About your rent

How do I pay my rent?
You can pay your monthly rent in many different ways. See more information below, or find the way that best suits you here. If you have any further questions, just get in touch with us on 01506 439 291.

Ways to pay Rent

I'm struggling to pay my rent, what should I do?
  • If you struggle to pay your rent, let us know so we can help you. Do not wait and let the problem get worse – contact your Housing Officer right away. If you don't pay your rent, you can risk losing your home.
  • Also a referral can be made to the Community Help and Advice Initiative (CHAI) who provide a benefits and money advice service for our tenants.

The CHAI advisor can:

  • Carry out an income maximisation check to ensure you are in receipt of your full benefit entitlement
  • Assist with making benefit claims and completion of application forms
  • Help you with any benefit related issues
  • Assist with appealing decisions and representation at tribunals
  • Advise on debt related matters
  • Negotiate with creditors on your behalf

Find out more here.

I think I may be entitled to help with my rent, where do I go?

Housing Benefit helps those on low incomes pay their rent. If you think you may be entitled to Housing Benefit, get in touch with your Housing Officer on 01506 439291.

If you receive Housing Benefit and your circumstances change, for instance if you start to earn more money or a family member leaves home, you need to tell us right away. It is important that you do not claim too much benefit as the Government can claim overpayments back.

Why do I need to pay Council Tax?
  • Council Tax is a payment due to West Lothian Council for the services they provide. It does not pay for any services Almond provides – we are not the Council. Our services to you are covered by your rent and service charge payments to us.
  • Do not mix up your rent with your Council Tax – they are separate payments. Make sure you pay your rent to us and your Council Tax to West Lothian Council.
Why do I need to pay Services Charges?
Service charges are the additional cost of services that are not covered by your rent. If you live in a block of flats, for instance, these can include regular stair cleaning or the cost of stair lighting. To make sure that you clearly see what you are paying for and how much it costs, these costs are shown separately on your rent notice.
Why am I paying the £10 cap and what does it mean?

Every month all tenants pay rent, and every year this rent is adjusted if there is a rent increase. On top of this some tenants also pay a £10 cap every month. Find out what the cap is and why you might be paying it.

Why might you pay a £10 cap on your rent in addition to the rate of inflation increase? The short answer is that your rent is lower than what we charge other tenants for the same type of property that you live in.

This means that... when two tenants pay different rents for the same type of property we need to equalise this by ensuring that the tenant paying less will end up paying the same rent as the other tenant, the target rent for this type of property.

Find out how the cap works here

About being a tenant

I have had a leak and my wallpaper is damaged. Will Almond re-decorate my property?

The tenant is responsible for the general condition of the property.  Decoration is not covered by the association but we will carry out any repairs required and leave the area ready for tenant decoration.

How do I hand my property back to Almond?

28 days written notice is required when terminating a property. A termination form can be supplied.

How do I rent a garage from you?

We operate a garage waiting list. You can apply by filling in an application form or contacting our office and you can be added to the waiting list over the phone.  The rent is £27 per month for tenants and £32.40 for owners.

Can I get help with my garden?

If you struggle to maintain your garden, you might qualify for our garden schemes.

The schemes offer basic garden maintenance help between March and September.

Do I qualify?

To get help with maintaining your garden you must be either:

  • Over 70 years old, or registered blind or disabled
  • Suffering from ill health and receiving Disability Living Allowance
  • Aged between 65 & 69 with a Doctors Certificate

How do I apply?

If you fall into this category and are not yet on the list please contact your Housing Officer for advice. You can also apply by filling in a Garden Scheme application and returning this to us.

Please note, if you have any able bodied adults in the house you will not qualify.

For more, see our Garden page.

What should I do if I'm having a problem with a neighbour?

If you are having a problem with a neighbour, try to sort it out between you as soon as possible.

Remember, your neighbour may not realise that they are causing a problem, and often a friendly word can be enough. The best thing to do is often to calmly discuss the situation or problem, and if necessary, to be willing to compromise.

If this does not work, contact your Housing Officer.

We will record your complaint and try to sort it out by talking to you and your neighbour. You may have to help by keeping a record of when disturbances happen and trying to get a witness.

We may also ask others to help, such as the Council’s Safer Neighbourhoods Team, or suggest mediation using an independent person. Serious cases of anti-social behaviour are a breach of your Tenancy Agreement.

This is how to deal with Antisocial Behaviour

What can I do about antisocial behaviour?

What can you do about antisocial behaviour?

If you experience antisocial behaviour, the best thing to do is to speak with your neighbour to let them know how their behaviour is affecting you. Remember, your neighbour may not be aware that there is a problem.

Even if you are sure that your neighhour is aware that they are causing a problem, it is best to give them the chance to do something about it before taking it further. We appreciate that it may not always be possible to do this but experience has shown that it is often the simplest way of resolving the problem.

