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Tenants Passport Scheme

Tenants Passport Scheme

An explanation of the Barrow-in-Furness Tenants' Passport Scheme

***Please note that the Tenants' Passport Scheme is currently suspended until further notice***

Barrow Community Safety Partnership is working with landlords and tenants in South Cumbria's private rented sector to reduce crime and improve public safety and standards.

About this Scheme

Most landlords and tenants behave responsibly. However, some do not and anti-social behaviour can cause nuisance for neighbours, damage to property and an increase in crime and the fear of crime.

Barrow Community Safety Partnership wants to help private landlords to make informed choices about their prospective tenants.  In addition to advising landlords to seek references before letting, this project enables tenants to demonstrate their suitability for inclusion into the Scheme. It is aimed at improving choices and encouraging responsible letting for all landlords and tenants.

This service is offered free of charge to all landlords, letting agents and tenants in Barrow-in-Furness.  Anyone who is asked to pay a fee as a consequence of making an application is advised to seek clarification for that charge before filling in the application form.  Anyone making a charge must make it clear in advance.

If you need assistance in another language the following organisation may be able to help you:-

People First Cumbria

12 Duke Street

Barrow-in-Furness

LA14 1LF

Tel: (01229) 811278

Email: south@peoplefirstcumbria.co.uk

 

How the Tenants' Passport Scheme Works

Checks are made at the request of ether the prospective landlord or tenant and ONLY with the informed consent of the tenant on an 'informed consent form'.  This form will be passed to Cumbria Constabulary and the Deposit Guarantee Scheme (DiGS) via Barrow Borough Council.  All agencies aim to respond within 7 working days of receiving a full application. These agencies will look for relevant criminal convictions or anti social/poor tenant-like behaviour and any relevant Housing Benefit issues against the following criteria:-

  • Drug supply offences
  • Serious sexual offences
  • Racism
  • Offences that have a serious affect on the community or behaviour that has resulted in valid nuisance complaints received by Barrow Borough Council or a conviction or caution for criminal damage.
  • Current Housing Benefit overpayments, and whether or not they can be cleared within 8 weeks, calculated at the standard rate.
  • Whether previous conduct under DiGS would prevent future access to DiGS.

Applicants should note that not all criminal convictions will result in membership being refused.

Barrow Borough Council and Cumbria Constabulary will assess the application against the above criteria. We will also take into account the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 and where appropriate the procedures relating to Monitored Membership. Applicants and landlords will be notified of the type of membership awarded as per the table below.

Except in the case of a Monitored Membership application, assessments will rely only on the information available on the application form at the time it is made.  No guarantee will be made about the future behaviour of the potential tenant(s) or of their future suitability for the Scheme, nor their family or visitors or about any future damage or rent arrears or other debt.  In accepting the assessment, no one will make any claim against Cumbria Constabulary, Barrow Borough Council, DiGS or their agents in respect of any loss arising through negligence.

 

What Information will be disclosed?

Following checks based on the information given on the Informed Consent Form, Cumbria Constabulary and Barrow Borough Council will provide information, which will simply state the results of the application as indicated in the first column below.

 

Information given to applicant and prospective landlord What this means Passport Type
18 month membership

The applicant and/or dependants have no relevant criminal or other relevant convictions or records relative to housing which would make them unsuitable for the Scheme.

 

Target response time 7 working days.
Full passport initially for 18 months.  Extended for subsequent periods of 2 and 5 years on renewal (subject to any change in criminal or other records relevant to the Scheme) at the time of application.
6 month membership

The applicant and/or dependants have a record, which would technically disqualify them from the Scheme but is of a minor or historical nature.  This category includes Housing Benefit over payments, which can be cleared within 8 weeks (calculated at the standard rate) and which will affect future housing benefit entitlement and some convictions for theft/dishonesty.

 

Target response time 7 working days.
Passport for 6 months.  During this period the Police, landlord and Barrow Borough Council will be in close liaison.  This can be upgraded to full membership if no issues relevant to the Scheme arise within the 6-month period.
Not suitable for membership

Relevant criminal or other relevant records disqualify the applicant and/or dependants from joining the Scheme.  This includes Housing Benefit over payments, which cannot be cleared within 8 weeks  and which will affect future housing benefit entitlement.  Also circumstances where DiGS is not available to the applicant due to damage or non-payment following damage.

 

Occupational use of a property where a Closure Order has been made under the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003.

 

Target response time 7 working days.
No passport issued.  The applicant will be asked to consider monitored membership.  Please see below.
Deferred membership The applicant is under investigation for matters, which would result in a 'not suitable' reply if found to be guilty of an offence or who has been cautioned by the Police. Deferred Passport to be reviewed where the results of the investigation are known, and depending on the result, will be re-issued in the appropriate classification described above.
Monitored membership

The applicant would not normally be considered suitable to join the Scheme but the Police and the Council agree Monitored Membership will be available subject to the conditions of this part of the Scheme.

Response time likely to be in excess of 7 working days.

Monitored passport issued for a period of up to 6 months.


 

Those who are considered suitable for either 6 or 18 month or monitored passport and provide a photograph will be given a membership card with the stated expiry date.   The tenant does not have to keep repeating checks every time they move home and only need to renew the membership when the card expires. Applicants wishing to renew membership should do so one month before expiry.

Tenants may have their membership reduced or may lose their entitlement to membership if subsequent behaviour places them or their dependants in a situation where they are considered to be unsuitable for inclusion or are reclassified as described in the table.  If this occurs, the Council will attempt to contact the passport holder to resolve the situation which could otherwise lead to loss of or reduction of membership.  With your permission we may refer you to an appropriate advice agency if you need assistance.

