Communal heating charges for council properties are divided among all residents on an estate, the proportion is added to their rent account.
Local authorities are responsible for insurance of residential council properties but do not insure tenants personal belongings, household goods and contents. However, they may offer comprehensive insurance cover for contents which is exclusively available to tenants. Tenants are advised to take out home contents insurance.
Council tenants may make insurance claims against the council for any damage that the council causes to the tenants' possessions, or injury to the tenant or members of their family. This includes damage caused by contractors working on behalf of the council.
Every council tenant must pay rent for their property. Rent is usually payable weekly and may include other regular or communal charges associated with the property. The local authority will help tenants to claim any available assistance with paying their rent.
The local authority is responsible for setting the level of rent based on how much it needs to spend on services for its tenants. Rents should be published giving reasonable notice of any changes (usually at least one month).
Service charges are payments towards the costs of providing and maintaining services for leasehold accommodation where the council is the freeholder. As the freeholder, the council is responsible for maintaining the structure of the whole building and the communal areas such as halls and stairways. Service charges may apply for day to day maintenance, caretaking and cleaning, repairs and improvements and a variety of other similar services.
When a person leaves a council tenancy they become known as a 'former or late tenant'. If there are arrears at the end of the tenancy the Council will continue to pursue these. The council will discuss repayment terms with the tenant and could, if payment is not made, summons the former tenant to Court to get an Order for payment
The local authority deals with tenants who are in rent arrears by arranging mutual repayment of arrears by instalments. If the arrears continue to rise the local authority may take the tenant to court.
The right to buy scheme allows a secure tenant who has held a local authority tenancy for two years to purchase their property at a discounted price.