What if talking does not help?

If talking to your neighbour does not help, contact your Housing Officer. They will investigate the matter further.

It is very important that you keep a note of the date and time of any incidents, as well as the names of those who witnessed it and those you reported the incident to. Your Housing Officer will provide diary sheets on request. It is important that you not only record incidents but report as and when they happen.

Incidents of criminal activity must be reported to the Police.

How do I end my tenancy?

If you wish to end your tenancy with us, you must give 28 days notice in writing. Please note that the termination period will commence from the date of receipt. To formally end your tenacy you need to fill out this Termination of Tenancy Form.

If you wish to give notice, drop by our office, give us a call or contact your Housing Officer.

About repairs and maintenance

Who is responsible for repairs?

You are responsible for internal decoration, carpets, laminate flooring, furnishings, lightbulbs, and the contents of fridges and freezers. You are also responsible for your private garden.

We expect you to take good care of your home and may recharge you if the repair is your responsibility or has arisen due to neglect or carelessness.

We are responsible for repairing and maintaining within your home and garden of the property you live in. This includes all the external parts and internal fixtures and fittings originally provided by us but not those that are listed as your responsibility or were specifically made your responsibility at the beginning of your tenancy, or which you have installed yourself.

Our responsibilities also cover most pipes, wiring, fixtures and fittings for heating, drainage, guttering, power and lighting. We are repsonible for all sealed lighting but do not provide ordinary lightbulbs. Smoke detectors are originally provided by us, but we are not responsible for those belonging to the utility companies.

We do not maintain your private garden but are responsible for any fencing or sheds originally provided by us, and for the paths within your garden that lead to the front or back doors.

We will be responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of blocks of flats where Almond owns or has a factoring agreement for the block. Almond will be responsible for the external and common areas of the block, i.e. not inside each individual flat unless owned by Almond. Items included are communal doors, door entry systems, decoration, paving and fencing, floor covering and electrical work such as lighting etc. The cost for all these works will be covered by your rent. No additional cost will be expected from the tenant for these repairs.

In the case where Almond is not the sole owner or factors the block the cost of repairs will be divided between the owners. In this case before any work which we want to carry out can commence an agreement with other owners is required for the payment of the shared costs.

Why are some repairs rechargeable to me?

We may recharge tenants for the cost of some repairs.  This is where we have identified the repair is the responsibility of the tenant or because the repair has arisen due to neglect or carelessness by the tenant.

When you report a repair we will try to let you know at the time if it is a rechargeable repair and we will also try to tell you how much it will cost. Depending on what the repair is and the cost implications, you may be better getting the repair carried out by your own contractor.  For identified rechargeable repairs at the reporting stage we require payment to be made before instructing the work to be carried out, for example when we are requested to carry out a lock change.

Sometimes it is only once the work is being done that we may identify that it is a rechargeable repair. Your Housing Officer will inform you when this happens, the cost of the repair and when you should pay for it.

How quickly will my repair be carried out?

How long will the repair take to complete?

The time it will take for repairs to be carried out depends on how serious they are. All repairs are given priorities and the timescales for completion are as follows:

SERIOUS EMERGENCIES

Immediately (1 hour maximum)

A serious emergency is when there is a serious threat to your safety.

Find out which repairs qualify as emergency repairs.

OTHER EMERGENCIES

6 hours

URGENT REPAIRS

3 days

ROUTINE REPAIRS

10 days

REPAIRS THAT REQUIRE INPECTION

15 days

PLANNED WORK

30 days

What happens if I miss my repair appointment?

For many years now we have offered an appointment service for repairs with about half of all reported repairs being attended to by appointment and we are looking at ways of improving this part of our service. However, even though a specific appointment has been made for the work to be carried out, for one in twelve appointments the tenant is not at home.

Please remember to keep the appointment and if you have any doubts you can always check with us. As a word of warning, those who abuse the appointment system in this way run the risk of being charged for the missed call – don’t let it be you.

What do I do if I want to make changes to my home?

Should you wish to make alterations or improvements to your home, you must apply for permission before having any work carried out.

Find out more here.

Which Cyclical Repairs and Planned Maintenance works are planned for my area?

The Planned Maintenance Programmes below identify all the improvements and cyclical repairs that are to be carried out over the next 18 months:

Planned Painterwork programme 2017-19

Planned Maintenance programme 2017-18

What is the Right to Repair Scheme?

Renting a home from a Housing Association you will probably have a Scottish Secure Tenancy, and when you report a repair we will tell you whether it is a qualifying repair under the Right to Repair Scheme.

Find out more here.

About factoring

What is a Factor?

A Factor is a person or an organisation appointed by the owners in a block of flats to look after the general management and administration of the block, including the maintenance of the common areas. As your Factor, Almond Housing Association is responsible for ensuring that the common parts of the building are well-maintained, kept in good order and repaired.

