will look at all areas of fire risk within your home, fit smoke alarms where necessary, and tell you how to maintain them. You will also receive advice and information on how to stay safe from fire, including kitchen dangers, safely getting rid of cigarette butts, using candles, heaters and electric blankets, and the points to consider when making a fire escape plan.
Visits must be arranged beforehand. The person carrying out the safety check will be in uniform and will carry an ID card.
If your home has been fitted with battery-operated smoke alarms, you will be responsible for replacing the batteries.
Smoke alarms can save lives. You must check your batteries regularly and replace them as soon as you need to. If you do not know how to test your alarm or change your batteries, please contact our customer services department.
As a tenant, you are responsible for looking after your home and neighbourhood, and for being a good neighbour to other residents. The following are issues that can become areas for dispute if everyone does not respect each other.
You can keep pets without our permission as long as they do not cause a nuisance to your neighbours and you do not break any law or court order relating to the animals. If you do not look after your pets properly or keep them under reasonable control, or if you allow them to cause a nuisance to your neighbours, we will ask you to take steps to improve the situation. This might mean finding another home for your pets. If you do not do this, we may get a court order to remove the pet.
A pet is a domestic animal such as a dog, cat, rabbit, caged bird, fish, small rodent, non-poisonous reptile or non-poisonous amphibian which is generally kept as a pet. If you want to keep any other animal you must get our written permission.
If you have a dog, you must not let it stray and you must clean up after it, especially in areas where children might play.
If you find a stray dog in your area, contact the dog warden at the local council, who will arrange to come and collect it.
If you have a dog that you leave alone in your home or garden, it can disturb your neighbours if it barks or whines all day. If we receive complaints, we may have to take action against you. Please do not keep pets unless you know you can look after them and you know they won’t be a nuisance to other people.
In some estates there is not always enough parking for everyone to park in front of their own front door. Unless the parking spaces have been designated for particular homes, parking is generally on a first come, first served basis. Please think before parking in a spot that may cause problems to or annoy other people. In particular, please consider the needs of neighbours who are elderly or who have mobility difficulties or small children, and leave spaces for them where you can.
Do not park in areas that have been designated as disabled parking spaces (unless you have a disability which means you need to use the space) or have been designated as no-parking areas.
Abandoned vehicles and vehicles which are parked on the road or in one of our car parking areas without a current tax disc will be removed by The Highland Council.
Please encourage your children to use areas set aside for play if these are provided.
Make sure you know where your children and teenagers are and that they are not causing a nuisance to other people in the area. You are responsible for the behaviour of your children and they should not be allowed to damage other people’s property
Adults also need to remember that young people need to play and that groups of children are not always a cause for concern.
If you have a dog, make sure that they are not allowed to foul in areas where children might play.
Shared areas and facilities
If there are any areas you share with other residents, respect their privacy and keep the areas you share clean and tidy and free from any obstruction.
If we do not employ a contractor to keep shared areas clean you and your neighbours are responsible for doing this. We will leave it to you and your neighbours to organise yourselves. However, if this is not possible we may set up a rota. If the areas are not kept clean, we may arrange for the work to be carried out by a contractor and charge the cost to all tenants sharing the area.
If you are not sure which areas you can use or are responsible for, please speak to your neighbour or ask us.
We will provide you with a bin to use during your tenancy. This will normally be a wheelie bin for your own use, but some tenants in flats may share a larger bin. The bin will remain our property and must be left in good condition when your tenancy ends. We will also provide somewhere for the bin to be kept.
This could be a bin store or stand. You must return your bin to its proper storage place as soon as possible after it has been emptied.
The local council will empty the bins if they are left in the right place on the right day. We will tell you which day this is at the start of your tenancy. If you are not sure, please speak to a neighbour, ask us or check with your local council.
The Highland Council will normally only collect rubbish if it is in the bin provided. If you have extra rubbish you will have to make arrangements with the local council for a special collection. They will normally charge for this.
If you have large items to get rid of, please contact The Highland Council. You will have to pay a fee for this. Fly-tipping is forbidden.
To contact The Highland Council phone 01349 886603.
If you have a garden, keep it tidy and free from weeds. If you cannot manage to do this because of ill-health or a disability, you may be eligible for help from our garden maintenance scheme. To find out if you can get help, phone our Customer Services Team. There may also be other garden schemes that you could join. Contact us, or your local council, for advice.
Noise is a fact of life, and everyone has to accept that everyday activities will create some level of noise. However, some types of noise are unacceptable and there are times of the day and night when noise really does become a nuisance.
Complaints about noise can be easily avoided by showing consideration for others. Think before you have a party or start noisy housework or DIY. Will it disturb your neighbours? Have you warned them?
Please keep noise down and, if possible, avoid times that are going to disturb other people.
If you continually make loud noise, or make a lot of noise at inappropriate times of the day without considering your neighbours, it can become antisocial behaviour. We will then take action that will have serious consequences for your household.
If your neighbours continually disturb you with noise you should talk to them about it. We all create noise and sometimes people do not realise that they are disturbing anyone. If talking to your neighbour doesn’t work, there are various steps that you can take. If you contact us we can give you advice and may be able to take steps to prevent future disturbance. If you are seriously disturbed by loud noise in the night or at weekends, contact the police and let your housing services officer know about it as soon as you can. Please ask for our Neighbour Complaints pack by phoning the Customer Services team. Please keep a record of the date, time, address, and type of disturbance and send it to your housing services officer.
We will not tolerate any form of harassment caused by you or anyone living with or visiting you. Causing harassment breaks the conditions of your tenancy agreement and is also a criminal offence.
Harassment means any antisocial or nuisance behaviour towards someone. It includes physical attacks, damage to property, verbal threats and insults that cause alarm or distress. If you are suffering from harassment contact the police straight away and let your housing services officer know about it as soon as you can.
We will only be able to help you if you let us know what is happening.
Neighbour problems and antisocial behaviour
Neighbour problems cover a wide range of issues and we are committed to tackling them. If you have any problems with your neighbours you should try to sort the problems out with them yourself. If you cannot solve the problem yourself, contact us at our Invergordon office.
