Flat Application Procedure
- All applicants for flats must complete an application form. They will be given a copy of this policy. Non members will need to join the shortlist i.e. come to an interview and prospective members meeting. Both non members and current members will usually need to come to an interview when a flat becomes vacant.
- When a flat is due to become vacant, the Allocations Group will ensure that an interview panel is formed.
- The composition and selection of the interview panel shall follow the same general guidelines as the current initial interview process i.e. there should be members of each gender on the panel. There shall always be 3 people on the interview panel, one of whom will ideally be a resident in a flat. This panel will be voted in at a General or Committee meeting.
- The interview panel will contact all those on the shortlist for a flat and interview all those who are still interested.
- Applications will be assessed on the following criteria:
- Housing need
- Whether the Co-op can meet their housing need
- Whether they they meet the requirements of this flat allocation policy
- Willingness to participate in the activities of the Co-op
The interview panel must keep brief written records of each interview under each of these headings. See Appendix 1 for the suggested format.
- The GM will hear brief reports of all interviews from the interview panel who will recommend who should be allocated the flat. The final decision rests with the GM.
- Where an applicant has been interviewed for a flat recently, there will normally be no need to re-interview them, unless their circumstances have changed. All applicants will be given the opportunity to be re-interviewed when any flat becomes vacant, yet this is not obligatory if they feel their case has been fairly heard previously and their circumstances have not changed.
Flat Allocation Policy
- Flats are to be allocated to at least 2 people – The flats were intended to be for couples when the Co-op was built. In recent years the flats have been allocated mostly to single parents. Joint tenancies have recently also been given to couples expecting children. In general this policy agrees that children are good for this Co-op and that their residence here is to be supported.
- Flats are available for:
- couples with children or expecting children: in all recent cases where a flat has been allocated to people expecting children, it has been acknowledged that people in this situation require a period before the child is born to settle their lives.
- single parents with full time care of children.
- single parents with part-time care of children: the Co-op will require that children are expected to be resident at the Co-op for at least 50% of the time.
- two disabled people or one disabled person and their carer.
Each person signing a flat tenancy will also sign the declaration at Appendix 2.
- The Co-op may grant the tenancy of a flat to people who do not fit the above criteria if this is agreed by a General Meeting. It may be necessary to alter the clauses on occupancy and overcrowding in our joint tenancies as they state that the premises are provided for not more than two adults and one child. We can alter these to allow for more people to live in a flat if the panel and General Meeting allocating a flat agree.
- The Co-op will give priority to current members who have a need for flats – By giving priority to those applicants for flats who are current members:
- any invsestment in training, experience is not lost by the members concerned having to move out. This will help ensure a stable membership for the Co-op.
- the Co-op will actively support its current membership, which is no sin, nor even a departure from current practice amongst housing co-ops;
- it would establish, within the Co-op a form of ‘move on’ accommodation for those members who have outgrown the shared house environment.
When will Ash Co-op grant a joint tenancy?
Joint tenancies will only be given to two adults occupying a flat. Both people signing a joint tenancy must:
- meet out current criteria for membership
- meet our current criteria for allocating a flat
Ash Co-op will not grant a joint tenancy where one person is a current tenant with rent arrears.
What happens when a joint tenancy ends because one joint tenant serves a valid Notice to Quit?
- When one joint tenant serves a valid Notice to Quit (NTQ) on a landlord, then this ends the whole tenancy. A valid NTQ must be in writing and signed by at least one of the joint tenants, must be of a minimum length of 4 weeks, and must end on the first or last day of a tenancy ( the rent day is the first day of a tenancy so the notice would need to be 4 weeks long and end on Monday or Sunday to be valid at Argyle Street Housing Co-op).
- When a joint tenancy ends because one person serves a valid NTQ, the Co-op will consider issuing a sole tenancy to the remaining tenant. Each case will be considered on its merits and the main factors to be considered will be:
- Does the remaining tenant meet our current flat allocation criteria?
- Has there been any breach of the joint tenancy? In particular are there any rent arrears or a suspended possession order? We can not transfer arrears under the joint tenancy to a sole tenancy as a new tenancy will be created.
- A recommendation will be put to a General or Committee meeting by the Allocation Co-ordinators before the NTQ has run out as follows:
- grant a sole tenancy to the remaining occupier
- evict the remaining occupier
- evict the remaining occupier but allow them on to the Co-op’s shortlist for shared housing
- In order to evict an occupier e.g. a former joint tenant remaining in the flat, whose joint tenancy has come to an end like this, we must still go to court to get a possession order, unless the remaining occupier surrenders the tenancy e.g. by handing in their keys and moving out.
