What you will need to rent a housing association property
Most housing associations do not ask for a deposit. Some may ask for a rent payment in advance. Check with them to find out their policy on this.
Almost all housing associations now require references from your present landlord whether it is a private landlord or another housing association. If you owe money to any housing association, for rent arrears or damage caused to property during a previous tenancy, it is unlikely that you will be offered another tenancy until you have paid off the debt. If you have been evicted for anti-social behaviour or have been convicted of criminal offences such as house burglary, drug dealing, a housing association can refuse to house you.
Housing association tenancies are let on what is known as an Assured Tenancy.
This means that you are secure in your home for as long as you stick to the tenancy rules laid down by the housing association. However, some associations have started to issue assured shorthold tenancies to new tenants. This means that the housing association can end your tenancy more easily if there is any anti-social behaviour.
Check with the association before you sign the agreement to find out what type of tenancy you are being offered.
If the housing association wants to evict you, it must get a Court Order from the County Court. The Court will only grant this order if it is satisfied that you have seriously breached your tenancy conditions. Every association has different conditions of tenancy, however, they all expect you to pay your rent, look after your home and garden and behave in a reasonable way. You should make sure that you fully understand the conditions of your tenancy. Ask the staff at the housing association to explain these to you.
All housing associations in Carlisle have a repairs services to make sure that your home is kept in good condition. They also have regular improvement programmes such as replacing windows and upgrading kitchen units. When you sign a tenancy, ask for details of how to report repairs – including emergency repairs if needed at night or over the weekend.
Housing associations rents are more reasonable than rents in the private sector. However, if you have a low income you can apply to Carlisle City Council for housing benefit towards the cost of your rent. Housing benefit cannot be backdated so you should make sure that you apply for it if you cannot afford the rent. Housing benefit claim forms are available at Carlisle City Council, Customer Contact Centre in the Civic Centre or telephone 01228 817000. If you need any help completing your housing benefit form, you can call the Council’s Benefits Advisor on 01228 625250 Monday to Thursday 2 – 4pm or ask for help from the housing association.
If you qualify for housing benefit payments for your rent, make sure that your claim is kept up to date. A housing association will take action to recover rent owed and may even take you to Court to have you evicted from your home. If you become homeless because you didn't pay your rent, the Council may not be able to help you find a new home. You should always make sure your rent account is up to date. If you are having problems with rent payments, contact your housing association immediately for advice – do not wait until you are in rent arrears!