Communal Areas Policy

PurposeTo ensure our communal areas are well kept, meet all regulatory requirements and area safe and enjoyable place for residents and team members
Applies toStaff and managers in the Housing Services, Customer Experience and Property Services Teams (together “team members”) and residents including tenants, shared owners,
leaseholders and their visitors (together “residents”).
Date first implementedFebruary 2023
AuthorHousing Services Manager
Date approved by Exec TeamJanuary 2023
Review FrequencyEvery 2 Years
Service AreaHousing Services

Document Status: This is a controlled document. Any printed copies of this document are not controlled. As a controlled document, this document should not be saved onto local drives but always accessed from the Policy Library.

Version History

Revision DateVersion No.Revised byApproved by
September 2022Version 1.0Housing Services ManagerSenior Leadership Team

Current Policy Revision

Date revisedSeptember 2022
Revised byHousing Services Manager
Executive approval dateJanuary 2023
Next revision dueSeptember 2024

1. Policy Statement

1.1 Mount Green aims to be an excellent landlord who provides affordable high quality services and homes to all residents. We want to ensure that our shared communal areas are well looked after by Mount Green and our residents so that our neighbourhoods, estates and schemes remain safe, secure, and well-maintained. We are committed to ensuring that our shared communal spaces meet regulatory requirements and provide an enjoyable space for both residents and team members to enjoy.

1.2 At Mount Green, we define our ‘communal areas’ as shared areas of land or property which are owned by Mount Green but do not include the interior of our residents’ properties or private gardens. Communal areas can include
shared internal hallways, stairs and corridors, communal rooms and facilities (including communal loft space and electrical and storage cupboards), shared communal gardens and grounds, external shared walls, bin stores, communal entrances and shared parking areas. In Independent Living schemes communal areas includes shared kitchens, toilets, laundry facilities, guest rooms and communal lounges.

1.3 This policy should be read in line with tenancy and lease agreements.

1.4 This policy seeks to reinforce our strategic aims and support the quality of life for our residents by outlining the respective responsibilities and expectations of both Mount Green, our residents and their visitors.

2. Policy Principles

2.1 At Mount Green, we want our neighbourhoods, estates and schemes to be areas which we can all be proud of. We are therefore committed to working with our residents to ensure that our communal areas are well-maintained and
well-managed. However, we recognise that this responsibility is shared and we expect our residents to be considerate of others and adhere to their tenancy agreement, lease agreement and their responsibilities as outlined in our policies.

2.2 We aim to:

  • Keep our residents safe through the proactive management of health and safety risks in our communal areas
  • Maintain and improve the condition of our neighbourhoods, estates and schemes and therefore the quality of life of our residents
  • Demonstrate value for money in the services delivered in our communities
  • Prevent anti-social behaviour, neighbour disputes and crime
  • Comply with regulatory requirements

2.3 This policy outlines how we will work collaboratively with residents, our contractors and statutory agencies to maintain our estates, schemes and neighbourhoods to a high quality; and meet our mutual responsibilities to
ensure safety and sensible use of our communal areas.

2.4 This policy complies with the following regulations, which apply to the provision of health and safety and accessibility:

  • Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005
  • Housing Act 2004 – Housing Health and Safety Rating System
  • Equality Act 2010
  • Building Safety Act 2022

3. Implementation

3.1 Team Members will be required to read this policy, and to confirm that they have read and understood it.

3.2 Team members will be given training as appropriate.

3.3 This policy will be published on our website so residents can view the policy.

3.4 Changes to this policy will be communicated to our team members and residents, via our communication channels.

4. Other Policies

4.1 This policy should be used in conjunction with the following policies:

  • Aids and Adaptations Policy
  • Antisocial Behaviour Policy
  • Environmental Policy
  • Health & Safety Policy
  • Mobility scooter Policy
  • Neighbourhood Management Policy
  • Pets Policy
  • Recharge Policy
  • Repairs and Maintenance Policy
  • Residents’ Handbook

5. Responsibility

5.1 Managers will ensure team members receive appropriate training in accordance with their role. This includes relevant refresher training and training as part of an induction schedule for new team members.

