Residents' Handbook


Welcome to Housing 21; for more than 55 years we have been providing affordable housing for older people so, you can feel reassured that we are experts in what we do.

Our core purpose and commitment is to provide high quality housing, with support or care for older people of modest means, enabling them to live well with dignity and autonomy. As well as providing a safe and inclusive environment for residents, we ensure you are involved and empowered in decisions about the services you receive. It is this approach which helped us achieve 89 percent resident satisfaction in the financial year 2022/ 2023.

Our homes are built and maintained to a high standard, designed to meet your needs both now, and in the future whilst ensuring they remain affordable. Outside of the bricks and mortar, we work hard to recruit and retain the best employees, people who share our values and who are dedicated to providing the best possible service to our residents. They are here to help so please do approach them with any questions or queries you may have.

You may also find answers to any frequently asked questions in this Residents’ Handbook which has been designed with you, our residents, in mind as a guide to ensure you get the most out of living with us. Please do remember it is a guide and does not override your tenancy or lease which you should refer to with any specific questions.

We’re always keen to hear feedback so please let us know what you think so we can continue to provide the best possible service today, tomorrow and in the future

- Bruce Moore, Chief Executive

Download the Residents' Handbook

Download the Residents' Handbook (Large Print)

Download the Residents' Handbook (Spanish)


  • Respect and Inclusion at Housing 21

    We all have the right to be treated with dignity and respect which is why we are committed to providing equality of opportunity and fair treatment for all.

    We do our best to make sure that everyone can access our services, including those with different needs and requirements. We are committed to embracing and valuing the diversity of our workforce, customers, volunteers and the communities in which we work and will not tolerate any form of discrimination in line with the Equality Act 2010.

    At Housing 21, we want everyone to be able to be themselves, whether they are a resident, employee, visitor or stakeholder. For that reason, we ask everyone to sign up to our Respect and Inclusion Charter which focuses on four key principles:

    • We treat everyone with dignity and respect
    • We create an environment where everyone can be themselves
    • We seek out diverse perspectives and hear all voices
    • We seek to understand other cultures, practices and experiences

    You can Housing 21 - Respect and Inclusion or by requesting a copy from your manager. If you see, hear or experience any instances of discrimination please speak up to your manager so we can manage it.

  • Living with us

    Living with Housing 21 allows you to live independently but with the added reassurance of an on-site manager and in Extra Care, on-site Care Teams as well. Pets are more than welcome too! You can have friends and family to visit and most of our schemes have guest rooms available to hire.

    Your manager

    Our residents tell us how important it is to them to have a local point of contact so most of our schemes have a manager based on site to provide advice, support and help to make sure things run smoothly.

    The manager will appoint contractors to support the maintenance of the building and grounds on your behalf, and ensure the safety, security and cleanliness of the scheme. When required, they will also:

    • Provide support, whilst respecting your privacy and independence
    • Agree how often they will contact you, ranging from daily to not at all
    • Help in an emergency by contacting professionals or relatives
    • Ensure your file is up-to-date
    • Work with organisations to help meet your needs
    • Encourage social activities
    • Support the Residents’ Association
    • Manage bookings for the guest room and communal areas
    • Manage any on-site employees
    • Support you to access care services if required

    Your manager will let you know of any scheduled time off, such as annual leave, and you may have a relief manager appointed in their absence. 

    Safety and security

    We know how important it is to feel safe at home which is why all of our properties have a 24-hour emergency call system, managed by Appello*.

    In Retirement Living, the system is linked to the on-call Appello Team whilst in Extra Care, you will be connected straight to the on-site Care Team in the first instance or Appello thereafter.

    The call systems in our newer schemes have built-in video door entry system for reassurance so you can see and hear visitors before opening your front door.

    *Residents living in Kent PFI schemes use the Tunstall system

    Secure access

    We want you to feel happy and secure in your home so ask wherever possible, you help to keep your scheme secure by ensuring doors/ gates are closed securely behind you and by not letting strangers or
    visitors through.


    For lots of people, a pet is more than just an  animal; it’s a companion, provides a purpose and is a member of the family. Which is why we pride ourselves on being a pet-friendly organisation where you and your pet –be they furry, feathered or scaly – can stay together.

    If you are looking to bring a pet with you or are considering pet ownership, we must ensure that your welfare and that of other residents, employees, visitors and the animal itself, are prioritised. We therefore ask all current and future
    residents to submit an application form for consideration before bringing any pets onto the scheme. 

    Care provision (Extra Care only)

    If you’re in receipt of care from Housing 21, you can find more information in your individual Care User Guide which is available from your manager.

