Tenants Handbook

Tenants Handbook cover

Introduction

I am delighted to introduce Limerick City Council's Tenant Handbook. This Local Authority aims to provide good quality, affordable housing and to manage its housing stock in an efficient and effective manner. The Handbook tells you about the Housing Services you are entitled to receive and also tells you what we expect from you as our Tenant.

The Handbook is intended as a guide. It does not go into detail about every aspect of the services available but it will tell you where you can find out more information.

We are committed to consulting our tenants on all matters affecting their tenancy with us. If you require any further information please don't hesitate to contact the staff of the Social Policy and Housing Department who will always be pleased to assist you. Please keep your copy of the handbook in a safe place in your home. I hope you find it useful.

Wishing you well in your new home,

Yours Sincerely,
Director of Service,
Social Policy and Housing - Nov 2003

Please note: Where "we" is mentioned, it means the Social Policy and Housing Department of Limerick City Council. Where "you" is mentioned it means the tenant.

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1. Department of Social Policy & Housing

What do we do ?

Our Department's main aim is to provide housing for those in need.

We also provide a full range of services to our tenants such as:

  • Carrying out repairs,
  • Providing advice and assistance on housing matters,
  • Collecting your rent,
  • Dealing with issues in your estate,
  • Consulting you about plans for your estate,
  • Helping you to form a residents association,
  • Providing or adapting accommodation if you or a family member has special needs.

How to contact us ?

We are based on the ground floor of the City Hall and can also be reached by:

Phone: 061-407100 (415799)
Fax: 061-415266
E-mail: housing@limerickcity.i.e

Opening hours Monday to Friday 9 a.m to 5 p.m.

In addition to this handbook, we have a range of leaflets, circulars, public information notices and annual publications available on housing services. These can be obtained at the department or by request.

How we will treat you

At the Office

You will be treated in a courteous manner by all staff.

  • Our aim is to see each caller within 15 minutes.
  • You can make a specific appointment by telephone, in writing or by calling in person.
  • We provide private interview rooms, if required.
  • We will help you to complete forms, if you wish.

Phone Calls

  • We will answer promptly and courteously.
  • We will identify ourselves to you when answering the phone.
  • If you reach an answering machine, we will return your call within 24 hours.

Letters

We will try to reply to your letter as quickly as possible. The target time for reply is 15 working days. Should the response require considerable research before a full reply can be given, an interim reply explaining the position will be sent.

A named member of staff will sign all letters.

Complaints

Our staff are always willing to deal with any complaint you may have and every effort will be made to help you resolve your problem.

If you remain dissatisfied you can refer your complaint to the Office of the Ombudsman, who is totally independent of the Local Authority and can be contacted at 18 Lower Leeson Street, Dublin 2. Tel: 01 6785222.

Consultation

Limerick City Council has a Consultation Policy. Copies are available at City Hall.

We place great importance in listening to your opinions about our services. We will inform and consult you about any major changes in your area.

Estate Management

One of our strongest methods of ensuring consultation is through Estate Management Groups. We work in cooperation with the PAUL Partnership to support existing Estate Management Groups. A joint strategy document is available from City Hall which clearly sets out our role in the area of Estate Management.

If you wish to become involved in an existing Estate Management Group or set up a new Estate Management Group we recommend that you contact our Community Liaison Officers at City Hall.

The Role of the Community Liaison Officer

The Community Liaison Officer will assist you and your neighbours in establishing residents groups. We will help you to progress any community initiatives which you may wish to pursue. We will assist in providing training for elected residents. We will attend meetings on request.

The Community Liaison Officer also organises pre-tenancy courses. These courses allow new tenants an opportunity to get to know one another and to build good community relationships. The pre-tenancy course will also deal, in detail, with all issues connected with your tenancy e.g. rent, rights and responsibilities. Various guest speakers attend such as Architects, Gardaí, ESB etc.

There are three Community Liaison Officers working in the City and they can be contacted at City Hall Tel: 407100 (415799) from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday.


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If you wish to be housed by Limerick City Council you must complete a Housing Application Form. These are available at the Housing Department in City Hall, Merchants' Quay. Tel: 061 407100 (415799) Opening Hours 9 a.m - 5 p.m, Monday to Friday.

What if I do not qualify?

Our staff will explain the reasons for their decision and will advise you of the other housing options available to you e.g. Shared Ownership, Loans, Affordable Housing etc.

