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Customer Charges

Date of Issue: March 2020

Issue Number: 3

Date of next review: March 2021

This policy outlines Halton Housing’s approach to identifying, confirming, undertaking and charging for repairs and other items which are the responsibility of customers.

In providing a cost effective and value for money repairs and maintenance service, it is important to ensure that customers are charged for works for which they are contractually responsible, or for works arising from negligent behaviour or deliberate misuse.

Chargeable repairs or services will normally fall into one or more of the following categories

  • Work which is the customers own responsibility in accordance with their tenancy agreement, lease or licence
  • Work as a result of misuse of the property
  • Work following neglect and or where there is a reasonable expectation to report a repair
  • Work required following unauthorised or inappropriate alterations to the property
  • Work identified following termination including property clearance
  • Additional services to connect domestic appliances at a fixed price payable in advance
  • Administration costs to undertake and process chargeable works

Policy Statement

Halton Housing has a legal and contractual responsibility to repair and maintain its properties as detailed in the tenancy agreement which include the following:

  • The structure and exterior of the home, for example, the walls, roof, foundations, drains, guttering and external pipes, windows and external doors
  • basins, sinks, baths, toilets and their pipework
  • water and gas pipes, electrical wiring, water tanks, boilers, radiators, gas fires, fitted electric fires or fitted heaters.
  • Pathways, steps and other means of access.
  • Shared communal facilities

Customers’ responsibilities for repairs and maintenance of their home are detailed in the Tenancy Agreement can be summarised as the following:

  • Keeping clear sinks, basins, bath, toilet and shower wastes
  • Replacing electric fuses, light bulbs, sink & bath plugs, lost keys and batteries
  • Internal decorations
  • Repair and maintain any fittings or appliances not provided by Halton Housing
  • Responsibility for property clearance and untidy gardens during and at the end of tenancy
  • At tenancy termination to return property in a similar condition to when the tenancy started
  • Responsible for any damage caused to their home by themselves, members of households (including animals) and visitors which is not a result of fair wear and tear

Chargeable repairs – during tenancy

Other than in exceptional circumstances Halton Housing will not carry our repairs that are the customer’s responsibility.

If following customer contact, it becomes apparent that the repair request is the customer’s responsibility the following action will be taken:

  • The customer is advised to arrange for the work to be carried out on a like for like basis, by a competent contractor, the work must be made available to be inspected on completion by Halton Housing to ensure that works have been completed to the correct specification and standard.
  • If following an inspection the work is not to a required standard the customer will be given 5 working days to meet the standard , if this is not achieved Halton Housing will carry out the required work and the customer will be charged for the work including VAT and reasonable administrative costs.
  • Customers may request Halton Housing carry out the work on their behalf which will be costed using Halton Housing fixed price list. Works not on the fixed price list may be subject to an inspection and an individual minimum fixed price of £50 (inclusive of vat).

Before any work is undertaken payment must be received in full.

Other than emergency work or where the repair is required to maintain the fabric of the building or is a health and safety danger, no work will be carried out until payment is confirmed.

No customer will be able to transfer where there are outstanding chargeable repairs accept in exceptional circumstances authorised by the high priority panel.

Chargeable repairs at tenancy termination

Where Halton Housing receives a tenancy termination notice, an inspection will be arranged. If there are any chargeable repairs the customer will be notified in writing of the works required to be completed before the date of tenancy termination.

Should the repairs listed not be carried out to an acceptable standard, the outgoing customer will be charged for the cost of the required work and these charges will be chased as part of any former customer debt. Page 5 of 8

Charges for additional services

Halton Housing can offer a range of appliance connections payable in advance for a fixed price.

If requested, the customer must ensure that the appliance is available in good working order with appropriate hoses and connectors for the date and time of the appointment. If the installation is aborted because the above conditions have not been met the charge will not be refunded.

Prior to undertaking the work Halton Housing will provide the customer with a disclaimer identifying any faults with the appliance when it is connected. The work carried out by Halton Housing will be guaranteed for one year.

Customers gas appliances that are installed by Halton Housing engineers will be tested upon connection. Should the appliance fail the test then the engineer will condemn the appliance and cap of any associated gas supply so that the property is made safe. In these circumstances no refund will be given, and the customer must dispose of the faulty appliance. A follow up visit will ensure that the faulty appliance has not been connected or that the replacement appliance has been properly installed and passes the appropriate test.

