Your home, your handbook

Frequently asked questions

What should I do if I can smell gas?

Turn off the gas supply at your gas meter if you are able. The valve that regulates the flow of gas will be connected to your pipe at a right angle, but can sometimes be difficult to locate and/or hard to access.

Open all doors and windows to ventilate the property. If you’re unable to open the doors/ windows for any reason, get outside and into the fresh air as soon as possible. Do not operate any electrical switches (this can include mobile phones, light switches or electronic doorbells). Extinguish all naked flames, do not smoke, strike matches or do anything which could cause ignition. If there are any electrical door entry phones/locks, please open these doors manually.

Call the Gas Emergency Service Provider on 0800 111 999. If you’re deaf or hard of hearing, you can use a textphone (Minicom) on 0800 371 787. Do not call on a mobile phone inside your home if you suspect a gas leak. Go outside or to a neighbour’s home if you have to use your mobile. Remember - do not use electrical devices if you suspect a leak.

Once you have called the number, make sure someone is available to help the emergency engineer locate the leak and gain access to the property once they arrive.

If a fire breaks out call the Fire Service on 999. Most mobile handsets will allow you to dial the emergency number even if there is no SIM inserted, or even if the phone has no credit.

What should I do if my carbon monoxide detector alerts?

Get fresh air immediately. Open doors and windows, turn off gas appliances and leave the house. See your doctor immediately or go to hospital - let them know that you suspect CO poisoning. They can do a blood or breath test to check.

If you think there is an immediate danger, call the gas emergency services provider on 0800 111 999.

Who is responsible for the communal areas? We are responsible for keeping your communal areas clean, safe and well lit.

Can I keep a pet?

Just ask, we have a pet policy in place and there is an agreement form which will need to be completed. Contact us in the usual way.

What can I do if I find pests in my home?

It is almost impossible to keep even the cleanest home free from small pests, insects and vermin as they can get in through the smallest of holes.

However you can avoid attracting them by always cleaning away rubbish and wrapping it up well, cleaning down all work surfaces and ventilating your home properly. Also avoid leaving food out for pigeons etc. as this can attract other vermin such as rats, mice, squirrels and foxes.

If you discover any insects or vermin you need to contact your local environmental health department. You can also contact the Customer Service Hub who will advise you what action to take. If you live in one of our Independent Living Schemes, please let your Independent Living Coordinator (ILC) know and, they will approach the local authority in case more than one property is infested.

Where can I park my car?

Where a communal car park is provided, you can park your car in any available space. We do not operate a reserved parking system and any disabled marked bays must only be used with the relevant permit, these cannot be enforced and  rely on the goodwill of neighbours.

Am I responsible for paying the Council Tax?

You have to pay your own council tax to the council in your area. Your council tax bill will give you information about how to pay. If you live on your own or are the only adult in the property you will receive a discount of 25% off the full council tax rate. If you are on a low income you can claim council tax benefit. Your Neighbourhood Housing Officer will be able to advise you how to apply.

How much are my water rates?

The regional water company in each area collects water rates from people living within its locality.  

Water rates in our properties are charged in several different ways:

  • If you have a water meter, you will get a bill for the water you have used and for some basic charges If you live in a block of flats with a communal meter, we will divide the water charge between all the properties in the scheme or block, in  the same way as service charges are divided. We will collect the water charge with the rent
  • If your property is not covered by a water meter, the water authority will send you a bill based on the rateable value of your home. This is a value fixed by the local council’s District Valuer. Water rates are not covered by Housing Benefit/ Universal Credit or Council Tax Benefit

Why have Service Charges gone up  this year?

Some costs will have increased or will be forecast to increase and the service charge reflects the increase in costs borne by Johnnie Johnson Housing in delivering the service.

Why do I pay for services I don’t use?

If a service is available to you but you do not use this service you still have to pay the cost. For example, if you are charged for lift maintenance but always use the stairs you will still be liable to pay for this service as it is available to you whether you choose to use it or not.

Why am I being charged for water safety treatment/legionella testing?

Where there is a water supply that is held within a storage tank, regular assessments must be carried out. This is so we can make sure the supply is free of dangerous bacteria like legionella. This ensures that you are safe and we are compliant with the Health and Safety Executive legislation.

Why am I paying more towards my service charge than my neighbour?

The cost is shared out among the units in a block or estate in a ‘reasonable’ way. This can be equally apportioned but may also be apportioned based on rateable value, floor area or number of rooms etc.

What is/who are the First-Tier Tribunal (Property Chamber - Residential Property)?

The First-Tier Tribunal Property Chamber (Residential Property), formerly the Rent Assessment Committee can review two types of cases.

Fair rent cases

When a rent officer fixes a fair rent for a property under the Rent Act 1977, either landlord or resident can lodge an objection to the rent with the rent officer who then refers the matter to this tribunal.

