Information about your tenancy
Here you will find all the information you need about your tenancy, what your responsibilities are and what you can expect from us as either your landlord or service provider.
What is a tenancy?
When you first move into an Ocean property, you will meet a member of our Voids & Lettings Team who will explain your rights and responsibilities as a Tenant. They will also explain what Ocean Housing does as a Landlord.
You will be required to sign a ‘Tenancy Agreement’ to say that you understand your responsibilities as the Tenant as well as ours as the Landlord. This way we both know what is expected of each other throughout your time living in your home.
Don’t be afraid to ask if you are unclear about anything in your agreement. It is a legal document so please keep it safe.
You will need to register with Cornwall HomeChoice first. Click here to register.
Once you have registered, use our ‘Find a Home‘ page to look at our available properties. If you like a property, click the ‘Bid’ or ‘Apply’ button at the bottom, to take you through to the Cornwall HomeChoice application.
Cornwall HomeChoice Bidding opens on a Thursday and closes on a Monday.
This is the lettings process step by step.
Step 1 – Register
You will need to register with Cornwall HomeChoice first. Click here to register and they will be in contact with your ‘banding’ (according to your housing need).
Step 2 – Bid
Once registered, applicants can bid for a property that is advertised on Cornwall HomeChoice (preview Ocean properties in Find a Home).
Step 3 – Shortlist
From a shortlist, one applicant is nominated per property. The nominated applicant is then contacted by Ocean.
Step 4 – Initial Checks
Ocean then runs initial checks:
• to make sure the applicant is a match for the property
• to check for any rent arrears or other breach of tenancy
• to check whether the applicant has been a previous tenant with another social landlord.
Step 5 – Letter of Nomination
If there are no reasons to refuse the nomination at this stage, applicants will receive a letter letting them know that:
• they have been nominated
• their application details are being verified (to check they are who they say they are)
• they have 3 working days to confirm their interest in that property.
NB This is not a formal ‘offer’ letter at this stage.
Step 6 – Verification
As part of the verification process, Ocean will contact applicants by telephone or sometimes visit in person to confirm interest, suitability and personal details.
Step 7 – Affordability Check
One of the Customer Accounts Team will be in contact to carry out a financial assessment:
• to check the applicant can afford the rent
• to agree a rent payment plan
• to help the applicant complete the Housing Benefits form (if applicable)
Step 8 – Viewing
Tenants will be shown the property to see the condition of it before they sign the tenancy agreement.
Step 9 – Sign Up
Once the applicant accepts the offer, Ocean will invite them to formally sign up for the property. At the sign up, applicants will:
• be explained important facts in the tenancy agreement
• sign a tenancy agreement
• confirm a tenancy start date (Monday following sign-up day)
• confirm a move date
• run through the Home User Guide (HUG) and Tenants’ Handbook
• complete data forms
• pay for the 1st week’s rent or contribution to the rent.
After that, all rents and service charges due in respect of rented dwellings are payable in advance on a Monday in accordance with the tenancy agreement.
New Tenants will receive a visit from their Neighbourhood Services Officer shortly after moving in.
Your responsibilities as an Ocean tenant
Paying your rent
One of your main responsibilities is to pay your rent in full and on time.
You can pay your rent:
• at any Post Office or PayPoint outlet
• by Standing Order or Direct Debit
• at www.oceanhousing.com
• by credit or debit card over the telephone 01726 874450
If you are experiencing problems paying your rent, please contact Ocean’s Customer Accounts team immediately so that we can advise and assist you.
Paying your service charge
You may have to pay a service charge as well as your rent. This usually covers the cost of maintaining communal areas, such as cleaning the shared hallway, electricity for hallway lighting and grass cutting in areas you share with your neighbours.
Council Tax and Utility Bills
You are responsible for paying Council Tax (unless you are exempt) and all Utility bills.
Ocean covers the structure of your home but you are responsible for insuring your furniture and contents.
We have arranged contents insurance at a special affordable rate for residents.
For details request an application pack or call our Customer Services Team on 01726 874450
Keeping us informed
It is important that you keep us informed of any changes in your circumstances at home, such as when someone moves in or out, or if you change your surname.
Looking after your home
Please keep your home in good condition and decorative order and promptly report any repairs that are Ocean’s responsibility. If you have a garden please ensure it is tidy and clear of rubbish.
Being a responsible neighbour
You are responsible for the behaviour of members of your household and any visitors to your home.
