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Housing and renting your home

You may want to rent your home during your stay or visit in Rossendale. There are three main providers of rented accommodation: private landlords, local councils and housing associations. The main providers of rented accommodation in this area are Registered Social Landlords/Housing Associations and private rented accommodation.

Private landlords

Private landlords will normally rent their property at the market rate and their right to increase the rent depends on the type of tenancy. Make sure you get a tenancy agreement and read it carefully before committing to it.

Many private landlords use an agent to deal with all their affairs, usually an Estate Agent. Estate Agents are excellent places to look if you are thinking about renting this type of property. They will normally place houses and flats to let in their shop windows or advertise them in the local newspapers.

A private landlord will normally ask for a deposit. You should make sure that the condition of the property and any items of furniture are recorded in an inventory and the tenancy agreement states:

  • how much the deposit is and who holds it
  • when money can be deducted from the deposit (for unpaid rent or damage to property)
  • when you will get the deposit back

Social Landlords/Housing Associations If you need to rent somewhere to live, you may be eligible for housing association accommodation. Housing associations normally allocate their homes to those in greatest need on its list and property is often in great demand. There is usually a waiting list and you will need to fill out an application form to be placed on it.

The largest provider of Social Housing in this area is called Together Housing (Formerly Green Vale Homes). Contact: 0300 555 5557 or visit https://www.togetherhousing.co.uk/. They also advertise their houses on B-With-Us. If you would like to register for social housing with B-With-Us you can apply online, by telephone on 0300 123 22 00 or visit your local Housing Association office.

It is advised that you contact Rossendale Borough Council on 01706 217 777 to request a full list of Housing Associations who provide homes throughout Rossendale. Alternatively you may visit the Council’s website on www.rossendale.gov.uk or contact the Landlords direct given the contact list for the Housing Associations below:

  • Anchor Anchor Trust, Milestone Place, 100 Bolton Road, Bradford BD1 4DH  Tel: 01274 381600 (All sheltered housing for elderly)
  • Housing 21 1 Staithgate Lane, Odsel, Bradford, BD6 1YA  Tel:01274 744190 (All sheltered housing for elderly)
  • West Pennine HA Pennine House, 77 Union Street, Oldham OL1 1JZ  Tel: 0161 621 4190/01706 215964
  • Harvest Housing Harvest Housing Group, 2 Tustin Court/Port Way, Ashton on Ribble PR2 2YQ  Tel:01772 765600
  • Ashiana Housing Association Limited  Ashiana, 69 Preston New Road, Blackburn, BB2 6AY
  • Northern Counties  The Grange, East Park Road, Blackburn, BB1 8AT  Tel:0845 605 9000

Your Rights and Responsibilities

A tenancy doesn’t just give you rights – it also brings responsibilities. It’s important you stick to the rules and don’t break your tenancy agreement, and to get advice as soon as possible if you have problems.

Not leaving your home empty

It may sound obvious, but in order to keep your tenancy, you must actually live in it and use it as your main home. This does not mean you can’t go on holiday but sometimes it will be worth letting your landlord know if you will be leaving it empty for a while, or they might think you’ve abandoned the property.

Keeping up to date with your rent

Rent is usually paid in advance, normally on a monthly or weekly basis. Check your agreement or ask your landlord to clarify how much rent you have to pay and the day of the week/month that it is due on.

Taking care of the place

Most tenants have some responsibilities regarding the upkeep of their homes. You should always look after the property as best you can and avoid causing damage to it, or to your neighbour’s property.

In general, landlords are responsible for repairs and maintenance of the exterior and the structure of the property, as well as the plumbing, wiring and central heating. They are also required to ensure that gas and electrical installations comply with safety standards.

If you fall behind with the rent, your landlord may be able to evict you and make you pay the rent you owe. If you are having problems like this, get advice quickly.

Not causing a nuisance

You should take care not to behave in an antisocial way that could upset or annoy your neighbours. Antisocial behaviour is a legal reason for eviction, regardless of what kind of tenancy you have. Antisocial behaviour can include things like:

  • having the stereo or TV on too loudly
  • not keeping pets under control
  • allowing your children to be a nuisance
  • leaving rubbish piled up everywhere
  • making a lot of noise outside your home, or when you come in
  • using the house for illegal activities, such as drug dealing

As well as respecting your neighbours, you should not behave in an antisocial or aggressive way towards your landlord or any housing association staff you deal with.

