Strong foundations, Stronger communities... accessibilityAccessibility choose languageLanguage

Jargon Buster

A Guide to Housing Jargon for Tenants

ABC
Acceptable Behaviour Contract

Allocations
this is the process of matching applicants for housing to properties. Councils and Housing Associations have an Allocations Policy which sets out how this will be done.

Anti Social Behaviour
This is the type of Behaviour that interferes with other people’s right to enjoy their home and community and can include aggressive and threatening language Physical violence against people or property, Hate behaviour which targets members of certain groups because they are different, Using or selling drugs, Excessive noise, Vandalism or graffiti.

AUDIT COMMISSION
This is the public body that inspects all housing associations and awards them either no stars (very bad), one star, two stars or three stars (the best). They also inspect local authorities.

BENCHMARKING
to measure the quality of services by comparing them with other services of an accepted standard.

BEST VALUE REVIEW
The purpose of a best value review is to improve the effectiveness, efficiency and economy of the functions under review. Review Teams do this by challenging the way we currently do things, consulting stakeholders on their needs, comparing with others who provide similar services to see what we can learn form them and investigate how we could use competition to support improvement.

CHOICE BASED LETTINGS
Homeseekers get more information and control and can choose the property that is right for them. Registered and active users can bid for homes by telephone or response coupon. Properties are advertised every second week on the internet and by leaflet. Choice based lettings is designed to give you options to help you decide the right housing pathway for you.

COMMUNITY COHESION
Community cohesion is what must happen in all communities to enable different groups of people to get on well together. People all want to fulfil their potential and feel that they belong and contribute to their local area.

COMPLAINT
when someone says that something is wrong or not satisfactory. Tenants sometimes confuse making a complaint with reporting a repair.

Communities and Local Government
– This government department looks after all government policy related to social housing and development of new homes.

COST FLOOR
The figure for the original cost of provision of a property which is used in connection with the Right to Buy. The discount for which a tenant is eligible cannot reduce the purchase price below the cost floor, but only costs incurred in the eight years prior to purchase are reckonable.

CREDIT UNION
is a cooperative financial institution that is owned and controlled by its members, and operated for the purpose of promoting thrift, providing credit
at reasonable rates, and providing other financial services to its members. Many credit
unions exist to further community development.

DATA PROTECTION
The right to privacy is a fundamental human right, which is safeguarded and enshrined in our Constitution. The enforcement of the right to privacy is facilitated by the protection of personal data from abuse. The Data Protection Act 2001 provides for the protection of individuals against the violation of their privacy by the processing of personal data and for matters connected therewith or ancillary thereto.

DECANTING
The process by which residents in areas that are about to be redeveloped are moved out of an old home into alternative accommodation for the duration of the work.

DECENT HOMES
The standard set by the Government for all homes owned by councils and housing associations by 2010. This includes such things as homes being completely weather proof with relatively new kitchens and bathrooms.

ELIGIBLE RENT
A term used to calculate Housing Benefit – means the part of rent which pays for use of the property, but not extra items such as water rates, Council Tax or heating costs.

EVICTION
this is when a landlord is given possession of a property by a court order and the tenant has to move out. It is often the result of the tenant not paying the rent or because they have committed Anti Social Behaviour.

FINANCIAL INCLUSION
Housing associations have taken a lead in combating financial exclusion amongst their tenants and residents. Throughout England, associations are offering financial services and impartial advice to tenants. They are also supporting community financial institutions like credit unions through partnership working and investment.

GAS SERVICING
All housing associations are obliged to organise CORGI registered inspectors to do an annual gas service at all tenants’ homes. Failure by the tenant to let the gas inspector in can ultimately result in court action and even eviction for persistent offenders.

HOMES & COMMUNITIES AGENCY
provide funding for affordable housing, bring land back into productive use and improve quality of life by raising standards for the physical and social environment.

HOUSING COOPERATIVE


1. Primary Co op
A group of seven or more people who agree to work together in a co operative to provide decent housing for their members.

2. Tenant Management Co op (TMC)
Where council or housing association tenants take on the management (but not ownership) of their own homes and estates.

LARGE SCALE VOLUNTARY TRANSFER (LSVT)
When council tenants vote to transfer their homes to be owned and managed by a housing association.

LEASEHOLDER

A person who does not own the land their home is built on and pays a ground rent for a fixed number of years. Tenants who live in flats and buy them from their landlord are called leaseholders.

LETTABLE STANDARD
The standard varies slightly from one organisation to another but generally a new tenant can expect their new home to be: clean; secure;in a good state of general repair and decoration.