5.2 Team members are responsible for adhering to this policy and agree to participate in training to ensure they have the skills necessary to do so.

5.3 All team members are responsible for feeding back any improvements that could be made to this policy or problems they have found while trying to implement it.

5.4 Mount Green believes that the effective management of our communal areas is built on the shared responsibilities of Mount Green, our residents and our partners such as our contractors, management companies, local authorities
and other statutory partners, such as Surrey Fire and Rescue.

5.5 Residents’ responsibilities
We ask that our residents respect their neighbourhood, estate or scheme and carry out their responsibilities to keep the community clean, safe and a happy place to live. Residents are generally responsible for:

  • Adhering to the conditions of their tenancy agreement or lease agreement
  • Being a considerate neighbour and not causing any disturbance within their property or the community. Being mindful of any activity which may cause noise, nuisance or any disturbance to their neighbours
  • Seeking the correct written permission for any requests regarding changes to their tenancy or property
  • Reporting any personal or communal repairs quickly
  • Adhering to local agreements regarding the use of communal rooms and facilities where available (e.g. communal lounges, communal laundry facilities)
  • Allowing access for our contractors and team members
  • Reporting any antisocial behaviour or nuisance

5.6 Residents are also specifically responsible for:

  • Keeping communal areas clean, tidy and free from personal items
  • Disposing of rubbish correctly and considerately; using the correct refuse facilities and recycling responsibly
  • Disposing of large unwanted items and furniture by using local recycling sites/local authority collections
  • Making sure that pets are kept under control and supervised at all times in communal areas in line with our Pets Policy
  • Parking responsibly, considerately and where implemented, using the correct parking permit or car parking allocation
  • Abiding by current No Smoking legislation in all internal communal areas, being considerate of others when smoking in external communal areas and disposing of cigarette butts appropriately

5.7 Mount Green’s responsibilities
As the landlord, Mount Green is responsible for maintaining all communal areas and providing communal services such as estate services and communal lighting for which residents are charged through their service charges. Our
responsibilities include:

  • Ensuring communal and external areas and facilities are adequately serviced, safe, clean and secure
  • Providing relevant information at tenancy sign up about local services such as refuse facilities and recycling
  • Working in partnership to prevent and effectively manage anti-social behaviour and neighbour nuisance
  • Supporting resident initiatives to build good neighbour relationships and a sense of community
  • Delivering improvements to communities as necessary, in consultation with residents
  • Ensuring that we work with residents and other stakeholders to ensure we comply with regulatory requirements
  • Taking enforcement action for breach of tenancy where it is reasonable and proportionate to do so.

6. Policy Detail

6.1 Use of Communal Areas
Use of Communal areas, even those immediately adjacent to a resident’s property, are not an extension of an individual’s property. As such residents should not use these areas for their personal effects or have exclusive use
particularly where access to communal facilities / areas is required by other residents.

6.2 Personal Items in Communal Areas
Mount Green operate a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to any items stored in any internal or external communal areas. Residents must ensure that they keep all communal areas free from their own personal belongings. Items may include
but are not limited to rubbish and items awaiting disposal, furnishings such as mats and flower pots, bicycles, pushchairs, footwear, motorised cycles, scooters and mobility scooters. This ensures that we reduce any health, safety and fire hazards.

6.3 Balconies
Although included within some properties, personal balconies do have an impact on the look and feel of a community. We therefore ask that residents be considerate neighbours, and keep their balconies clean and tidy. We ask that when using their balconies, residents are mindful of their neighbours and residents living below them so as not to cause any damage or nuisance such as when watering plants, smoking etc. The following items are not permitted on balconies:

  • Fairy lights
  • Barbeques
  • Fireworks
  • Combustible screening
  • Outdoor patio heater/ flame pit
  • White goods including fridges, washing machines
  • Flammable items

6.4 Barbeques
Barbeques are not allowed in any communal areas, including but not limited to communal gardens, hallways and car parks, owned by Mount Green.