Being responsible for your household and visitors

As well as not breaking any of the terms of your tenancy agreement yourself, you are also responsible for the behaviour of everyone in your household and of anyone staying with or visiting you. You could be held responsible, (and possibly evicted), if they cause damage or are antisocial, so don’t be afraid to take control.

Ending your tenancy properly

If you want to move out, it is very important to end your tenancy properly first. You can’t just post the keys through the letterbox and walk away. Otherwise you could end up still being liable for the rent, even though you’re no longer living there. It may be possible to end your tenancy immediately if the landlord accepts this, (best to get their acceptance in writing), but you normally have to give your landlord the necessary notice.

Carrying out certain kinds of repairs

Landlords are responsible for most repairs to the exterior or structure of a property. This means that problems with the roof, chimneys, walls, guttering and drains are the responsibility of the landlord. Landlords are also responsible for keeping the equipment for supplying water, gas and electricity in safe working order.
Tenants often have responsibility for some minor repairs and maintenance. This usually relates to:

  • internal decorations
  • gardens
  • furniture or equipment

If you rent your home from a Housing Association such as Green Vale Homes they will usually have a dedicated phone line to deal with repairs otherwise you will have to contact your landlord/landlords agent directly. The telephone number for Green Vale Homes Repairs Direct Service is 0300 5555556 or report via their web site at www.greenvalehomes.co.uk

An organisation called Shelter is able to give expert advice on most housing matters via their website on www.shelter.org.uk Alternatively you may wish to use the Citizens Advice Bureau, (CAB). This is an organisation that is able to give you free help and advice on a wide range of problems. The local CAB is based in Bacup and can be contacted via their website on www.rossendalecab.org.uk

Rossendale Borough Council may be able to help you. Telephone the switchboard on 01706 217777 or call in to their ‘One Stop Shop’ at Rossendale Borough Council, The Business Centre, Future’s Park, Bacup, OL13 0BB. Lancashire County Council are able to provide an Interpretation and Translation Service to enable people whose first language is not English to access all Lancashire County Council services, and information about services.

The qualified interpreters provide face to face interpretation in over 20 languages, and all other languages on request. Interpreters can be provided 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Contact: 01772 534420 for further information.

Paying the bills

Most tenants have to pay the bills for electricity, gas, water and telephone, as well as paying council tax and getting a TV licence. Your tenancy agreement will say whether you are responsible for paying the bills or not. If you don’t pay them, the services could be cut off and you may have to pay to be reconnected.

Council Tax

Council tax is a local tax in Britain. It is used to pay for local services such as libraries, the police, the fire brigade, and rubbish collection. The amount of Council Tax you will have to pay depends on their valuation band. Larger and more expensive properties will have a higher value and therefore attract a higher council tax. When you rent somewhere to live, ask whether the council tax is included in the rent.

Who is responsible for paying Council Tax?

There’s one Council Tax bill for each home. Usually it’s the owner – occupier, or the tenant living in the property, who has to pay the bill. Spouses and partners who live together are both responsible for paying the bill. You will need to Contact Rossendale Borough Council to tell them that you are living in your home so that they can register you for Council Tax.

Council Tax and Moving

If you move home you need to tell Rossendale Borough Council. This is so you don’t pay too much Council Tax for your old home and you pay the right amount for your new one. When you move:

  • Tell Rossendale Borough Council the date you’re moving out so that they can adjust the bill for your old home, (you may get a refund)
  • Tell Rossendale Borough Council, (or your new council if you’re moving to a different area), when you’re moving in so they can start the bill for your new home from the right date

You are legally obliged to notify Rossendale Borough Council if you move address or if there is any other change in your circumstances within 21 days of the change.

There is a change of address/circumstances form on the back of the Council Tax bill which you should complete and return to: Rossendale Borough Council, The Business Centre, Future’s Park, Bacup, OL13 0BB. You may also wish to phone them on 01706 217 777.

The Revenues and Benefits Service department of Rossendale Borough Council takes care of claims for Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit. Housing Benefit is administered by Local Authorities to help people on low incomes pay for rent and/or council tax. It takes into account your income, capital, other people in the household and their income and whether you or your family have any special circumstances such as illness or disability, when assessing your claim.

For information as to whether you may be entitled to either Housing or Council Tax benefits you should call the Benefits Department on 01706 217 777 or write to them at Rossendale Borough Council, Benefits Department, The Business Centre, Future’s Park, Bacup, OL13 0BB.