If you think you would put yourself or your household at risk by contacting your neighbour, phone Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
When we receive a complaint we will prioritise it in line with the type of complaint and how serious it is. Wherever possible, we will contact everyone involved within two working days to gather more information about what has happened. If you have been abused or harassed, or the victim of a crime, we will contact you earlier.
We will contact you again as soon as possible, and no later than 14 days after you make your complaint, to let you know what action, if any, we will be taking.
After speaking to everybody involved, we may find that the issue is a difference of opinion or lifestyle and not related to your tenancy, or is a personal disagreement that does not cause a nuisance to anyone else. For instance, if somebody parks their car outside your house, but it is not in a designated parking space or causing an obstruction, we cannot intervene. In this type of case we will not take any further action. However, if other incidents happen and they do become a tenancy issue, we will take appropriate action against whoever is causing the nuisance.
If we think that you have good reason to make a complaint, if you agree, we will warn the person you complained about that their actions are causing a nuisance and that we will take appropriate action against them if they do not stop. This could include giving verbal, written or final warnings or taking formal legal action.
If the problem continues after you have reported it to us, it is important that you keep a record of these problems. The Neighbour Complaints pack contains log sheets for this purpose. To get a Neighbour Complaints pack, phone our Customer Services Team.
As well as the information you provide, we will also collect statements from tenants, check incidents reported to the police and contact other witnesses in case we need to take a case to court.
You must always give us as much information as possible about the problem – what has happened, dates, times, the names of those involved and any other people who were witnesses. It is important that we know about incidents as soon as possible as they can be very difficult to investigate properly at a later date.
If there has been any criminal behaviour, you must report every incident to the police so that they can respond straight away. The police should give you an incident number. Please tell your housing services officer about the incident and keep a note of your incident number in case we need to check the details.
There is more information on how to respond to and deal with neighbour problems in our Neighbour Complaints pack.
We will keep any information you give us confidential. We will not say where any complaint came from. However, if your complaint is specific to you, the person you have complained about may be able to work out that you made the complaint. If this is the case, we will make sure you want us to continue before we follow the complaint up.
Please bear in mind that when your housing services officer is dealing with a complaint about antisocial behaviour, it may take a long time to find a solution to it.
Section 4 Repairs and maintenance
1 Our responsibility
We have a legal duty to maintain your home in a fit and safe state for you to live in. We also have a commitment to provide good-quality housing. In our Annual Report we will state how we have spent your rent on managing our organisation and maintaining all the properties we own.
Generally, we are responsible for keeping the structure and outside of your home in a good condition, and for keeping sanitary fittings (toilets, sinks, baths and so on) and installations for supplying water, gas and electricity in good repair and proper working order. But if the damage is caused by your neglect or misuse, we will carry out the work and may charge you for it.
2 Your responsibility
You are generally responsible for decorating the inside of your home and maintaining the fixtures and fittings. This means that you should make sure your home is well decorated at the end of your tenancy. You are responsible for damage to glass, doors, sinks, blocked sinks and drains, sweeping flues or chimneys, and replacing lost keys and damaged locks.
- report repairs as soon as you notice them;
- allow us into your home to inspect it or carry out repairs;
- look after any garden or other ground let to you as part of your home; and
- with your neighbours, keep any shared gardens or stairs clean and in good order.
3 Who is responsible?
Click here to download a table which outlines the responsibility for different types of repairs.
In order to avoid frozen pipes during the winter, try to keep your home warm day and night. Leave doors inside your home open to allow heat to circulate.
Attics and lofts
Check your attic or loft, especially if you have water storage tanks up there. Make sure that any insulation around the pipes and tanks has not moved or become damaged.
Going on holiday
If you go away during the winter, drain your cold water, or ask us to do it for you (we will charge for this).
Or, we can give you the details of one of our contractors who you can contact to make your own arrangements. If you leave your home empty for a period (for example, while you are on holiday), it is a good idea to leave keys with a neighbour and to tell the police.
Shared-ownership and LIFT properties
If you live in a shared-ownership or LIFT property and need information on who is responsible for repairs, phone the Customer Services Team on:
North Area - Invergordon Office 0300 323 0990
South Area - Inverness Office 0300 323 0991
We insure the structure of your home, but you must insure your belongings yourself. Fire, floods and accidents can mean financial disaster.
If you have a burst pipe:
turn off the water at the stopcock;
switch off all the electricity at the mains;
switch off the central heating;
turn all your taps on; and
call the Customer Services Number: North - 0300 323 0990 South - 0300 323 0991
Remember – we are not responsible for any damage caused to your personal belongings by frost damage or burst pipes or water tanks.
Energy costs have risen sharply in recent years and are expected to continue rising. There are a number of things you can do to keep your energy bills down.
The greatest energy savings can be made when the walls and roofs of homes are well insulated and heating systems are efficient. We are in the process of carrying out a programme of work to make sure that all our housing will meet the Scottish Housing Energy Efficiency Standards by 2015.
You can also help save energy by following the energy-saving tips below.
- Use energy-saving light bulbs. Each bulb lasts around 12 times longer than normal bulbs and uses 75% less electricity.
- Turn electrical appliances off when you are not using them. Do not leave them on standby.
- Turn your heating thermostat down. Turning your heating down by 10C can save you around £30 a year.
- In the winter time, use heavy curtains and close them at dusk.
- When you put the kettle on, only boil as much water as you need.
- Don’t leave your fridge-freezer door open for longer than necessary.
- If you are buying a new electrical appliance, aim to buy appliances rated A+ if you can afford them. Your older fridge-freezer may use two and a half times more electricity than a modern A-rated one uses.
Glass in doors and windows
You must use safety glass in repairs of windows or doors. If you carry out a repair and do not use safety glass, at the end of your tenancy we will replace the glazing with safety glass and charge you for it.
Although you are responsible for certain repairs, we may still carry out the repair but will charge you the cost of doing so.