6.5 Children’s Games and Toys

6.5.1 Whilst we encourage our residents and their children to use and play in communal areas, parents and guardians must take full responsibility for the safety and behaviour of their children. When using the communal areas,
children must be supervised at all times.

6.5.2 Mount Green does not allow play equipment to be used in any communal areas, for example:

  • Trampolines (caged or uncaged)
  • Swings
  • Climbing frames
  • Playhouses
  • Large Paddling pools
  • Inflatable equipment, such as bouncy castles

6.5.3 Small play equipment and outdoor toys, such as small paddling pools, bikes and trikes, can be used within external communal areas if children are supervised. However, they must be removed once they have been used and
stored safely in your home. Toys, including bikes and scooters, left in communal areas may be disposed of.

6.5.4 Residents should exercise caution when considering playing ball games in external communal areas as they can cause damage to property including cars and can encourage children to run into the road risking collision with moving
vehicles. Where ball games are played, a foam or blow-up ball should be considered. Football games should not be played in communal areas.

6.6 Decorations
Decorations must not be erected in any internal or external communal area owned by Mount Green without the permission of the Neighbourhood Officer or Independent Living Support Officer. Decorations, including Christmas lights, will not usually be allowed as they pose a significant health, safety and fire risk.

6.7 Mobility Scooters

6.7.1 We recognise that mobility scooters can enhance independence and quality of life for our residents. However, permission from the Independent Living Support Officer or Neighbourhood Officer must be obtained before a resident
purchases a mobility scooter to ensure there is sufficient space to store it.

This is because the charging of mobility scooters can cause a significant fire risk within the communal area.

6.7.2 Mobility scooters must not be stored in communal areas and should be stored within a residents’ property. We have scooter storage at some of our independent living schemes and the allocation of storage units will take place
on a first-come, first-serve basis. If a scooter store unit is not available in the local community, the Independent Living or Neighbourhood Officer will work with residents to explore a mutually agreed solution in order to store and charge the scooter safely.

6.8 Pet Ownership
Generally, permission for a dog or cat will only be given if there is direct access to a private and enclosed garden provided for the sole use of the resident. Whilst we allow residents to keep pets for which they have sought
and gained written permission, all pets must be kept in residents’ personal areas. We do not allow pets to reside or wander in any communal areas and dogs must be kept on a lead and under control when in any communal area on
Mount Green’s land. Residents are responsible for any pet and must ensure that any fouling or mess is cleared. Permission for a pet may be removed in the event that the pet causes any nuisance to others.

6.9 Household Waste Disposal and Recycling

6.9.1 We will work with local authorities to ensure that the correct waste disposal and recycling facilities are provided for our residents. However, we ask that residents dispose of their rubbish in a considerate manner, ensuring that the
bin areas are kept tidy. Residents must dispose of their rubbish in the correct bins so as not to contaminate the bins, which could result in bins not being emptied.

6.9.2 Residents must not dump bulk items or fly tip on Mount Green land. Where it is reasonable and proportionate to do so, we will take action against residents who dump waste or fly tip. We will recharge the costs of removal to the
resident wherever possible

6.10 Vehicles and Parking

6.10.1We understand that our residents require vehicles to live and work and our aim is to maintain and allow access for residents, visitors and service providers. Where neighbour disputes arise as a result of a disagreement about
parking, and where there is no clear breach of tenancy, we will encourage residents to participate in mediation to resolve these issues.

6.10.2 We will clearly identify parking rights at sign up and through tenancies, leases and management agreements. Where we own the land, we will maintain parking bays and where required, we may establish community agreements
and explore parking management schemes such as UKCPM.