Allocations

Depending on local availability we will try to house you as soon as possible. Your Social Worker will discuss local availability of housing with you.

Anti-Social Behaviour

Anti-Social Behaviour is considered to be present when a person's or a family's behaviour adversely affects the quality of life of the overall neighbourhood We refer here to loud music, noisy parties, drug dealing, keeping animals other than domestic pets, criminal activity etc. Be assured that Limerick City Council will act against Anti-Social Behaviour.

It is important that you are aware that we have the legal right to refuse to house persons who have been involved in anti-social behaviour. This legislation is there to protect the standard of life of all our tenants and to support good estate management.

If you have a disruptive person living with you, you can ask us to apply to the Courts to have that person excluded from you home.

If you fail to control that person's behaviour you risk losing your home.

If your own behaviour is disruptive you will lose your tenancy and will not be re-housed by this or any other Local Authority.

If you experience harassment from another tenant please contact the Housing Department and we will investigate your complaint fully.

When you have signed your Tenancy Agreement

This tenancy agreement is a legal contract between you and us. It sets out the terms and conditions required by both you and us. It is an important document, so you should read it carefully and keep it safe.

What happens now?

You will be given:
  • 1. The keys of your new home.
  • 2. Your rent card.
  • 3. Letters for each of the following:
    • ESB,
    • Bord Gais,
    • Community Welfare Officer.

ESB

You should go to their offices at Bishop's Quay where you register as a customer. At this point you can choose how you want to pay, either Budget Card Meter or two monthly bill.

Bord Gais

A large proportion of the housing stock of Limerick City Council now has gas central heating. If this is the case in your new home, phone 1850-456200 to arrange to have a registration form posted to you.

Community Welfare Officer (CWO)

If your circumstances place you in the position where you need help to set up home, there is a system operated by the Mid Western Health Board to assist you. When you have received your keys you can make an appointment with the C.W.O. for your area at your Local Health Board Clinic. You will then be advised of the help you are entitled to receive.

Should I insure my house?

The City Council strongly advises you to insure the contents of your house. Should you buy your house, you should then insure both structure and contents.

Further Advice

It is vital that you move into your new home immediately.

We also recommend that you get to know your neighbours and your local Residents Association. A Community Liaison Officer will be assigned to your area and you should contact them if you need any help or advice at City Hall on 061-407100 (415799).

How much will I pay?

Your rent is calculated on the basis of your income.

Your rent is assessed annually and each year you will be asked to submit evidence of income. Copies of the Rent Scheme are available from the Social Policy and Housing Department.

When do I pay?

Rent is payable weekly.

How do I pay?

Post Office

You will be given a card which looks like a credit card.
You can pay at any Post Office using this rent card.

Direct Debit

You can also pay by Direct Debit or Standing Order through your bank.

Household Budget

Your rent can be automatically deducted before you receive your payment if you are in receipt of the following Social Welfare Payments:

  • Unemployment Benefit
  • Lone Parents
  • Disability Benefit
  • Invalidity Pension
  • Certain Categories of Widows Pension

Paying in Person

You can also pay in person at City Hall.

What if my circumstances change?

You should tell the City Council about any change in household circumstances.

For example, you should let us know when:

  • A person in your household gets a job,
  • A person joins the household,
  • A person in the household starts claiming Social Welfare,
  • There is a death in the household,
  • There is a birth in the household,
  • A person leaves the household,
  • A person attains 18 years of age.

You should notify us of these changes by contacting the Rent Assessment Section. Your rent will be adjusted, following submission of documentary evidence of the change in circumstances.

What if I don't notify the City Council when my circumstances change?

When changes in your circumstances come to light, your rent will be re-assessed and your rent account backdated.

What if I have difficulties paying my rent?

A Code of Practice exists between Limerick City Council and the Mid-Western Health Board with regard to rent arrears. The aim of the Code is to assist tenants with rent arrears in every way possible. It does not relieve you of your obligation to pay your rent each week from your weekly income. A copy of the Code is available from City Hall.

If you find yourself in difficulty with your rent and you fail to use the Code of Practice there is a very real possibility that you will lose your home. It is extremely important that you contact the Social Policy and Housing Department as soon as you get into difficulties with paying your rent.

What will happen if I do not deal with rent arrears?

