Welcome to the Tenants Area

Here you will find all the information you need in relation to your tenancy, such a reporting repairs, submitting a complaint and general information.

Rent and Rates

Repairs and Maintenance

Tenant Information 

Anti-Social Behaviour causes fear and anxiety in the community and this is an issue that Ark Housing Association is fully committed to tackling at every possible level.

Anti-Social Behaviour can be described as:

“Conduct by any individual which causes or is likely to cause a nuisance or annoyance to a person residing, visiting or otherwise engaging in a lawful activity in the locality of the dwelling house.”

In addition:

An individual may be deemed to have acted in an anti-social manner if s/he has:

  • been convicted of using the dwelling-house or allowing it to be used for illegal or immoral purposes
  • been convicted of an arrestable offence committed in, or in the locality of the dwelling house
  • directly or indirectly affected Ark Housing Management functions or matters relating to those functions.

Ark Housing Policy

Ark Housing Association acknowledges that every individual is entitled to live in peace within their neighbourhood and that to provide a quality housing service we will help to effectively address the problem of Anti-Social Behaviour.

We will:

  1. Formally acknowledge all reports of Anti-Social Behaviour within 5 working days;
  2. Seek to investigate all reported instances of Anti-Social Behaviour at office level in a timely manner;
  3. Provide advice and support;
  4. Identify and interview all parties concerned;
  5. Establish inter agency working where appropriate;
  6. Use legal action when all efforts at conciliation have failed. This may include possession, injunction and/or making an application to the relevant authorities for an Anti Social Behaviour Order,
  7. Endeavour to take action on behalf of our own tenants who may be the victims of Anti-Social Behaviour;
  8. Seek to respond to instances of Anti-Social Behaviour on any land owned by Ark Housing, whether the complainant is a tenant, private tenant or owner occupier and
  9. We will take full account of any anti-social behaviour carried out by any person(s) who has made an application for rehousing, as and when this information is made available.

Tenant Obligations

Ark Housing Association tenants are responsible for the behaviour of every person (including children) living in or visiting their home. This includes behaviour in the home on surrounding land, in communal areas (stairs, lifts, landing, entrance halls, paving shared gardens, parking areas) and in the locality of the dwelling house.

Whether the tenancy is introductory or secure, breaching any of the General Conditions of Tenancy or statutory obligations may result in the Association issuing possession, injunction proceedings or applying to the relevant authorities for an Anti-Social Behaviour Order.

Ark Housing encourages tenant participation in addressing housing issues and developing the organisation’s services. By being more involved, tenants will be better informed, contribute to better decision-making, improve services and standards locally, and develop their own skills and opportunities.

Where an introductory tenant has been involved with a specific problem of Anti-Social Behaviour Ark Housing may deem them to be unsuitable to hold a secure tenancy. Furthermore, anyone who has been involved in Anti-Social Behaviour may find they are ineligible for housing and homelessness assistance in the future.

Ark Housing aims to deliver quality services. However, sometimes things can go wrong and we may not deliver services to the expected standards. In such cases, if a person, including tenants, service users and third-party stakeholders are dissatisfied with any aspect of our services, they have the right to make a complaint.

Our Complaints Policy has been developed around the Principles of Good Complaint Handling as published by the Parliamentary & Health Service Ombudsman and as referred to as best practise by the Northern Ireland Public Sector Ombudsman’s Office.

Where a complaint has been received, we will aim to get it right. We will be customer focussed in our decision making and approach. We will be open and accountable. We will act fairly and proportionately. Through this policy we will aim to put things right and we will seek to learn from our mistakes.

There are two stages to Ark Housing’s Complaints Procedure:

  • STAGE 1 – The Informal Procedure
  • STAGE 2 – The Formal Procedure

Stage 1-The Informal Complaints Procedure

The informal complaints process is designed to deal with matters of concern that can be addressed quickly by frontline staff and which do not necessarily require a formal investigation to take place. Such complaints may be received by phone, email, or in writing as well as using our Contact Us form via our website at www.arkhousing.co.uk.

The informal complaints procedure is intended to provide an opportunity for Ark Housing to address a person’s concern at as early a stage as possible.

