Like all housing associations, RHA is regulated by Welsh Government.

In October 2023, Welsh Government wrote to us to tell us how much we can increase our rents. You will soon receive a ‘notice of rent change 2024-2025’ letter in the post from us, this will include confirmation of service charges (if you pay them). Plus we have included support and advice information which is available to you and your families.
Following a rise in attacks caused by XL Bully dog breeds across England and Wales, the government has added this breed to the list of dogs banned under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991. RHA Wales is encouraging its tenants who own XL Bully dogs to get their animals registered for exemption ahead of the January 31st 2024 deadline.

We know this can be worrying and upsetting time for owners whose dogs are affected by this legislation. As a landlord we have no intention of banning XL Bullies or acting against tenants solely based on owning such dogs. However, we do have a duty to inform and remind tenants of the new laws coming into effect and to ensure that dogs do not cause a nuisance to neighbours.

WHAT IS AN XL BULLY DOG?

A suspected XL Bully breed type does not need to fit the physical description perfectly. The general impression is a large dog with a muscular body and blocky head, suggesting strength and power for its size. If your dog meets the minimum height measurements and a substantial number of the characteristics outlined in the link below, it could be considered an XL Bully breed type. This includes:

  • If it was not sold as an XL Bully
  • Cross breeds that look more like XL Bully dogs than any other type of dog

Please see the Governments website for more information: Check if a dog is an XL Bully – GOV.UK (gov.uk)

 

IS IT ILLEGAL FOR ME TO OWN AN XL BULLY DOG?

As of 31st December 2023, it is now illegal to sell, breed or give away an XL Bully dog, prohibited under the Dangerous Dog Act. Owners have until the 31st of January 2024 to exempt their dogs they suspect of being a XL Bully under the Government process or ensuring they are humanely euthanised.

It’s important to know that from 31 December 2023, XL Bully dogs must wear a muzzle and be kept on a lead when in a public place. It’s important to introduce your dog to a muzzle gradually and positively. There’s some really good guidance on how to do this from our friends at the Blue Cross. Click here: Blue Cross muzzle training advice.

 

KEY DATES FOR XL BULLY BREED LEGISLATION: 
  • 31 October 2023 — the Government announced that the American Bully XL type dog had been added to the banned breeds list in England and Wales.
  • 31 December 2023 — it became illegal to breed, sell, advertise, rehome, abandon or allow an American Bully XL type dog to stray.
  • 15 January 2024 — deadline to apply for a Certificate of Exemption by post.
  • 31 January 2024 — deadline to apply for a Certificate of Exemption online (12 noon).
  • 1 February 2024 — it will become illegal to own an XL bully type dog if you are not registered on the Index of Exempted dogs. Owners must also have third party public liability insurance in place, and dogs must be microchipped and neutered (unless they’re too young, see other dates below).
  • 31 March 2024 — deadline to have your dog microchipped and give the microchip number to Defra, if your dog was less than eight weeks old when you applied for a Certificate of Exemption.
  • 30 June 2024 — deadline to have your dog neutered and give evidence to Defra, if your dog was more than one year old on 31 January 2024.
  • 31 December 2024 — deadline to have your dog neutered and give evidence to Defra, if your dog was less than one year old on 31 January 2024.

 

HOW CAN I APPLY FOR AN EXEMPTION? 

You can now apply for a Certificate of Exemption to legally keep your dog and information about how to do this is on Government website. You will have until the end of February to do this. Owners will have to pay an application fee of £92.40.

As part of the process to exempt your dog, you will also need third-party liability insurance, this is insurance against your dog injuring other people and this is provided through Dogs Trust. Take a look at their website, click here: Companion Club | Dogs Trust.

  • Your dog must be microchipped (which is already a legal requirement).
  • Your dog will also need to be neutered.
  • If your dog is less than one year old on 31 January 2024, they must be neutered by 31 December 2024.
  • If your dog is older than one year old on 31 January 2024, they must be neutered by 30 June 2024.