If you refuse to come to a reasonable agreement or if you do not keep to the agreed plan, the City Council will serve a 'Notice to Quit' and will take you to Court. This may lead to your eviction. If evicted, you will not be considered for housing by the City Council until the arrears and the Council's legal costs have been cleared in full.


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You are responsible for the legal disposal of your household refuse and we recommend that you avail of the services of a permitted Waste Disposal Operator. You can negotiate your method of payment with your own Operator. Currently, a full waiver of the cost is available to any tenant over 66 years of age in receipt of a social welfare pension. Financial assistance in the form of a subsidy is available to those receiving other social welfare payments. Application forms and further information are available from the Environment Department, City Hall.

Refuse should only be stored in your wheelie bin and the bin placed at your gate on collection day. Rubbish must not be stored in gardens or communal areas or emptied into gulley traps, drains or sinks. It is your responsibility to keep your house and its environs clean and litter free.

City householders should be aware that waste operators collecting household refuse are currently obliged to provide a dry recyclable collection service within the city.

Your refuse is your property until it is collected. You will be taken to Court and fined for disposing of refuse incorrectly.

You can also be evicted from your home for failure to dispose of your refuse in the proper manner.

Tax Relief

Did you know that tax relief is available on refuse charges? To claim, phone the tax office directly at 1890 605090.

The 3 R's: Reduce Re-use Recycle

You can reduce, re-use and recycle a large proportion of your household refuse by availing of the "Bring Banks". Details of Citywide locations are available from the Environment Department, City Hall.

Pollution Act

Under this Act, it is illegal to engage in open burning of waste. Apart from the serious risk of fire, smoke from open burning is at the very least a nuisance. It can also cause serious problems to sufferers of asthma and other health problems.

Appliances

When purchasing appliances such as washing machines etc, it is in your own interest to request the removal of the old appliance as part of the purchase deal. Similarly you should ask the supplier to remove all the packaging material, as this is difficult to dispose of.

Litter Line

Occurrence of illegal dumping or open burning of refuse should be reported on the Council's Litter Line 1-800-216-816.

Dog Pound

The Limerick Dog Pound and Dog Warden Service can be contacted at 301604, 9.30 a.m. to 10.30 a.m. Monday to Friday. The dog warden will collect and remove stray dogs.


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Repairs to your home

Broadly speaking, Limerick City Council will maintain the outside structure of your home plus some internal items.

Repairs To New Lettings

There are two categories in this case:

A. What if I need repairs in a newly built house?

Any snags in a new house are the responsibility of the builder for the initial 12 months. Complaints can be made to the Architects Department, City Hall.

B. What happens when I am a new tenant of an old property and I need repairs?

The house will be examined by our Maintenance Supervisor whose report will identify the works that need to be done:

  • Emergency works, such as electrical or plumbing faults, will be repaired before you move in.
  • Other minor works will be carried out after you move in.
There are no charges for these repairs.

All of these repairs are carried out solely by staff of the Garryowen Maintenance Depot, Garryowen, Claughaun Road. Tel: 469468

Repairs To Existing Lettings

What if I am a long time tenant and I need repairs?

If you live on the northside, contact the Northside Maintenance Depot 11am - 12 noon in person or by phone call on: 325719 or 325177, Monday to Friday.

If you live on the southside, contact the Southside Maintenance Depot 10.30am - 11.30am in person or by phone call on: 401197 or 401196, Monday to Friday.

There are charges for certain repairs. Generally there is a charge if the work required results from wilful or malicious damage. Where the damage is due to "fair wear and tear", e.g. fire backs wearing away, the Council will cover the cost.

Charges can range from €10 to €250, depending on the type of work involved.

Repairs

All queries are noted, entered on computer and are categorised as follows:
Category Example
Emergency Smoking fuse board.
Faulty sockets.
Tiles falling off roof.
Urgent Leak under sink unit
Heating
No water in hot tap.
Routine Replace fire cheeks.
Cleaning gutters.

What type of repair am I responsible for?

Structure

You are responsible for structural repairs, which include:
  • Internal door locks and hinges and handles,
  • Internal plaster cracks,
  • Repairs to kitchen units, cupboards and wardrobes including their handles door, locks and hinges,
  • Cleaning of chimneys.

