What do I do if I have an emergency repair outside working hours?
Call our 24/7 repairs help desk on 0300 555 0302.
What should I do if I am not happy with Black Country Housing Group’s service?
Please tell us. We take our customers’ views very seriously and we will always try to solve any problems you may have. We have a Complaints Policy and Procedure to help us deal with all complaints fairly.
Can I home swap?
Yes. As a resident of a housing association you can swap home with another resident either of the same association, another housing association, or a local authority or council. Go to our Homeswapper page for more detailed information.
How does BCHG carry out repairs?
We have a legal responsibility to maintain the structure of the property as well as the installations of services such as water and heating. We also carry out some internal repairs, while others are the responsibility of the tenant.
Repairs are categorised into Emergency, Urgent and Routine work. The Association has target times for each of these categories. You will be informed which category your repair falls under when you ask for the work to be done.
How can residents get involved?
It's important to Black Country Housing that we provide the best service and that means putting our residents at the heart of what we do. We offer a range of ways that residents can involved in the future planning and improvement of our housing services. Please speak to your Customer Relations Manager for more information.
Can I make alterations / home improvements?
You must write to your Customer Relations Manager with what you are intending to do, why and when. You will normally be responsible for the ongoing maintenance and or repair. You will normally be responsible for the reinstatement of any improvements/alterations after you leave. The exception to this is if is if the adaptation was funded as a Disabled Facilities Grant by the Local Council. We may need to visit your home to assess what you are intending to do. Do not make improvements unless you have receievd permission as this is a breach of your tenancy agreement.
Our Homeforce team will be happy to quote for any works that are approved by us.
Can I keep a pet in my BCHG home?
We want to encourage responsible pet ownership. You are permitted to keep household pets as long as you meet our conditions - please speak to your Customer Relations Manager for more information.
- Smart meters have a built in sim card that automatically sends readings to your energy company and your in-home display or app.
- You have our permission to ask your gas and electricity providers to fit smart meters in your home. Energy companies should offer you smart meters by 2020.
- Smart meters allow you to monitor your energy use, potentially saving you money on your fuel bills.
- Estimated bills are eliminated if you have a standard meter and top ups are simpler if you pay-as-you-go.
- All the information you need about the roll out of smart meters is in one place at www.smartenergygb.org
What is a housing association?
A housing association is a not-for-profit organisation. Its main business is providing affordable homes to rent. Any money left over from its work is ploughed back into building or buying new homes for social rent, and improving its existing properties and services.
Who can apply for housing with a housing association?
Anyone can apply to be housed by us. However, it is our priority to provide housing to those who are most in need of it. To make sure this happens fairly, we use a system of points within 3 bands. If we can’t accept you onto our waiting list we will explain why and you will have the right to appeal against the decision.
How do I apply for housing?
The first thing you must do is to register with the Local Authority for the area or areas in which you wish to live. Your circumstances will be considered and if accepted you will be placed in a band along with other applicants who have similar circumstances.
We do maintain some limited waiting lists. These are mainly one and two bedroom apartments and specialist housing for Retirement Living. For more information please go to our Find a Home page
Can I go on your waiting list?
In order to manage expectations, we only accept applications from those whose needs meet our current waiting list criteria. To see if you are eligible to apply to go on our waiting lists, click here.
What are your Service Standards regarding Gas Safety?
Emergency Response: Attend within 4 Hours. Examples Carbon monoxide, Gas leak, major escape of water (leak) that cannot be contained.
Urgent Response: Attend within 24 Hours . Examples are no heating, or not hot water or both
Routine Response: Attend within 5 days . Examples are a containable escape of water from the central heating/hot water system, a single radiator not working, banging noise, faulty thermostat but can still user the heating manually, heating and hot water coming on together, the boiler making a noise.
Parts Needed: Engineers do carry commonly needed parts however If a first time fix is not possible, parts will be ordered for delivery as soon as possible. Once Liberty have the parts they will confirm the return appointment.