We recommend that you arrange for your dog to be neutered as soon as possible to ensure that you meet these deadlines. Once your dog has been exempted you must adhere to the conditions otherwise you could be committing a criminal offence, and your dog could be seized. You must be able to show the Certificate of Exemption when asked by a police officer or a council dog warden either at the time or within 5 days.

RHA Wales will also need to have a copy of your Certificate of Exemption, if you are keeping your dog in one of our homes and we will be amending our Pet’s Policy to take account of these legislative changes.

At RHA we are committed to listening to and hearing the views of each one of our tenants on all the services we provide.

 

Each year, we carry out a STAR survey, where we ask for your feedback which helps us to make improvements and ensure tour support, activities and services meet your needs.

We know we may not always get things right, so our tenant commitment is to listen and learn from your experience and feedback. We are working with an independent company called Acuity Research to carry out this survey on our behalf.

  • You can complete the paper survey and return it using the enclosed freepost envelope
  • Complete the survey online at starsurveys.co.uk/rha using your personal code sent to you
  • Or take the survey by phone, please call: 01273 287114

All our tenants will soon receive a phone call, letter, text or email and there is a prize draw for a £100 shopping voucher and 4 runner up prizes of £50 shopping vouchers. And by simply completing the survey you will be included in our free prize draw to win Love 2 Shop vouchers – just in time for the (dare we say it!) festive season!

Below you can see what you fed back to us on our last all tenant survey, and how we made improvements:

As a responsible landlord, we balance the needs of our tenants whilst improving our natural environment. Our TENANT COMMITMENT promises to listen to tenants views and plan our services to make improvements that meet their priorities.

Colleagues from our Sustainable Tenancies Team spent the day with our tenants of Ty Bethania in Treorchy as we understood that fly tipping what an issue and we could help them improve the outdoor space.  We took the opportunity to give their garden a clean up, decluttered and got everyone involved whilst chatting about our other services.
Community clean-ups are a great way of disposing of non-household rubbish and ensuring they can feel proud of where they live and enjoy outdoor spaces. We worked together to take action to improve their environment, learn more about recyling and created meaningful change.

We had such a warm welcome and tenants helped us load up the skip and got the opportunity to declutter some of their unwanted (non-recyclable) items. Working together we made such a difference to their outside space.  Gone was all the unwanted clutter and rubbish from their garden and surrounding paved areas and now its back to its warm welcoming and usable space for the tenants to enjoy.

Renting Homes Act (Wales) – Converted Contracts

The Renting Homes Act changes the way all landlords rent their homes to improve how we provide, manage, and live in rented homes in Wales. The new law was applied from 1st December 2022 and affects all landlords and tenants in Wales.

This new law introduced many changes to tenancy laws and will apply to both social landlords and the private rented sector. It simplifies and improves your rights as a tenant, and it improves how some landlords manage rented homes in Wales. One of the biggest changes was the introduction of a new ‘Occupation Contract’ which all landlords must issue in place of the old ‘Tenancy Agreement’. So, if you became a tenant with us after 1st December 2022, you will have signed an Occupation Contract as the ‘Contract Holder’ of your new home. For all tenants prior to the act coming into force, you will shortly receive a new contract, which replaces your old Tenancy Agreement and are automatically ‘converted’ over to the new Occupation Contract.
  • The changes have no effect on your rent and will not cost you any money.
  • You will receive your new Converted Contract in the post, with a covering letter and information shortly.
  • You do not need to sign or return the contract to us, simply keep it in a safe place.

 

Some changes RHA Wales tenants can expect:

  • It’s clearer what RHA Wales is responsible for maintaining (e.g., kitchen units) and what you are responsible for (e.g., replacing light bulbs)
  • It removes the restriction on parking commercial vehicles on drives or in car parks and adds a restriction on parking very large vehicles (commercial or otherwise)
  • It increases building safety by including that RHA Wales conducts electrical safety checks every five years and for access to be provided for this
  • It’s also clearer which alterations you need permission for before doing them
  • You will become known as a ‘contract holder’ and will be issued with an ‘Occupation Contract’ (this used to be called a Tenancy Agreement) by 1st June 2023
  • For Joint contract holders you can ask us to add someone to your contract who you want to live with. You don’t have to start a new contract to request this
  • Succession rights: In some circumstances, you can pass your home onto other people to continue living in. For example, you can ask for your home to be passed onto your partner

Where can you find more information and what you need to do?