6.10.3 All vehicles, including motorbikes, should be parked in a car park space or a designated garage.

6.10.4 We do not allow the following on Mount Green land and notices will be served or tenancy action taken on any vehicles that fall into the below category:

  • Abandoned vehicles
  • Untaxed vehicles
  • Commercial vehicles (weighing 3.5 tonnes or more)
  • Vehicles in a state of disrepair
  • Vehicles that block access
  • Vehicles with a SORN (Statutory Off Road Notification) statement
  • Vehicles that are parked inconsiderately

6.10.5 Any abandoned vehicles, this may include those which are untaxed, on Mount Green land may be moved by a third-party following notice being served. The cost of this removal will be recharged to the resident/s responsible.

6.11 Commercial Vehicles
We encourage our residents to work and seek employment and we allow light commercial vehicles to be parked considerately on Mount Green land. However, we reserve the right to ask residents to remove commercial
vehicles where they have a visual impact on the local community.

6.12 Communal Services and Environmental Issues

6.12.1 Communal Lighting
Mount Green is responsible for maintaining lighting facilities in communal areas and the costs of providing these services is included within your service charge. However, we rely on residents to report any faults or issues to Mount
Green as soon as possible so that we can deliver an effective and responsive service.

6.12.2 Communal Utilities
Where Mount Green is responsible for any communal utilities for which residents are recharged, such as electricity; we will always seek value for money.

6.12.3 Fire Equipment
Where there is fire equipment in a communal area, such as communal smoke alarms, Mount Green is responsible for maintaining and servicing these. The cost of this service is included within your service charge. We also ask that
residents do not interfere with or obstruct any fire equipment, including fire doors. Fire doors must never be wedged open.

6.12.4 Communal Furniture
Where communal furniture is provided, for example in communal lounges, Mount Green will recharge the cost of maintaining and replacing furniture to residents through their service charges. Communal furniture will be cleaned in
line with our Estate Service Standards.

6.12.4 Personal Satellite Dishes and Aerials
We do not normally allow personal satellite dishes to be installed on communal blocks. If a resident would like to install a personal satellite dish, they must request permission from Mount Green in writing before any works
take place. We cannot guarantee that permission will be granted as a result of planning constraints and residents are responsible for seeking any required planning permission.

6.12.5 Communal Pest Control
We will ensure that if any pest issues arise within our communal areas, we will work with our contractors to solve the issue. Residents are responsible for pest control within their own home or the private areas of a property. Where
we employ pest control for an area that is a resident’s responsibility, we will seek to recharge them.

6.12.6 Vandalism and Graffiti
We expect our residents to treat their home and their neighbourhood with respect. If a resident (or their visitor) is found to have vandalised (including graffiti) a communal area owned by Mount Green, we will investigate the
issue and may take tenancy enforcement and/or seek legal action. Any costs incurred by Mount Green for works to repair or rectify any damage will be recharged to the resident responsible.

6.12.7 CCTV
We do not generally use CCTV within our estates or schemes, however a number of sheltered housing schemes do have CCTV systems and door cameras as a part of their telecare system. We do not allow residents to erect
CCTV in any communal areas, we reserve the right to request the installation of CCTV in our communal areas if required in light of antisocial behaviour. Residents wishing to install their own private CCTV or video doorbell must
not do so without obtaining prior permission from Mount Green.

6.13 Estate Services
6.13.1 Our Estate Services include the cleaning and grounds maintenance (gardening and external cleaning) of all internal and external communal areas owned by Mount Green.

6.13.2 Internal communal areas include all communal areas, amenities and rooms (where applicable) in your neighbourhood or scheme such as corridors, hallways, communal rooms, laundry rooms, communal toilets, kitchens, guest rooms and communal furniture.