LOW COST HOME OWNERSHIP
Includes Homebuy and Part Buy/Part Rent. Tower Homes deal with this.


MARKET RENT
Rent charged by private landlords restricted only by what the market will bear.

MUTUAL EXCHANGE
The voluntary exchange of assured tenancy by one tenant with another. Such exchanges involving RSL tenants require the approval of the RSLs concerned. Secure tenants have a legal right to do a mutual exchange and under the Assured Tenants’ Charter, RSL assured tenants should be given similar rights.

NATIONAL HOUSING FEDERATION
The trade body for housing associations.

NATIONAL TENANTS VOICE
a tenant run national council to champion tenants’ rights.

NOTICE OF SEEKING POSSESSION (NOSP)
A notice warning a secure or assured tenant that the landlord proposes to seek a Court Order for possession of the dwelling on the grounds permitted under the Housing Acts. The Act notice to be served on a secure tenant is prescribed by the Housing Act 1985. For assured tenants the form of notice is prescribed by regulations made under the Housing Act 1988. Also know as notice of intention to seek possession of NISP.

OMBUDSMAN
Once people have exhausted a complaints procedure they can go to the housing ombudsman to arbitrate.

PLANNED MAINTENANCE
Cyclical work such as roofing, kitchen and bathroom replacement, etc that needs doing to keep homes up to standard. Residents are consulted on this work.

REGISTERED SOCIAL LANDLORDS (RSLs)
– Another name for housing associations.

RENT CONVERGENCE
The Government’s aim is to ensure that all local authorities and Registered Social Landlords (RSL’s) calculate their rents in the same way; that rents for similar homes, in similar areas, are broadly the same, no matter who the social landlord is.

RENT RESTRUCTURING
The Government’s Rent Reform policy expects social housing rents (council or RSL) for similar properties in similar locations to be brought together to a comparable level within 10 years from 2002.

RESPONSIVE REPAIRS
Day to day repairs ranging from urgent to routine.

RIGHT TO BUY (Preserved RTB)
A right for council housing residents to purchase their home, often at a discount on market prices. This is not generally possible for housing association residents, although "Right to Acquire", a similar scheme, is available on some recently built homes if they meet certain criteria.

RIGHT TO ACQUIRE
The Right to Acquire is a scheme giving eligible tenants of registered social landlords the legal right to buy the home they currently rent

SERVICE CHARGE
The money tenants and leaseholders pay to social and private landlords for some services such as scheme managers, common rooms, communal cleaning, communal lighting, communal gardening and maintenance of common areas.

SHARED OWNERSHIP
Where a home is partly owned by a housing association with the balance owned by the people living in it who pay a mortgage on the part they own and rent on the part owned by the housing association. There are strict eligibility requirements as it is a cheaper way to get on the property ladder. People can gradually own more of the property if their circumstances improve (known as “staircasing”). Tower Homes deal with shared ownership.

SHELTERED HOUSING
Means homes for older people who maintain their independence. It is not a nursing home.

SOCIAL HOUSING
A term often referring to housing association homes, though the term can include council housing.

STAIRCASING
A term used relating to Shared Ownership to describe the purchase by the occupier of additional portions or trenches of the equity of their property, some time after the initial purchase. Eventually the occupier can achieve 100 per cent ownership.

SUPPORTED HOUSING
A catch all term that can include specialist accommodation for those with particular needs, e.g. those with mental health problems, those who have other disabilities, those with learning difficulties, those with drug or substance abuse problems, women fleeing violence.

SUPPORTING PEOPLE CHARGES
Since 1st April 2003 Housing Associations have been required by the Government to charge tenants for any support services they receive such as the services of a Supported Housing Officer or the Community Alarm Network (where it is provided as part of the tenancy).

Target Rent
Rent calculated according to the Government formula set out in the Social Rent Reform. This provides the standard towards which rent for a particular property should be moving during the rent convergence period

TENANT LIASION OFFICER
Tenant Liaison Officers provide, support, advice and guidance to tenants on issues relating to the modernisation and improvement programme.

THIRD SECTOR
The voluntary sector (also non profit sector) is the sphere of social activity undertaken by organisations that are non profit and non governmental. This sector is also called the third sector, in reference to the public sector and the private sector.

TPAS
Tenant Participation Advisory Service. A national not for profit organisation that works with tenants and landlords on a variety of tenant participation projects.

TENANT SERVICES AUTHORITY
Housing Association regulatory body which replaces the Housing Corporation.

VOID
An empty home. Housing associations aim to turn voids round fast, but often have to make repairs. Occasionally the landlord will take the opportunity to upgrade a property (an enhanced void) when it is between lets