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Website URL : http://www.swansea.gov.uk/index.cfm?articleid=15053

Tenants rights protected by transfer plans

KEY rights of Swansea Council tenants would be protected if housing stock transfer takes place.

image depicting Houses at Townhill

The Independents Tenants advisor has confirmed tenants would have their rights protected if their Council homes are transferred to the community housing mutual Tawe Housing.

This means for example that tenants who transfer will still be able to buy their homes under the Preserved 'Right to Buy' scheme, and their discounts would continue to grow up to the maximum allowed.

Tenants would also gain an additional right which means that Tawe housing would not be able to alter the terms of their tenancy agreement without the individual tenant's written consent, something that the Council are able to do at present without tenants consent.

The Independent Tenants Advisor's (ITA) role is to work with council tenants to help them make an informed decision when they are asked to vote in a ballot on the future of council housing.

In Swansea, the Independent Tenants Advisor; Heart of Wales was selected by tenants to be their ITA and provide impartial advice they may need throughout the stock transfer process.

Other important facts that the ITA is making tenants aware of are:

* Tenants would not have to move from their homes as a result of transfer
* Rents would be the same with Tawe Housing as with the Council
* It would not be any easier for Tawe Housing to evict tenants than the Council; Tawe Housing's Tenancy Agreement makes sure tenants' rights to live in their home matches as closely as possible to those they have now with the Council
* Tenants would still be able to pass on their home (if they can now), transfer or exchange or take in lodgers
* An extra succession right would be granted under Tawe Housing's Tenancy Agreement for those tenants who have already succeeded to their tenancy
* Tenants would still have the right to have repairs carried out
* One right will be lost -- the Right to Manage but a similar opportunity would be included under the Rules of Tawe Housing
* If a majority of tenants who vote, vote for transfer, the National Assembly for Wales plus the Council will make sure that Tawe Housing keeps to the promises it has made to tenants.

ITA Clive Webb said: "As your Independent Tenants Advisor, we feel that it is extremely important that council tenants consider all the facts on how the transfer being proposed by Swansea Council will affect them, their homes and their communities.

"We hope that this information will be useful to tenants in helping them make an informed decision when asked to vote on the future of their housing in Swansea.

"Key rights and entitlements tenants currently enjoy under the Council would continue and be protected under their new tenancy agreement as 'assured tenants' of Tawe housing."

Tenants with any questions on the proposal can contact the Council's Freephone information line on 0800 013 1695 or the Independent Tenants Advisor, Heart of Wales, on Freephone 0800 195 4591.

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