Criminal Damage

If a repair is a result of criminal damage caused by the customer, members of the household or visitors this will be investigated by Halton Housing and if appropriate reported to the police and action taken regarding the tenancy.

Vulnerable customers

In limited circumstances due to customers vulnerability, charges may be waived this will be at the discretion of the authorising manager and may include:

  • Customers who are older and frail, for example customers in adapted homes or are in receipt of incapacity benefit.
  • Customers with learning disabilities or mental health problems who have difficulty with basic everyday tasks.
  • Customers with physical or sensory disabilities that may struggle to perform everyday tasks as a result of their disability. They may have adapted homes, special equipment or be in receipt of disability benefit.

Exemptions

In the following limited circumstances, the charges policy will not apply: Page 6 of 8

  • If the damage is caused as a result of domestic violence, harassment or hate crime and this has been reported to Halton Housing. In these circumstances, we would require a crime number from the police.
  • Where the customer is a victim of damage caused by anti-social behaviour and this is being investigated by Halton Housing.
  • • Where entry is forced due to concerns about the wellbeing of the customer.

Customer’s ability to pay

A customer may have limited financial resources and therefore have difficulty in making a full payment for the works required either direct to Halton Housing or by using their own contractor.

For customers in receipt of full Housing Benefit or Universal Credit housing element, there will be the option to make payments via instalments until the full cost of the work is confirmed to enable the work to be completed.

If the work required is urgent then all customers must pay an initial payment of 10% or £10 whichever is the higher figure, with an agreement to pay a minimum of £5 per week until the debt is cleared.

Any debt will be managed by the debt recovery team in line with the relevant policy and procedure.

Customers disputing costs or charges may appeal or challenge the charge within 28 days of an invoice date. Any complaint will be dealt with as part of Halton Housing complaints process.

Responsibility

The overall responsibility for the effective charging for repairs and additional services will be the Director of Homes, whilst responsibility for the collection of payments is the Director of Customers. The operational responsibility for the charging of repairs will be the Head of Repairs and maintenance whist the responsibility for collection of payments will be the Debt Recovery Manager.

Regulatory and/or Legal Compliance

The RSH’s Regulatory Framework does not specifically identify this policy area, however there are relevant aspects within the Framework as follows:

Within the Tenant Involvement and Empowerment Standard, a specific expectation within customer service, choice and complaints states that:

“2.1.1 Registered providers shall provide tenants with accessible, relevant and timely information about”:

  • the service choices available to tenants, including any additional costs that are relevant to specific choices
  • the responsibilities of the tenant and provider

Also, one of the required standards within the Home Standard relating to repairs and maintenance is that Registered Providers shall:

  • provide a cost-effective repairs and maintenance service to homes and Communal areas that responds to the needs of and offers choices to tenants and has the objective of completing repairs and improvements right first time.

This Policy links into the following legislation requirements:

  • Occupier’s Liability Act 1957
  • Defective Premises Act 1972
  • Housing Act 1985
  • Housing Act 1988
  • Equalities Act 2010
  • Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014

Diversity Considerations

A Stage 1 Equality Impact Assessment has been completed. This confirmed that a Stage 2 EIA is not required.

Links to Strategies, Policies and Associated Documents

This Policy is linked to two of the six priorities within Our Direction 3.0 and focusses on our:

  • Customer focus
  • Financially viable and well governed

Policies and procedures associated with this include:

  • Repairs Policy
  • Void Repairs Policy
  • Property Pool Plus CBL Policy
  • Diversity Policy
  • Rent Collection Payment & Debt Recovery Policy
  • Affordability Procedure
  • Bad debt, customer credit and write off Policy
  • Assignment and mutual exchange Procedure
  • Criminal damage Procedure
  • Unauthorised Occupation Procedure

Appendix 1 – Price list for chargeable repairs

The following charges will be payable in advance for repairs which are the customers responsibility.

Connectors, hoses etc. are not included in the list below.

A reduction of £5 per item installed will be applied for customers moving into their new home. The discount only applies if all the appliances are fitted at the same time.

All amounts are inclusive of VAT and may be subject to an annual review. Work Identified

£

Unblock drain (internal)

40.00

Unblock drain (external)

100.00

Replace lock –due to lost keys or locked out

60.00

Broken window small double-glazed unit (DGU)

60.00

Broken window medium DGU

95.00

Broken window large DGU

120.00

Board up charge

40.00

Internal door

50.00

No breakdown-gas or electric

50.00

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