Vulnerable Customers: We will apply a common sense approach to prioritising vulnerable customers within the response times set out above.
Smell gas? Call Cadent immediately on 0800 111 999
Liberty Gas 0300 555 0302, option 1. 24 hour call centre
New customers moving in:
We cap the gas at void properties, meaning when you sign up for a property there will be no heating or hot water.
Turn on, test and service – Customer must have a gas supplier in place and if there is a prepayment (top up) meter there must be credit on the meter. Please give 48 hours notice of moving in to help manage Engineers’ diaries.
If you have your own gas cooker, for safety reasons it must only be connected after Liberty have turned on and tested the gas. You must only use a Gas Safe registered engineer to connect your cooker.
How do I sell my Shared Ownership home?
Please contact the Operations Department on firstname.lastname@example.org
What can I do about noise nuisance?
What is noise?
Noise is a part of everyday life, but can be a nuisance when the level and frequency invade your right to peace and quiet.
It can be a breach of tenancy or lease if there is enough evidence gathered to prove this and if it does not stop, legal action could be taken.
How we may be able to help:
- We will listen to your concerns
- We will set you up on the ASB app, where you will be able to record and upload incidents in real time.
- We will speak to neighbours
- We will look at your noise diary and tell you if we think the noise is anti social
- We may offer mediation.
- We may speak to the person concerned
- We may contact the local authority to ask if they have witnessed noise nuisance.
- We will take action if we find the noise is statutory (falls under a written law) and is not the result if everyday living
What you can do to help:
- Ensure that you use the ASB app once we set you up, it is important that BCHG know about the issues you are experiencing
- Ask yourself if you are being reasonable
- Speak to your neighbour if safe to do so
- Don’t shout or be abusive—if you are angry this won't help
- Keep a diary
- Record the noise
- Contact your Environmental Health team at the council
- Take legal action, for example a citizens prosecution under the Environmental Health Act
What will Environmental Health do?
- Asses how loud the noise and how long it lasts
- Look at the area you live in
- Assess how frequent the noise is and the time of day
- Look at whether the noise is deliberate
- Check action taken by the alleged perpetrator to stop the noise
- Check the activity causing the noise
- They will not investigate irritations or annoyances
- A statutory nuisance is a matter to be decided by the Local Authority
If the local authority is satisfied that a statutory nuisance exists, they will serve an Abatement Notice, imposing a legal duty for action to be taken about the noise. If the noise doesn't stop, the local authority can issue court proceedings.
If entered into court, evidence from an Environmental Health Officer will not be classed as conclusive evidence of statutory nuisance. It is only one of the factors that the court will consider. The court will decide if the noise is a nuisance or not.
What can I do about damp and condensation?
A useful guide on damp and condensation can be found here.
How is my rent and service charge set?
As you may know the government has issued a rent cap of up to 7% for all social housing tenants and in keeping with this, the Board of BCHG has decided that this is the appropriate level of increase for 2023/24 to protect both our residents and the services we offer.
You can find all examples of what is included in your service charges in this helpful guide here.
Service Charges – Summary of tenants’ rights and obligations
(1) This summary, which briefly sets out your rights and obligations in relation to variable service charges, must by law accompany a demand for service charges. Unless a summary is sent to you with a demand, you may withhold the service charge. The summary does not give a full interpretation of the law and if you are in any doubt about your rights and obligations you should seek independent advice.
(2) Your lease sets out your obligations to pay service charges to your landlord in addition to your rent. Service charges are amounts payable for services, repairs, maintenance, improvements, insurance or the landlord’s costs of management, to the extent that the costs have been reasonably incurred.
(3) You have the right to ask a leasehold valuation tribunal to determine whether you are liable to pay service charges for services, repairs, maintenance, improvements, insurance or management. You may make a request before or after you have paid the service charge. If the tribunal determines that the service charge is payable, the tribunal may also determine –
who should pay the service charge and who it should be paid to;
the date it should be paid by; and
how it should be paid.
