Colchester Borough Homes are responsible for keeping the ‘common parts’ of your block in good repair. This means we will look after the structure of the building, the landings and hallways (including lighting, controlled door-entry systems on).
Repairs we are responsible for include:
Roofs, drains, gutters and pipes on the outside of your home
Outside entrance doors (but not the front doors of individual flats)
Window frames and sills (not including glass)
Outside paint work
Paths and steps (back and front)
Boundary fences (except some where you or a neighbouring owner are responsible)
Chimneys and chimney stacks
Stairs and landings
Garages and outbuildings, including drying areas.
Shared water pipes, water tanks, gas pipes and electrical wiring
Light fittings in shared areas
Controlled door-entry systems
Decorations in shared areas.
It is a condition of your tenancy that you pay your rent regularly and on time. Rent is due each Monday, but you can pay monthly if you pay by direct debit. You may be able to claim Housing Benefit to help you pay your rent.
If you are aged 60+ (55+ in some cases) and you live in a Council House or Housing Association Property in Colchester then you are likely to qualify. If you live outside the Borough or own your own property you may in some circumstances be eligible. For further information please ring 01206 282508.
ID 18: What type of charges would I have to pay in Sheltered Housing? There is a basic rent you have to pay, plus some service charges to cover items such as a lift and ground maintenance. You will also have to pay Support Charges for the Scheme Manager and Helpline Services. In some properties there will be electricity and gas charges also. Some of these costs may be covered by Housing Benefit and Supporting People Grant.
ID 20: How can I report a repair? You can either use the online repair reporting on this website or telephone (Freephone) 0808 220 2222 or 01206 282525 (some networks cannot access some freephone numbers)
ID 21: Do you provide appointments for repairs? Appointments are available for a number of types of repairs if you phone the repairs line, telephone (Freephone) 0808 220 2222 or 01206 282525 (some networks cannot access some freephone numbers)
ID 22: What is Homechoice? Homechoice is for people who want to apply to Colchester Borough Council for help with housing. Choice based lettings is a new way of allocating properties where the customer is able to say which properties they would like to be considered for. Homechoice runs the choice based letting scheme. It is a partnership between, Colchester Borough Council, Colchester Borough Homes and local housing associations. The icon to link to Homechoice appears at the bottom of every web page on this website.
If you think you have received poor service from a member of staff or a contractor working for CBH then please let us know. It helps to know when we are getting it wrong as we can learn from it and ensure we get it right the next time. Please contact our Complaints and Customer Liaison Officer on freephone 0808 220 4444 (01206 506706 from some networks) or by email at email@example.com
If you think you have received excellent service from a member of staff or a contractor working for CBH then please let us know. It helps to know when we are getting it right as well as when we are getting it wrong. Please contact our Complaints and Customer Liaison Officer on freephone 0808 220 4444 (01206 506706 from some networks) or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
You are responsible for repairs to the inside of your flat, including your front door and the glass in your windows. You should make your own arrangements to get someone to do the repairs for you.
Repairs you are responsible for include:
All repairs to the inside of your flat, including your front door, glass in your windows and all fixtures and fittings
Water pipes, water tanks within your property
Gas pipes that are within your property
Gas boilers – including servicing
Any damage to the common parts and services caused by you, members of your household, or your visitors
ID 26: Who insures my property? Colchester Borough Council as landlord is responsible for insuring the structure of the building including your property and is insured on a block policy with Zurich Municipal. Your property is insured for its full re-instatement value no matter what that might be and the policy will not be allowed to lapse under any foreseeable circumstances.
As a leaseholder, you are required to make an annual contribution towards the cost of the insurance policy. This charge is included in your annual service charges.
As a leaseholder you have the right to improve your home, but for some improvements you will need written permission from us. This is because, as landlord, we have an investment in the block and a responsibility to the other tenants. We will not refuse permission unless we have a good reason. You may also need to get planning permission and building consent before starting work.
How do I apply for permission?
Write to the Leasehold Services Team at PO Box 887, Colchester CO3 3YB.
You will need to say exactly what you want to do and include a drawing or plan.
A building surveyor may need to visit your home to see what you intend to do, before we can make a decision.
We will give you an answer within seven days of receiving your request or one month if we need more information. If we refuse permission we will tell you why. The permission we give you to go ahead is not the same as planning permission. You are responsible for getting any necessary planning permission or building regulations approval
The basic idea is that the total cost of providing each service is divided by the number of homes benefiting from that service.
Grounds maintenance Everyone benefits from this and so tenants and leaseholders share the costs. Although a handful of properties do not have grassed areas and some grassed areas are larger than others it is fair to charge everyone for this service. This is because CBC is expected to maintain certain standards across all estates for the benefit of the community.
They are responsible for dealing with graffiti removal, rubbish removal, dealing with abandoned vehicles and checking the communal areas of blocks of flats. Everyone benefits from this service and so tenants and leaseholders share the cost.