  • Communal facilities at your scheme

    Now that you’re living with Housing21, you may want to get involved with the local community and enjoy some of the shared amenities on site, including the communal lounge and the gardens. We encourage residents to come up with suggestions for activities; all ideas are welcome!

    Communal facilities 

    You can enjoy the communal facilities at any time yourself, with other residents or with family and friends. Sometimes, the facilities may also be used by members of the local community. Subject to an agreement with your manager, you may be able to use communal spaces for private occasions; if a space is reserved we will let you know in advance. Many of our communal lounges are fitted with a hearing loop to ensure they are accessible to all.

    Grounds and gardens

    Most of our schemes employ a garden maintenance service to keep your grounds looking their best. However, if you would like to do some gardening yourself, speak to your manager to see if you can work on a specific area.

    Social activities

    If you enjoy mixing with other residents, you are encouraged to arrange social events and activities to take place either in the communal areas or off-site. Our activities are open to everyone, so chat to your manager for more information.


    In some of our schemes, Wi-Fi is available in our communal areas but if you would prefer to stay connected at home, you can install your own broadband. Our schemes are fitted with standard BT lines so you will need to contact BT to apply for a line and then upgrade to broadband.

    If you are in receipt of benefits, such as pension credit, you could be entitled to a cheaper broadband plan. Just contact your provider directly or request one of our helpful resident information sheets on how to save money from your manager.


    Most of our schemes offer car parking for residents. We ask you to be considerate of your neighbours by leaving the bays closest to the building for those with mobility issues and if spaces are limited, asking visitors to park elsewhere.

    You can find more information in your Court Service Agreement, which outlines specific protocols and guidance for your scheme.

    Laundry rooms

    Laundry rooms are for exclusive use by residents. Your scheme may have a laundry rota in place which will be on display in the room. Please do not use the laundry for washing pet bedding.

    Communal noise

    We all make noise and it’s important to know the difference between lifestyle noises - such as occasional dogs barking, children playing and household appliances being used - and  inconsiderate noise - such as constantly loud music, intentional door slamming and loud voices late at night.

    No home is totally soundproof so you may hear some noise from your neighbours. We ask everyone, including their visitors, to be considerate of others by:
    • Turning the TV or radio down
    • Wearing headphones
    • Lowering the bass when playing music
    • Closing doors quietly
    • Putting down rugs if you have wooden or laminate floors or choosing carpet or soft vinyl flooring if you are not on the ground floor
    • Not vacuuming late at night or early in the morning
    • Letting your neighbours know when you are going to do any DIY.

    Whilst noise can be annoying, it is not antisocial unless it is excessive or happening regularly at unsociable hours (after 11pm and before 7am is generally considered unsociable).

  • We're listening

    We want to ensure you’re happy living with us and with the services you receive which is why we encourage you to provide feedback and get involved in decisions that affect you and where you live. We want you to be able to suggest ideas to improve service delivery, influence policy and know that you are receiving value for money for the charges you pay.

    We welcome suggestions and comments to help us learn and improve. To ensure everyone has the chance to provide feedback about their experiences at Housing 21, there are regular opportunities for you to engage with us:

    Your manager

    You can speak to, call, write or email your manager at any time.

    Residents’ Association

    We actively encourage our residents to form a Residents’ Association at their scheme to create a collective and democratic voice on issues that matter.

    You can speak to your manager to find out if an association is already in place or for advice on how to form a new one.

    Resident Engagement Group

    There is a national Resident Engagement Group for Extra Care and Retirement Living which focuses on the topics which are most important to you including value for money, housing management and care quality. We also have regional Resident Engagement Groups.

    You can join the groups by completing an application form online.

    Resident information

    There is a specific section for residents on our website where you can find information which may be useful to you.


    We run regular surveys to give you the opportunity to make your views and priorities known. We are also required by the Regulator of Social Housing to undertake an annual resident satisfaction survey using 12 standard Tenant Satisfaction Measures. Our recurring surveys include:

    • Resident satisfaction survey: an annual survey about your overall experience living with us which is published for residents and stakeholders to see
    • Care survey: an annual survey sent to all
      residents in receipt of care from Housing 21
    • Move in survey: a monthly survey sent to a
      sample of residents who have moved into a Housing 21 home in the previous four weeks
    • New development survey: sent to all residents of new schemes six months after they have moved in to assess their level of satisfaction and identify any lessons which can be learnt from new developments
  • Compliments and complaints

    We want to ensure we always provide the best service to you, so we are just as eager to find out about the exceptional service as we are about services which could be improved.