However, you do not have these rights where –
a matter has been agreed or admitted by you;
a matter has already been, or is to be, referred to arbitration or has been determined by arbitration and you agreed to go to arbitration after the disagreement about the service charge or costs arose; or
a matter has been decided by a court.
(4) If your lease allows your landlord to recover costs incurred or that may be incurred in legal proceedings as service charges, you may ask the court or tribunal, before which those proceedings were brought, to rule that your landlord may not do so.
(5) Where you seek a determination from a leasehold valuation tribunal, you will have to pay an application fee and, where the matter proceeds to a hearing, a hearing fee, unless you qualify for a waiver or reduction. The total fees payable will not exceed £500, but making an application may incur additional costs, such as professional fees, which you may also have to pay.
(6) A leasehold valuation tribunal has the power to award costs, not exceeding £500, against a party to any proceedings where –
it dismisses a matter because it is frivolous, vexatious or an abuse of process; or
it considers a party has acted frivolously, vexatiously, abusively, disruptively, or unreasonably.
The Lands Tribunal has similar powers when hearing an appeal against a decision of a leasehold valuation tribunal.
(7) If your landlord –
proposes works on a building or any other premises that will cost you or any other tenant more than £250; or
proposes to enter into an agreement for works or services which will last for more than 12 months and will cost you or any other tenant more than £100 in any 12 month accounting period;
your contribution will be limited to these amounts unless your landlord has properly consulted on the proposed works or agreement or a leasehold valuation tribunal has agreed that consultation is not required.
(8) You have the right to apply to a leasehold valuation tribunal to ask it to determine whether your lease should be varied on the grounds that it does not make satisfactory provision in respect of the calculation of a service charge payable under the lease.
(9) You have the right to write to your landlord to request a written summary of the costs which make up the service charges. The summary must –
cover the last 12 month period used for making up the accounts relating to the service charge ending no later than the date of your request, where the accounts are made up for 12 month periods; or
cover the 12 month period ending with the date of your request, where the accounts are not made up for 12 month periods.
The summary must be given to you within 1 month of your request or 6 months of the end of the period to which the summary relates whichever is the later.
(10) You have the right, within 6 months of receiving a written summary of costs, to require the landlord to provide you with reasonable facilities to inspect the accounts, receipts and other documents supporting the summary and for taking copies or extracts from them.
(11) You have the right to ask an accountant or surveyor to carry out an audit of the financial management of the premises containing your dwelling, to establish the obligations of your landlord and the extent to which the service charges you pay are being used efficiently. It will depend on your circumstances whether you can exercise this right alone or only with the support of others living in the premises. You are strongly advised to seek independent advice before exercising this right.
(12) Your lease may give your landlord a right of re-entry or forfeiture where you have failed to pay charges which are properly due under the lease. However, to exercise this right, the landlord must meet all the legal requirements and obtain a court order. A court order will only be granted if you have admitted you are liable to pay the amount or it is finally determined by a court, tribunal or by arbitration that the amount is due. The court has a wide discretion in granting such an order and it will take into account all the circumstances of the case.
- I am struggling to meet my energy bills as my costs have recently increased, what help can I get for this?
How can I record and submit evidence of anti-social behaviour to Black Country Housing Group?
If you are currently experiencing anti-social behaviour in your area, you must report this to your Customer Relations Manager. We will then set you up on the ASB App, this allows you to record and upload incidents as and when they are occurring. For instance, if you are experiencing noise nuisance from a neighbour, you will be able to log in to the App, record the issue and submit this through. Your CRM will then be notified that you have submitted a concern, we will then be able to address this with the perpetrator. The App is easy to use, however if you do have issues with this, you are welcome to contact BCHG or the ASB App directly who will be able to assist you,