TCH-Leaf-Motif

Service Commitments

Our local strategy says that we will focus on maintaining outstanding communication with residents and treat every individual with respect and empathy. Our service commitments show how we’ll do this.

Our commitments to you

We’re committed to doing all that we can to provide a great customer experience. When dealing with your query we will:

  • Always be professional and polite
  • Aim to deal with straightforward queries at the first point of contact
  • Aim to get back to you within five working days if we can’t answer your query at the first point of contact
  • Make sure it’s easy for you to make a complaint, so we can put things right quickly if they go wrong
  • Always let you know who you’re speaking to and tell you which team or person will be in touch if your query is ongoing
  • Communicate in clear and simple language
  • Make adjustments to accommodate any specific communication needs and preferences that you tell us about.

You can find out more about our service commitments for specific issues via the list below, including links to any relevant policies. You can also see all our policies here.

If there’s anything else you’d like to know about then we’d love to hear from you. Give the team a call on 01892 501480 or email info@tchg.org.uk

If you need aids or adaptations, such as grabrails or an accessible shower, to help you live more independently we will work with our contractors and support services to adapt your home to your needs. For major, and some minor, adaptations we’ll need a referral from a suitably qualified medical professional, such as an Occupational Therapist, but we can talk you through that process.

In the first instance, please contact us to request an adaptation.

Minor adaptations include grabrails, handrails or small ramps.

  • Once a request for minor adaptations is accepted our contractor will complete the work within 20 working days. TCH will fund these works.

Major adaptations include showers, toilets, or access improvements.

  • Major adaptations are usually funded through a Disabled Facilities Grant from your local council. Once approval is given our contractor will carry out the works within 12 weeks. Property extensions will take longer, and we’ll confirm timescales for these on a case-by-case basis.

Our housing options and moving in commitment

We always aim to offer tenancies in a fair and transparent way. Tenancies will meet housing need, and the homes offered will be safe and secure.

We will let our homes through:

  • Local authority nominations
  • Internal transfer for tenants who meet TCH’s exceptional needs criteria or wish to downsize 
  • Partner agency nomination
  • Arrangements with other Housing Associations or Local Authorities
  • HomeSwapper

Most of our empty properties are advertised on www.kenthomechoice.org.uk. You must be signed up to Homechoice to ‘bid’ for homes.

We’ll find you alternative accommodation if you’re unable to stay in your home due to an emergency, or if we ask you to move to allow major improvement works to take place.

We always try to allocate properties that have disabled adaptations to the households who need them most.

The allocations process

Provisional property offer

Housing options team will contact you within one working day to ask you to provide documents to support your application. These will include passports and bank statements. We will ask that you send these documents to us within one working day.

Documents provided

The housing options team will carry out an affordability assessment to make sure the property is affordable to you.

 Affordability assessment

If successful then a tenancy will be offered subject to:

  • Nomination interview – to discuss any tenancy history and health issues to assess any support needs
  • Short information video and questionnaire about landlord and tenant responsibilities
  • Completion of landlord reference

If unsuccessful then no tenancy will be offered, but we will provide information and guidance to help improve your financial situation for future property applications.

Viewing and tenancy sign up appointment

Tenancy agreement and other property information provided, including safety certificates.

When you move into your property:

  • The utility provider will usually be British Gas. You can switch to your preferred gas and/or electric supplier   
  • If your property has not previously had gas installed, please notify us in writing if you intend to connect to a gas supply. We arrange the necessary gas safety checks
  • Please contact your local council to arrange payment of council tax
  • Please arrange your TV licence and contact all other utility suppliers
  • Our empty property (void) standard explains the expected standard of decoration and what will be provided in your home

We’ll provide information about how to contact us, including using our customer portal My HomeOnline.

After you move in

Sheltered schemes - we’ll visit you within 5 working days to answer any questions, and explain systems like call alarms, laundry and fire safety.