    We want to hear from you about:
    • The quality of our service
    • Experiences with employees
    • Something we’ve done
    • Something we’ve not done

    If you have had a less than satisfactory experience with us, we will always try and resolve the issue informally and as quickly as possible. If you are unsatisfied with the outcome, you can escalate to our two-stage complaint process for further investigation.

    Timeline of complaints activity
    • Report incident by email, phone or in person to your manager
    • Informal complaint acknowledged by your manager
    • Response provided within 10 working days
    • If unsatisfied — escalate to two-stage complaint process
    • Stage one complaint acknowledged by the relevant Regional/ Operational Manager within five working days
    • Response provided in 10 working days from acknowledgement
    • If unsatisfied — escalate to the second stage
    • Stage two complaint acknowledged by the relevant Executive Director within five working days
    • Response provided in 20 working days of acknowledgement
    • If still unsatisfied, report to the relevant  ombudsman

    A copy of our Complaints Policy outlining our approach in detail is available upon request. Contact details for the relevant Ombudsman or Care Quality Commission can be found at the end of the handbook.

  • What do I have to pay for?

    Your new home is part of a wider scheme which offers communal facilities and shared amenities with other residents. As such there are additional charges which cover the maintenance of the  building, communal areas and service delivery.

    • Support charge: contributes towards the cost of your manager and support services such as the hard wiring of the emergency call system.
    • Service charge: contributes towards the cost of the management of the scheme including estate management.
    • Sinking fund: used to offset the cost of any future major repairs. Residents in rented accommodation will pay this monthly. Depending upon the terms of your lease, residents who own or part own their  properties can either pay this monthly through your service charge or defer the payment until the sale of your property.
    • Core support charge (Extra Care only): enables Care Workers to be on site 24 hours a day, seven days a week to deliver a flexible service as and when required. All Extra Care residents pay this either themselves or  through the local authority, regardless of whether they receive care. Speak to your manager for more information.

    As with any property, you will be responsible for Council Tax, TV licence and Wi-Fi. We also recommend you take out contents insurance for personal items in your home.

    Depending upon the terms of your lease, your utility bills (gas, electric, water) maybe covered by your service charge or may have to be paid for separately.

    Additional charges are applicable for care packages and domestic support with household chores.

  • How can I pay my rent?

    There are different ways to make payments ,the easiest way is a Direct Debit.

    Direct Debit

    We prefer you to pay any rent and related charges by Direct Debit. This is the easiest way to manage your account and reduce the risk of falling into arrears.

    Residents who moved in recently will have had a Direct Debit set up during their sign up whilst existing residents can speak to their manager to arrange for it to be set up.

    You can choose to pay either weekly, fortnightly, four-weekly or monthly on a set date. Once set up, you will receive a Direct Debit mandate confirming the payment value and dates; if there are any changes to this, your Direct Debit will update automatically and you will receive a new mandate.

    Bank card

    You can pay with any bank card including MasterCard, Visa, Switch, Solo and Delta. You can pay online using your tenancy number which is on your rent statement. Alternatively, you can pay in person by visiting your manager in the office who will provide you with a receipt for proof of payment.

    Standing order

    If you pay by standing order, you can choose the date your rent payment leaves your account. You will need to put your tenancy number found on your rent statement as your reference. Anytime your rent figure changes you will need to contact the bank to change the standing order.

    Bank transfer

    If you have access to online banking, you can pay be bank transfer (BACS payment) using your tenancy number as reference (found on your rent statement). Housing 21 bank details (for rent) are:
    Sort code: 20-06-05
    Account: 80664332

    Rent payment card
    Residents who were previously issued an Allpay card can still use this to make payments:
    • at any Post Office
    • at shops and garages displaying the PayPoint or Payzone logos
    • by calling 0330 041 6497 (calls charged at national rate)
    • online at

    Allpay is only available to existing card holders; we are not issuing new or replacement cards. Anyone who has misplaced their card will need to speak to their manager to discuss alternative payment options.

    If you are having difficulties paying your rent or any other charges speak to your manager as soon as possible to discuss options for support and payment plans.

  • Repairs

    We carry out most items of maintenance to Housing 21’s property, fixtures and fittings, including decorating and maintaining the communal areas  and exterior of the building.

    The only exception is if damage has occurred because of misuse or neglect by either yourself, your pet or your visitors, in which case those responsible would be required to fund the repair separately.

    Occasionally it may be necessary to undertake major building repairs, such as a roof renewal or a full refurbishment of the scheme. We will ensure you are fully consulted before we do any work and invite your comments regarding specification and choice of contractor.

