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Introduction

This is the garage allocations and the void policy for Stevenage Borough Council through which the Council makes garages available to rent for both its housing tenants and local residents.

The overall aim of this policy is to ensure that Stevenage Borough Council garages are allocated fairly and efficiently to maximise income, ensure garages remain occupied and void rates remain low.

Applying

Applications can be submitted online via the Stevenage Borough Council website.

Anyone over 18 years of age can apply to rent a garage in Stevenage. Priority will be given to vehicle owners who live in Stevenage and do not already occupy a garage.

All applications will be subject to a financial credit check using Experian and internal records available will be checked to ensure balances are cleared, this includes Council Tax, Housing rent accounts and former garage rent accounts.

If an applicant is found that they have outstanding arrears, they will be contacted in connection with the outstanding payment and their application will be deferred until the debt has been cleared. In these circumstances garage applications will be withdrawn and cancelled at the Council’s discretion.

The applicant must state if they are applying to use the garage for their vehicle or for Storage. Investigations may be carried out if it is identified that garages are being misused for the stated purpose on the application form.

Garages for Storage purposes will be offered in areas of low demand and may be subject to a transfer at a later point should that area become high demand.

There is no limit of the number of garages you can apply for or the number of garages you can rent providing that your existing garage rent accounts are kept up date with the required payments. However in High Demand areas 1st applicants and applications for vehicles will take priority.

Applications received by Voluntary Groups or Charities with be allocated a garage within a low demand area in line with our Voluntary Organisations Policy.

Non Council tenants will be liable to pay the VAT on the garage rent. This is not set by Stevenage Borough Council but by Customs and Excise.

Garage rents are subject to a rent increase every April and garage tenants will be notified each February relating to the new rents to be applied.

The last garage application update was carried out during 2020 and will be carried out on a yearly basis. Anyone that does not respond to the update, within the date stated will be removed from the waiting list.

Garages will normally be allocated in date order from the waiting list but the Council reserves the right to give priority to anyone with limited walking ability and who is registered disabled.

Waiting list

The Council operate a garage waiting list and anyone over the age of 18 years of age can apply and be placed on the waiting list if their immediate requirements are unable to be met.

Garage applications will be prioritised on a date of application basis and an available garage will be offered to the next person on the waiting list for that area.

Garages will normally be allocated in date order from the waiting list however the Council reserve the right give priority to anyone who is registered disabled upon providing evidence of a blue badge.

In exceptional circumstances a case will be reviewed and judged on its own The overall decision will be undertaken by the Garages Manager.

Applications from applicants who have an active application can bid under the garage choice based lettings scheme and will be considered to fall within one of the below bands once the application is submitted.

 Description of the 6 garage bands

Band Description Notes
Band 1 Disabled Applicant is registered disabled and will take top priority after a 6 month wait on the waiting list
Band 2 1st Garage Vehicle Applicant is applying for their 1st garage for a vehicle
Band 3 1st Garage Storage Applicant is applying for their 1st garage for storage
Band 4 Additional Garage for Storage/ Additional Garage for Vehicle Applicant currently rents a garage and is applying for at least their 2nd garage
Band 5 Transfer Applicant rents a garage and would to transfer to an alternative location
Band 6 Commercial application Applicant is applying for a commercial garage in a business name. Commercial waiting list is separate to residential waiting list

Garage offers

Garage tenancies will be granted in the sole name of the applicant, subject to the applicant being over 18 years of age.

Garage offers are sent primarily via email or by letter if applicant does not have an email address. The applicant must sign the offer to say they accept the garage terms and conditions by which the garage has been offered.

Keys can be collected from the Councils Customers Service and 2 weeks garage rent (as stated on the offer letter), will be required before the keys are released.

The offer will be available for 2 weeks from date of issue. The offer will be withdrawn after this time if not accepted and will offered to the next applicant on the waiting list.

Rent accounts

Upon acceptance of a garage offer the garage tenant will be provided with a garage rent account and an 8 digit payment reference number unique to their account.

The garage rent will be charged to the account every Monday and the rent will be expected to be paid by the Sunday of that week and charged across 52 weeks of the financial year. The Councils preferred method of payment is by direct debit and we encourage all garage tenants to have their garage rent account paid by one months’ rent in advance.

The escalation policy will come into effect if an account defaults on payments and a Notice to Quit will be issued if an account owes more than 4 weeks garage rent.

Repossession of garages will be carried out if a tenant continuously defaults on the payment of the garage and the tenant will incur additional costs including a gain entry and lock change and removal of items from the garage.

Online customer account are accessible for all Garage tenants which enables them to view their balance, update contact details and view repairs.

