BCH Policies:
Equal opportunities statement

Brent Community Housing is based in a diverse community within a multcultural and multiracial environment. Brent Community Housing recognises the benefit of such a diversity and is also aware that many groups and individuals face discrimination and disadvantage.

In the provision of housing services, recruitment and employment of staff within its organisation, Brent Community Housing is committed to taking an active role in combating discrimination and disadvantage in all areas in which it works.

No person(s) applying for housing or employment will be treated less favourably than other person(s) because of their race, colour, ethnic or national origin, sex, sexuality, disability, age, physical appearance, Health status or religion.

As an employer, the Co-operative will actively seek to employ staff from all sections of the community.

The Co-operative will undertake appropriate training for staff and members to further the benefits of implementing its equal opportunities policy.

Brent Community Housing will actively seek to ensure that contractors employed on behalf of the organisation comply with the co-operative’s equal opportunities policy; by establishing mechanisms for monitoring contracts and the provision of services; by actively encouraging contractors to employ a workforce that reflects the composition of the community and; by ensuring that contractors have stated equal opportunities policy.

As a housing provider, the Co-operative will actively assist single people who face discrimination to benefit from its housing services and will identify needs by establishing mechanisms for tenant participation and also establishing close working relationships with appropriate community and statutory agencies.


The Co-operative will actively promote its commitment to equal opportunities when working with housing associations, local authorities, referral and other agencies.

The Co-operative will collect and monitor records of all people who are referred to it for housing and all people applying to it for jobs. The information gained from monitoring will be used to ensure that the co-operative is meeting its equal opportunity policy objectives.

The Co-operative will review the operation of its equal opportunities procedure periodically and devise further programmes of action accordingly.

A full copy of the equal opportunities policy is available on request.

 

Policy on harassment

 

BCH condemns all forms of harassment and will not tolerate such acts whether perpetrated by its members or employees.

The scope of the policy covers any form of harassment which may be targeted at groups or individuals because of their;

 
  • colour

  • Ethnic or nation origin

  • Gender

  • Sexuality

  • Disability

  • Age

  • Illness

  • Religious beliefs

  • Physical appearance

 

Detailed guidelines on the investigation of allegations of harassment have been produced for staff and agreed by members.
All reported cases of harassment are monitored, recorded and presented to the Management Committee.
A more detailed copy of the harassment policy and procedure is available on request.

 

Privacy and confidentiality policy

 

The purpose of this is to provide a guarantee to members that their privacy and confidentiality will be respected and guidance to staff and committee members in the conduct of their duties and responsibilities.

It outlines the circumstances in which members can view the personal information held by BCH about themselves and information disclosed to third parties.
Principles

  1. The Co-operative only holds information relevant to the housing needs and tenancy history of members, former members and prospective members.

  2. This information is held on personal files and/ or stored on computer files it is kept secure at all times and can only be accesses by staff.

  3. Members have a right to reasonable access to information held about them selves, details available in the access ton information policy.

  4. Personal and confidential information about members will not be disclosed to third parties unless the Co-operative has a legal or contractual obligation to the third party or the express permission of the individual member to disclose to a third party.

  5. BCH will write to members when information has been disclosed to third parties under this policy.

A more detailed copy of the policy is available on request.

 


What is a complaint?

This policy defines a complaint as an expression of dissatisfaction with service delivery.

A member may have grounds for complaint, if for example, they are unhappy with:

  1. Our policies and the way we put them into practice;

  2. The way they have been treated by the Co-operative;

  3. The way a problem has been dealt with;

  4. A decision we have made about them or their home.

Key policies

  1. All complaints, however small, will be taken seriously and investigated promptly and thoroughly.

  2. If the complaint needs to be in writing we will offer to help to write it down.

  3. We will take a fair and impartial approach in order to solve the problem as quickly and amicably as possible.

  4. We will give a formal response to every complaint explaining the action we have taken or will be taking.

  5. We will offer an appeal where the complainant is unhappy with the response they have received.

  6. There is a separate appeals procedure.

Procedure

  1. In the first instance a member is encouraged to discuss the problem with their Housing Officer.

  2. If the member remains unhappy with the action taken, the complaint will go to the Housing Manager.

  3. Where a member remains unhappy the complaint will be referred to the Director and there is a final opportunity to appeal to the Management Committee

  4. There is only one appeal and the decision is final and binding.

Members in permanent properties will have additional right of appeal through their landlord for whom we act as a managing agent.