Windows, Doors & Floors

You are responsible for repairs to windows, doors and floors, which include:
  • Damage to windows & doors, which are not due to fair wear & tear,
  • Floor covering,
  • Draught proofing,
  • If any of your window panes should break then you are responsible for repairing them. We will repair them at a set charge.
If you wish, we can give you a copy of your Maintenance Report from the Housing Maintenance Depots.

Decorating

You are responsible for all decoration inside your home.

Plumbing

You are responsible for any plumbing repairs. However we will do the following repairs at a set charge to you:

  • Replace toilet seat,
  • Replace toilet bowl,
  • Replace washer in leaking/dripping taps,
  • Clean waste pipes from baths and sinks,
  • Plumbing in washing machines.

You are responsible for the cleaning of house drains to the main sewer and cleaning of gullies.

External works

You are responsible for keeping the garden and hedges etc. in a tidy condition.

You should not do any of the following without the written consent of the City Council:

  • Erect any fence in the front or rear garden,
  • Build any shed, garage or other building,
  • Paint any external works (woodwork, cement plastering, iron gates, fencing to front and rear gardens).

Electrical

You should not interfere with Mains Fuses or Electrical Fittings without the written consent of the City Council.

If your cooker needs to be wired we will do this at a set charge to you.

Gas

Any problem with gas appliances should be referred to Bord Gais.

Heating

1. You should repair any damage to the fireplace unless the damage is a result of fair wear & tear.

2. Should your grate need repair then we will do this at a set charge to you. Limerick City Council will maintain your central heating boiler.

Bathroom Ventilation

Where mechanical ventilation is installed it is your responsibility to keep it in working order.

CB Aerials/Satellite Dishes

Any alterations to the house, including the installation of a CB aerial or a satellite dish must have the prior approval of the Council and may, in certain instances, require planning permission.

Animals

You can keep domestic pets which are not likely to create a nuisance or become a source of annoyance. You cannot keep any poultry, pigeon, horses or other animals on the premises.

Further Information

A more detailed document outlining the division of responsibility for Maintenance Repairs is available from the Social Policy and Housing Department.

Emergency Call Out Service

If you require emergency repairs outside normal working hours phone 417833.

This service applies strictly in the case of a genuine maintenance emergency only, e.g. a burst pipe in an attic leading to serious flooding.

If this service is abused by a tenant, that tenant will be billed for the cost to Limerick City Council of the emergency call out.


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Changes in your household circumstances may mean you have to review your housing needs. Therefore, you should be aware of all the housing options open to you. Full details of these schemes outlined below are available from the Social Policy and Housing Department.

a) Moving to another home

What do I do if I wish to move to a different house?

You can call to the Social Policy and Housing Department and apply for a housing transfer.

Acknowledgement

Once your application has been received it will be acknowledged in writing. Please be aware that this is an acknowledgement and not an approval.

Processing

The application is then referred to the Housing Welfare Officer for a home visit to assess the housing needs of the applicant and it is also referred to the following people for any observations they may wish to make.

  • Senior Staff Officer (Housing Allocations)
  • Community Liaison Official
  • Revenue Officer

On the basis of the Housing Welfare Officers recommendation and any observations by the relevant internal personnel, a decision is made to:

  • Advise the applicant in writing that they have been approved for inclusion on the housing transfer list or,
  • Advise the applicant that they are ineligible for inclusion on the housing transfer list or,
  • Request further information from the applicant or Statutory Agencies.

Ineligibility

If your transfer application has not been successful, we will give you a written explanation.

b) Affordable housing

Under this scheme, designated houses are offered by the Council to buyers at discounted prices. Eligibility is determined on the basis of an applicants income. In certain circumstances a mortgage subsidy is available to buyers.

c) Mortgage allowance scheme

Under this scheme, a tenant or a tenant purchaser who returns the property to the Council in order to purchase another house can claim a subsidy known as Mortgage Allowance. It can be claimed over a period of 5 years and will be paid directly to your bank or building society.

d) Low cost housing sites

This scheme allows the Council to make sites available at a low cost. To be eligible for this scheme you must be:

  • An approved applicant for Local Authority Housing or
  • A tenant or
  • A tenant purchaser who is surrendering your house to the Council.

e) Private rented housing

The Supplementary Welfare Allowance Scheme makes financial assistance available to persons in privately rented accommodation. This is called Rent Allowance and is administered by the Mid Western Health Board, who generally requires the person to be an approved applicant for Local Authority Housing. For further information on this scheme please contact the Mid Western Health Board on 326677.

f) Voluntary housing

The Department of the Environment and the Council support registered voluntary housing agencies in two ways:

  • 1. Capital Assistance Scheme
  • 2. Rental Subsidy Scheme.