    For most major works, we will invite the contractor to the scheme in advance to talk about the work involved, how it may affect you and how any disruption will be managed.

    Requesting a repair

    When requesting repairs for issues that Housing 21 is responsible for, in either your home or communal areas, you will need to speak to your manager. If the problem arises when your manager is not available, such as on a weekend, you can find contact details for an alternative manager on your notice board, or report through our call system. To do this, you will need to provide:
    • Your name, address and daytime telephone number
    • Type of repair
    • Details of the issue, including the make/ model of any appliance and size of any leak
    • Location of the repair e.g. in which room
    • When you will be in so we can arrange an  appointment (if the issue is at your home)

    Upgrading/ altering your home

    Regardless of home ownership status, all residents are required to check with their local manager before carrying out any major adaptations or changes.

    Depending upon what is being requested, you may need to complete an alterations and improvements form which will grant permission for any work to be completed.

    Timeline for repairs

    We understand that if there is a problem, you want it resolved as quickly as possible but in order to ensure the most serious issues are addressed first, we have organised repairs into three categories:

    • Emergency: The most serious of issues that we will seek to resolve in 24 hours.
    • Urgent: Important repairs that need to be addressed quickly that we will seek to resolve in seven calendar days.
    • Routine: Issues that need addressing but are less urgent and can be scheduled in.

    We will always forewarn you of any upcoming  repairs and tradespeople will not be allowed to  enter your home if it is empty without your permission, unless in an absolute emergency. If we are unable to meet these timeframes due to circumstances outside of our control, we will keep you informed of progress

    What should I expect of maintenance contractors?

    Maintenance contractors used by Housing 21 are expected follow a code of conduct which includes health and safety standards and acceptable behaviour. The full code is available from your manager. 

    They should:
    • Contact your manager upon arrival
    • Keep appointments and be punctual
    • Never smoke on site
    • Introduce themselves and show identification
    • Be polite, presentable, friendly and professional
    • Be patient
    • Be aware of residents’ cultural needs
    • Respect your home
    • Leave everything safe, clean and tidy

    If you are unhappy with the conduct of your contractor or the quality of their work, please inform your manager. You can also feedback about the quality of any repairs in our annual resident satisfaction survey.

  • Professionalism

    We are committed to protecting and respecting your privacy and will ensure the personal information which you supply to us remains confidential.

    • Any relevant information you provide will be recorded to ensure that we deliver the service in the way you need. For example, if you have a visual impairment, we can provide material in a different format such as large print, audio file or Braille.
    • We will not disclose any information to any third-party organisation outside of Housing 21, unless we gain your explicit consent first, except where the disclosure is required to help prevent fraud, or if required to do so by law. 
    • Our full privacy notice can be requested from your manager at any time or downloaded online.

    Professional boundaries

    We recognise that for employees to deliver the best possible service to residents, they will form friendly yet professional relationships. However, it is important employees and residents do not confuse this for personal relationships.

    We also understand that because of the quality of service provided to them, some residents may want to acknowledge this by leaving a gift to Housing 21 employees in their will.

    Please note it is a condition of employment that employees are not allowed to receive gifts of money, bequests of presents. Nor should they be asked to act as Executors for the Estate or a resident, be witnesses to a will or signatories to any other legal document.

  • Keeping you safe

    At Housing 21 we believe that our residents should not live in fear of abuse, neglect or violence from anyone including people they live with or family members and we are committed to preventing and detecting any risk of harm.

    We will work with partner agencies to investigate any incidents of suspected or actual abuse for people with care and support needs.

    Anyone who confides in colleagues about abuse will be supported in a non-judgemental way. We take the stance of ‘Nothing About Me, Without Me’ which promises open discussions before any advice or action is taking; nothing will happen without your knowledge.

    We are committed to supporting victims of abuse or neglect including:
    • Financial
    • Psychological
    • Sexual
    • Domestic
    • Physical
    • Modern slavery
    • Neglect and acts of omission
    • Organisational
    • Discrimination

    If you are experiencing any of the above, or have concerns about another resident:
    • Speak to, telephone or email your manager or any other Housing 21 employee
    • Contact organisations from the safeguarding directory, available from your manager
    • Call your local authority

    For domestic abuse:

    Call the police on 999 if you are in immediate danger. If you can’t speak:

    • Leave the line active and listen to any questions
    • Cough or tap your phone
    • If prompted and on a mobile, press 55 when prompted (not straight after dialling 999). Police cannot track your location but will recognise the call
  • If you are thinking about leaving Housing 21

    If you’re thinking about leaving us, the first thing to do is to inform your manager who can advise on the process. This will be different depending upon whether you own your property outright or have a shared ownership home or you rent a property with us. 