A more detailed copy of the policy and procedure is available on request.


 

Anti Social Behaviour

 

Neighbour Disputes

 

Members are expected to consider their neighbours and not to do anything that would cause a nuisance to them.

If a problem should a raise it is usually best to talk over the problem between you and to show consideration for each other. If you cannot solve the problem and both parties are members of BCH we will try and help resolve the dispute.

It is helpful if u keep a record of the dates, time and types of nuisance to assist in the case of any further action being taken.

If legal proceedings against the perpetrator result a record of events will be necessary.

If we believe that legal action should be taken against a member who has seriously breached their tenancy agreement we will need your participation in that process, this may mean that you will need to give evidence in court.

 

Noise

 

Noise is the most common form of nuisance, particularly if you live in flat. Noise can cause a nuisance at any time of the day or night. You can approach your Housing Officer if you have an ongoing problem with noise nuisance from a BCH neighbour and she/he will approach your neighbour. You may also contact Brent Council’s Environmental Health Department if the noise is causing a serious disturbance.

 

Nuisance caused by non-members of BCH

 

If you have a problem with nuisance caused by your neighbours who are tenant of another organisation we will approach their landlord with your complaint. However, we may be unable to offer any legal resolutions to the problem.

 

Transfer policy

 

Short life and Long life
Generally BCH will not be able to grant a transfer to members from short life properties unless properties are available.

The reasons which will be considered for transfer are

  1. Where the member has suffered harassment or violence within the area in which they live.

  2. Where a member has suffered harassment, violence or intimidation from another tenant who is not a tenant of BCH.

A member will not be able to transfer with rent arrears or with a poor rent payment record.

Permanent
Members in permanent properties generally have rights to transfer through the housing association with which they hold their tenancy and for whom BCH acts as managing agent, e.g. Circle 33, Stadium, London and Quadrant etc..

Exchanges
BCH members in permanent accommodation may exchange only with members holding the same type of tenancy. They may also exchange with tenants of other organisations. Members in short life may exchange with other BCH members short life.

No exchanges can take place without the confirmation from the relevant landlords and the criterion for exchanges is available on request.

BCH’s transfer policy is available on request.

 

Allocation policy and procedure

 

Short life accommodation
BCH does not have a waiting list for new and prospective members/tenants, this is because BCH has no control over the availability of short life properties and is dependent on the owners of the properties making offers.

Offers of short life accommodation are made according to the following priority order:

  1. Members on handback

  2. Priority rehousing cases

  3. Referral from referral agencies

Members will also be ranked according to their rent payment record and the number of points they hold.

If there are a number of properties taken into management all membership request for transfer may be considered. This must be address in writing to the Housing Manager.

Vacant rooms in shared houses will be let in accordance with casual vacancy policy, which currently allows members in the property to nominate an individual to the room who must fulfil the Co-op’s criteria for membership of BCH.

Longlife accommodation

Longlife accommodation is properties which may be owned or leased by another Housing Association. BCH acts as a managing agent for these properties Members Living in such properties will have a tenancy agreement with the housing association concerned, but all housing management services are provided by BCH. Members in such properties will have an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (see Members’ rights section). Longlife leases may be between 3-10 years and at the end of that time it is likely that the owner will request that the property be handed back.


Longlife properties are allocated by the same procedure as permanent in the first instance, but thereafter according to the casual vacancy policy.

Permanent accommodation

BCH operates a permanent waiting list to which all members may apply.


Permanent and longlife properties managed by BCH are allocated according to the management agreements the Co-op holds with each housing association. In practice this will mean that a number of places will be referred for nominations from Local Authority and that a number will be offered to members.



Any vacancies available for members will be allocated to members on the permanent waiting list who have specified an interest in the type of property and the area in which it is situated. Offers will be made on record of rent payment and points.

Members with arrears will not, however be considered.

If you wish to be considered for permanent or longlife vacancies you must complete an application form.

BCH acknowledges that a points system may not ensure that vulnerable members are appropriately housed and we would assist where possible to ensure that such members’ needs are considered and if possible assist in referrals to other agencies.



Referrals
BCH accepts the following categories as homeless:

  1. Living in fear of violence

  2. Living in overcrowded conditions

  3. Roofless

  4. Squatting

  5. Threatened with eviction

  6. Living with harassment

  7. Living in a hostel or other temporary accommodation

BCH’s allocations policy and procedure is available on request