Tenant rights

Your tenancy agreement gives you the right to use our repairs, emergency repairs, and support services. As a tenant, you have rights we must respect.

All tenants

Right to information

The Data Protection Act 2018 gives you the right to make sure that any personal information we hold about you in our written and electronic records is accurate and up to date.

If you want to access your records, we may charge a small fee.

When you ask us, we legally must give you information about:

  • how we set your rent
  • how quickly we complete repairs
  • our lettings and allocations policy
  • how we deal with antisocial behaviour

To access your records, email dataprotectionofficer@gentoogroup.com or call 0191 525 5000 and select option 4.

Right to consultation

We will involve you in any major changes that may affect your home or neighbourhood. We will do this:

Right to live peacefully in your home

We will always ask for your permission before we enter your home. We have the legal right to enter your home to:

  • complete repairs we are legally responsible for
  • inspect the condition of your home

We will give you at least 24 hours' notice before we inspect your property.

Right to be treated fairly

We treat everyone fairly and with respect. We will not treat you different because of your:

  • age
  • disability
  • gender reassignment
  • marriage or civil partnership
  • pregnancy or maternity leave
  • race including colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin
  • religion or belief
  • sex
  • sexual orientation age

We do not tolerate discrimination, harassment or intimidation against any person or group of people. We will take action against anyone responsible for this behaviour.

Right to sublet your home

You may not sublet your entire home. If you want to sublet part of your home, you must get our written permission. We will not give you permission if subletting part of your home would mean your home would be overcrowded.

If you sublet your home without getting our permission, you will break the conditions of your tenancy agreement and may lose your home.

Right to improve your home

Before you do anything to improve your home, you must get our permission. We need, in writing:

  • details of the work that you want to complete
  • who will be doing the work
  • if you need and have planning permission from Sunderland City Council
  • when we can inspect the completed work
  • if any of the works are likely to damage or disturb the fabric of the building

Once completed, there are certain improvements that will be your responsibility to repair and maintain.

If the works are likely to damage or disturb the fabric of the building, we will arrange for an asbestos survey before the work starts.

If you move home or make improvements or alterations without our permission, we may ask you to reinstate your home to its original condition. If we need to do this, we will charge you for our costs. We can also take legal action as it is a breach of your tenancy agreement.

Find out more about getting our decorating, improving and adapting your home.

Right to take in lodgers

You have the right to take in lodgers as long as:

  • they do not make your home overcrowded
  • you tell us before you take them in

All tenants with assured tenancy agreements

Right to assign

If you have an assured tenancy, you may have the right to assign it to another person.

You will only be able to do this:

  • as part of a mutual exchange
  • a court orders you to assign your tenancy to someone who qualifies as your successor if you die

A court can only order you to assign your tenancy under the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 or schedule 1 of the Children Act 1989.

The person you assign your tenancy to could be:

  • your partner, husband or wife
  • a member of your family who lived continuously with you for at least 12 months

We can stop your tenancy going to the person you assign your tenancy to when:

  • there is an outstanding court possession order
  • there are court proceedings pending against your tenancy
  • you have been served with a notice of seeking possession
  • you have an outstanding antisocial behaviour injunction or antisocial behaviour order
  • the home would be too small or too large for the new tenant
  • your home has been adapted for or is suitable for people with extra needs and the proposed new tenant does not have those needs
  • the behaviour of the proposed new tenant and their family would get them removed from the Housing Register

Right to Shared Ownership

Tenants living in new rented homes can buy a share of their property through Right to Shared Ownership. You must live in a home we built as part of the Affordable Homes Programme 2021 to 2026.

After renting for 12 months, you can buy between 10% and 75% of your home.

For more information about your right to Shared Ownership, call 0191 525 5000 and select option 4.

Tenants with assured non-transferring tenancy agreements

These rights are for people who became tenants after 27 March 2001. This is when Sunderland City Council transferred properties to us.

Right to succeed

We make sure that if a tenant dies, their tenancy can be passed on to someone who lived with them immediately before their death. A successor could be:

  • their civil partner, husband or wife
  • someone who lived with them as a civil partner, husband or wife
  • a member of their family

Members of family must have documents that prove they lived with the original tenant for at least 12 months before they died. Acceptable proof includes a:

  • document from a judicial authority, like a court, or from a public sector body or authority
  • statement from a regulated utility company, bank or insurance company
  • government-issued document with or without a photo
  • government department or local council letter that confirms they lived in the home for 12 months

The government department or local council letter could be about their:

  • Council Tax award
  • driving licence
  • Housing Benefit
  • Income Support
  • Jobseeker's Allowance award
  • pension
  • place on the electoral register

If you think you are eligible to have a tenancy passed to you, you must tell us within 6 months of the original tenant’s death. We can only apply the right to succeed once. When completed, the tenancy and the tenancy agreement is passed to the new tenant.

