Housing Recompense Policy for tenants and Leaseholders (including Retirement Living and Right to Buy) 2021-26
The Housing Ombudsman requires social housing providers to develop and publish a compensation/recompense policy.
The purpose of the policy is to show remedies available to put a situation right when a service failure has occurred. Financial recompense may be an appropriate form of redress in recognition of loss or detriment suffered by a tenant or leaseholder but other remedies should be considered also.
The policy should show how financial payments are fair and proportionate, recognising that each case is different. Discretion and common sense must be applied, while promoting consistency.
This policy should be read in conjunction with Wealden District Council’s Complaints procedure.
Aims and Objectives
Wealden District Council is committed to achieving the highest possible standards in the services it provides.
The aim of this policy is to provide redress to restore a tenant or leaseholder to the position they would have been in had the situation not arisen or service failure not occurred.
The policy sets out different remedies and forms of non-financial redress such as a dealing with a complaint through the Council corporate complaints process. It also covers when a claim for recompense can arise.
Where a contractor is at fault they will be responsible for dealing with the service failure, complaint etc. However, where necessary we will liaise with the customer and the contractor to ensure that in delivering our landlord functions they do resolve the situation.
Each case will be considered on its individual merits against the statutory and policy framework. Judgement, discretion and common sense will be applied while promoting consistency.
- To detail who is entitled to make a claim for recompense, to set out how a claim can be made and how the amount payable will be calculated
- To ensure recompense payments are fair, consistent and proportionate
- Applying this policy effectively and proportionately
Situations where recompense will not be considered
This policy excludes recompense for the following:
- Any insurance claims including personal injury, claims of negligence or public liability
- Claims for damage caused by circumstances beyond our control as a landlord (e.g. through storm or flooding)
- Problems caused by a third party not working for us as your landlord
- Problems resulting from lifestyle choice e.g. condensation and mould. In these case we will provide you with advice
- Damage to any personal possession – in such circumstances you will be expected to claim on your own contents insurance. If you do not have appropriate insurance the Council will not be responsible for any loss
- Any matters which are the subject of former, current or future legal action
Where damage has been caused directly as a result of the actions or omissions of us as a landlord or one of our contractors we will take action to resolve the situation without the need of the customer to complain.
Legal and Regulatory Framework
This policy is primarily underpinned by statutory legislation, comprising:
1) S29, Land Compensation Act 1972 and s68(1) Planning and Compensation Act 1991, Home Loss Payments (Prescribed Amounts) (England) Regulations (2017) – Home loss and Disturbance payments
2) Housing Act 1985 section 96 and The Secure Tenants of Local Housing Authorities (Right to Repair) Regulations 1994
3) Housing Act 1985 section 99A – Right to compensation for improvements
Circumstances in which recompense will be issued
The Housing Ombudsman requires the policy to separate recompense payments into categories and explain in what circumstances payments will be made. It should reflect that there are three types of payment:
- mandatory (such as statutory home loss payments)
- quantifiable loss payments (where people can demonstrate actual loss)
- discretionary payments (for time and trouble/distress and inconvenience)
Contained here is general guidance rather than detailed information. Where there is any difference between what is stated in this document and either the tenancy agreement or relevant legislation, it is the latter that takes priority.
This section sets out what payments are set out in existing legislation.
This section provides examples of mandatory payments which could include home loss, disturbance, improvements and payments under the Right to Repair scheme.
a) Home Loss
A Home Loss payment shall be made in recognition of the personal distress, upheaval and inconvenience a customer is caused if they have to leave their home permanently because
- the dwelling is subject to major improvements as part of regeneration scheme or is to be
- sold or demolished as part of a redevelopment scheme
If the Council intends to demolish a building either a single residency or a block of flats or retirement living court and that building is occupied, then provided the secure tenant or fixed term tenant has occupied the property for at least 12 months prior to moving, they will be entitled to a Statutory Home Loss Payment.