To find out more about the new legislation and the impact it will have on both tenants and landlords, have a look at the Welsh Government’s website: Welsh Government – Renting Homes Act (Wales)

Or take a look at the Welsh Government’s Easy Read guide for tenants which is available here: Easy Read Leaflet

We are sending new contracts to all customers between December 2022 and June 2023. You don’t need to do a thing, no need to sign the contract or return it to us. Just keep it in a safe place.

At RHA we know how important it is to keep connected with our tenants and to understand what their priorities are. As a responsible landlord, we balance this with the needs of the local community. Noticing that litter or fly tipping is a problem is the first step in us taking action to create a cleaner environment.

At the end of April, we visited tenants at our Cyncoed scheme in Ynysbwl with our colleagues from our Sustainable Tenancies and Community Involvement (Get Involved) teams. We were grateful to be supported with a representative from the local authority refuse awareness team who got involved and helped us create meaningful change.
It was a lovely community-based day and a great opportunity to meet tenants who we’d not said ‘hello’ to in person before as they have recently joined us.  It’s been a challenging few years with the pandemic so being able to meet face to face and resume normal in person connections with tenants and their housing officers is never underestimated and so important. Taking part in a small community or neighbourhood clean-up like this may not sound significant but it makes a big difference. These initiatives not only help us keep the environment safe and clean but also help in reducing pollution and litter. All of these small actions contribute to us all valuing our communities.

We worked on improving their local surroundings, cleaned up communal spaces and provided two large skips which we filled.  We sorted litter and other discarded materials into three categories: landfill, recyclables and composting. All our tenants were encouraged to use the skips for removing any unwanted household items that they were unable to remove themselves or needed help with. It was a great way to get together and declutter communal and personal spaces.

MyRHA – new online tenant portal launches

At RHA we are always trying to improve your experience as a tenant and make life that little bit easier.

That’s why we’ve created MyRHA.

A brand-new online account which tenants log on to via our website. Accessing their account 24 hours a day to report repairs, pay rent, update their information plus so much more. The online account has been designed to make getting in touch a little easier and we hope you find it useful.

Take a look at our helpful video guide and full information HERE

 

Largest stock acquisition in RHA history

We are pleased to announce the acquisition of 272 homes to our portfolio.

The deal represents the largest stock acquisition in RHA’s history and helps with the continued growth strategy of the association. The homes have been purchased from Wales and West Housing Association (WWHA) and are in Rhondda Cynon Taf. Both organisations have been working closely together to complete the transfer process for a number of months.

RHA colleagues have been engaging with tenants to welcome them and ensure they are fully informed of any changes to enable a smooth transition to RHA as their new landlord.

We are delighted to have handed over the new homes at Clos Ewenni (formerly Innovation House) to the new tenants last week.

 

Work on this prominent new housing development in Llanharan was completed in March, with a total of 39 new affordable homes created on this former derelict site. This vibrant community has warmly welcomed our new tenants and they have access to excellent transport links and wonderful range of local amenities in an increasingly popular area.

The new scheme was built to Welsh Government standards and demonstrates our commitment to provide energy efficient affordable homes with our partners at Morganstone who worked on the construction.

The difference a safe and secure home makes to each of our new tenants is immeasurable and we wish them all every happiness as they settle in.

We were delighted to hand over eight new homes in our Cwrt Coed Y Lan scheme in Pontypridd recently. This exciting project gave us the opportunity to transform a former school site into much needed affordable housing, creating new homes and contributing to the heart of the community.

 

The new scheme was built to Welsh Government standards and demonstrates our commitment to provide energy efficient affordable homes. Despite challenges during the pandemic, we worked closely with Weston Contractors to deliver these high-quality homes. We wish all our new tenants every happiness as they settle into their new homes.

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Got a question? Get in touch! [email protected] 01443 424200 CF40 1BE