    Outright ownership and shared ownership properties

    The specific details of how to sell your home will be set out in the ‘Key Information About The Home’ document which sets out the time we have to nominate a purchaser and the conditions that any future buyer will need to meet. It will also outline any associated costs. 

    Until the sale completes, you need to continuing paying all charges, as well as associated costs including service charges, core support charge (Extra Care only), utilities and council tax.

    You can find out more about selling a property you own outright or a shared ownership property in the Guide to Purchase (Leasehold).

    Rented properties

    If you live with us, your circumstances may change in the future and you may want to exchange properties with either another Housing 21 resident or a resident from other social landlord.

    We do support mutual exchanges, subject to any incoming resident meeting our eligibility criteria and your rent account being clear of any arrears. Speak to your manager in the first instance.

    Alternatively, you can end your tenancy at any time by giving four weeks’ notice in writing. Your rent and service charge will continue to be charged until we receive your keys. You should inform your manager who will be able to advise on the process. You can find out more about mutual exchanges or ending your tenancy in our Guide to Rent.

  • Antisocial behaviour and harassment

    We are committed to tackling antisocial behaviour and will not tolerate any such behaviour towards our residents, employees or visitors.

    Our Antisocial Behaviour Policy sets out in detail our robust approach to addressing such behaviour, which include working with partner agencies where required. You can request a copy from your  manager.

    All residents are required to comply with the terms of their tenancy agreement or leases, which includes not partaking in antisocial behaviour or allowing members of their household, visitors or pets to breach the conditions.

    What is antisocial behaviour?

    Examples of such behaviour may include, but are not limited to:

    • Hate crimes which relate to any of the Equality Act 2010 including racist, sexist, behaviour relating to a disability or homophobia
    • Verbal abuse, threats, harassment and intimidation
    • Bullying
    • Criminal damage
    • Noise nuisance
    • Drunkenness
    • Graffiti
    • Loud music
    • Pet nuisance

    Addressing antisocial behaviour

    When residents experience low level antisocial behaviour, we recommend trying to address this directly with each other in the first instance, respecting disabilities and cultural differences. If this does not resolve the problem, your manager will be able to provide support.

    We seek to resolve antisocial behaviour at the earliest possible stage, using non-legal remedies, where possible. We have a range of non-legal remedies available, including but not limited to:

    • Meetings
    • Mediation
    • Warning letters
    • Acceptable Behaviour Contracts
    • Good Neighbour Agreements
    • Refusal of mutual exchange requests 

    Where appropriate and proportionate, we will consider the use of a legal remedy to resolve the issues of antisocial behaviour.

    The legal actions we may take includes:
    • Injunction (including exclusion orders)
    • Powers of arrest and undertakings
    • Notice of seeking possession/ forfeiture
    • Possession/ forfeiture

  • Useful contact details and information

    We recognise there may be times when you require advice and support outside of Housing 21. In the event of an emergency, always call 999; otherwise the contacts below may be useful.

    Appello emergency contact:
    0333 321 6450



    Data protection

    Dementia support

    Equality and respect

    Gas leaks

    • National Gas Emergency Service:
      0800 111 999


    Purchasing with us

    Renting with us

    Resident engagement

    Service charge

    • Service charge calculation
    • Shared ownership with us
      Guide to shared ownership:

    Support groups

  • About us

    Housing 21 is a leading not for profit provider of Retirement Living and Extra Care for people over the age of 55. We operate in 240 local authority areas across England, managing over 22,800 Retirement Living and Extra Care properties and providing over 38,000 hours of social care each week*.

    Our roots lie with the Royal British Legion (RBL), which in 1921 began to house disabled ex-servicemen and widows and, later, older ex-servicemen and women. In 1964, we became a recognised housing association before separating from the Royal British Legion in 1993 to become Housing 21.


    We are a dementia-friendly organisation and work hard to ensure our employees and residents understand what life is like for those living with dementia.

    We incorporate dementia-friendly design features into our schemes where possible and encourage all of our residents to become Dementia Friends, a national initiative from the Alzheimer’s Society to help people learn more about dementia and the small ways you can help. Anyone of any age can be a Dementia Friend.

    21 Talks podcast

    Housing 21 hosts a regular podcast capturing the real-life stories and experiences of our residents, putting them at the heart of the conversation and spotlighting the topics and discussions that matter most to them.

This handbook can be provided in a different format, such as large print, Braille or another language by emailing the Marketing and Communications Team.
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