What to expect in an Affinity Sutton Property

We set ourselves high standards for all of our homes. We have a lettable standard (read here) which outlines the requirements around the condition of our empty homes when they are let. These standards have been drawn up in consultation with residents and are regularly monitored. In the majority of our properties we do not provide carpets, curtains or white goods. If the property needs to be decorated our housing officer will offer you a paint pack and you can agree on which colours you would like. This will then be delivered to your home.

What is right for you?

We believe that the right advice delivered in the right way can make a real difference to your life. If you aren't sure which of our housing options is right for you and you need guidance, check out our Housing Options Wizard. This is an online assessment toolkit that will ask you a series of questions about your current situation and use your responses to guide you through the housing options that are most suitable for you.

What tenancies do we offer?

Our minimum tenancy offer will be a 6-year fixed term tenancy that includes a probationary period of up to 18 months. After the 6 years, we will look to renew your tenancy for another 5 years subject to the terms of our tenancy policy. If you currently hold a lifetime social housing tenancy you may be eligible to keep your existing tenancy type. Your tenancy offer will be dependent upon your current tenancy status and the rental product offered. If you are successfully allocated an Affinity Sutton property you will be notified of our tenancy offer in your firm offer letter.

You can view the terms and conditions of our current tenancy agreements here. These are the terms and conditions that would apply if you were successful in gaining a fixed term or assured (lifetime) tenancy with us. If you have a secure tenancy with Affinity Sutton you can your tenancy variations here.

Why Choose Affinity Sutton

Security of tenure – In the majority of cases our minimum offer will be a 6yr fixed term tenancy. This will be reviewed before the end of the 5 years. If you have met the terms of your tenancy agreement and the property is still suitable (subject to the terms of our tenancy policy), we will look to grant you another tenancy. If the property is not suitable, we will offer support to help you to find a more appropriate property for your needs.

More peace of mind with a reputable landlord – We pride ourselves on offering a good service. Our customer satisfaction rates remained above 80% last year which is fantastic performance for our sector We are a business for social purpose so all of our surplus goes back into your community and building new homes rather than paying someone else’s mortgage.

8am – 8pm customer contact centre – Our customer service centre is based in Bromley and answers nearly 400,000 calls per year from tenants. Last year 82% of these were answered within 30 seconds. Affinity Sutton is the first housing association to have its customer contact centre accredited with the Global Standard Version 6 by the Customer Contact Association (CCA). The Global Standard has previously been awarded to the likes of Royal Bank of Scotland and the Department for Work and Pensions.

Affordable Rents – Our rents are set in line with government guidelines and our annual rent reviews are regulated so we cannot just decide to increase your rent by any given amount. Any increase that we apply is capped by the Government. In 2016-2020 some rents are set to reduce by 1% per annum as per recent Government legislation.

Repairs service – with over 57,000 properties to maintain, some things are bound to go wrong sometimes. We have recently brought our repairs service in-house in order to give us more control and ensure that we are providing the best possible service to our customers. The contact centre provides call management for our repairs team taking over 100,000 calls per year regarding repairs and maintenance.

Sustainability – As a business for social purpose we see the importance in helping you to sustain a tenancy. A crucial part of this is ensuring that we don’t offer you accommodation that is unaffordable for you. Where relevant we will assess your affordability using our Affordability Calculator before we offer you a tenancy.

Tenancy Support – All of our properties are covered by a neighbourhood housing team. They are there to support you with any issues that you have regarding your tenancy. In some of our areas we have tenancy sustainment officers who provide support to our younger or more vulnerable residents.

Additional, optional services – Affinity Sutton is not just a landlord. We want to help people to put down roots and build a future. We have a number of additional advice and support services to help you to manage your tenancy, manage your money, access new skills & employment opportunities and more

Important information on Local Housing Allowance caps for social rented homes

The Government has announced that it will introduce a limit to the amount of Housing Benefit that will be paid in the social rented sector. This will be set at the relevant Local Housing Allowance (LHA) for all tenancies signed on or after 1 April 2016 but will only take effect from 1 April 2019. This is further limited to a shared accommodation rate for any single people aged under 35 years. Payment of the rent for your home remains your responsibility even if levels of benefit change. Please read the information below if you think this may affect you before you sign your tenancy agreement.

Since 2008, the maximum housing benefit entitlement for most private renters has been worked out via a system called Local Housing Allowance (LHA). This calculates awards based on the household’s size and a snapshot of rents in their local area. In essence it gives a private renter an “allowance” which should allow them to rent a home locally that broadly meets their needs. In the Autumn Statement the Chancellor announced that the LHA limits will be applied to social renters from 2019, covering all tenancies signed from April 2016. The move means that no social tenant will be able to claim more than they would be entitled to if renting from a private landlord locally.

Because private rents are on average more expensive then social rents, the majority of social tenants will hopefully be unaffected by this move, but there will be exceptions. Key groups affected will be:

  1. Under-occupiers. Each household’s Local Housing Allowance is based on the size of the home the household needs, not the one it actually occupies. So at the moment those private renters with homes larger than the minimum size for them normally already get less LHA than their rent – in much the same way as social tenants were affected by the bedroom tax. The bedroom tax specifically exempts pensioners who happen to be under occupying their social rented home – but the new regime will not, meaning that many social renting pensioners living in larger homes will now potentially be expected to make up a housing benefit shortfall.

  2. Under 35s living alone. Under Local Housing Allowance rules, single under 35s without dependent children are generally only allowed to claim housing benefit to cover the costs of a room in a shared house – known as the shared accommodation rate (SAR). Currently social renters face no such restriction, but come 2019 the SAR will kick in to the social sector.

  3. People living in low demand areas where the private rented sector is relatively cheap. LHA rates are set in line with the bottom of the rented sector, and may go downwards due to a four year LHA freeze.

Information on the Local Housing Allowance limits can be found at
https://lha-direct.voa.gov.uk/search.aspx

Advice and Support Services

Ready to work – Help finding employment or training
Money Matters – Help with finances
Digital Inclusion – Help to get online
Grants – We provide grants to help you to improve your community, access training or employment, run not-for-profit groups and organisations and even start your own business
EnergyFit – Help to save energy and reduce your bills
Resident Involvement – Get involved and help us to improve the service that we provide
Cultiv8 – Enhance wildlife, grow food and make the most of the spaces around your home