The appropriate member of staff will attempt to resolve the complaint at source by talking to the complainant directly and, where possible, implementing immediate remedial action to address the problem.

In the event that the informal complaints process has failed to address a concern or if a person feels that the informal process is not the appropriate channel with which to deal with their concern, then a formal complaint may be raised using the formal complaints procedure as outlined below.

Stage 2-The Formal Complaints Procedure

Under the formal complaints procedure, the complainant would normally be requested to put their grievance or complaint in writing. Complaints may be submitted directly through the Ark Housing website www.arkhousing.co.uk using the Complaints Form, by email to info@arkhousing.co.uk or in writing for the attention of:

The Corporate Services Officer
Ark Housing Association
Hawthorn Office Park
37A Stockmans Way
Belfast
BT9 7ET

Complainants may also telephone the Corporate Services Officer on 028 90 752310 to record their complaint.

On receipt of a formal complaint, the following procedure will be applied:

  • The Corporate Services Officer will issue an acknowledgement to the complainant within 3 working days;
  • The Corporate Services Officer will record the complaint in the Association’s Complaints Register and forwarded to the appointed Manager/Director for investigation.
  • The investigating person will aim to reach a decision into the matter within 20 working days from the date of the complaint being received;
  • A written notification of the decision in respect of the complaint will be issued by the investigating manager within 3 working days of their decision being reached.
  • The complainant will also be advised of their right to appeal if they remain dissatisfied with the decision of the investigating person and to whom that appeal should be addressed.

On receipt of an appeal to the original decision, the following procedure will be applied:

  • The Corporate Services Officer will issue an acknowledgement to the complainant within 3 working days;
  • The case file and the grounds for appeal will be forwarded to the Chief Executive or Director and, if necessary, based on the information provided at appeal, a further investigation may be undertaken;
  • The Chief Executive or Director will aim to decide on the appeal within 20 working days of receipt;
  • A written notification of the decision in respect of the appeal will be issued, normally within 3 working days of the decision being reached by the Chief Executive/Director.

If the complainant remains unhappy with the decision, they will be advised of their right to make a further appeal to the Northern Ireland Public Sector Ombudsman’s Office.

The Ombudsman normally expects that a complainant will have exhausted the Association’s internal complaints procedure before contacting their office

NORTHERN IRELAND PUBLIC SECTOR OMBUDSMAN OFFICE

The Ombudsman
Freepost NIPSO
Belfast
BT1 6HN

Freephone 0800 343424

Email: nipso@nipso.org.uk

Website: www.nipso.org.uk/nipso

Across Northern Ireland, it is estimated that 2% of Housing Association and Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE) homes are occupied by someone who shouldn’t live there or have obtained the tenancy fraudulently.

What is Tenancy Fraud?

There are different types of housing fraud. Here are some of the most common ones:

  • unlawful subletting – this is where tenants let out their housing association homes without the knowledge or permission of their landlord. They often continue to pay the rent for the property directly to their landlord, but charge the person they are subletting to a much higher rate. It is unlawful and unfair to sublet and profit from a property which could be given to someone legally entitled to occupy it;
  • obtaining housing by deception – this is where a person is allocated a housing association home by giving false information in their application; for example, not telling the landlord they are renting another housing association property or giving false information about who lives with them;
  • wrongly claimed succession – this is where a tenant dies and someone, who is not entitled to, tries to take over or succeed the tenancy. For example, they might say they lived with the tenant before they died, when in fact, they were living elsewhere;

Why Is It Important to Tackle Tenancy Fraud?

There isn’t enough social housing to meet the needs of people who genuinely need it. We have to make the best use of the housing that is available ensuring that it is occupied by those who are legally entitled to do so. People waiting for social housing will have to wait even longer if homes continue to be occupied by people who have no right to be there.

What Does Ark Housing Do To Tackle Tenancy Fraud?

We take tenancy fraud very seriously and will take action to regain possession of properties wherever we find evidence of tenancy fraud.

The Association’s Housing Officers will carry out regular checks as an integral part of letting and housing management activities to establish that the correct people are living in our properties. We work with other social landlords and statutory agencies to detect fraud where the law requires it or where information sharing protocols are in place.

What Can You Do To Help?

If you suspect someone is a tenancy cheat, please let us know. It could make a real difference to people in real need.