Remodelling, or refurbishing a dwelling or a building is more complicated. If someone has to move out to allow modernisations or for the property to be remodelled, and they can return to the property (even if they chose not to) then they are not entitled to this payment. If they can return to the building (for instance where a retirement living court is being remodelled) but their original flat does not exist, they will be entitled to a payment. However they will not be entitled to payment if their original flat largely remains, but has been extended.
Home Loss Payments are subject to the tenant surrendering their tenancy of the property affected and giving vacant possession to the Council in order for it to be re-developed. It will only be payable once the tenant has handed back the keys to their property to the Council.
Please note that joint tenants will be entitled to one Home Loss Payment to share between them.
Any introductory or secure tenant can qualify provided they have been in occupation of the property as her/his only or main residence throughout a one-year period ending on the date of displacement. Tenants who are being evicted prior to the move will not receive a Home Loss Payment, neither will non-secure tenants nor those living in a property by virtue of a licence.
Home Loss payments are in addition to any payments that may be due to a leaseholder in respect of the value of a legal interest in their property, where their home is compulsorily purchased.
In the vast majority of cases we will discuss with each resident and any representative any Home Loss entitled, without them needing to apply. We will arrange and make any necessary payments direct to the resident.
Home Loss Payments will only be paid once, even if the tenant moves twice (to an initial home and back to the redeveloped home).
The Council reserves the right to seek to debit from the Home Loss Payment any outstanding debts owed by council tenants.
Home Loss Payment Levels
The level of home loss payment is set by the Government in accordance with the Planning and Compensation Act (1991), the Land Compensation Act (1973) and Home Loss Payments (Prescribed Amounts) (England) Regulations (2017). The level is reviewed annually.
The Council reserves the right to seek to debit part or all of the Home Loss Payment to settle outstanding debts owed by council tenants:
• Any rent arrears against the property (including former tenant arrears);
• Any court costs regarding the tenancy;
• Any garage rent arrears owed by the tenant;
• Any re-charges in relation to property damage, caused either deliberately or through neglect;
The amount payable is prescribed in law. This amount will change on an annual basis. The current amount is prescribed by the Home loss Payments (Prescribed Amounts) (England) Regulations 2016.
A Disturbance Payment is payable in addition to Home Loss to Introductory or Secure tenant or a leaseholder and is intended to cover the “reasonable costs” associated with moving so that tenants are not financially disadvantaged by having to move. Residents who do not qualify for a home loss payment may qualify for a disturbance payment, for example because they do not satisfy the residence requirement.
Reasonable costs’ do not include weekly rent payments or any other personal loss
incurred through the process that should normally be covered by an occupier’s own
It is payable to a secure or fixed term tenant or a leaseholder who has to permanently leave their home because the Council intends to demolish or re-develop a building either a single residency or a block of flats or retirement living court. It will be paid provided that the tenant has occupied the property for at least 12 months prior to moving.
- Replacement floor coverings
- Post redirection
- Assistance contacting utility companies if required
- Legal fees arising from the sale of the property and the acquisition of a replacement (for leaseholders only)
The level of disturbance payment will vary from claim to claim and is dependent on the claimant’s specific circumstances. For example the cost of removals and floor coverings will depend upon the size of the property.
In order to simplify the process, removals will be carried out by our removals contractor within the same limits as are included in the Transfer Incentive Scheme. If someone prefers to arrange their own removals, we will reimburse on receipt of an invoice up to these limits
We will pay the cost of carpeting the whole of the new property. We have a longstanding arrangement with a carpet supplier and will use their basic range for carpets for these purposes.
We would normally expect residents or their relatives to make contact with utility companies, but for vulnerable residents with no support, we will assist where we can.
In the vast majority of cases we will discuss with each resident and any representative what they are entitled to. They will not need to apply in these situations and we will work closely with them to make any necessary arrangements.