6.13.3 External communal areas include all external communal land owned by Mount Green such as communal grass areas, beds, borders, hedges, parking areas, roads and paths. Where these external areas are not owned by Mount Green, we will liaise with the owners if necessary (for example as local authorities, management companies).

6.13. 4 Estate Services are paid for from residents’ service charge and these services are normally delivered by our contractors. On some schemes, our services may be provided by an independent management company.

6.14 Trees

6.14.1 We will complete a cyclical tree surgery program to maintain our communal trees in the communities.

6.14.2 Residents are responsible for any trees in their own garden and must ensure that they do not impact upon any communal areas or their neighbours by maintaining and pruning them regularly. Works must be carried out to a
satisfactory standard and must comply with any planning requirements for example, in the case of Tree Preservation Orders. If residents have difficulty in doing this, they must speak to their Neighbourhood or Independent Living
Officer.

6.14.3 Residents should not plant trees in their own individual garden without written permission from Mount Green.

6.14.4 Residents should not remove trees without written permission from Mount Green.

6.15 Estate Inspections
Residents will be invited to quarterly estate inspections in their local area to allow residents and team members to work together to evaluate and monitor our services against our agreed standards. Estate Inspections will also be used
to identify issues which need to be raised with a third party (e.g. local authorities). Dates are advertised on our website and on estate notice boards.

6.16 Gritting
We do not clear any snow or ice in our communal areas or grit our communal areas. However, we may supply grit bins for some of our neighbourhoods and schemes which is service chargeable. If a community wishes Mount Green to
supply a gritting service for which they will be charged, we will employ a contractor to fulfil these works and recharge all residents in the community. For more information, please speak to your Neighbourhood Officer.

6.17 Communal Repairs and Maintenance
We are responsible for maintaining, repairing and servicing the internal and external communal areas of your property, including most communal facilities such as lighting, intercoms, door entry systems and communal white goods.

Mount Green are also responsible for cyclical maintenance (such as decoration of communal areas) and carrying out any safety checks and testing in your communal areas.

6.18 Road Maintenance
Where we own the road, we will ensure that the road is maintained so as not to cause any damage to vehicles. If we do not own the road, we will work with residents to request repair works to the relevant authority.

6.19 Aids and Adaptations
If there are aids and adaptations in communal areas, such as stair lifts, all residents who use these areas may be charged for the maintenance and servicing of these facilities through their service charge. For more information, please see our Aids and Adaptations Policy.

6.20 Enforcement

6.20.1 Mount Green operate a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to any items stored in any internal or external communal areas. Residents must ensure that they keep all communal areas free from their own personal belongings. This ensures that we reduce any health, safety and fire hazards.

6.20.2 Any item found to be in the communal areas on inspection, will be stickered with a timescale of seven calendar days for removal. Should the item(s) remain in the communal area after this date, then it will be removed and disposed of.

6.20.3 Where the owner can be identified, Mount Green will take action against residents who dump waste or fly tip and recharge the cost of removal and disposal to the resident.

6.20.4 Where Mount Green must undertake work which is a resident’s responsibility or rectify any damage caused by a resident or their visitors, such as the removal or disposal of personal items found in communal areas or any vandalism/damage to Mount Green property, we will seek to recharge the resident responsible following

7. Monitoring

7.1 This policy will be reviewed in response to any changes made by the Government which govern how social landlords are required to maintain shared communal areas.

7.2 If a resident feels that a team member has not complied with this policy, they should raise their concern with the Housing Services Manager who will undertake an investigation.

7.3 If a resident feels that a resident, their visitor or a stakeholder has not complied with this policy, they should raise their concern with the Neighbourhood Officer who will undertake an investigation.

8. Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion

8.1 For Mount Green, diversity is about respecting people’s individual differences and ensuring that all people that come into contact with us have access to the same high standards of behaviour and service.

8.2 We are committed to ensuring that no resident will be treated less favourably because of their age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion and belief, sex or sexual
orientation.