You can read our Service Standard Commitments using the link above on this page. A summary is detailed below:
Maintaining and repairing your home
We realise how important it is for you that your home is well maintained. We keep it structurally sound and weather tight, maintaining windows, gutters, roofs, outside doors and drains. Your safety is equally important and we inspect the electrics in your home every 10 years and annually service gas and oil heating systems.
Repairs are necessary from time to time in even the best maintained homes and we provide residents with a flexible and efficient repair appointment service.
Maintaining Ocean’s areas you share with neighbours
We maintain Ocean owned communal grounds around your home, including grass cutting, hedge trimming and the upkeep of shrubberies and un-adopted pathways. We are also responsible for cleaning our communal areas in and around our blocks of flats and keeping them in a safe condition. Residents who receive these services pay for them as a weekly service charge.
Keeping our service standards
We work with residents to develop and monitor our service standards. These clearly set out the quality of service you can expect from Ocean, making it easy for you to judge whether we are doing a good job or if we need to improve. You can check how we are performing by reading our Standards Report every quarter.
Responding to your compliments or complaints
We are happy to accept your compliments for a good service and pass them on to the staff concerned.
However, if you are not satisfied, please tell us and we will look into the matter promptly. For more information about our complaints procedure visit our Complaints page.
To start with, all new Ocean tenants are offered an Starter Tenancy, which normally lasts for a ‘trial period’ of 12 months. If any concerns arise during the 12 months about how you are conducting your tenancy – e.g. if you get into arrears with your rent – the ‘trial period’ may be extended by a further 6 months to allow these concerns to be addressed. After the ‘trial period’, as long as the terms and conditions of your tenancy have not been broken, you will either automatically move onto an Assured Tenancy or be offered a 5 year Fixed Term tenancy.
We give nearly all our tenants an assured tenancy agreement as long as there have been no problems during the trial period on the ‘Starter Tenancy’. Generally speaking, this means that tenants will have the property for as long as they want it – as long as the terms of the agreement aren’t broken. Ocean will need to apply to the County Court to end your tenancy if you have broken the terms of agreement. Ocean will usually increase your rent once a year.
5 Year Fixed Term Tenancies
A number of our properties are let on a 5 Year Fixed Term Tenancy. Basically, it works in a similar way to an Assured Tenancy but the main difference is they only last for 5 years.
We will contact you near the end of your 5 year fixed period to review your tenancy and check that you still have the right size property for your family. Secondly, we will check that everything is in order, according to the terms of the tenancy.
Following these checks, a decision will be made about whether to offer a new 5 Year Fixed Term Tenancy.
If you are under 18 years of age, you will be offered an Equitable Starter tenancy. This is similar to a normal Starter tenancy, but is only offered to under-age persons until they reach 18. Anyone on such a tenancy must also have a person who can act as ‘Trustee’ for their tenancy and stand as ‘Guarantor’ for payment of their rent. The member of staff from the Voids & Lettings team will explain these requirements in more detail when you sign up.
Tenants must give us 4 weeks’ notice, in writing, if they want to end a tenancy agreement.
Ocean must give a minimum of 4 weeks’ notice if it intends to end a tenancy agreement. To end an Assured or Fixed-term tenancy, it must also apply to court for possession of the property.
The rental week starts on Monday, so the last day of the notice period must be a Sunday.
If you would like to move, first find another home to move on to.
You must then let us know you want to end your current tenancy.
Use the handy checklist in our ‘Guide to Moving Home‘ to make sure you have done everything before you leave your property – to avoid recharges.
Find a home
Take a look at our available properties and register with Cornwall HomeChoice if you would like to apply for one. Alternatively, try searching Home Swapper websites or networking with Cornwall Home Swapper Facebook Groups.
If you are interested in completing a Mutual Exchange, please complete and return the two application forms which can be found here.
The forms have been clearly marked on each section indicating who needs to complete what sections to make it a little easier.
Once we receive the forms back we can then look at starting the mutual exchange process.
Let us know
You will need to give us a minimum of 4 ‘rental’ weeks’ notice in writing. The rental week starts on a Monday, so the last day of the notice period must be a Sunday.
Please post us a signed letter, including:
• your full name
• your tenant reference number
• today’s date
• your current address
• your new address
• your day time contact telephone number and email
• the date of the move
• the reason for leaving
• if you are moving to another Housing Association, please tell us which one
or complete and return the Tenancy surrender form