Payments will be made to cover each move. For tenants who move into alternative accommodation as their settled accommodation, the payment will be made once. For tenants who move twice (to an initial home and back to the redeveloped home), the payment will be made twice.
c) Right to Repair
All council tenants have the right to have certain small urgent repairs done quickly and easily, where it might affect their health, safety or security. If a repair isn’t carried out within the time limit set, tenants can ask the Council to get another contractor to carry out the work. The second contractor has the same amount of time to complete the work as the original contractor. If the second contractor fails to complete the repair on time, the tenant has the right to a financial payment unless they are not home at the arranged time to let in the contractor or refuse access. In these circumstances the repair work will be cancelled and they will need to start the procedure again.
The Right to Repair applies to all secure and introductory tenants for eligible repairs only (see Appendix A) costing no more than £250. Provided that they did not cause the problem or fail to provide access for inspection or the work to be carried out, or if the repair is not carried out due to unforeseen circumstances such as severe weather.
Tenants are normally entitled to £10 in payment. For every extra day they wait, they will get another £2, up to a maximum of £50. If they have rent arrears, the amount will be deducted from their arrears rather than being paid directly to them. See Appendix A for more information.
d) Right to Compensation for Improvements
Secure tenants only can claim under the scheme if they have left or are about to leave the home they carried out the improvement to, because they have stopped being a council tenant, or have transferred or exchanged homes. To make a claim the tenant must write in within the period starting 28 days before, and ending 14 days after, the tenancy ends.
Customers will not be entitled to claim if they have assigned their tenancy to someone else (unless the claim is within 14 days of this happening), purchased their property under the Right to Buy, or the tenancy was brought to an end by way of a court order.
They can only receive payment to help with the cost of works, if:
- They had the written approval of the Council before starting the work
- The work is one or more of the qualifying improvements highlighted in the table below (see Page 9)
The claim must include:
- Details of the improvements made;
- Confirmation of how much each improvement cost, including a copy of the invoice to show how much the work cost;
- Copies of all relevant certificates demonstrating that the improvement has met required legislation and building control standards (e.g. FENSA certificates,
- The date the improvements began and finished
Wealden District Council will inspect the improvements and information provided to ensure that the works have been completed to an acceptable standard before considering whether to make financial payment. If works fail to meet this standard, or relevant safety certificates cannot be provided, no financial recompense will be offered and the tenant may be asked to re-instate the property to its original condition at their own expense.
We will take into consideration the following factors when determining the level of payment:
• the cost of the improvement;
• the time since the improvement was completed; and
• the notional lifespan of the improvement
The level of payment payable may be reduced or increased if:
- The cost of the improvement was excessive
- The improvement is of a higher quality than it would have been had the landlord carried out the work
- The improvement has deteriorated at a greater (or lesser) rate than the expected notional life, as detailed in Appendix 2, for normal wear and tear
- If the improvement was funded by a grant
A letter will then be sent to the tenant explaining the outcome of the claim not more than 21 days from the date the claim was received. This will include details of how the claim was calculated if it is decided that a payment is due.
Bath or shower
Insulation of pipes, water tank or cylinder
Cavity wall insulation
Draught proofing of external doors and windows
Double glazing, secondary glazing or other window replacement
Kitchen work surfaces
Rewiring of electrical fittings
Central heating or water heating
Any work that improves the security of the home – except burglar alarm
Thermostatic radiator valves
Tenants do not qualify for payment if:
- The improvement was started before 1 April 1994
- They replaced something that was in a satisfactory condition
- The value of any payment would be less than £50
- If they are buying their home
At the time of writing (may 2020) the maximum award payable is £3,000, but the amount payable will depend on the cost of improvement and its remaining “notional life” (see Appendix B for details on notional life for different improvements).
This section provides examples of quantifiable loss which could include: increased heating bills due to disrepair, having to pay for alternative accommodation or take away food, paying for cleaning or carrying out repairs when as a landlord we have failed to meet our obligations.
These loss payments are only made where a “price” can be put on the loss, the loss has been reasonably incurred and can be evidenced. This applies to both tenants and Retirement Living leaseholders, but NOT Right to Buy leaseholders.