Laminate flooring (glued)
If you have decided to use laminate or wood flooring as your floor covering, it may cause problems if we need to get access underneath the floor to carry out a repair. This is likely to be difficult if the flooring is glued in place or fitted under skirting boards, as it cannot be lifted and re-laid without damage. Check that your home and contents insurance will cover this damage before having the flooring laid.
Alterations and improvements
If you want to carry out any alterations or improvements, you must get written permission before you start the work. If you do not get our permission, we may have to carry out work to put things back the way they were. We will charge you for any work involved.
You also need our permission to install satellite dishes or aerials. We will only refuse to give our permission if we have good reason. You may also need to get permission from the local authority’s Planning Department. If you do not get our permission, we may remove the satellite dish and charge you for the work involved.
If you have carried out work to improve your property you may be entitled to compensation when you leave the home. See the Moving Out section of this handbook for more information.
How to report a repair
Our Customer Services staff are split into North and South teams. Please contact them as follows:
If you live in the North (areas north of, but not including, Inverness) please call our lo-call number: 0300 323 0990
If you live in the South (areas south of, and including, Inverness) please call our lo-call number: 0300 323 0991
If you need a repair in an emergency, and our offices are closed, you can ring 0300 323 0990. You can only use this service for repairs that need to be carried out urgently to:
- make your home secure (for example, by temporarily boarding up windows);
- make your home safe after storm or fire damage;
- avoid danger to life or risk of serious injury;
- prevent further damage (for example, from flooding, burst pipes or serious leaks); or
- repair complete loss of heating or power supply within the home.
These emergency repairs may only be a temporary fix, with a permanent repair being carried out later. If you make an emergency call, you must have the following information available.
- The full postal address where the repair is needed
- Your name and the name of the tenant, if you are calling on behalf of someone else
- A contact phone number, your own or a neighbour’s
- Any other relevant details for contact or access
- A brief but accurate description of the problem and what repair or tradesperson may be needed, such as a plumber, glazier or joiner
If you make an emergency call for work that is not an emergency, you will have to wait for the work to be started.
What happens after you report a repair
Your report will be passed to the Customer Services team. If the housing services officer wants to inspect the problem, they will contact you to make an appointment. Otherwise, they will issue an order for the work to be carried out.
We will send you a copy of the work order. We will include a satisfaction questionnaire with it. When the work has been completed, please fill in the questionnaire and return it to us in the envelope provided, with any comments you may have on the work that was carried out. This will help us to monitor the quality of our repair service.
Repairs that are not emergencies will be carried out during normal working hours, which are 8am to 5pm on weekdays.
How long repairs will take
We have set target times for completing repairs, depending on the type of work that needs to be done.
Emergency repairs will be carried out as soon as possible after they have been reported, and always within eight hours. If a temporary repair is carried out, you will be told when you can expect the permanent repair to be completed and whether or not you will be charged for the work.
Some urgent repairs will be carried out within one working day. These repairs include the following.
- Blocked sink, bath or drain (if there are no other sinks or baths in the house)
- Dangerous paths and steps
- Repairs to toilets (if there are no other toilets in the house)
Other urgent repairs will be carried out within two working days. These are repairs where any delay of more than two working days could cause damage to your property. These repairs include the following.
- Floods or leaks causing damage to ceilings or walls
- Broken glass, doors or locks
- Faulty immersion heaters (if there is no other hot-water supply)
- Heating repairs in cold weather
Most other repairs will be routine repairs and will be carried out within 10 working days.
The types of repair quoted above are intended as a guide only. There will be situations where the time it takes us to respond to repairs will be different because of special circumstances. We will tell you about these when you report your repair.
Right to repairs
You are entitled to have certain repairs carried out within a timescale set by The Scottish Government. These are called qualifying repairs. If any qualifying repair is not carried out within the timescale set, you have the right to call in another contractor to do the work. This contractor must be on the list of approved contractors we have given you.
You must first tell us that the repair has not been carried out within the set timescale and that you are getting in a contractor yourself.
You will then be eligible for a payment from us to make up for the delay. You will receive a standard £15 plus £3 for every working day over the set timescale during which the repair was not completed. These payments do not come into force until the timescales given below have passed and the repair is still not done.
For example, if you lose some of your electricity supply on a Monday, and you report it to us that day, we will have three days to fix it. If we have not fixed it by Thursday you can contact us to ask us to appoint another contractor to carry out the repair, or you can arrange another contractor yourself. We will then give you £15 plus £3 for every working day until the repair is completed. This £3 a day will not start until the Thursday and will end on the day the repair is completed. The most any tenant can claim is £100.
Qualifying repairs and timescales
Repairs that should be carried out within one working day of the repair being reported
- Blocked flue to an open fire or boiler
- Blocked or leaking soil stack or toilet pan (if there is no other toilet in the home)
- Blocked sink, bath or drain
- Total loss of electric power, unless it is a power cut or has been cut off at the mains
- Insecure window or door on the outside of the property
- Unsafe path or step to the property
- Leaks or flooding from water or heating pipes, tanks and cisterns
- Loss or partial loss of gas supply
- Toilet not flushing (if there is no other toilet in the property)
- Unsafe power or lighting socket, or electrical fitting
- Loss of water supply within the home, unless it has been turned off at the mains
Repairs that should be carried out within three working days of the repair being reported
- Partial loss of electric power
- Partial loss of water supply
- Loose or detached banister or handrail
- Unsafe wooden flooring or stairs
Repairs that should be carried out within seven working days of the repair being reported
- Mechanical extractor fan in kitchen or bathroom not working
For more information, phone our Customer Services Team and ask for a copy of the ‘Right to Repair’ leaflet.
We have a programme of planned maintenance each year. This usually results from an inspection visit. Some work is programmed to deal with the natural ageing of your home. This means that on a planned and regular basis we upgrade, repair and replace certain parts of properties. For example, we generally redecorate the outside of all homes every five years and replace kitchens every 15 years (if the board agrees).
Sometimes we may delay carrying out a routine repair if the item is due to be replaced under our programme of planned maintenance quite soon. We will tell you about this when you report the repair.
Sometimes after major repairs or maintenance work we will provide redecoration vouchers.