Market rent cases

Market rent cases are referred to this tribunal in one of four ways.

  • Where the landlord under an assured, or assured shorthold, periodic tenancy has served a notice on the tenant, under section 13 of the Housing Act 1988, proposing a rent increase to take effect at the beginning of a new period of the tenancy specified in the notice. At any time before the proposed date of increase, the resident may refer that notice to this tribunal for an assessment by the tribunal of the rent to be payable. The tribunal must receive that application before the date specified in the landlord’s notice of increase.
  • Where a resident, under an assured shorthold tenancy, is dissatisfied with the rent payable under the tenancy, an application can be made to this tribunal under section 22 of the Housing Act 1988, provided it is received within the first six months of the initial tenancy. If the tribunal considers the rent to be significantly higher than could reasonably be expected, the tribunal will determine a market rent for that tenancy.
  • Where a fixed term assured, or assured shorthold, tenancy has come to an end and the landlord or tenant has, by notice under section 6 of the Housing Act 1988, proposed new terms for the statutory periodic tenancy which has automatically started. The recipient can refer the notice to this tribunal for it to determine the new terms, including rent.
  • Where there has been an application to the tribunal under the Local Government and Housing Act 1989 where a long Lease at a low rent has expired.

Who does what at a tribunal?

Tribunal members are appointed by the Lord Chancellor.
There are two types of member: 

  • The chairman, who will usually be a lawyer or surveyor, is responsible for the conduct of the case and will write the reasons for the tribunal’s decision;
  • Other members who may be lawyers, surveyors, other professional people or lay people

When a tribunal is set up to consider the case, there will usually be two or three members including the chairman. Case officers are the administrative staff who manage the process from start to finish and deal with correspondence. When an application is received, it is the case officer who will register the case and deal with the paperwork and correspondence until the parties have received the final decision. The case officers are able to speak to parties about the procedures relating to the application, but they cannot give legal advice or interpret the tribunal’s decision.

What if I want to have lodgers?

This is someone who shares the house and may have meals with you. 
If you decide to take in a lodger you must: 

  • Tell us the name/sex/age of your lodger before they move in. They will need to comply with any specific criteria for the scheme where you are living
  • Take responsibility for their behaviour during their time with you and when you want them to leave it will be up to you to remove them legally
  • Tell the housing benefit or council tax departments if you are receiving benefits that you have a lodger. They may reduce the amount of benefit you receive

Can I sub-let?

You only have the right to sub-let part of your home and not all of it. Someone sub-letting is likely to have sole access to a part of your home and do their own cooking.

The conditions for sub-letting are the same as a lodger with the additional requirement:

  • You must not grant an assured tenancy to your sub-tenant

Can I pass my tenancy on to anyone else?

You cannot pass on your tenancy to anyone else except in some exceptional circumstances. 

For example: 

  • Exchanging your home
  • Divorce/separation where a judge grants a tenancy to one party
  • Passing onto someone who would be allowed to succeed to the tenancy after your death

If you think you might need to pass on your home you must contact your Neighbourhood Housing Officer to discuss the circumstances and get approval.

Will my family be able to stay in my home if I die?

A tenancy can be passed on to a relative if the resident dies. This can only take place once. The person who succeeds to the tenancy cannot pass on the tenancy again. 

  • If a married resident dies, the resident’s wife or husband has the right to take over the tenancy automatically if they were living with the resident at the time of death 
  • If two people of whatever sex are living together as partners, the resident’s partner has the right to take over the tenancy automatically at the time of death
  • If two people are joint residents and one of them dies, the other person succeeds to the tenancy. This person cannot pass the tenancy onto anyone else
  • If a sole tenant dies, other family members have the right to take over the tenancy, providing they have been living there for at least a year before the death. If there is a dispute about who can take over the property we can decide. 

We might ask someone in this position to move to a property of a more suitable size if for example they are under-occupying the property.

Do I need permission to run a business from home?

We understand that working from home is becoming more popular and acceptable, however, you must advise us if you want to run a business from home.

We will not withhold approval unnecessarily but we will need to take into consideration issues such as:

  • Possible disturbance to neighbours
  • Traffic problems
  • Use or storage of dangerous materials

However, even if we do give approval you may also need approval from other agencies such as the local authority planning department.

Who is responsible for my gardens?

If your home has a separate garden, to which you have sole access, you are responsible for keeping it well maintained and tidy. If there are communal gardens where you live, Johnnie Johnson Housing is responsible for their upkeep and you will pay for this in your service charge.

Do I have to seek approval to change the flooring in my property?

You must always seek approval from the Trust for any adaptations. If you wish to change your flooring, you must ensure that the appropriate underlay is used underneath to ensure the transfer of noise is kept to a minimum.