Services in blocks of flats
This covers things like the running costs for communal lighting, door entry systems and communal cleaning in your block and you will only be charged if you live in a block that receives these services.
Your total weekly charge – rent and service charges – will increase this year. This is because we are now charging you for the estate officer service and where applicable, the two storey cleaning service.
However, you will notice your rent has gone down. This is because your existing service charges have been identified and taken away from the rent this year and unlike before you will not be paying for services you do not receive.
We had to make these changes to comply with government requirements. We gave out information at 2 tenant and leaseholder forums held on 15th and 16th June. We also consulted with the board advisors at Colchester Borough Homes in June 2007. We talked to the Association of Tenants and Leaseholders. Two focus groups were formed to make sure we were dividing up service charges fairly. A report was submitted to the ALMO Board on 18 September 2007. We attended the CBH Annual General Meeting on 13 October 2007 and the Tenant Open Day on 13 December 2007.
To let everyone know what was happening there were articles in “Housing News and Views” in August and December 2007.
ID 55: How did you decide to divide and share out service charges? For most service charges we identified the specific properties that received a service and then shared the cost of that service equally between each of those properties. There are some services where we were unable to do this and so we shared the cost across a wider group of tenants and leaseholders. For example grounds maintenance.
You always did pay for grounds maintenance but now you can see how much you are paying. Keeping your estates clean and well looked after makes people feel safe and helps prevent anti-social behaviour. Because everyone benefits from clean and tidy surroundings it is only fair that everyone should pay towards this service
We have two mobile estate officers who amongst other things are responsible for the rubbish removal, abandoned vehicles, graffiti removal, parking issues, minor repairs, monitoring standards and providing evidence in anti social behaviour cases. Everyone benefits from the provision of this service although you might not use the service directly.
For example, we all contribute to the cost of policing but we may never have to contact the police directly or make use of the service as an individual.
ID 63: You seem to be charging me for a service I don?t receive We have worked very hard to try and get everything right but there may be a few errors. If you tell us we have made a mistake we will check our records and make sure they are right for next year. It is important to remember that this year if there is any adjustment made to the service charge, for whatever reason, then the rent will also be adjusted so that the total amount will remain the same.
Service charges for both tenants and leaseholders will be based on the actual costs from the previous financial year plus an inflationary increase and /or additional economic forecasts to bring charges to present year costing
Example: The service charges for 2008/09 = Actual cost of service 2006/07 + inflation and /or economic forecast
Service charges for 2009/2010 = Actual cost of service 2007/2008 +inflation and /or economic forecast
Some of our services are useful to everyone for example keeping estates clean and well looked after makes people feel safe and helps prevent anti-social behaviour. Other services may not be considered essential but there will be times when you will want them and so we have decided that tenants cannot opt out.
For example cleaning – some residents would argue that they are happy to clean the communal areas themselves. However, when these residents move out others may not want to clean these areas and so CBH deliver the service to make sure it is regular and reliable.
We will not introduce any new chargeable services without consulting you and being sure there is some agreement about what is planned.
There will be opportunities for you to ask for particular new services and provided there is some agreement from those affected by the change and the will to pay for it then we can respond positively to these requests.
CBH have published service standards for our grounds maintenance and communal cleaning services and we will make sure that these are met. Individual refunds will not be made to tenants if a service has been disrupted.
If you are unhappy with the level of service you are receiving please let us know so that we can investigate. You may wish to become a QAA or a Village Voice and take part in monitoring our services to you.
If after an investigation you are still dissatisfied with the level of service provided then you can use CBH’s normal complaints procedure.
These include a Handyperson Scheme which offers assistance with odd jobs and small repairs around the home that CBH wouldn't normally be responsible for doing - Further information is available here.
We also offer a Home Support Scheme. Home Support is a free service for tenants and home owners aged 60 and over who live within the Borough of Colchester. It provides short term help to enable people to maintain their homes and to live independently within the community. Further information is available here.
ID 81: Can I bring my pet with me? In most schemes it is not possible, we do have some properties, mainly bungalows where pets are allowed. This will only be a pet you bring with you and will not be able to replace the pet.
ID 82: Can I come into Sheltered if I own my own property? Yes you can, however you will only qualify for certain smaller studio type of accommodation, or in very rare circumstances a flat. After you have lived in sheltered hsouing for one year you are likely to be able to apply for transfer into a bigger property.
We have 2 Extra-care schemes for the more frail. These tenants have the opportunity to have lunch prepared and to eat in the dining area Monday to Friday, excluding Bank Holidays. There is a small charge for these meals. If you have a care package provided then meals may also be available at weekends.
In CBH managed sheltered schemes the Scheme Manager is present for half a day Monday – Friday, excluding Bank Holidays, and does not live on-site. At all other times all alarm calls will be responded to by a Scheme Manager or a member of Helpline staff.
In the case of extra-care schemes the Scheme Manager is on-site 8am to 4pm approximately and at all other times support is available from care staff.