Repairs to your property when you have applied to buy your home
Until your purchase is completed, we must keep the structure and outside of your home in good repair. We will not carry out any major replacements or improvements after you have applied to buy your home.
Houses are fitted with current breakers or circuit breakers to cut off the electricity if there is a problem. These provide extra safety but are very sensitive to faulty appliances. Before reporting a fault with your power supply you should reset the circuit breaker and make sure that it is not a faulty appliance which is causing the circuit breaker to 'trip'. If the fault is caused by an applicance we will charge you.
For more information, phone the Customer Services Team.
If you have gas central heating or a gas fire provided by us, by law we must inspect and service it once a year. If the inspection shows that a repair or replacement is needed, we will carry out the work within the appropriate timescales. You will have to let our contractor in to carry out the inspection and any further work. If we have to force our way into your property to carry out the work you will have to pay any associated costs. We will give you a copy of the inspection report. If the report highlights a problem with one of your own appliances, you will be responsible for arranging and paying for any necessary repair or replacement.
When you move in we will give you a copy of the most recent gas-safety report for your home.
We strongly recommend that you take out contents insurance to cover your belongings and decoration in your home against damage caused by theft, fire or accident. You might be liable to replace broken glass in windows, or damaged sinks, baths or toilets, so you should include accidental cover in your household insurance.
The Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) has negotiated special rates for housing association tenants. If you want more details, phone the Customer Services team and ask for a leaflet about Diamond Insurance Cover.
You do not need to insure the building itself. This is our responsibility.
You may want to keep a list of your valuable possessions. Take a note of serial numbers on equipment and include any details such as distinguishing features, jewellery hallmarks or imperfections. You might also want to take photographs of any unusual items. If items are stolen, the list and photos will help you and the police confirm what has been stolen and identify anything that is recovered.
Condensation affects millions of homes in the UK. It is closely related to how well the home is heated, ventilated, insulated and draught-proofed. There are simple things you can do to help cut down the problem.
Condensation, like all dampness, causes a particular problem because damp homes are harder to heat.
It is important to realise that condensation can arise in rooms some distance away from the source of moisture. Warm moist air naturally moves to colder areas and will condense on cold surfaces. For example, a common problem in homes that are not centrally heated is that moisture in the air moves to unheated rooms (often bedrooms) and causes condensation.
What condensation is
If warm air comes into contact with a cold surface, the moisture in the air becomes water droplets on the surface. This effect can be seen on a bathroom mirror when you have a hot bath or on a glass containing a cold drink.
Why condensation is a problem
- Condensation causes staining and mould growth and can damage wallpaper, walls and window frames as well as furniture and clothing.
- The black mould that is a familiar sight when there are severe condensation problems can cause health problems in some people.
- Condensation, like all other forms of dampness, makes houses difficult to keep warm. This is because wet building materials lose heat more quickly than dry ones, and some of the heat is being used to dry out the home.
Where you find condensation
- Cold surfaces such as mirrors, single-glazed windows and metal-framed windows
- Kitchens and bathrooms (where moist air is produced through washing, cooking and so on)
- Walls of unheated rooms
- Cold corners of rooms
- Wardrobes, cupboards (particularly built-in cupboards) and behind furniture against an outside wall
How to reduce the risk of condensation
To reduce condensation one or more of the following factors should be considered.
- The amount of moisture produced
The amount of moisture produced
Moisture is produced in the course of normal day-to-day activities, but there are still a number of steps you can take to reduce the amount of moisture produced.
- Keep lids on saucepans when cooking.
- Do not soak clothes for longer than necessary.
- Have your tumble dryer vented to the outside.
- Do not use bottled-gas or paraffin heaters.
- If the kitchen or bathroom is steamy, open the window and close the door.
- Leave cupboard and wardrobe doors open from time to time, or have louvre doors.
- Make sure clothes are totally dry before you put them in your wardrobe.
However, too much ventilation makes a house draughty. Getting the balance right can be difficult.
Background ventilation can be given by trickle ventilators fitted to window frames, or by air bricks and ventilators. Some of these are adjustable, but they should never be blocked.
In kitchens and bathrooms, extractor fans are a very good idea. Some ventilators switch themselves on and off according to the moisture in the air.
If you are getting condensation on furniture (commonly a bed pushed against an outside wall or a sofa in a bay window), move the furniture away from the wall a few inches to make sure air can circulate around the cold area.
Never seal openings or vents in a room that has a gas or solid-fuel fire in it.
Condensation is most likely to be a problem in a home that is not heated enough. The home may not be heated well enough because the heating system is not good enough, or because it is too expensive to heat the home. You should not use bottled-gas and paraffin heaters as these are likely to make any condensation problem worse. Remember also that peak-rate electricity is expensive, and it may be false economy to switch off your central heating and use electric bar fires or fan heaters instead.
Insulation is important in treating condensation.
- It warms up the surface of walls, ceiling and windows, so moisture doesn’t condense on them.
- It generally warms up the home.
- It can reduce heating bills, so people can afford to heat their homes effectively.
Dealing with mould
For some people, black mould causes a health risk. Remove mould using a solution of bleach and water. If mould is particularly bad, wear a face mask when removing it. The cleaned area may be painted with anti-mould paint, or covered with special wallpaper paste before you redecorate. However, if you do not treat the cause of the mould, it will return.
The most effective way to get rid of mould in the long term is to reduce condensation.
If any member of your household has a physical disability or an ongoing medical problem that makes living in your home difficult, we will try to help you. There are two ways you may be able to get help.
- Social services can provide aids such as grab rails.
- We may be able to arrange for adaptations such as replacing a bath with a shower or changing the height of worktops or kitchen units.
If you think you need an adaptation we will arrange for a suitably qualified specialist, usually an occupational therapist, to carry out a formal assessment. They will give us a written report telling us what changes need to be made to your home, and give a priority for the work to be done. We will work out the cost of the work. If we have the funding available we will arrange to have the work carried out for you.
If we do not have the funding you may be able to arrange and pay for the work yourself. You must have our written permission to carry out any work on your home. For more information, phone our Customer Services Team.
There are details of occupational therapists and social services in Your contacts and notes.
