Tai Ceredigion’s Tenant Monitoring Group respond to recent news reports

Dear fellow Tai Ceredigion tenants,

I am contacting you today in my capacity as the Chairperson of Tai Ceredigion Monitoring Group (TCMG). The tenants Group was established by Ceredigion County Council prior to stock transfer to Tai Ceredigion and at the express wish of the housing association at the time of transfer we agreed to continue being the main tenant representative body for our fellow tenants. It is important that I highlight that the members are all tenants of Tai Ceredigion who have expressed an interest to be involved and who donate their time freely.

Unlike most of social housing tenant groups, we possess a high level of autonomy and are not directed or governed by our landlord. We are involved to the highest level of decision making to ensure our fellow tenants interests are kept at the heart of our landlord’s operations. The housing regulator engages with us directly and we are recognised by Welsh Government as one of a handful of tenant groups which independently participate in their consultations to ensure the tenant’s voice is heard.

We have a great many roles one of which is to review policies prior to submission to the board of directors. This ensures that any proposed changes do not adversely affect tenants’ rights.

Considering the recent reports in the Cambrian News the group thought it would be prudent to highlight many inaccuracies in the reporting of this incident.

1. Prior to stock transfer, Ceredigion County Council’s tenancy agreement included the “No Pets in Flats” clause. This clause was also adopted by Tai Ceredigion which as we understand has been a clause for many decades in the social housing sector across the UK.

2. Following stock transfer all tenants were visited by housing staff to sign the new tenancy agreement which contains guidance for pet owners. This item also refers to the “Keeping of Pets” policy. In addition, tenants are given a copy of the “Tenant’s Handbook” which specifically states that domestic pets are not permitted in flats or sheltered accommodation which have shared access. These documents are also provided to new tenants when they begin their tenancy.

3. Following the changes to the Antisocial Behaviour (ASB) legislation which included the “Dangerous Dogs Act”, we, the group, reviewed the Keeping of Pets Policy in early 2016. In short, the specific clause was not amended as our personal experiences when conducting Estate Management Inspections and Service Standards reviews consistently showed us the issues experienced by our tenants in flats, sheltered schemes and on our estates relating to irresponsible pet ownership.

4. Following our subsequent review of the correspondence issued to tenants in the flats in Aberystwyth by Tai Ceredigion there is no indication that tenants will be evicted nor face demotion of tenure as implied in the Cambrian News article, nor any indication that such a blanket ban on dogs will be adopted across all the housing stock.

5. In line with ASB legislation, Tai Ceredigion’s procedure is to provide notice on a pet owner where an incident has occurred. Where necessary, Tai Ceredigion and other social housing landlords would obtain a court order for the removal of a domestic animal. In the case of Tai Ceredigion, this does not involve demotion of tenure or eviction apart from repeated and extreme cases.

6. We have been informed by Tai Ceredigion, that this action has arose due to some dogs in the flats urinating and fouling on communal access areas such as stairs, landings and entrance areas. There has also been an incident where another tenant was attacked by a dog in the flats whilst trying to access her property. There also exists photographic evidence of a balcony with unacceptably high amounts of dog faeces.

7. It is our understanding that of the 52 properties there are 8 dog owners of which Tai Ceredigion are aware of. It is regrettable that Tai Ceredigion has had to adopt this approach especially for those who are responsible pet owners. That said, landlords have a legal duty to ensure all residents of a community are not at risk of danger from uncontrolled dogs, to prevent ASB resulting from pets and to ensure communities are clean and safe environments for all resident’s visitors and staff.

8. In addition, we would also like to raise the question of fairness in relation to service charges. Why should most tenants without dogs residing in such a complex be expected to pay for increased service charges to address the issues highlighted above?

Finally, your tenancy agreement is a legally binding contract. It is important that you read it thoroughly to understand your obligations as a tenant and Tai Ceredigion’s obligations to you as a tenant

Regards

Paul Clasby,

Chairperson and Guide Dog Owner

Tai Ceredigion Monitoring Group.