Quantifiable Loss Payments can include, but are not limited to:
- Providing a food allowance, if tenants have to be moved to emergency/ temporary accommodation or where the kitchen in their property is unusable, where this did not result from their own actions e.g. due to a fire or flood. The Council will only provide a flat rate payment, which will depend on factors such as whether the temporary accommodation has cooking facilities or onsite catering etc.
- Where a tenant or leaseholder is placed in alternative accommodation they will pay the rent on the cheapest accommodation only, whether it be their permanent or temporary home.
This section explains under what circumstances recompense other than that required by existing legislation will be paid.
Discretionary payments can be considered for both tenants and retirement living leaseholders in the in the following situations:
- poor complaint handling
- failure to provide a service that has been charged for
- temporary loss of amenity
- loss of use of part of the property
- failure to follow policy and procedure
- unreasonable time taken to resolve a situation
In making a decision the individual circumstances of the case and the occupants will be considered.
Other actions may be taken to remedy a complaint either separately from or in conjunction with an offer of financial recompense. These can include practical actions and gestures of goodwill. A flexible approach will be taken when considering the different remedy solutions available in order to find an acceptable way forward for both parties.
- Practical actions – A member of the Housing Management Team can approve the use of practical remedies to resolve or relieve a situation e.g. alternative heating supply, redecoration or decorating vouchers, move to temporary alternative accommodation
- Gestures of goodwill – The Head of Housing has the authority to make a gesture of goodwill payment in kind (e.g. chocolates, flowers) up to a maximum value of £50 or as a financial payment (e.g. gift voucher) up to a maximum value of £50 in exceptional circumstances for actual loss or in recognition of the significant distress and inconvenience caused.
Payment of Financial Recompense to CustomersUnless otherwise stated above: Any offer of financial recompense to a tenant or leaseholder will be made in writing by the appropriate manager within the Housing Service. Any offer will be accompanied by an apology; an explanation as to how the failures in service occurred; demonstration of learning and a commitment to making service improvements. Financial recompense payments will be offset against any housing debts owing to the council, including rent arrears, or re-charges for rectification of damage. Following the offset, any balance remaining will be paid direct to the customer by bank transfer except for gestures of goodwill which will be given as a gift voucher, flowers or chocolates. Any claim for non-mandatory/statutory recompense must be made within one month of the service failure/situation. Statutory payments will be made in accordance with the details in section 2 of this policy. The Council’s Scheme of Delegation sets out who is permitted to authorise payments up to certain levels. However our aim is to empower all staff members to use their discretion and autonomy to speak to their manager swiftly about a possible remedy or payment under this policy in order that decisions conducive to the early and effective resolution of disputes can be made. The Council will respond to any claim of recompense within 28 working days. If the Council is offering to resolve the situation through a financial payment and the tenant or leaseholder is happy to accept the offer they must do so within 14 days of the offer being issued. The acceptance must be in writing and the tenant or leaseholder must accept payment as full and final settlement of their claim. If they are unhappy with the decision not to make a financial payment or they are not happy with the amount offered, the tenant or leaseholder can ask for that decision to be reviewed within 14 days of the Council’s letter being issued. Once a payment is offered and accepted any bank transfer to the tenant or leaseholder will be made within 10 working days of receiving relevant bank details in order for payment to be made.
Review of DecisionsA tenant or leaseholder aggrieved by a decision not to award a discretionary payment can request that the decision is reviewed by registering a complaint through the Council’s Complaints Procedure. This must be done within 28 days of the original decision not to award payment. There are no appeals against the amount of any financial recompense awarded for mandatory payments (i.e. home loss, disturbance, Right to Repair, Right to Compensation for Improvements). There is also no recourse to appeal against quantifiable loss payments as these are only made where a “price” can be put on the loss, the loss has been reasonably incurred and can be evidenced. If a tenant or leaseholder feels that the value of a discretionary payment offered does not reflect the level of inconvenience, distress or the costs of the damage they can escalate their complaint to the Head of Housing. They can also escalate their complaint through the stages of the Council’s Complaints Procedure. The decision will be reviewed by a senior manager who was not involved in the original decision. If customers remain dissatisfied with the offer the case can be considered by the Housing Ombudsman who will ensure that the offer is in line with the principles set out within this policy.