Section 5 Moving out
In the future, the home you live in may no longer be suitable for you. You can apply to us for a transfer or apply to other landlords for housing. Or you can swap homes with another tenant of ours or of a housing association or local authority. This is known as a mutual exchange.
Transfer to another home
You can apply to move to a different type or size of house or to a different area. Each year, we aim to offer at least 25% of all our empty properties to tenants who have applied for a transfer.
We will normally offer a transfer to the applicant with the highest need to move. We will work this out by allocating points.
We may not allow you to transfer if:
- you are behind with your rent;
- you have not kept your home in good condition; or
- we have had to deal with complaints about behaviour related to your tenancy.
If you want to apply for a transfer, phone our Customer Services Team.
If you want to swap homes with another tenant, you can advertise this on our Mutual Exchange books in our Invergordon and Inverness offices. Or you can look out for other people’s adverts in local council housing offices or other housing association offices. You can also advertise in local papers or on noticeboards in local supermarkets. If you have internet access, you can also advertise on landlords’ websites.
There is a national scheme available that helps people to swap homes with tenants in other parts of the UK. This is called ‘House Exchange ’, and you can register for free on the website at www.houseexchange.org.uk. It is very simple to register and you will receive information on potential swaps by email or text message. When you find someone who you want to exchange with it is up to you to contact him or her. You can arrange to visit each other’s homes. Please inspect their home carefully. Make sure you would be happy to move into it the way it is. We will not carry out any decorating or repairs for you, unless there are structural or safety issues.
If you decide that you want to swap homes, you and the other tenant must fill in an Application for Mutual Exchange form. If the other tenant is not our tenant, they will also have to contact their landlord and you will have to fill in a form from that landlord. You cannot go ahead with the swap until both landlords have given their permission in writing.
We may not allow the exchange to go ahead if:
- either of you have rent arrears;
- either of you have not looked after your home;
- either of you have had complaints about behaviour made against you; or
- we cannot get a satisfactory reference from the other tenant’s landlord.
Also, we will not allow the exchange if it will result in our property being overcrowded or much larger than the new tenant needs, or if your home is of a special type and the other tenant does not need that particular type of housing.
We aim to make a decision on whether to allow the exchange within 28 days of receiving your Application for Mutual Exchange form.
You can download mutual exchange forms here.
Get a reward from us before you go
We really appreciate tenants who look after their homes and who have trouble-free tenancies. To reward you for this, when you end your tenancy you can claim up to £100 from us.
If you want to claim a reward, contact us at least four weeks before you will move out so that your housing services officer can inspect the property. If your home is in good order, you will get £50.
When you leave the property we will give you another £50 if you have done the following.
- Returned a full set of keys
- Given us your new address
- Given us a final meter reading and told us who supplies your gas and electricity (you must also give the suppliers your meter readings)
- Cleared the house of furniture, belongings and rubbish
- Tidied and cleared the garden of rubbish
- Cleaned the house
- Left your wheelie bin for the next tenant
- Done any repairs you are responsible for
- Left the home reasonably well decorated
Please note: any rent you owe will be taken off the reward.
Right to compensation
If you have made certain improvements to your property, at the end of your tenancy we might be able to compensate you for the cost of the work. To get compensation:
- you must have got our written permission before the work was carried out;
- you must have carried the work out to a good standard;
- the work must have been carried out after 30 September 2002; and
- the improvement must be one of the following.
- Fitting a bath or shower
- Cavity wall insulation
- Having double glazing or secondary glazing
- Replacing windows
- Draught-proofing outside doors or windows
- Insulating pipes and water tanks or cylinders
- Installing mechanical ventilation in the bathroom or kitchen
- Fitting a new kitchen sink
- Insulating the loft
- Rewiring and providing lighting or other electrical fixtures or fittings, including smoke detectors
- Fitting security measures other than burglar alarms
- Providing new heating or water heating
- Fitting storage cupboards in the bathroom or kitchen
- Putting thermostatic radiator valves on radiators
- Fitting a new wash basin
- Putting in a toilet
- Replacing or fitting worktops or work surfaces in the kitchen
If you want to claim compensation for any of the above, ask the Customer Services Team for more information.
You ending your tenancy
If you want to end your tenancy you must give us at least four weeks’ notice in writing. Remember to tell us the date you will be moving out and the address you will be moving to.
We will send you a form to fill in and arrange for your home to be inspected. During this inspection we will check whether you need to do any repairs or redecorating before you leave to bring the property up to an acceptable standard. We will inspect the property again when you leave and may charge for any work that you should have done before you left. If you do not leave the house in a good condition, we will charge you for any redecoration vouchers that we have to give to the new tenant.
You will be responsible for removing any belongings in the house or garden, including carpets, unless your housing services officer has told you they can stay. If you just leave them, we will have them removed and will charge you for this.
Remember, you will have to pay rent up to the end of your notice period or the date you return your keys, whichever is later. When you give us your notice we will tell you how much rent and charges you will have to pay before you leave.
We need four weeks’ notice so that we can inspect the property and carry out any repairs or redecorating that is needed. We also use this time to start the process to let the property to a new tenant. If you are transferring to another property of ours, or getting a tenancy with another Highland Housing Register partner, your notice period may be much shorter, depending on when your new home is ready. We will discuss this with you at the time.
The Highland Housing Register partners are:
- The Highland Council;
- Cairn Housing Association Ltd;
- Lochaber Housing Association Ltd;
- Lochalsh & Skye Housing Association Ltd; and
- Pentland Housing Association Ltd.
Us ending your tenancy
We can end your tenancy by taking you to court. We will only do this if you have broken your tenancy agreement with us and we have not been able to solve the problem with you in any other way. Situations where we may take you to court include the following.
- If you have not paid your rent
- If you are not living in the property as your only or main home
- If you have used the property for illegal purposes
- If you or anyone living with or visiting you has acted in a seriously antisocial way
- If you gave us false information when you applied for housing or a transfer
- If you have significantly damaged or neglected any part of the property or shared areas
If you die, another member of your household who has lived with you for at least the previous six months may be able to take over your tenancy. This is known as succession.
