Important information and documents

Important information and documents

It is important to us that you have all of the important information and documents you need as a customer. If you can't find what you are looking for, please let us know and we can make sure that it is made available. 

Rights and Responsibilities

Gentoo understands that we have many responsibilities as a housing provider. As a customer of a Gentoo product or service, you will also have responsibilities and rights that Gentoo must adhere to.

Please click on the boxes below for more information.

If you have an assured tenancy, you may have the right to pass it on to another person. This is known as an assignment of your tenancy.

However, you will only have the legal ‘right’ to do this in the following circumstances:

  • If you want to assign your tenancy as part of a mutual exchange
  • A court orders you to assign your tenancy under the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 or schedule 1 to the Children Act 1989 you want to assign your tenancy to a person who would qualify as a ‘successor’ if you die.
  • A person who can qualify as a ‘successor’ could be your partner, wife, or husband and members of your family who have lived continuously with you for at least a year.

We can withhold permission for your assignment for the following reasons:

  • A court possession order is outstanding
  • You have been served with a notice of seeking possession
  • Court proceedings are pending against your tenancy
  • An anti-social behaviour injunction or anti-social behaviour order is outstanding against you
  • The home would be too small for the new tenant
  • The home would be too large for the new tenant
  • The property is specially adapted for or particularly suitable to disabled people or those with special needs and the new customer does not have these needs

Customers of Gentoo may be eligible to buy their homes under two schemes:

  • Right to Acquire
  • Preserved Right to Buy

These schemes are offered by social landlords and give customers the chance to buy their rented home outright at a discount, which is calculated according to where they live and the number of years they have been a tenant.

The preserved right to buy is available to those that were assured customers of Sunderland City Council before the stock transfer commenced on 27th March 2001 and there has been no break in tenancy (customers who have transferred to another property since this date will have retained the preserved right to buy).

The right to acquire is available to those who were not a customer of Sunderland City Council but were new customers of Sunderland Housing Group and now Gentoo.

The preserved right to buy and the right to acquire both give customers a discount on the market price of their home if they decide to purchase it. The preserved right to buy discount is a lot more generous than the discount given to those with the right to acquire. Please see below for a description of both schemes and an explanation of who is eligible for each one.

Preserved Right to Buy

The Government has announced that the maximum right to buy discount will be increased to £78,600.

The Right to Buy scheme will benefit Gentoo customers who have the preserved right to buy. The preserved right to buy was granted to those who were secure Sunderland City Council customers before the stock transfer took place on 27th March 2001.

The scheme gives customers a discount on the market value of their home. The longer they have been a customer, the more discount they will get, up to the maximum limit which is now £78,600.

The amount of discount the customer will receive depends on:

  • How long they have been a customer
  • If the property is a house or a flat
  • The age and condition of the property

Some homes cannot be purchased under the Preserved Right to Buy Scheme.  If you home is exempt from the Right to Buy you will be advised when you apply to buy your home.

Discount rules

If the customer lives in a house, they can get a discount of 35% for between 3-5 years of tenancy. For each extra year that they have been a customer, they can get another 1% up to a maximum of 70%.

If the customer lives in a flat, they can get a discount of 50% for between 3-5 years of tenancy. For each extra year that they have been a customer, they can get another 2%, up to a maximum of 70%.

But, whatever percentage they are eligible for, the discount cannot be greater than £78,600.

The discount however may be reduced by a special rule called the cost floor. This may apply where Gentoo has spent money on purchasing, repairing, improving or maintaining the home. Under the cost floor, the discount they receive must not reduce the price they pay below what has been spent above. If that cost is greater than the market value of the home they will not receive any discount.

Right to Acquire

The Right to Acquire scheme is a government scheme whereby tenants who have been a tenant of a Housing Association for at least 3 years can apply to buy their home.

The scheme gives customers a discount on the market value of their home. The maximum discount is £9,000.

Some homes cannot be purchased under the Right to Acquire Scheme.  If you home is exempt from the Right to Acquire you will be advised when you apply to buy your home.

Any queries concerning Right To Buy or Right To Acquire should contact your local office.

When our customers want to move house we try to help as much as we can. So you can, if you wish, swap your property with that of another customer, or with a person who has a different registered provider or local authority. To get started, speak to the staff at your local housing office who should be able to give you details of other people who want to exchange in Sunderland.

But please bear in mind that we may refuse permission for you to exchange in certain circumstances, such as if the property you want to move into would be too large or too small for your needs.

