Retired Ministers' Housing Society

Services for residents

Planned maintenance and cyclical work comprises scheduled works carried out to keep the RMHS’ properties in good working order.

Planned maintenance work

The servicing or replacement of all mechanical and electrical equipment is carried out on a periodic basis in accordance with regulatory and manufacturers’ guidelines.

These works are planned, usually over a 15- or 30-year period, and involve the replacement of various parts of the home such as kitchens, bathrooms, rewiring, roof, windows and doors and the central heating system.

In addition to this, our surveyors visit your home every five years to assess its condition, including components. This is also called stock conditions survey and profiling. This information informs us about the lifespan of various consituent parts that feed into our planned work. Premature failure of these features fall under response repairs. 

Residents who have equity in the property will be expected to pay their pro-rata share of the costs of planned works.

Cyclical work

Under our cyclical programme, the Society proposes to decorate the outside of your home every five years.

We also undertake other planned annual works, such as gas appliance testing/servicing and gutter clearing/cleaning.

Find out about our environmental policy and get energy saving and recycling tips for your home.

The RMHS is a part of the URC family and has adopted the URC’s Environmental Policy (PDF | 300kb). This policy expresses the URC’s commitment and determination to take care of, contribute to caring for, sustaining and nurturing God’s creation.

Our Board considered how it would apply this policy into workable solutions, ensuring that our housing stock wherever possible adopt environmentally friendly options. We are also looking at green electricity and similar cleaner alternatives longer term.

Everyone has to play their part in ensuring that our actions and the way we live do not have adverse impact on the environment and the quality of life of future generations.

 

Recycling imageConsider the environment when you fill up your weekly refuse bags, which may end up in landfill or be incinerated. What could you recycle? Most local authorities provide recycling facilities. Your local council should be able to advise on recyclable items, such as paper, glass, textiles and cans.

Many people keep items for the future that may never be used, filling up loft space needlessly. If you have not used something for a few years, consider donating to family, charity or recycling it. 

  • Turning your central heating down by 1°C could cut your heating bills by up to 10% and save you around £85 a year.

  • Turning off the lights when they are not in use. Lighting accounts for about 12% of a typical residential utility bill.

  • Don’t overfill your kettle; boil exactly the amount you need, and you could save up to £7 a year on your electricity bill. This is one of the easiest ways to conserve energy.

  • Don’t leave the tap running while you’re cleaning your teeth, shaving or washing your face or dishes. A running tap wastes more than six litres of water a minute.

  • Did you know refrigerators and freezers operate most efficiently when full, so keep your refrigerator and freezer as full as possible (using water bottles if nothing else). Be careful about overfilling them, as this will reduce airflow and cause the appliance to work harder.

  • Whenever possible, use a cold cycle in your washing machine. It’s a simple way to save money and energy. Unless your clothes are particularly greasy, it should work just as well as a hot wash. Most washing powders work better on a cold wash.

  • If your shower draws hot water straight from your boiler or hot water tank (rather than an electric shower), get a water-efficient shower head. This can cut down the amount of hot water you use, but still feels like a powerful shower.

  • Turn off the oven a few minutes before cooking time runs out. Your food will continue to cook without using the extra electricity and will save you about 10% each time you cook.

  • Swap your incandescent light bulbs with energy-saving LED bulbs, which will save you money in the long run.

  • Don’t peek in the oven while baking! Every time you open the door, the temperature can drop 25°F/5oC, making your oven use more energy to bring the temperature back up.

  • Dust and vacuum your radiators. Layers of dust stop heat from flowing freely.

  • Closing curtains and blinds when you are using the heater stops heat from escaping through windows and can save you up to 5% on your heating bill.

One of the first things the RMHS Board has approved is the insulation of all our properties that require it. This energy-saving improvement will contribute to the reduction in waste gases that damage the environment. Where insulation grants are available, the Society would encourage eligible residents to apply for them.

We will also explore low-cost cavity wall insulation schemes. Residents who have equity in the property will be expected to contribute their pro rata share of the cost.

Condensation and Mould imageCondensation is a result of warm moisture in the air hitting a cold surface where there is inadequate ventilation. When air in the room gets colder, it cannot hold all the moisture, therefore it forms tiny droplets.

These are noticeable on windows, windowsills, corners behind wardrobes and cupboards, and gradually lead to mould forming or may cause dampness.

While a small amount of water might seem harmless, if condensation is not dealt with immediately, it can lead to black mould or airborne spores (which appear as a cloud of little black dots) starting to grow on your walls, ceilings and around your windows.