Other homes – our housing team will contact you after 6 weeks to make sure you’ve settled into your home and answer any questions you might have. Please contact us if you have any queries before that.

You can make a report of anti-social behaviour here. In an emergency, please call 999 to contact the police in the first instance.

  • If you make a report of anti-social behaviour, we will contact you within:
    • 1 working day for High Level Cases.
    • 2 working days for Medium Level Cases.
    • 10 working days for Low Level Cases.
  • We will agree an action plan to address the anti-social behaviour with you within 5 working days of first contact. In complex cases where it is not possible to agree an action plan within 5 days, for example where we cannot contact the person who the complaint has been made about, we will let you know this is the case and continue to keep you informed.
  • We will always be impartial in disputes, working with all parties to understand the concerns and work towards a resolution.
  • We will keep the person who has reported the anti-social behaviour anonymous if they wish. However please note, in disputes it is often obvious who has complained even when we don’t give names.
  • We may ask you to keep diary sheets to evidence the issues you’re reporting.
  • We may advise that mediation is necessary to help resolve the reported issues.
  • If needed, we will work with other agencies, like the police or social services, to try to resolve anti-social behaviour issues.
  • Legal action may be considered as a last resort, when all other methods of resolving anti-social behaviour has failed.
  • We will keep up-to-date records of anti-social behaviour and keep you updated on the progress of our investigations.

You can find further information about what is classified as anti-social behaviour here.

Asbestos is a substance which can be found in a range of building materials. It can be harmful to health, if disturbed. Town and Country Housing is committed to managing and controlling asbestos safely and complying with the relevant legal requirements.

  • We will record the location and condition of asbestos and presumed asbestos-containing materials in our homes. Before carrying out any work on your home, we’ll carry out an asbestos survey to identify all asbestos containing materials.
  • A risk assessment will be undertaken where asbestos-containing materials have been identified or where asbestos is to be removed. We will carry out remedial works to asbestos containing materials based on risk and will re-inspect the area when we have completed asbestos works.
  • We will periodically inspect asbestos in accordance with the regulations.
  • We will only use suitably qualified contractors to survey and test, or to repair and remove asbestos.
  • We will not use new or replacement materials containing asbestos.

We will share information on identified asbestos-containing materials within homes upon request.

Please check with TCH before carrying out improvements within your home so that we can offer you advice on asbestos.

We will work with you if excessive clutter (hoarding) negatively impacts your life or on others including if it presents health and safety risks such as fire safety concerns.

  • We will allocate support to you within one working day if we have safeguarding concerns around clutter.
  • We will always work with you to identify what support you need and agree an action plan that is specific to your circumstances. Our housing team will agree with you how often they will visit your home to make sure the right support is in place.
  • We will work with our Tenancy Sustainment Team, Home Straight Team or external support agencies as needed.
  • Our priority is always to support you in your home. Please note, if you do not allow access into your home and your safety or that of the community is at risk, enforcement action may have to be considered as a last resort.

We always aim to provide excellent service but recognise that there will be times where things go wrong. When you make a complaint, we aim to resolve it quickly and fairly.

You can make a complaint here.

When you make a complaint:

Stage 1

  • We will contact you within two working days to confirm the details of your complaint.
  • As well as discussing your complaint by phone or email, we will always provide a written response to your complaint.
  • We aim to resolve all Stage 1 complaints within ten working days.

Stage 2

  • If you are unhappy with our response at Stage 1, you can ask for your complaint to be reviewed and escalated to Stage 2. Please do this within ten days of receiving our written response and include any additional information to support your complaint.
  • A senior member of staff will contact you to review your complaint and gather more information about what outstanding issues remain.
  • We aim to resolve all Stage 2 complaints within twenty working days.

Please note: complex complaints may take longer to resolve. In this case, we will agree a timescale for our response with you.

If you remain dissatisfied with our handling of your complaint, you can contact the Housing Ombudsman.