If you have a joint tenancy, your joint tenant would become the sole tenant. This may not count as a succession.
A tenancy can only be passed on by succession twice. This is explained in more detail in your tenancy agreement.
Different rules apply to homes that are fully adapted for wheelchair users. We have to try to make the best use of these properties because they are very specialised and not readily available throughout the area. If you live in one of these properties, only your partner can take over the tenancy by succession, and no future partner of theirs will be able to take over the tenancy.
If you do not have a partner and nobody else living in the property uses a wheelchair, we will try to move the household to another home. If someone living in the property does use a wheelchair but does not have a right to take over the tenancy by succession, we will try to allow the household to stay in the property.
When you move out you may find the following checklist helpful.
Before you move out
- Contact your housing officer to tell them that you are moving out.
- Contact your satellite TV provider if you have one to arrange for a final bill.
- Contact electricity, gas and oil suppliers to let them know when you will be moving out. They may want to talk to you about how you are going to pay your bills. Remember to take meter readings on the day you leave.
- Contact your phone company to arrange for a final bill. If you are not moving too far you might be able to take your phone number with you.
- Let your local council know that you are moving. You will need to fill in a form for council tax.
- Make a list of everybody who will need to have your new address (for example, your bank, building society, work, doctor, dentist, friends and family). You can arrange to have your mail redirected by Royal Mail, though they charge for this service.
- Arrange to get rid of any furniture, belongings or rubbish that you are not taking with you. If you leave it we will charge you for getting rid of it.
- Make sure you carry out any repairs we told you about after you gave your notice to end the tenancy.
- Remember to leave the property reasonably well decorated. This usually means you will have to touch up damaged paintwork or wallpaper. If you don’t do this, we may have to charge you for any redecoration vouchers we give the new tenant.
- If you are on Housing Benefit you must let the local council know when your tenancy will end and that you are no longer responsible for paying the rent.
- Remember to hand in your keys on or before the end of your notice period. If you do not return your keys we will continue charging you rent until you return them or we change the locks. If we have to change the locks, we will charge you for this.
Section 6 Useful contacts
For free and independent advice on a wide range of housing and money matters contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau.
Alness 01349 883 333
Dingwall 01349 864 850
Inverness 01463 235 345
Nairn 01667 456 677
Tain 01862 894 382
Thurso 01847 894 243 or 01847 896 796
Wick 01955 605 989
East Sutherland Village Advisory Service
Golspie 01408 633 000
North West Sutherland Advice and Information Service
Kinlochbervie 01971 521 730
0800 393 811 (free from a landline)
Highland Council Money Advice
0800 090 1004
Scottish Water Emergency 0845 600 8855
Scottish Water Customer Service 0845 601 8855
National Gas Emergency Service 0800 111 999
Alcoholics Anonymous 0845 769 7555
Child death helpline 0800 282 986
Cruse Scotland 0845 600 2227
Carers UK 0808 808 7777
Childline 0800 1111
Child protection 0800 022 3222
Citizen's Advice Consumer advice line 08454 04 05 06
DIAL UK Disability helpline 01302 310123
National Drugs helpline (FRANK) 0800 77 66 00
Samaritans 08457 90 90 90
Parentline Scotland 0808 800 2222
Scottish Domestic Abuse helpline 0800 027 1234
Crimestoppers 0800 555 111
Advocacy Highland 01463 233 460
New Start Highland (housing support) 01463 728 780
Home Aid 01847 891 300
NHS 24 08454 24 24 24
Highland and Islands Fire Rescue Service 01463 227 000
Grampian Fire Rescue Service 01224 788 758
Section 7 Healthy eating
Good eating doesn’t have to ‘break the bank’.
Here are some ideas on making healthy but cheap choices at mealtimes, and some tasty recipes to try out.
What is a balanced diet?
To eat a balanced diet we need to eat a wide variety of foods. Eat plenty of fruit, vegetables and starchy foods (such as bread, rice, pasta, cereals, and potatoes). Try to cut down on fatty and sugary foods. Look at the ‘eatwell plate’ to give you an idea of how much of each food type you should eat.
- Plan meals in advance so you know what you need to buy and how much of it.
- Try to use a shopping list to avoid impulse buys. Use a basket instead of a trolley for midweek shopping – the sheer weight of the basket of shopping will prevent you from buying too much.
- Try to shop after a meal. If you are hungry you are likely to buy more.
- Compare the cost per weight of items (usually shown on the price stickers on the shelf), don’t be deceived by bulky packaging.
- Supermarket own brands are usually cheaper and still nutritious.
- Look out for special offers and weigh up the advantages. Some foods on special offer need to be used up quickly. ‘Buy one get one free’ offers are good value if you can store the food and use it before it goes out of date.
- Buy fruit and vegetables when they are in season as they are cheaper than fruit and vegetables that are out of season.
Cooking your food
- Cook vegetables in as little water as possible, and use boiled water from the kettle, rather than heating the water in the pan, to save on fuel costs.
- If using the oven, get the most use out of it. For example, if you are cooking a stew, also use the oven to bake some potatoes and braise the vegetables in water.
- Grill food rather than frying, it doesn’t cost any more and you won’t need to use oil or fat.
- Use electrical gadgets such as steamers and slow cookers as they are often cheap to run.
Convenience foods to have in
- Tinned beans (for example, baked beans, kidney beans)
- Tinned tomatoes
- Tinned fish (for example, tuna, pilchards, sardines), especially if in brine, spring water or tomato sauce)
- Canned meat (for example, corned beef)
- Tinned fruit (in juice, not syrup)
Dried foods to have in
- Lentils, split peas and so on for stews and soups
- Dried skimmed-milk powder, for sauces
- Pasta – for quick, filling meals
Frozen foods to have in
- Frozen vegetables – just as nutritious as fresh and sometimes cheaper
- Fish fingers, fishcakes and frozen fish – good value for money
- Frozen meat and poultry – can be cheaper than fresh
Some cost-cutting ideas
- Make meat go further by mixing beans or lentils with mince or meat dishes (for example, baked beans in shepherd’s pie, lentils in Bolognese sauce, kidney beans in chilli. This also increases the fibre in the meal.