It’s also worth remembering that you can only exchange your home with another customer if you meet the following conditions:

  • You have an assured tenancy
  • You have received permission in writing to complete the exchange from your local housing office

We reserve the right to withhold permission if:

  • A court possession order is outstanding or you have been served with A notice of seeking possession
  • Court proceedings are pending against your tenancy
  • An anti-social behaviour injunction or anti-social behaviour order is outstanding against you
  • The home would be too small for the new customer
  • The home would be too large for the new customer
  • The property is adapted or particularly suitable for disabled people or those with special needs and the new customer does not have those needs.
  • The property is not suitable for the needs of the family

The right to exchange can also be made conditional on you clearing any outstanding rent arrears or resolving any breaches in your tenancy agreement.

When you exchange properties with another customer your local housing office will assume that you have inspected the property and accepted this ‘as seen’. We won’t carry out any decorating at this time, but if there are any repairs that need doing we will get them sorted out for you in line with our normal repair procedures.

We all want our homes to be the best they can be, so as a Gentoo customer you have the right to carry out improvements, alterations or additions to your home. All we ask is that before you do anything please ask our permission in writing, giving details of the work you want to carry out.

Of course, you must also obtain any planning permission or building control approval from Sunderland City Council if it’s required. And once completed, there will be certain improvements that will be your responsibility to repair and maintain. Your local housing office staff will be happy give you any advice and information you need regarding any requests to improve your home.

We take our responsibilities to you very seriously and strive to deliver a high-quality leasehold management service under the terms of your lease.

Under this assurance, we’ll make sure we provide a comprehensive and responsive approach and that you will always be kept fully up to date on the quality, cost and performance of what we’re doing. We will also consult with you fully and use what we learn to develop our service and make it as effective as possible.

Our service standards

We have created our service standards to ensure we meet our responsibilities in line with the terms of your lease. The standards also provide a number of other useful and important assurances which make certain that we:

  • Provide of a high-quality service when managing and maintaining the place where you live
  • Give you information relating to services and their cost in an accurate and timely way
  • Consult with and involve you when reviewing all services that affect you directly
  • Help you enjoy appropriate, safe and secure living conditions
  • Make available a range of payment methods so you can pay in a way that suits you
  • Give you advice on any payment problems

If you find there are any urgent and minor repairs that need undertaking because your health, safety or security might be affected, we’ve implemented a ‘right to repair’ scheme that ensures these are carried out quickly.

What the scheme means is that if the repairs are not carried out by our contractors within a set time period, you can ask us to give the work to another contractor. And if the second contractor lets you down within the new set time frame, you may be entitled to £10 compensation. We will then pay £2 a day for each day the repair is not completed, up to a maximum of £50.

During this time you must not employ your own contractor to carry out the work and then send the bill to us. We carry out all the repairs on our own properties.

There are some instances where the right to repair does not apply. These include:

  • If you have told us that you no longer want the repair carried out
  • If you have failed to provide reasonable access for the repair to be carried out or be inspected
  • If the repair is not to someone’s home
  • If there are factors outside our or the contractor’s control which prevent the work being completed, such as severe weather conditions, or parts are not available

Summary of the right to repair

We will consider all repairs under the scheme and will let you know if the problem you’ve reported qualifies. If this is the case, we will give a date by which the work should have been carried out. If the work has not been completed by the date we have given you, you must let us know and make it clear that you wish another contractor to take over. We will then give you a new date for completing the work.

Please be aware that if you have any outstanding debts to us, you will not be entitled to compensation under the right to repair scheme.

It’s important to us that no one should feel uncertain about the future – especially during the difficult and emotional period immediately after a loved one has passed away. So we ensure that if a customer dies, their husband, wife, civil partner (or an individual who lived with them as husband, wife, or civil partner) has the legal right of succession, as long as they were living with that person immediately before the their death.

We also give our customers additional rights of succession to include members of their extended family, including their partner, grandparent, child, grandchild, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, nephew, or niece. However, before a family member can take over a tenancy, they must provide documentary evidence that they have lived at the property for at least twelve months prior to the death of the original customer.

Acceptable evidence includes any of the following:

  • A government-issued document with or without a photo
  • A document from a judicial authority (for example a court) or from a public sector body or authority
  • A statement from a regulated utility company, bank or insurance company
  • A government department or local authority letter confirming 12 months’ residency (pension, housing benefit, income support, job seekers or council tax award letters, electoral register or driving licence)

Any potential successor needs to let us know about their claim to a tenancy within six months of the customer’s death, and the right to succeed can only be applied once. On completion, the tenancy and the tenancy agreement then passes to the new party.

In certain situations, we can seek to recover possession of a property through the County Court, even though the individual may have the right to succeed. In these instances we may have to offer you suitable alternative accommodation.