You can contact the Housing Ombudsman through the following:

Address: Exchange Tower, Harbour Exchange Square, London E14 9GE
Telephone: 0300 111 3000
E-mail: info@housing-ombudsman.org.uk
Web: www.housing-ombudsman.org.uk

We will:

  • Always be professional and polite
  • Aim to deal with straightforward queries at the first point of contact
  • Aim to get back to you within three working days if we can’t answer your query at the first point of contact
  • Make sure it’s easy for you to make a complaint, so we can put things right quickly if they go wrong
  • Always let you know who you’re speaking to and tell you which team or person will be in touch if your query is ongoing
  • Communicate in clear and simple language
  • Make adjustments to accommodate any specific communication needs and preferences that you tell us about.

Contacting Town & Country Housing

Our office hours are Monday to Friday 8.30am - 5pm (except bank holidays)

Please note we’ll only respond to you during office hours, except in the case of Emergency repairs which can be reported 24/7 - 365 days a year by calling 01892 501480

You can see all the ways to contact us here

Where damp is caused by condensation, we will:

  • Attend your property and carry out a three-stage mould treatment. Our target is to carry this out within 20 working days of the report being received
  • Provide you with information and advice on how to manage condensation in your home where appropriate
  • Refer you to services that can provide support with your energy costs where appropriate

If you have followed the advice provided for one month and continue to experience damp and mould in your home or the damp is not considered to be caused by condensation, we will:

  • Carry out thorough investigations where necessary,
  • Share the outcomes of all investigations, keep you informed about any necessary repairs and let you know expected timescales to address the issues.

Where damp is caused by faults in the structure of the building, we will:

  • Carry out an investigation to determine the cause of the damp in your property and instruct any repairs deemed necessary.
  • When our staff carry out repairs in your home, they will attend appointments, ensure your home is left clean and tidy, and arrange a follow-up appointment before leaving if work remains outstanding.

When you move into a new build home, any repairs and maintenance needed during the first twelve months after the property purchase was completed* are the responsibility of the developer. This is known as the ‘defects period’. This may be less than twelve months after you move in.

Defect repairs will be completed within the following timescales:

Emergency  

A repair where there is immediate risk to life and/or a risk to property.

Within eight hours

Urgent

A repair that does not pose immediate risk to person or property

Within five days

Routine

The repair causes inconvenience to the resident and low risk to property

Within 30 working days

Minor

The repair does not cause an inconvenience to the resident or a risk to the property

By the end of the defects period

Your Home User Guide (HUG) explains what is deemed as an emergency, urgent or routine repair. If you need to request a copy of your HUG please contact us.

You can report defects by:

  • Telephone: 01892 501480 (option one). In the case of emergency repairs, you can report these 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year.
  • Email: info@tch.org.uk
  • Website form: https://prteam.typeform.com/to/UHP5bl

When you report a defect, we will contact you to arrange a mutually convenient time and date to carry out the works.

We will make sure that the work has been completed to your satisfaction.

Towards the end of the defects period, we will contact you to arrange an inspection of the property with our project manager and the developer.

We will agree a list of defect repairs to be completed within the defects period.

We will ask you to complete a satisfaction survey. Your feedback is used to improve future services and design. 

Within one month of this inspection, the contractor will agree an appointment date to carry out the works to rectify any defects identified.

Once the work has been completed at the agreed appointment (which may be later than a month after the inspection) you may be asked to sign the contractor’s confirmation that you are satisfied with the work.

Supporting those subjected to Domestic Abuse

If there is an immediate threat to someone’s welfare or safety, please call 999. 

  • If you are concerned about the welfare of a neighbour, family, friend or yourself, please contact us.
  • We will treat all cases reported to us in a sensitive and professional way.
  • We will signpost victims/survivors to, and work with, external agencies such as the police and specialist charities that can provide targeted advice and support.
  • We can discuss alternative housing options with you and provide safety advice.

To find out about the type of support we can offer, please see here.

A repair is categorised as an emergency when health and safety or the security of a property is at risk.