The decision to allocate a tenancy of any type and term will be at the sole discretion of the landlord. Neither Cumbria Constabulary, Barrow Borough Council or DiGS will make any decision or recommendation about the allocation or otherwise of any tenancy.

 

Monitored Membership

Applicants who are not eligible for membership due to their criminal records may still be eligible to join the Scheme subject to the following criteria:-

  • The applicant is a member of, and positively engaging with, a recognised rehabilitation scheme 
  • The applicant is not engaged with a recognised rehabilitation scheme, but is considered suitable for membership

Suitability for Monitored Membership will take into account:

  • Reduced offending behaviour;
  • Current intelligence;
  • Work/training record;
  • History whilst in prison (where applicable);
  • Contact with Probation Service following release (where applicable);
  • Availability of suitable support;
  • Where an applicant is released from prison on licence and the licence conditions include suitable criteria which govern the management of the tenancy and address the applicant's offending history.

Membership will be considered by Barrow Police and Barrow Borough Council who will consult with any other relevant agency.  Any decision and conditions will be made clear to the applicant during an interview with Barrow Police and Barrow Council.  It is a condition of membership that the applicant must tell the Police and the Council of any change in circumstances including any change of address.

The membership will be monitored through the rehabilitation scheme, licence conditions, landlord's tenancy conditions and/or Police or other intelligence (as appropriate).

Membership will be withdrawn where:

  • There is a serious failure any rehabilitation scheme;
  • Membership conditions have been breached;
  • There is a recall to prison or conviction/caution for an offence which would normally have denied access to the scheme.

A review of membership may be initiated at any time.  Membership and renewal will be for any period up to 6 months.  When the Police and Barrow Borough Council are satisfied of an applicant's suitability a Full Membership may be granted.

 

Confidentiality

Except in the case of Monitored Membership, only Cumbria Constabulary will have access to any criminal records about an individual and no other person will be informed about any prospective tenant's criminal record.  In the case of Monitored Membership, any exchange of information will be with the consent of the applicant.

A similar situation will apply to any record held by the Barrow Borough Council and DiGS.  In addition, Police and Barrow Borough Council checks will be restricted to a limited number of nominated officers to ensure consistent and fair management of the Scheme.  All applications and their results will be entered onto a database that is registered under the Data Protection Act 1998.  This Scheme has been examined by Cumbria Constabulary and Barrow Borough Council Legal Services and is consistent with the Human Rights Act 1998 and Data Protection Act 1998 in all regards.

 

Other References

Landlords should remember that responses under this Scheme are limited to information which is available, and may not therefore be based on a full history of the applicant.  In particular, although police records are national, Council records (Housing Benefit and noise and other forms of anti social behaviour) are only available on addresses in the Barrow-in-Furness Council Area.  DiGS records relate only to Cumbria.  Landlords are advised to use the Scheme to supplement other information it is reasonable to seek before letting e.g. references from a previous landlord, credit checks.

 

What happens if I am asked to join?

It is more likely tenants will be asked to join when they are about to start a new tenancy. This is a voluntary Scheme and no one can force anyone to participate.  Before signing the informed consent form, tenants should ensure they have read and understood the notes above and any questions can be addressed to the Environmental Health Department at the address shown below.

In particular, both tenants and landlords should be clear about the type of checks being made and the limited details which will be passed on.

Prospective landlords may ask a prospective tenant about an assessment. It is the tenant's decision whether or not to discuss records in detail.

 

The Application Form

Download the Tenants' Passport Scheme Application Form and booklet here.

Please make sure the forms are completed in full.  Those which are not will take longer to deal with.

If you fail to complete the form correctly, you will be contacted requesting more information.  If we do not receive this information within 28 days, your application will be destroyed and you will need to go through the process again.

The application form is provided at the end of the booklet.  Please detach the form and deliver or post to the Private HousingEnvironmental Health Department.  Retain the booklet for your own information.

 

What should I do if I am not happy?

If you are concerned about any aspect of the Scheme and want to talk to someone before submitting your application or, if after applying you are not satisfied with the decisions made, you should contact either one of the officers named below.

Any enquires you make will be strictly confidential.

 

Who to Contact

If you have any queries or concerns about the Scheme please contact either: -

 

Private Housing Team,

Barrow Borough Council,

Town Hall,

Duke Street,

Barrow-in-Furness,

LA14 2LD.

Tel: 01229 876543

 

 If you think you may not qualify on the basis of your Housing Benefit overpayment record, and want advice on how to resolve this in a way which will not affect your ability to join please contact:-

 

Liberata UK Ltd.,

 Lake House,

 Phoenix Road,

 Barrow-in-Furness,

 LA14 2UG.

 Tel: 01229 406100

 

If you need general advice on benefit, please contact:-

 

CAB,

 Ramsden Hall,

 Abbey Road,

 Barrow-in-Furness,

 LA14 5QW.

 Tel: 01229 830367

 

Right of Appeal

 If you think the wrong decision has been made under the terms of the Scheme you may ask for your case to be reviewed by a panel which is independent from the officers who made the decision.  If you wish to make an appeal please write to the Chief Environmental Health Officer at the Town hall address shown above within 21 days from the date of the letter informing you of the results of your application.  Nothing in this procedure affects your right to make a complaint under any agency's general complaints procedure.

 

Progress Checking

 

To check on the progress of your application or get help completing your form, please contact:-

 Passport Administrator,

Barrow Borough Council 

Town Hall,

Duke Street,

 Barrow-in-Furness,

 LA14 2LD.

 Tel: 01229 876543