MonitoringPerformance in relation to the implementation of this policy will be monitored through the Housing Department’s Performance Framework, to include; • Total spend on recompense payments • Number of upheld or partially upheld complaints On a quarterly basis claims under this policy will be discussed at the Housing Management Team meetings to ensure the service learns from and is committed to service improvements.
Financial ImplicationsThis policy will be delivered within the resources of the Housing Revenue Account. Where payments relate to leaseholders or tenants of leaseholders, these will be funded from the Council’s Housing Revenue Accounts.
Policy ReviewThe policy will be reviewed periodically to ensure it is consistent with changes in legislation and updated as necessary. Appendix A; B Add Chart Interior decorations, such as painting and wallpapering, do not qualify for any improvements not listed as a qualifying improvement above will not be considered. Payment can be claimed for the cost of materials (but not appliances such as cookers and fridges) and labour costs (but not the tenants own labour). No payment can be claimed for professional fees (such as architects), or the costs of any relevant planning permission or consent under Building Regulations. The payment is worked out under the following formula, which takes into account wear and tear. The amount of payment is calculated according to the following formula, which takes into account wear and tear and depreciation. C x (1-Y/N) C = original cost of the improvement Y = the number of completed years the improvement has been in place (part of a year rounded up to a complete year) starting on the date the improvement was completed and ending in the date the recompense is claimed N = the notional life of the improvement There is a cap of £3000 for any one improvement. No payment will be made if the level of payment is less than £50.
1 This is a different process and timescales from Wealden District Council’s Complaints Procedure
Time in which the repair must be carried out (in days)
Total loss of electric power
Partial loss of electric power
Unsafe power or lighting socket, or electrical fitting
Total loss of water supply
Partial loss of water supply
Total or partial loss of gas supply
Blocked flue to open fire or boiler
Total or partial loss of space or water heating between 31 October and 30
Total or partial loss of space or water heating between 1 May and 1
Blocked or leaking foul drain, soil stack, or (where there is no other working toilet in the dwelling-house)
Toilet not flushing (where there is no other working toilet in the dwelling- house)
Blocked sink, bath or basin
Tap which cannot be turned
Leak from water or heating pipe, tank or cistern
Insecure external window, door or lock
Loose or detached banister or hand rail
Rotten timber flooring or stair tread
Door entry phone not working
Mechanical extractor fan in internal kitchen or bathroom not working
Bath or shower
Storage cupboards in bathroom or kitchen
Work surfaces for food preparation
Central heating or water heating
Thermostatic radiator valves
Insulation of pipes, water tank or cylinder
Cavity wall insulation
Draft proofing of external doors or windows
Double glazing or other external window replacement of secondary
Rewiring or the provision of power and lighting or other electrical
fittings (including smoke detectors)
Any object which improves the security of the dwelling-house, but
excluding burglar alarms
Interior decorations, such as painting and wallpapering, do not qualify for
Any improvements not listed as a qualifying improvement above will not be considered
Payment can be claimed for the cost of materials (but not appliances such as cookers and fridges) and labour costs (but not the tenants own labour).
No payment can be claimed for professional fees (such as architects), or the costs of any relevant planning permission or consent under Building Regulations.
The payment is worked out under the following formula, which takes into account wear and tear. The amount of payment is calculated according to the following formula, which takes into account wear and tear and depreciation.
C x (1-Y/N)
C = original cost of the improvement
Y = the number of completed years the improvement has been in place (part of a
year rounded up to a complete year) starting on the date the improvement was completed and ending in the date the recompense is claimed
N = the notional life of the improvement
There is a cap of £3000 for any one improvement.
No payment will be made if the level of payment is less than £50.