The Data Protection Act will be adhered to and accounts will only be discussed with a third party if prior written permission is provided by the garage tenant.

Moving out of the area

If the move is within a one-mile radius of the garage no action will be taken providing that full details of the new address are given providing that garage is in a low demand area.

In all other cases where the move is either within or outside of Stevenage the following will apply:

High Demand Garage Areas

The tenancy will be terminated and the tenant offered an alternative garage in an area of low demand.

Low Demand Garage Areas

The tenant will be permitted to retain the garage provided that they give full details of their new address.

Terminations

Tenants who wish to end their garage tenancy can do so via the Councils website by completing an online termination form (letters/emails can also be accepted), however we cannot accept a termination notice over the phone. A full weeks’ notice is required to end a garage tenancy and will end on the following Sunday from the date termination notice is received.

Keys must be returned to the Councils Customer Service centre on the Monday stated in the termination acknowledgement the tenant receives. A key receipt must be obtained to ensure proof that the keys have been returned and we advise all tenants not to send them via post as the tenant will be subject to a lock change charge should they go missing.

The tenant will be liable for a gain entry and lock change charge if garages keys are lost or they do not return all the keys they have signed for at the start of their tenancy.

The garage must be left in a clean and tidy condition and any items found left inside of the garage upon the termination inspection will be disposed of and costs incurred will be passed on to the vacating tenant.

A garage account cannot be ended until such time that the garage keys are returned back to Stevenage Borough Council.

Former tenants

All debts following termination of a garage tenancy will be pursued and recovered.

Debts will be pursued by the Councils Legal Team for recovery where necessary.

Death of tenants

Upon the death of a garage tenant the garage tenancy can be transferred, as a first but not as a second garage, to a spouse, or to a partner (subject to documented proof of an established relationship in the 6-month period immediately preceding the death of the garage tenant).

In areas of low demand, at the Council’s discretion, a garage can be transferred to a spouse or partner as a first or second garage.

Transfers

The garage tenant must have a clear rent account before a transfer can be granted.

The garage tenant must complete an application form to transfer.

The tenant will have one week’s grace period to transfer all belongings between garages. Rent will be charged for 2 garages if the tenant exceeds this limit.

Mutual exchanges

The Council no longer accept any requests for a mutual exchange. A garage tenant will need to complete an application form for the desired garage and placed on waiting list accordingly.

Repairs

All repairs to a garage are organised and carried out by contractors of Stevenage Borough Council. The cost is covered by Stevenage Borough Council in the exception of whereby keys are lost and a lock change is required or that it is found that intentional damage has been caused to the garage.

All garage repairs can be reported online via the Stevenage Borough Council’s website or reporting via the Customer Service Centre.

Garage sale requests

A garage tenant can submit their request to purchase the garage after they have held the garage tenancy for a period of 5 years

The garage must satisfy one of the following criteria:

  • The garage is the only remaining garage owned by the Council in a block of garages.
  • The garage is one of a pair of garages, the second of the pair having been sold already.
  • The garage is a single, standalone garage and is not attached to Council property.

Voids

The aim of the Garage Service is to reduce the number of garage voids within their stock and maximise the income for Stevenage Borough Council.

Once a garage becomes void and the existing garage account has been finalised and terminated the garage keys will be passed to the Garage Lettings and Technical Support Officer for re-letting.

The garage is inspected upon termination to ensure that all items have been removed the garage by the previous tenant and that the garage is fit for re-letting.

The garage address is checked to see if the Council have an asbestos survey for the garage, if so the garage can be offered and the survey report provided with the offer. Otherwise the Council will instruct our asbestos surveyor to complete a survey.

Any noticeable repairs e.g. lock changes, water leaks will be address at the time of inspection providing that the garage can be re-let immediately.

The waiting list will be reviewed for that particular garage and the applicant at the top of the waiting list will be contacted, subject to the financial credit checks, and an offer letter will be produced and sent offering that applicant the garage.

If the offer is not accepted or contact is received then the offer will be withdrawn and the garage will be offered to the next person on the waiting list and so forth.

A pre-let inspection will be carried out if a period of six week has lapsed since the termination inspection to again ensure that the garage is fit for purpose and for letting.

The Council aim to turn around garages in high demand area within 2 weeks following termination.

The Council have a stock of the garage void keys and only one set of garage keys per garage. All garage keys are issued to the garage tenant at the start of their garage tenancy and the Council do not keep a master key or spare set of garage keys for any of its garages.

Void garages are only inspected prior to letting as there is not sufficient capacity to regularly inspect all of the void garages.