- Add lots of vegetables to stews, casseroles and so on as this adds fibre and makes the meal go further.
- Don’t buy too many biscuits, sweets and cakes. They are often high in fat and sugar and nutritionally not good value for money.
- High-fibre breakfast cereal (for example, Weetabix, branflakes) with semi-skimmed milk makes a cheap and healthy snack at any time of the day.
On average people eat about two or three portions of fruit and vegetables a day. Eating at least five portions every day helps you look good and stay healthy, and helps to protect you against illnesses like cancer and heart disease.
How much is a portion?
1 small bowl of salad
1 glass of fresh fruit juice
A handful of grapes
A handful of vegetables
1 medium fruit – apple, orange, banana
2 small fruits – plums, apricots, satsumas
1 slice of very large fruit – melon, pineapple
½ to 1 tablespoon of apricots, raisins or dates
2 or 3 tablespoons of fruit salad (fresh or tinned)
Vegetables are mostly fat-free and very low in calories. Fruits add flavour and variety to meals and are also low in fat and calories.
Top tips for healthy eating
- Get the balance right – use the eatwell plate on the handy removable page to remind you.
- Breakfast is the easiest and most economical meal – try not to miss it. A good breakfast will keep you going longer without snacking.
- As a general guide, a well-balanced meal would have one fist-sized portion of protein, two fist-sized portions of vegetables, and two fist-sized portions of starchy foods (carbohydrates).
- If your plate looks a little empty, fill up with some extra vegetables.
- Make your snacks healthy too. At home, a piece of toast, fruit or a small bowl of non-sugary cereal is a good way to beat hunger pangs. When you are out, try a nice scone instead of that cream bun.
- Avoid too many sweetened fizzy drinks. Water, milk or fruit juice is best. If you choose a soft drink, make it a sugar-free one.
- Make changes gradually. If you’re used to different portion sizes, don’t try to switch straightaway.
- Get a little help from your friends. Set your own goals, but set some of them together and help each other to achieve them. You could make meals for each other once a week, and go out for an activity together once a week.
If you have internet access, visit www.takelifeon.co.uk for more tips on healthy living.
Here are a few recipes that are nutritious, quick and easy to make.
Carrot and turnip soup
Serves 4 people
- 1 onion (chopped)
- 2 teaspoons sunflower oil
- 3 small carrots (peeled and chopped)
- Half a small turnip (peeled and chopped)
- 2 mugs of chicken stock
1 Put oil in a medium-sized deep pan and put on heat.
2 Fry onions for 3 to 5 minutes.
3 Add carrots and turnips and fry for another 5 minutes.
4 Pour on stock and season with salt and pepper accordingly to taste.
5 Bring to the boil then simmer for 35 to 40 minutes until the vegetables are soft.
6 Cool and then either liquidize or puree with a potato masher.
7 Reheat the soup to serve it.
Serve with a sandwich or bread, oatcakes and cheese, crowdie or potato scones.
You can double the ingredients to make extra which you can share with friends or freeze in portions to keep for another time.
Jim’s lentil and vegetable soup
Serves 4 people
- 2 medium carrots (peeled and diced)
- 1 medium potato (peeled and diced)
- 1 medium onion (peeled and diced)
- 1 small courgette (peeled and sliced) (optional)
- 1 stick of celery (washed and sliced)
- 1 pepper, any colour (washed, deseeded and diced)
- 75g red lentils, rinsed in cold water
- 1 tin chopped tomatoes
- 750ml vegetable stock
- Black pepper
- Fresh or dried basil (optional)
- 15ml (1 tablespoon) olive oil or vegetable oil
1 Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and add the carrots, potato, onion, courgette, celery and pepper.
2 Cook for approximately 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
3 Add the stock to the vegetables, place a lid on the saucepan and bring to the boil.
4 Turn down the heat, add the lentils and stir well.
5 Add the chopped tomatoes and basil.
6 Simmer for 40 to 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
7 Season with salt and pepper according to taste.
You can double the ingredients to make extra which you can share with friends or freeze in portions to keep for another time.
Pasta and tuna bake
Serves 2 or 3 people
- 1 onion
- 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
- 1 mug of uncooked pasta
- 1 tin of of sweetcorn
- 1 tin of tuna
- Edam or Cheddar cheese
- Pepper (optional)
- Mixed herbs (optional)
1 Cook pasta in boiling water for 10 minutes, or until it is soft.
2 Drain the pasta, rinse it with cold water and leave it to cool.
3 Chop up the onion and put it into a large pan with the chopped tomatoes.
4 Simmer for 10 minutes or until the onions are tender.
5 Add the pasta, tuna and sweetcorn to the tomato sauce. Also add ground pepper and mixed herbs if you like.
6 Stir the mixture gently and cook until hot.
Serve with a sprinkling of cheese on the top.
This dish goes well with crusty bread and a side salad. You can also make it with or add the following.
Other cooked meats
Serves 4 people
- 700g potatoes, peeled and diced
- 4 haddock fillets (or fish mix from the supermarket)
- 425ml semi-skimmed milk
- 25g margarine
- 25g flour
- 25g mature cheddar cheese
- Ground pepper
1 Pre-heat the oven to 200⁰C or gas mark 6.
2 Place the potatoes in a pan with boiling water. Bring back to the boil, lower the
heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes until the potatoes are soft.
3 Drain the potatoes and mash them with a little semi-skimmed milk.
4 Place the fish in an ovenproof dish.
5 Put the milk, margarine and flour into a small pan over a medium heat.
6 Stir continuously with a whisk or wooden spoon until the sauce starts to bubble.
7 Season with ground pepper.
8 Pour the mixture over the fish.
9 Top with the mashed potato and sprinkle with the cheese.
10 Bake in the centre of the oven for 30 minutes.
Serve with green vegetables (for example, peas, green beans, broccoli).