Not only is this unattractive, having a lot of it in your home could induce health issues, including sinus problems, skin rashes and even bronchitis.

Prevention is better than cure. You can limit condensation and mould growth by reducing moisture and increasing ventilation.

The following tips are helpful:

  • Wipe down surfaces where moisture settles.

  • Avoid drying clothes on radiators and/or inside the house.

  • If mould has already appeared, use bleach to remove the staining and, when dry, apply anti-fungal spray, always following the manufacturer’s instructions.

  • Keep bathroom and kitchen doors closed when they are in use.

  • Keep all airbricks clear of obstruction.

  • Do not use portable gas and paraffin heaters – these are prohibited.

  • Where installed, use extractor fans in kitchens and bathrooms.

  • Use lids on saucepans when cooking, and ventilate the area.

  • If using tumble dryers, connect the vent properly to the outside.

  • Heat your home sufficiently in cold weather where possible.

EPCs imageThis is a rating scheme that assesses and provides details of the energy efficiency of your home. The Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) is required for properties when constructed, sold or let. From April 2020, it became mandatory for all landlords to ensure that their properties meet the minimum energy performance rating of E. Anything below E is inefficient and must be addressed.

Various energy efficiency initiatives are required to increase the energy rating. Our surveyors are trained to carry out this assessment and their findings inform our future planned works to improve your home.

Find out about your tenancy agreement and what steps you should take when it comes to ending it.

Your tenancy is an Assured Tenancy, which confers many rights to you and sets out your obligations. The agreement is usually in the name of the retired minister. Newer tenancy agreements are more detailed in the breadth of information they provide.

Your tenancy agreement should contain the following information:

  • Your name

  • The tenancy start date

  • The rent – amount and date due

  • The conditions of the tenancy (for example, you shall not sublet, assign or share part of the property or use it to conduct business)

The Society would usually sign two copies and send them to you to sign in the presence of a witness, return one copy and retain the second copy for your records.

Your tenancy agreement

Your tenancy agreement gives you the right to quiet enjoyment of your home without any interruptions, except where access is required to inspect, maintain, repair or improve the property. The agreement also assures that you can remain in occupation for as long as you want, so long as it is your only or principal home. If you plan to be away from your home or through unforeseen circumstances are away for over four weeks, please tell us. You must let us know who we can contact if we need access to your home in an emergency.

Running a business from home

Your tenancy agreement does not allow you to run a business from your home. If there are exceptional reasons for this, you must write to us setting out your case. We will respond to you in writing.

Garden maintenance

You are responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of your garden. Depending on where you live, some charities provide assistance.

If you plan to plant a tree in your garden, let us know about it so we can check that its location is safe. If you live in a block of flats, garden maintenance will be included in your service charge.

Keeping pets

You may keep domestic pets in your home. Be aware that your pets must not cause nuisance or disturbance to others. This only applies to properties where the Society is the freeholder. If you live in a leasehold dwelling, certain conditions may apply in relation to keeping pets, therefore you must seek advice from the Society first. You must comply with any legislation that applies to specific breeds of dogs.

Rent is due from the tenancy start date.

There are tenancies which commenced before January 2004. Special arrangements apply to these tenancies and the rent level is protected.

The amount of rent you pay, if your tenancy started during or after 2004, is based on the level of capital the Society put into the purchase of your home.

Rents are paid monthly, and most are deducted from your pension directly (with your consent), unless funds are not enough to cover the rent, in which case bank standing orders are set up instead. From January 2021, the Society is looking to introduce direct debits.

Rents increase annually, generally in January each year after the decision of the RMHS Board in September of the previous year. We will give you one month’s notice (three months in Scotland) in writing of any change in rent. The Society does everything it can to make rents affordable.

Service charges

If you live in a property (especially leasehold) where communal services are provided, these are charged to the Society, which absorbs up to 80% of these costs at present. Service charges include, but are not limited to, communal cleaning, gardening, lighting, fire equipment, door entry systems, insurance and management costs. With the exception of insurance, these will be passed on to you in small increments. We will advise you about the full breakdown of these charges wherever we receive them.

Struggling to pay your rent

Paying your rent is important and the Society has taken steps to keep rents low and affordable. We recognise that individual circumstances differ, which may affect your ability to pay your rent. You may be entitled to help through the Housing Benefit scheme. This is sometimes referred to as Rent Rebate. This is a government scheme that helps people on low incomes to pay part or all of their rent.

You can contact your local council directly, visit the Age UK website (call them on 0800 678 1602) or come to us for more information.