It is our policy to promote voluntary housing projects.


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There are various options available to you if you wish to purchase a home of your own.

Tenant Purchase

If you are the tenant of a Local Authority house for at least one year, you can apply to purchase the property. Your house will be valued at the current market price. The local authority will sell it to you at that price, less various discounts, which makes tenant purchase an attractive option. All details relating to tenant purchase are available at the Social Policy and Housing Department at City Hall.

Annuity Loan

This is a straightforward mortgage that the Council gives you to purchase a house of your choice. This loan is repaid on the basis of your ability to pay over 5-30 years.

Shared Ownership Loan

Shared Ownership is a housing initiative to allow persons on low incomes to obtain a house of their choice in two or more stages. The applicant acquires a share in the house and the remaining share is rented by the applicant from Limerick City Council.

Please call to the Social Policy & Housing Department for further information.


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What happens if my spouse is the tenant and he or she dies or leaves?

Where death or departure of a tenant takes place the tenancy will normally be given to the surviving spouse.

What happens to the tenancy if my parents are the tenants and they die or leave?

If both parents die or leave the tenancy will normally be given to a son or daughter, provided that he/she has been living in the dwelling for at least 2 years immediately prior to the death or departure of the tenant. Each case will be examined on its merits. Where more than one member of the household remains in the dwelling, the tenancy will normally be given to the person who, in the opinion of the City Council, is most likely to keep the household harmoniously together.

Applications for Succession Tenancy

In any of the above circumstances, the surviving resident(s) can apply to us, for what we call a Succession Tenancy. The procedure for this is as follows:

Application

To apply, you must send in a completed application form.

Acknowledgement

Once the application has been accepted it will be acknowledged in writing. You should note that this is an acknowledgement and not an approval.

Processing

The application is then referred to the following for any observations that they may wish to make:

  • Senior Staff Officer (Housing Allocations)
  • Community Liaison Official
  • Revenue Officer
A decision will then be made to:
  • Advise the applicant in writing that they have been approved for a succession tenancy or,
  • Advise the applicant that they are ineligible for a succession tenancy or,
  • Request Further Information From Applicant/Statutory Agencies.

Ineligibility

If your application has not been successful we will give you a written explanation.


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If you intend to leave and return your house to the Council, we require seven days notice in writing or by calling in person to the Social Policy and Housing Department. If we are not given notice we may have to use the services of a security firm to protect the property until it can be re-let.

The costs of security, usually _20 per hour, will be charged to the tenant who fails to give notice.

If you leave and fail to give notice and later return to Limerick to re-apply for housing, these security charges must be paid by you before an application can be accepted.

Your house should be left in good order and be suitable for re-letting to a new tenant.


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11. Other services available at the Social Policy & Housing Department

Disabled Persons Grants

These grants are available to people in Local Authority and private housing to enable them to make appropriate alterations to their houses in cases where the special needs of either themselves or a disabled family member need to be met.

Improvement Works in Lieu of Re-housing

This scheme is designed to cater for persons in privately owned housing who are eligible for Local Authority housing. It allows the Council to improve, extend, and eliminate defects or to provide additional accommodation where necessary. The weekly/monthly repayment for the cost of the works carried out will be based on the applicants income. This scheme is not available to private rented houses.

Extensions in Lieu of Re-housing

This scheme enables the Council to extend a Local Authority rented dwelling to cater for households who are overcrowded.

12. Traveller housing options

With regard to the Travelling Community the following housing options are available.

  • Rented Social Housing
  • Private Ownership
  • Private Rented Accommodation
  • Tenant Purchase
  • Shared Ownership
  • Improvement Works to cater for disabled members of the family or additional persons.
  • Loans for Improvement Works.
  • Traveller Specific Accommodation.
  • Caravan Loans

Members of the travelling community can apply for any of these options through either the Social Worker for Travellers or through the staff at the Social Policy and Housing Department.

Maintenance

If a Traveller has maintenance issues they can contact the maintenance depots for their area. There is also a Social Worker on the staff of the Housing Department, specifically employed to assist members of the Travelling Community.

Last update:23/05/2007

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