In certain situations, we may seek to recover possession of a property through the County Court even if someone has the right to succeed. If this happens, we may offer you suitable alternative accommodation.

We can stop a tenancy going to a successor when the behaviour of the proposed new tenant and their family would get them removed from the Housing Register.

If the tenancy is part of an extra care scheme, there is no right to succeed for a family member or friend.

Right to exchange

If you want to move home, you can swap with:

  • another Gentoo tenant
  • a tenant from a different registered provider or local council

You must have our written permission before you can swap homes.

Your right to exchange may be conditional on you paying any rent arrears or resolving any breaches in your tenancy agreement.

If your tenancy is part of an extra care scheme, you have no right to exchange your home.

When you swap homes, we assume you inspected the property and accepted it as it is. We will not decorate it but will complete any repairs as usual.

Call 0191 525 5000 and select option 4 to get details of other people who want to exchange in Sunderland. Or you can use our Mutual Exchange service to see what homes are available.

We can stop you swapping your home when:

  • there is an outstanding court possession order
  • there are court proceedings pending against your tenancy
  • you have been served with a notice of seeking possession
  • you have an outstanding antisocial behaviour injunction or antisocial behaviour order
  • the home would be too small or too large for the new tenant
  • the home is not suitable for the needs of the family
  • your home has been adapted for or is suitable for people with extra needs and the proposed new tenant does not have those needs
  • the behaviour of the proposed new tenant and their family would get them removed from the Housing Register

Right to acquire

The right to acquire gives you the chance to buy your rented home at a discount. We will tell you if you can buy your home when you apply. You must have lived in a social rent property for at least 3 years. Time in a private rent or market rent property does not qualify you for the right to acquire.

How much your home is discounted depends on:

  • how long you have been a tenant
  • if your home is a house or a flat
  • the age and condition of the property

If you apply to buy your home, we will complete repairs that are legally required, but we will not improve your home by doing things like replacing your roof, kitchen, bathroom or windows. This is because these would change the value of your home.

If you are interested in the right to acquire, call 0191 525 5000 and select option 4.

Tenants with assured transferring tenancy agreements

These rights are for people who became tenants before 27 March 2001 and have been tenants continuously ever since. This is when Sunderland City Council transferred properties to us.

Preserved right to buy

The right to buy gives you the chance to buy your rented home at a discount. We will tell you if you can buy your home when you apply.

How much your home is discounted depends on:

  • how long you have been a tenant
  • if your home is a house or a flat
  • the age and condition of the property

If you apply to buy your home, we will complete repairs that are legally required, but we will not improve your home by doing things like replacing your roof, kitchen, bathroom or windows. This is because these would change the value of your home.

If you are interested in the preserved right to buy, call 0191 525 5000 and select option 4.

Right to succeed

We do not take account of tenancies that were succeeded before 27 March 2001.

Right to compensation for improvements

If you improve your home, you may be able to claim compensation when you leave. This depends on your tenancy agreement and if you had our written permission to improve or adapt your home.

You cannot claim compensation for all the changes you make to your home. We will pay you an amount based on how much the improvement is worth when you leave.

Right to repair

This scheme gives you the right to get urgent and minor repairs fixed quickly where whatever is damaged will affect your health, safety or security.

The repairs must:

  • cost less than £250
  • be urgent and minor
  • be qualifying repairs

Qualifying repairs and their timescales are:

  • total loss of electric power, water supply or gas supply: 1 working day
  • partial loss of gas supply: 1 working day
  • partial loss of electric power or water supply: 3 working days
  • unsafe power, lighting socket or electrical fitting: 1 working day
  • blocked flue to open fire or boiler: 1 working day
  • heating or hot water not working between 31 October and 1 May: 1 working day
  • heating or hot water not working between 31 October and 1 May: 3 working days
  • blocked or leaking drain, soil stack or toilet: 1 working day
  • toilet not flushing and there is only one toilet in your home: 1 working day
  • blocked sink, bath or basin: 3 working days
  • tap cannot be turned: 3 working day
  • leaking water pipe, tank or cistern: 1 working day
  • leaking roof: 7 workings days
  • insecure external window, door or lock: 1 working day
  • loose or detached banister or handrail: 3 working days
  • rotten timber flooring or stair tread: 3 working days
  • door entry phone not working: 7 working days
  • mechanical extractor fan not working: 7 working day

If we do not complete the work by an agreed date, you can ask us to give the work to another contractor. If the second contractor does not complete the work by your new date, we may compensate you £10, plus £2 a day for every day we do not complete the repair. The most we will compensate you is £50.

The right to repair does not apply when:

  • you have any outstanding debts to us
  • you cancel the repair
  • you do not give us reasonable access to inspect or complete the repair
  • you employ your own contractor to complete the work and send us their bill
  • the repair is not to your home
  • the contractor could not complete the work because of bad weather or unavailable parts