A lodger is someone who lives as part of your household and shares all your facilities. To have lodgers in your home, you must first seek the permission of the Society. We will give you an answer within one month.

You must not sublet any part of your home.

Your assured tenancy gives your spouse/partner the right to succeed the tenancy when the tenant dies, provided they have been living in the property as their principal home.

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Ending your tenancy imageEnding your tenancy

There are several reasons your tenancy may end, including moving into a residential home. You also have the right to end your tenancy. If you want to end your tenancy, you must give the Society at least 28 days’ notice in writing. If you do not give us this notice, rent will continue to be charged to cover the notice period.

Different procedures apply for different circumstances. These are outlined below.

  • Final date: the Society recognises that these circumstances can be difficult and will give the family or estate a maximum of three months to clear the property. Until the property is cleared and keys handed back to the Society, the rent will continue to be due from the estate of the deceased.

  • Estate agent: if the tenancy termination is because of the end of the tenancy line, the Society will be putting the house/flat on the market. It would be helpful to us if the family/estate can suggest the best local agent to use. We would then ask you to leave the keys with the agent we agree to use.

  • Equity share: if there is a share of the equity due to the estate, the Society will take the lead in marketing the property, but we will consult with the executor(s) concerning the asking price and any offers received. We will pay the estate a pro rata share of the proceeds, net of any costs, once the sale has completed. If it is decided not to sell the property, we will obtain a valuation in agreement with the executor(s) and pay the equity share on the basis of that valuation, net of the pro rata share of the valuation cost. We will confirm who the executors are beforehand, and request copies of the Will and the deceased’s death certificate.

  • Documentation: if, while clearing the house/flat, you come across any warranties or guarantees for major works carried out at the property, or Gas Safe certificates, electrical certificates, building regulations approval, FENSA certificates, etc., please send them to our office, as we may need them during the disposal process. Instructions for fixtures, such as the boiler, should remain in the property – perhaps in a kitchen drawer.

  • Utilities: the estate will remain solely responsible for utility bills until the keys are given up. When you take the final meter readings for gas, electricity and water and give them to the utility companies, please give us the same information, since we will be unable to take our own readings and advise us of the names of the current utility providers. You should give the Society’s name and our London address to the utility companies as the organisation taking over responsibility.

  • Council Tax: for utilities, please make sure that the local authority has the Society’s name and our London address as the organisation taking over responsibility for Council Tax. The estate will remain solely responsible for Council Tax until the keys are given up.

  • Rent: the Society recognises that this is a difficult time for the family in organising the move and settling the tenant in the new environment. Please note that until the property has been cleared and you give up the keys, the rent will continue to be due. Do keep us informed of progress and let us know once you have a definite final date.

  • Estate agent: it is likely that the Society will be putting the property on the market. It would be very helpful if you can suggest the best local agent to use, if you know any. We would then ask you to leave the keys with that agent.

  • Documentation: if, while clearing the house/flat, you come across any warranties or guarantees for major works carried out at the property, or GasSafe certificates, electrical certificates, Building Regulations approval, FENSA certificates, etc., please send them to this office, as we may need them during the disposal process. Instructions for fixtures, such as the boiler, should remain in the property – perhaps in a kitchen drawer.

  • Utilities: the tenant will remain responsible for utility bills until the keys are given up. When you take the final meter readings for gas, electricity and water and give them to the utility companies, please give us the same information, since we will be unable to take our own readings, and also advise us of the names of the current utility providers. You should give the Society’s name and our London address to the utility companies as the organisation taking over responsibility. 

  • Council Tax: as for utilities, please make sure that the local authority has the Society’s name and our London address as the organisation taking over responsibility for Council Tax. Again, the tenant will remain responsible for Council Tax until the keys are given up. 

  • Equity share: if the tenant has equity share in the property, the Society will confirm this to you or the person who has power of attorney if applicable. The Society will take the lead in marketing the property, but we will consult with you concerning the asking price and any offers received. We will pay the ex-tenant’s pro rata share of the proceeds, net of any costs, once the sale has completed. If it is decided not to sell the property, we will obtain a valuation in agreement with the tenant and pay the equity share on the basis of that valuation, net of the pro rata share of the valuation cost.

  • Forwarding address: please let us know a correspondence address.* We can also pass these details on to the URC Pension Department.

*We will send you a form/checklist to make sure that everything is covered, which you will send back to us.

 

  • Final date: please let us know as soon as you decide on a definite final date for clearing the property and handing over the keys. Until that date, the rent will continue to be due. It will be deducted from your pension or you should continue to pay it by standing order. 