We will:

  • Complete emergency repairs within 24 hours.
  • Complete the most urgent emergency repairs (where there is a high risk to people or to the property) within 4 hours.
  • Offer out-of-hours emergency support after 5pm from technical and housing staff.
  • In an emergency, our repairs workers will follow the same standards that we would expect when completing routine repairs and maintenance.

You can find a list of what is classed as an emergency repair

Please find contact details to report an emergency here.

We may own the land around your property and be responsible for keeping spaces inside and outside your home, that you share with your neighbours, clean and tidy. When we carry out this type of work it’s known as Estate Services. 

Areas that Estate Services cover can include:

  • Grass and hedge cutting
  • Play areas
  • Internal communal areas in blocks of flats
  • Lighting in communal areas
  • Bin stores
  • Fire risk mitigation (dealing with fire hazards such as items left in hallways)

Our Estate Contract Officers (ECOs) will visit each block and estate usually between three and four times a year to complete a formal estate inspection. 

Neighbourhood Housing Managers (NHM) will visit blocks and estates where there is additional demand for inspections or to provide cover for the ECOs. 

Neighbourhood Services Managers (NSM) will carry out periodic ad hoc estate inspections to ensure contractor compliance. 

We provide our contractors with a series of photographs that show the level of work we expect them to carry out. When inspecting estates, we compare work completed to these photos to ensure that the Estate Service works have achieved an excellent standard.

You can report estate issues by contacting your NHM or completing an online form through TCH’s website.  

  • We will write to you our stock condition survey identifies that your home is due for an improvement in the coming year and ask if you would like the work to go ahead
  • We will consult with you via questionnaire about the work to be completed and work with you to accommodate any specific needs.
  • We will agree a start date with you, and let you know when the work is likely to be completed.
  • We aim to cause the minimum possible disruption during works in your home. At the end of each day, the contractor will leave your home clean and make sure that you can use running water, cooking facilities, washing facilities and a working toilet.
  • We will inspect all completed work and make sure that you are happy with it

Our approach

External works include the replacement of major items such as windows, doors and roof coverings, as well as structural work.

Internal works include items like kitchens, bathrooms, boilers and electrical wiring.

We will carry out a stock condition survey of your home every five years to review the condition of your home and assess when improvements are due.

To find out how often we generally replace components within your home, please see our .

Our improvements programme is planned annually. We will let you know when your home is due to be updated. If this is currently scheduled within the next five years, details can be found on MyHomeOnline.

If you decide to replace your kitchen or bathroom yourself, you will need our written approval in advance. Please note that if you do renew your kitchen or bathroom, you will be responsible for any repairs to it. You can submit a request to make improvements to your home yourself through this form.

Our number one priority is to keep you safe in your home.

  • We are required by law to carry out an annual gas safety check on all gas appliances in your home, to keep you and your neighbours safe.
  • The check makes sure there are no gas or carbon monoxide leaks from your boiler.
  • We will also visually check gas cookers and gas fires. Please note that these appliances belong to you and are your responsibility to maintain.
  • Our gas services contractor (Swale Heating Ltd) will contact you to book an appointment. This may be up to 86 days before your current gas safety certificate expires.
  • The gas safety check usually takes about 45 minutes.
  • Please switch your boiler off a couple of hours before your appointment. This is because our engineers cannot work on hot boilers.
  • We are only able to carry out the check if someone aged 18 or over is at home for the whole appointment time.
  • Staff will always show their ID before entering and will treat you and your home woth respect.
  • If you have any concerns about the gas check or our gas services contractor (Swale Heating Ltd) entering your home, please contact us for assistance and support.
  • If you cannot keep your appointment – please rebook it as soon as possible so that someone else can use it. Contact Swale Heating Ltd on 0800 011 3139 or through this form online.
  • Please work with us to make sure your annual gas safety appointment goes ahead on the first visit. The annual check to make sure everything is still safe is really important.
  • If you don’t allow us to come into your home to do these checks, we may need to take legal action to gain access. This is always a last resort, and we will always work with you to find solutions to any access issues.
  • Please note that if legal action is needed you would usually be required to pay any associated costs.
  • Your home should also have a carbon monoxide detector, which will alert you to any harmful emissions from your gas appliances. Please call us on 01892 501480 if it does not and we will provide one.

