Management & Operational Requirements - Introduction
This Section of the Guide - contains the requirements which schemes receiving Supported Housing funding are expected to meet in their operational policies and management framework. It provides a detailed explanation of the requirements imposed by certifications 3 to 5 of the Supported Housing Eligibility Criteria as detailed in Appendix: 1 to Part 5.
An Intensive Housing Management Service
Although the form of housing management provided - in supported housing schemes will include all of the activities carried out in general needs housing, the nature of the scheme and its client group will require certain activities to be carried out much more frequently and thoroughly. Many schemes, for instance, will require a sensitive lettings process which could involve staff in lengthy discussions with referral agencies as well as existing and prospective tenants. Where schemes are rehabilitative, staff will spend much of their time dealing with voids and arranging for any necessary maintenance and chasing of arrears, preparing tenants for their move to permanent accommodation /semi independent living /independent living, liaising with sources of move on accommodation, providing housing advice and settling in new tenants.
Associations are required to ensure that - where appropriate to the needs of the client group, staff are available to carry out the following activities:
a. Benefits Advice
Advice and assistance should be available to tenants on eligibility for social security (and other) benefits and how to claim them. This should include, where appropriate, liaison with the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, Social Security Agency and debt counselling agencies.
b. Rent Arrears
Associations should have a clear policy to deal with rent arrears in the scheme in a sympathetic manner. It should include written procedures detailing the steps to be taken by staff dealing with arrears.
c. Aids and Adaptations
Advice and practical help should be available to tenants who require aids and adaptations to achieve maximum mobility and independence.
d. Tenant Consultation
Opportunities should be provided for tenants to participate in decisions about how the scheme should be run. A written tenant consultation policy should be available.
e. Tenancy Conditions
At the lettings stage, and where required thereafter, the tenant should be provided with a clear explanation of the terms and conditions of the tenancy/licence agreement and their security of tenure within it.
f. Housing Advice
Comprehensive advice should be available to tenants on permanent housing opportunities.
g. Move-on Accommodation
Where schemes are intended to equip tenants with the skills and confidence to move into a more independent form of accommodation, the Association should use its best endeavours to ensure suitable accommodation is obtained for tenants moving-on. A written move-on strategy must be drawn up which gives full consideration to how move-on needs will be planned for and met, including details of arrangements with other landlords. It must include a statement of the priority which will be given to people moving-on for transfers within the Association's general needs stock.
h. Resettlement Work
Tenants moving-on from the scheme must be provided with the necessary preparatory advice and information to enable successful resettlement. If necessary, the Association should try to ensure that ongoing support will be available in the move-on accommodation.
i. Responding to the Changing Needs of Tenants
Associations should plan for and respond to the changing needs of tenants, arranging additional support services where necessary.
The Rights Of Tenants / Licensees
a. Security of Tenure
Associations must seek to provide tenants with as much security of tenure as possible. This should normally be in the form of a secure tenancy although it is recognised that in some circumstances this may not be appropriate.
Where schemes are intended to equip tenants with the skills and confidence to move into a more independent form of accommodation, Associations should use their best endeavours to ensure that suitable accommodation is available when required for tenants moving-on (see also Para 2.02 (g) above).
c. Rent Policy
Rent should be set at levels affordable to those on low incomes and should not discriminate between those who are eligible for welfare benefits and others. Service charges may vary for different tenants where working residents receive fewer services, e.g. meals.
d. Furnished Schemes
Reasonable opportunity should be given to tenants who wish to personalise their rooms with their own belongings and furniture.
Associations should not impose unnecessarily restrictive rules on tenants and should consult them fully when drawing up and reviewing house rules.
Access to Facilities - tenants should have rights of access at all times to their accommodation, and any communal areas and appropriate cooking facilities, except access to catering kitchens in registered homes which is not permitted by food hygiene regulations.
Privacy - tenants should have a right to a room of their own. The sharing of bedrooms should not occur unless it is the expressed wish of the tenants to do so, i.e. in the case of couples or friends.
The Landlord/Tenant Relationship - tenants should pay a rent/charge from their own income, which may include social security (or other) benefits.