  • Estate agent: if no retiring Minister wishes to move to the property, it is possible that we will be putting the property on the market. If that is the case, it would be very helpful if you can suggest the best local agent to use. We would then ask you to leave the keys with that agent. 

  • Equity share: if you have equity share in the property, we will confirm it with you. The Society will take the lead in marketing the property, but we will consult with you concerning the asking price and any offers received. We will pay your pro rata share of the proceeds, net of any costs, once the sale has completed. If it is decided not to sell, we will obtain a valuation in agreement with you and pay you for your equity share on the basis of that valuation, net of the pro rata share of the valuation cost.  

  • Documentation: if, while clearing the house/flat, you come across any warranties or guarantees for major works carried out at the property, or GasSafe certificates, electrical certificates, Building Regulations approval, FENSA certificates, etc., please send them to this office, as we may need them during the disposal process. Instructions for fixtures such as the boiler should remain in the property – perhaps in a kitchen drawer. 

  • Utilities: you will remain responsible for utility bills until the keys are given up. When you take the final meter readings for gas, electricity and water and give them to the utility companies, please give us the same information, since we will be unable to take our own readings and advise us of the names of the current utility providers. You should give the Society’s name and our London address to the utility companies as the organisation taking over responsibility. 

  • Council Tax: as for utilities, please make sure that the Local Authority has the Society’s name and our London address as the organisation taking over responsibility for Council Tax. Again, you will remain responsible for Council Tax until the keys are given up.

  • Forwarding address: before you move out, please make sure we have your new address and telephone number.* We can also pass these details on to the URC Pension Department for you.

*We will send you a form/checklist to make sure that everything is covered, which you will send back to us.

Repair categories imageFind out about the types of repair work carried out and how you can report repairs to us. 

Repair categories

When you report a repair, it is categorised before we raise an order.

The following are examples of repair categories:

A repair is deemed an emergency when there is danger to the occupant’s health and or risk to their safety, or of serious damage to the home, or a risk of serious damage to, loss of the occupant’s property, including loss by theft.

It could also include a situation where immediate action will prevent deterioration to the property.

Examples of an emergency repair include, but are not limited to:

  • burst water pipes/tanks

  • no water supply

  • total electrical failure

  • broken door locks

  • ceiling collapse

  • major or dangerous leaks leading to structural damage

  • broken windows

  • gas leaks

  • no hot water or heating

  • defective WC (if only WC in the house)

  • certain infestations

For emergency repairs, contact Spire on 01384 884 040. You will be asked to quote a reference number and this can be found in letters the RMHS has sent you about your property. 

 

 

These are faults that require immediate attention but do not give rise to an emergency or pose health and safety risk.

Examples of an urgent repair include, but are not limited to:

  • central heating not working (depending on time of year)

  • no gas supply

  • leaking WC

  • electrical fittings

  • roof leaks or defects

Report an urgent repair

This category comprises non-urgent work where the fault does not cause danger to the tenant or the public.

Examples of a routine repair include, but are not limited to:

  • moss removal

  • major roof repair (if not under planned maintenance)

  • damaged fencing, paths or garden walls

  • renewing paving slabs

  • repairs to external rendering, pointing or brickwork

  • doors, windows and general joinery repairs

  • renewal of doors and windows (if not under planned maintenance)

  • general minor repairs, including floors, garage roofs and guttering

Report a routine repair

Reporting repairs

For emergency repairs, contact Spire on 01384 884 040. You will be asked to quote a reference number and this can be found in letters the RMHS has sent you about your property. 

All other repairs must be reported to the Society. Staff will categorise the repair and advise you on next steps. Repairs can be reported by email, phone or letter.

Whether you or someone else is reporting a repair, whether to Spire or the Society, the following information will help to speed up your request:

  • your name, address and telephone number (plus ID you were given previously if reporting to Spire)

  • as much information about the fault as possible

The staff team will raise a works order once a contractor has been identified. In certain situations, you may be requested to assist by identifying a local handyman. In such cases, quotations should be sent directly to the Society for approval.

Tenants are reminded not to authorise repairs; the staff team must go through stringent checks first.

  • Visit the Your home page to find out more about repairs and responsibilities

 

Subcategories

The RMHS wants to keep your home in good condition. This means that the responsibility for repairing and maintaining your home is shared between you and the Society. You are also responsible for looking after your home, including decorating the inside.

All requests for repairs must be reported to the Society as soon as you become aware of them. The Society is obligated to check the asbestos register before any repair is commissioned.

In this section, we will explain who is responsible for different types of repairs, replacement of components and the timeframe for carrying out the works.