You can either report your suspicions to the Housing Officer or Head Office on 028 90752310.

All information received will be taken seriously and treated in the strictest confidence.

Please click here for our latest Tenancy Fraud Policy: Tenancy Fraud Policy

WELFARE REFORM – IMPORTANT INFORMATION

The Government is reforming the welfare and benefit system across the whole of the UK. Those who claim benefits, including housing benefit claimants are likely to be affected by the proposed changes. Across the UK a new overall payment known as Universal Credit will replace a number of existing benefits. It will comprise one single benefit for people aged 18 to 64 years old, paid to the household. The amount of Universal Credit which will be paid to claimants will depend on individual household needs and circumstances. The same legislation is being proposed for claimants in Northern Ireland as in the remainder of the UK.

At Ark Housing, we want to ensure that you are informed about the proposed changes to the housing benefit scheme which might affect you and your family later this year.

Please note if you or your partner were born before 6th October 1951, the proposed changes will not affect you. Tenants who do not receive Housing Benefit will also not be affected.

The proposed changes to the law on benefits will be discussed in the Northern Ireland Assembly in the Autumn 2013. New laws relating to benefits have already been passed in Great Britain. Presently in NI, if housing association or Housing Executive tenants claim Housing Benefit there is no restriction on the amount of benefit they are entitled to receive relative to the size of their home. If the new legislation goes ahead, this is likely to change during 2013. A size criterion is likely to be introduced for new and existing working-age Housing Benefit claimants living in a housing association or Housing Executive house. Working age is defined as ‘if both you and your partner (if any) were born after the 5th of October 1951’.

The restrictions under the proposed new law on benefits would apply to all Housing Benefit claimants who are of working age, as defined above, where the claimant, and any family, is under-occupying his / her home. ‘Under occupation’ is defined as those tenants who have one or more spare bedroom(s) in their home. Similar restrictions have applied to claims in the private-rented sector for many years.

The new system would allow one bedroom for each person or couple in the household. The following exceptions would apply:

  • A child under the age of 16 would be expected to share with one other child of the same gender;
  • A child under 10 years would be expected to share with one other child under 10, regardless of gender;
  • A bedroom for a non-resident carer will be allowed in the calculation of necessary bedrooms where that carer provides necessary overnight care for the claimant or their partner.

Additionally, exemptions for foster carers and the armed forces will apply across the whole of the UK.

The proposed changes to Housing Benefit

Under the proposed changes to the benefit system, Housing Benefit would be reduced by a percentage of your weekly rent for each extra bedroom deemed to be under-occupied in your home. The proposed percentage reductions in the amount of Housing Benefit which would be paid are as follows:

  • 14% per week for one extra bedroom
  • 25% per week for two or more extra bedrooms

Examples:

If you have one extra bedroom, 14% of your rent will be taken off your weekly housing benefit:

If your weekly rent charge is (see amounts below) Then your Housing Benefit would be reduced by 14%, i.e. the amount shown below per week:
£60 £8.40
£70 £9.80
£75 £10.50

If you have two or more extra bedrooms, 25% of your rent will be taken off your weekly housing benefit:

If your weekly rent charge is (see amounts below) Then your Housing Benefit would be reduced by 25%, i.e. the amount shown below per week:
£60 £15
£70 £17.50
£75 £18.75

If you receive less housing benefit than the reduction, your housing benefit will be nil.

If you are affected by the proposed cuts in housing benefit and choose to remain in ‘under-occupation’, you will be required to make up the shortfall between housing benefit and your rent charges.

Ark Housing will work with tenants who will be affected by the proposed changes

We will do this by helping tenants who wish to transfer to a smaller home to seek a suitable alternative.

If the proposed changes go ahead we will write to any Housing Benefit claimants we have identified as being affected, advising them of how their benefit will be affected and what help might be available. Tenants can get more information from our Housing Management staff or their local Housing Benefit Office of the Northern Ireland Housing Executive.

We will keep the information on our website up to date with any changes to the proposals under Welfare Reform. For further information, please contact us at info@arkhousing.co.uk

Useful links:

Additionally, you can download the Northern Ireland Federation of Housing Associations Welfare Reform leaflet for further information.