- Where we decide not to grant a sole tenancy to the remaining occupier mainly on the grounds that they will be underoccupying the flat, then we will make every effort to rehouse them in a shared house.
- The person remaining will be entitled to join the shortlist if the Allocations Co-ordinators agree. The Allocations Co-ordinators should consider whether the person has broken any terms of their former joint tenancy when making this decision.
- In exceptional circumstances, the Co-op will consider allowing the remaining occupier to stay for a set period while they find new housing within or outside the Co-op and accept mesne profits from them for the use and occupation of the flat for that period. A decision to do this should be made by a General or Committee meeting.
What happens when one joint tenant abandons the tenancy?
- When one joint tenant just leaves the property, the joint tenancy continues to exist. The Co-op does not have to do anything. However, the remaining tenant may wish to have a tenancy in their name alone. In this situation we can take the following action.
- Consider granting a sole tenancy to the remaining joint tenant. Each case will be considered on its merits and the main factors to be considered will be:
- Does the remaining tenant meet our current flat allocation criteria?
- Has there been any breach of the joint tenancy? In particular, are there any rent arrears or a suspended possession order? We can not transfer arrears under the joint tenancy to a sole tenancy as a new tenancy will be created.
- A recommendation on whether the Co-op is willing in principle to grant a sole tenancy or not will be put to a General or Committee meeting by the Allocation Co-ordinators.
- If the Co-op agrees to grant a sole tenancy to the remaining tenant:
- We will try to contact the joint tenant who has abandoned the tenancy and ask them to give up their interest voluntarily, by signing a form surrendering the tenancy (see Appendix 3). A Co-op tenancy signatory can sign this on the Co-op’s behalf. We do not have to do this but it is good practice because ending the tenancy with an NTQ from the remaining person removes the other person’s rights – we need to be sure they have actually left.
- If the person who has abandoned does sign this form, together with the remaining tenant, then we will grant a sole tenancy to the remaining tenant.
- If we are unable to contact the person who has abandoned after 3 months, then we will presume they have genuinely abandoned the tenancy and ask the remaining person to end the tenancy by Notice to Quit and grant them a sole tenancy to start the day after their NTQ ends. Both the remaining tenant’s NTQ and sole tenancy should preferably be signed on the same day. In any case the sole tenancy must be signed BEFORE the NTQ expires.
- If the tenant remaining is underoccupying, we cannot evict them unless they breach their tenancy agreement. We can follow the procedure in Section 7.
What happens if one joint tenant wishes to leave the tenancy and the joint tenants ask a worker/allocations co-ordinator what steps they need to take?
- We need to decide whether to grant a sole tenancy to the remaining tenant. We can follow the procedure in sections 4.2 to 4.7 above.
- If it is agreed that the remaining tenant is eligible for a sole tenancy, then we will ask both tenants to sign the form of Surrender (Appendix 3) and grant a sole tenancy to the remaining person.
- If it is agreed that the remaining tenant is not eligible for a sole tenancy and there are no rent arrears, then the departing tenant will be asked to serve an NTQ on the whole tenancy. We can follow the procedure given in secs. 4.4 to 4.7.
- If the departing tenant does not serve an NTQ and the remaining tenant is underoccupying, we cannot evict them unless they breach their tenancy agreement. We can follow the procedure in Section 7.
Under-occupation of flats
- All members who sign a tenancy for a flat will also sign the document at Appendix 2 and state that, if they no longer meet the flat allocation criteria and are underoccupying a flat then they will comply with the Co-op’s policy on underoccupation and co-operate with any request that they find alternative accommodation, whether within a Co-op shared house or outside of the Co-op.
- If it happens that:
- a flat is left occupied by a single person
- a flat is left occupied by a couple without children
- a previous care arrangement for children changes such that the child is no longer resident for at least 50% of the time
- In such cases, the Committee (or General Meeting) shall be empowered to establish that the under-occupation is of concern to the Co-op. Where a meeting establishes its concern, it shall also elect at least 2 Co-op. members to discuss the matter with the member(s) concerned and report back to the following meeting.
- If this second meeting is still concerned that the flat is under occupied, the Co-op will write to the member(s) concerned, asking that the situation is resolved within 3 months. If the situation has not been resolved within this time, the following procedure shall apply: 7.5 Established under-occupation of flats The Co-op in meeting will set a period of time during which the remaining member(s) are requested to find alternative accommodation, whether within a Co-op shared house or outside of the Co-op. Those in this situation will be supported by the Co-op in their search for alternative accommodation by:
- asking all shared houses with vacancies to invite them for interview
- making available all office facilities, including the phone, to aid them in their search for alternative accommodation.
…the Co-op will identify a period over which the current tenant(s) will be allowed to resolve the issue of under-occupation