We are committed to ensuring that we do everything we can to help you and your neighbours to have peaceful enjoyment of your homes.

Communal areas

  • Our housing teams will ensure the communal areas of properties and estates are well managed and maintained.

Tenancy issues and audits

  • You can contact us about tenancy issues. For example if you have concerns about a neighbour, about antisocial behaviour, to help understand a letter we have sent you or if you feel that you are struggling to maintain your tenancy. If your Neighbourhood Housing Manager (NHM) can’t resolve your issue, they will work with colleagues and external agencies and may refer you for additional support.
  • We will carry out a tenancy audit at least once every 5 years. A tenancy audit involves a visit from one of our staff to check that our records are up to date, and to check the condition of your property. This also gives you the opportunity to discuss any queries about your home, your tenancy or your neighbourhood face to face.
  • Audits may be carried out unannounced or by prior appointment, but we will always introduce ourselves, provide identification and explain why we’re visiting you in your home.
  • We offer you a range of ways to pay your rent including by direct debit, on-line through MyHomeOnline, over the phone using ‘Allpay,’ or at a ‘PayPoint‘
  • When setting up your direct debit you can choose the payment dates and frequency that suit you e.g., weekly, fortnightly or monthly
  • Your rent statements can be viewed on MyHomeOnline. If you have trouble accessing the internet, you can ask to have a rent statement posted to you
  • If you are finding it difficult to pay your rent, it’s important to speak to us as soon as possible. Our Income team will work with you to set up a payment plan or refer you to our Money Support Service or other financial advice services such as Citizen's Advice
  • We will always work with you to support you to keep your home. Eviction is a last resort
  • If you owe rent when your tenancy ends, we’ll contact you to agree a repayment plan

The Money Support Service is available to all our tenants to provide budgeting advice and assistance with welfare benefits. If you are worried about being able to keep up payments on your rent or other household bills, please talk to us by contacting us here.

We will:

  • Provide short-term (usually up to 1 month) support and advice
  • Provide advice for reducing household expenses and increasing household income
  • Assist to negotiate affordable repayment plans if you have debts
  • Refer to specialist support agencies
  • Guide you through welfare benefit claims and appeals

A mutual exchange enables you to swap your home with another TCH tenant or a tenant of another housing association or council. Mutual exchanges can be the fastest, easiest way to find the right home for you.

You can find out if you are eligible for a mutual exchange here. Your tenancy agreement will tell you what type of tenancy you have.   

You can apply for a mutual exchange using HomeSwapper and keep track of the process on SwapTracker.

The mutual exchange process allows landlords 42 working days to either approve or refuse your application.  This is the timescale in which TCH and the other landlord(s) of the properties involved (if applicable) will let you know if the move can go ahead.  

We will carry out initial checks and a property inspection within 10 days of receipt of your application and submit, receive, and review references.

Consent to move is the first part of the process. Please do not expect to move within 42 days.

If approval is given, we will arrange the necessary gas and electrical safety checks. These checks can take up to two weeks to book in.

If tenants are unhappy about a decision, they can provide reasons in writing within 10 working days of being informed of the decision. A manager who has not been involved with refusing the exchange will review the decision and reply within 10 working days.