Your Deed of Conditions will have information on how your Factor is appointed.

What Factoring Services does Almond HA provide?

Factoring Services are the services provided by a Factor. Almond Housing Association provides the four following Factoring Services:

  1. Routine Repairs - Day-to-day repairs in response to requests received.
  2. Planned Maintenance - Work which is done in regular ‘cycles’, for example, the painting of the common parts every 5 years, plus the system of planning in advance for major items of work such as replacing the roof or windows.
  3. Major Repairs - A large job such as replacing the roof or dealing with a dry rot outbreak, which may be urgent or unplanned.
  4. Improvements - Replacing an existing item with something of a better quality, or adding something new to improve the building.
What are the property's 'common areas'?

When you own a flat in a block you have a shared responsibility for the insurance of the building and for the general tidiness and repair of what are known as the ‘common areas’, i.e.:

  • The common structure – such as the roof, walls, gutters and downpipes
  • The ground on which the block is built, surrounding areas belonging to the block including any paths, drying greens, grassed, slabbed or planted areas
  • The entrance, halls and stairs, and any fences and bin stores

These parts or areas are owned by you jointly with the other residents in the building. Each owner has responsibility for the repair and upkeep of these areas and a legal liability, conferred by the Deed of Conditions, which you sign when you buy your flat. The Deed of Conditions sets out in detail your rights, responsibilities and obligations with regard to the common areas of your building and requires that you must appoint a Factor.

As a Factored Owner, what are my responsibilities?

When you own a flat in a block you have a shared responsibility for the insurance of the building and for the general tidiness and repair of what are known as the ‘common areas’, i.e.:

  • the common structure – such as the roof, walls, gutters and downpipes;
  • the ground on which the block is built, surrounding areas belonging to the block including any paths, drying greens, grassed, slabbed or planted areas, plus;
  • the entrance, halls and stairs, and any fences and bin stores.

These parts or areas are owned by you jointly with the other residents in the building.  Each owner has a shared responsibility for the repair and upkeep of these areas and a legal liability under their Deed of Conditions to meet their share of these costs.  The Deed of Conditions sets out in detail your rights, responsibilities and obligations with regard to the common areas of your building and requires that you must appoint a Factor.

How often will I be invoiced for factoring charges?

We send out invoices quarterly, which will detail your share of the following charges where they apply:

  • Management Fee
  • Buildings Insurance
  • Rechargeable Common Repairs 
  • Cyclical Maintenance 
  • Stair Cleaning Charges
  • Environmental Works
  • Stair Lighting & Close Electricity Charges
  • Major Repairs
How do I pay my factoring charges?

You can pay your factoring charges by cheque or from your bank account by setting up a Standing Order. You can also pay with debit or credit card by calling our office on 01506 439291.

Why do I have to pay a deposit for the factoring service?

When you buy your property from us, or when you buy a flat we already factor, or when you first appoint Almond as your Factor, you will have to pay a deposit which we will keep as a float against the cost of future repairs. 

This deposit will be returned to you, less any repairs or other costs still owed to us, when you sell your property.

What are the service charges?
If you are an Almond tenant you will pay service charges for some items that are not covered by your rent, such as the electricity for stair lighting. These charges are also due from factored owners, and the amounts will be included in the factoring accounts we send you.

Almond has developed a comprehensive Factoring policy. Part of that policy is to ensure that we apply the same high standards to our factored owners as we do to our tenants.
How does Almond HA manage the process?

In providing an effective management and administration service to owners we will:

  • Maintain detailed records of each block and of individual flats;
  • Record full details of repairs and other charges for the common areas of the block;
  • Share out (apportion) the costs for repairs, cyclical and planned maintenance, major repairs and any other services between the owners in a block;
  • Advise owners on and consult with owners, where required, regarding planned maintenance, and major repairs;
  • Set a fair management charge to cover our costs of providing a factoring service to owners;
  • Issue regular accounts to owners, and pro-actively follow up any outstanding payments;
  • Deal with enquiries relating to the factoring service and accounts which have been issued;
  • Provide information about the factoring service to all factored owners either directly by mail or indirectly through articles in our newsletter, Almond View, a copy of which will be sent to each factored owner.
What do I do if I am selling my property?

We appreciate that there is a lot to think about when you are selling your home, and Almond’s factoring services will probably not be top of the list. However, if you are selling in the near future, please let us know.

You should also tell your solicitor and/or estate agent that you receive factoring services from us. Your solicitor/estate agent can then let proposed purchasers and their solicitors know that we provide factoring services. If we know you are planning to move, we can check if you are due a refund of your deposit, or of any standard charges you have paid such as the annual insurance premium, or if you are due any final payments for work carried out etc.

You can let us know by calling our office on 01506 439291 or emailing us at: enquiries@almondha.org.uk quoting your factoring account number in the subject field.