Chicken stir fry
Serves 2 people
- Half a teaspoon of sunflower oil
- 1 small bag of frozen mixed vegetables or the equivalent in fresh vegetables (carrots, pepper, mushrooms, onions)
- 1 small chicken breast cut into strips
- 2 teaspoons of soy sauce
1 Heat the oil in a frying pan.
2 Fry the chicken strips for 2 to 3 minutes.
3 Add all the vegetables and fry for a further 2 to 3 minutes.
4 Add soy sauce and any other spices you may like and mix it all together.
5 Cook for a further 2 to 3 minutes and serve with boiled rice or noodles.
Chicken and vegetable curry
Serves 2 people
- 1 medium onion (chopped)
- 1lb (550g) medium potatoes (chopped into small cubes)
- 8oz (225g) tin of chopped tomatoes
- 4 or 5 tablespoons of peas
- 4ozs (100g) of any other vegetable
- 8ozs (225g) of cooked chicken
- 1½ cups of water
- ½ tablespoon of oil
- 1½ teaspoon curry powder (or more or less, according to taste)
1 Fry the chopped onion until it is soft but not very brown.
2 Add the curry powder and continue to fry for another 2 minutes.
3 Add the chopped potato and fry for another five minutes.
4 Add the other ingredients except the water.
5 Continue to cook until the potatoes are done, adding water if the curry dries out.
Serve with rice and chapatti.
Serves 1 or 2 people
- 4ozs (100g) flour (wholemeal or white)
- 1 tablespoon sugar (or ½ teaspoon of salt if you want a savoury pancake)
- 1 egg
- ½ pint (250ml) semi-skimmed milk
1 Sieve the flour and sugar (or salt) into a bowl.
2 Make a well in the centre of the flour and put the egg in the well.
3 Add a little milk and stir well. Continue adding the milk a little at a time and stir until the mixture is a good consistency for pouring.
4 Lightly grease a frying pan.
5 Pour about a quarter of a cup of the mixture into the heated frying pan and swirl
around to cover the base of the pan.
6 Let the mixture cook until little bubbles appear and it starts to curl at the
7 Flip the pancake over and cook only slightly on the other side.
Keep warm and add filling when ready to serve
Sweet pancake - grated apple, sliced banana
Savoury pancake – peanut butter, grated cheese, grated carrot
Fabulously fruity dessert
- 125ml pot natural yogurt
- 1 teaspoon of clear honey
- 1 banana, sliced
- 1 tbsp muesli
1 In a small bowl, mix the yogurt with the honey.
2 Place about 1/3 of the banana in a bowl and add a spoonful of the yogurt and honey.
3 Add some muesli.
4 Repeat to form layers, ending with some chopped banana on top.
You can use different fruits, either fresh or tinned in natural juice.
Try the following combinations – pear and grape, orange and pineapple or mango and peach.
Serves 3 or 4 people
- 2 large apples
- 1 mug of orange juice
- 1 mug of plain or wholemeal flour
- 1 tablespoon of margarine
- 2 tablespoons of brown sugar
1 Simmer the chopped apple in orange juice for 10 to 15 minutes.
2 Place the apples in a small, greased ovenproof dish.
3 Rub the flour and margarine together and add the sugar. The mixture should now look like breadcrumbs.
4 Sprinkle the mixture over the fruit and bake in the oven at 180oC or 350oF (gas mark 4) for 20 to 25 minutes until brown.
You can use other types of fruit if you prefer, such as rhubarb, blackberries and so on.
For a fruity, refreshing dessert and to encourage reluctant fruit eaters.
1 Mix pureed fruit with the same amount of cold custard.
2 Chill and decorate with a few whole fruits (for example, raspberries).
You can use fresh, tinned or defrosted frozen fruit.
Section 8 New build homes
When you signed your tenancy agreement or viewed the property you should have been told what type of heating your home has. You should also have been told whether your home is heated by underfloor heating or radiators, or a mix of both. If you are not sure what type of heating your property has, please contact us.
If this is the first time you have used the type of heating installed in your home, it is important that you understand how to use it properly so you will be heating your home in the most cost-efficient and energy-efficient way.
There should be user instructions in your tenants’ manual or in the heat unit itself. If you do not have any instructions, tell us immediately. If you do not understand how to use your heating, contact us and we will arrange a demonstration. The contact number for our main reception is 01349 852 978.
If your heating system runs from electricity, this is because there are not any other affordable and easy-to-use fuel supplies (such as mains gas) available in your area.
The electricity supply connected up by us is provided by Scottish & Southern Energy and is on an Economy ten tariff. This means that you can get 10 hours of cheaper electricity in every 24-hour period – three hours in the early morning (4.30am to 7.30am), three hours in the afternoon (1.30pm to 4.30pm), and four hours at night (8.30pm to 12.30am).
When the clocks go forward or back it is important to check the clock on your meter. If the clock on the meter does not adjust automatically, contact your electricity supplier and ask them to check your meter settings.
If you can, use items such as washing machines or tumble dryers during the cheaper periods set out above. It is also better to heat your water through the heating system rather than with an immersion heater.
We recommend that you shop around for the cheapest electricity supplier, but check what their Economy 10 times are as they do vary. There are links on our website to help you do this.
Your heating and hot water may have ‘summer’ and ‘winter’ settings. Find out how to use these settings. This will help you heat your home in the most economical way.
If you have underfloor heating, get a reputable carpet fitter’s advice on the depth of underlay you should fit as you do not want to restrict the level of heat that comes from the floor.
You must also allow for doors when floor coverings are to be fitted. There is an 18mm to 20mm gap underneath the doors.
One of the most common call-outs we receive from new residents is that some of their power is not working. There may be a genuine reason for this, but more often than not it is because an electrical item (usually a kitchen appliance) has ‘tripped’ a circuit breaker in the fuse box. Before you phone us, check the circuit breakers in your fuse box.
You should only store lightweight items, such as, Christmas decorations or empty suitcases, in your loft space,. This is because the ceiling has not been designed to take extra weight.
Coronavirus: Protecting tenants and staff and maintaining quality customer service (Update May 2020)
Following my communication to all tenants dated 6th April 2020, I have set out some further considerations to keep tenants informed of the current position…