We view resident engagement as an essential part of being a landlord.  It’s important to us that we hear the voices of our residents, and so we:

  • promise resident engagement will always be a first thought and not a last thought in service planning, decision making, service delivery and scrutiny
  • will always base our relationship with you, the resident, on respect openness, honesty, and transparency.
  • will increase the number of residents involved
  • will ensure the involved resident voice is representative of the wider resident base
  • promise to provide choice and flexibility across engagement opportunities
  • promise to make engagement opportunities accessible. We will strive to work with residents to remove any barrier to engagement for them
  • will continue to offer a specific engagement approach for building safety
  • promise to make engagement meaningful and worthwhile
  • will evidence and communicate the difference involved resident(s) make. We will do this by;
    • communicating directly to the involved resident the difference they have made
    • sharing this with all residents via the resident newsletter
    • producing case studies
    • producing an end of year resident engagement impact assessment.
  • will continue to support residents to deliver independent Scrutiny of our services and protect its relationship with Board
  • will strive to reach the ‘silent voice’, those customers who have limited or no interaction with us, because we understand their voice is important too
  • will deliver on the Resident Voice Champions role internally at TCH. Their role is to seek, action and capture lessons learnt from what residents tell us.  We understand that every contact is an opportunity to learn and not to limit our ability to learn solely from feedback via complaints, satisfaction surveys or formal resident engagement opportunities.

We will measure ourselves against these Commitments by:

  • monitoring satisfaction via the Tenant Satisfaction Measures
  • recording the numbers of involved residents
  • recording the demographic representation of involved residents
  • deliver annual impact assessments noting and evidencing the difference made
  • hold up the mirror of best practice and external review
  • report on value for money across resident engagement.

If there is an immediate threat to someone’s welfare or safety, please call 999.

If you are concerned about the welfare of a neighbour, family, friend or yourself, please contact us.

We are committed to safeguarding people at risk of harm or abuse. We have a duty to work with statutory agencies such as the Local Authority, Social Services, and the Police who have the legal responsibility for safeguarding. We will work with the statutory agencies to ensure that tenants are protected from abuse.

Safeguarding children means:

  • protecting children from abuse and maltreatment
  • preventing harm to a child’s health or development
  • ensuring children grow up with the provision of safe and effective care
  • taking action to enable all children and young people to have the best outcomes.

 Safeguarding adults means:

  • Protecting a person’s right to live safely, free from abuse and neglect.

Service charges cover the costs of services provided in communal areas around your home, estate and neighbourhood. For example, your service charge might include things like communal cleaning, gardening, lift servicing, or communal utility bills.

When do we send service charge statements?

Every year at the end of February you’ll be sent:

  • A letter explaining annual changes to your rent (which are determined by the Government’s Rent Standard or your lease)
  • An estimated service charge statement for the upcoming financial year (1 April to 31 March)

After the 31 March we’ll calculate the actual service charge for your home. You’ll be sent your final statement by 30 September.

Social rented residents will have the charge applied to their next year estimate as a debit, or as a credit.

For leaseholders, if your charge is more than was estimated, we will add the remaining amount for you to pay onto your account balance. If the charge is less than the estimate, we will refund the difference onto your account balance

Click here for the most up to date information regarding service charge

Town and Country Housing is committed to ensuring that all our activities benefit our residents, our communities, and our environment both now and for the future.  

This is why we have developed a sustainability strategy, to set out how we will play our part in reducing the impacts of climate change and achieve our strategic priority of creating a sustainable TCH (see our local strategy for more information).  

Over the life of the strategy, we will take action across various areas of our organisation, focusing on our homes (existing and new), our operations and supply chain, our support for residents, and our green spaces.

For more information, read our full Sustainability Strategy 2023-2027. 

Sometimes residents need a bit of extra help to keep their tenancy on track.  The tenancy support team provides support, advice and signposting for residents with physical and mental health, wellbeing or financial issues. They can also help with accessing funding and grants.

Family, friends, professional agencies, or staff members can refer you to the sustainment team or you can self-refer.

Referrals are prioritised and allocated to a sustainment casework officer (SCO) who will aim to contact you within ten days. The SCO will carry out an initial assessment and agree a support plan with you. We will remain involved while you need additional support.

The SCO will discuss next steps with you before closing any support provision. Often monthly check-ins will continue for a while to make sure you’re ok and don’t need anything else from us or other agencies.