Important things to do

There are several things you need to do as soon as possible once you’ve moved into your home.

Think safety first

  • Make sure you know where the trip switches, water and gas mains valves are, as you may need to turn them off in an emergency. If you can’t find them, ask the estate agent
    or landlord to show you where they are
  • Check that all the windows and doors lock securely. If you move into rented property and want to fit extra locks or a security chain on the door, speak to your landlord first. They may do this for you if you ask
  • Check that the property has enough smoke alarms, that there’s a fire blanket in the kitchen and that all gas and electrical appliances are safe. You should also work out how you would get out in an emergency
  • If you are renting, make sure you know how to contact your landlord in an emergency

If you are moving into rented property, check with the landlord that the property is insured before you move in. The landlord’s insurance will only cover damage to the structure of the property and the landlord’s own furniture, so you’ll have to take out your own insurance for your personal belongings.

Register with the Electricity and Gas Companies

You must remember to register with the electricity and gas companies that supply the property as soon as you move in. Otherwise, if the person who lived in the property before you did not pay their final bill, you may be expected to pay what they owe. All you need to do is ring the supplier(s) on your first day, tell them that you have moved in and give them the number on the meter. The bill will be put in your name and you will be charged from that time onwards.

Keep a note of the meter number in case you need to query your first bill.  If you don’t know who the supplier is ask your landlord or landlord’s agent.

Alternatively:

If the electricity and/or gas have been cut off, you may have to pay a connection charge to have the supplies reconnected. You will need to contact your supplier to find out how much this will be.

There are different types of meter with the most common being the standard meter and prepayment meter:

  • A standard meter is a basic meter which measures the amount of electricity you use in terms of the amount of energy used by a load of one kilowatt over the period of one hour. When this meter is installed, all electricity units are charged at the same rate, 24 hours a day
  • Prepayment meters usually accept tokens or cards that can be bought or topped up at certain shops, including some garages and newsagents. If you stop paying for electricity and/or gas the supply will be cut off by a device fitted into the meter. The advantage of this kind of meter is that you can budget for how much electricity you use by paying for it before you use it

Paying for your Water Bill

As the occupier of the property you are living in, you will normally be responsible for paying water charges. The water bill is based on the rateable value of the property you live in. If someone shares accommodation, the liability is shared even if the bill is only in one name. An occupier who remains in a property after the person with whom they shared has left (for example, if partners have separated) may be held responsible for current charges and any arrears.

There are different ways to pay for your water. Options include paying by cash, cheque, postal order, debit or credit card on the phone or on line or by setting up a direct debit. Your home may have a water meter fitted which means that you will just pay for the water you use. For many people, particularly those with small families, metering can be a good way of saving money and controlling the level of their bills. A meter may not be right for everyone but if you live alone, have small family or live in house with a high rateable value, you could save money on your water bill.

The supplier of water in this area is United Utilities. Further details can be obtained by phoning them on 0845 746 2200 or by visiting their website on www.unitedutilities.com.

Get the telephone connected in your name

You’ll also need to register the phone in your name, to avoid paying the previous tenant’s bills. To contact British Telecom from a landline ring 0800 100 400 or from a mobile 0330 1234 150. If the phone has been cut off, you may have to pay a connection charge to have it reconnected.

Get a TV licence

If you have your own television set, (or any other device used to receive or record television programmes, such as a video recorder, set-top box or a PC with a broadcast card), you’ll need a valid TV licence. It is against the law not to have one and could lead to a fine of up to £1,000. To find out current costs and ways to pay TV Licensing
visit the web site at www.tvlicensing.co.uk

Rubbish Collection

Rossendale Borough Council has a refuse and recycling collection service which operates on an alternate weekly collection of refuse and dry recyclables. The majority of households have a wheeled bin for domestic refuse, (“green bin”), and a wheeled bin for dry recyclables, (“blue bin” for tins, glass and plastic). Paper is collected in a separate container. For full details of what can be put in which bin visit the Rossendale Borough Council website at: https://www.rossendale.gov.uk/info/200084/recycling_rubbish_and_waste

Find out when your rubbish is collected, where you should leave your rubbish bags or bins and where you can store rubbish in between collections. For more details contact the Refuse Section on 01706 217 777.

53340Housing and renting your home