Frequently Asked Questions

The icons below feature our frequently asked questions.

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Buy Your Home

Can I buy my home?

There are two possible options for tenants to buy their home: the Right to Buy scheme, and the Right to Acquire scheme.

What is Right to Buy?

This applies only to tenants who were living in their home when the property was transferred from the council to Poplar HARCA. The current maximum capped discount is £110,500.

The Government’s website provides a useful overview of who is eligible for the Right to Buy scheme.

What is Right to Acquire?

This applies to tenants who signed up to a Poplar HARCA tenancy and have been a social tenant for 3 years or more. Poplar HARCA, like many other housing associations, offers Right to Acquire with a maximum discount of £16,000.

The Government’s website provides a useful overview of who is eligible for the Right to Acquire scheme.

How long does the process take?

Our step by step timeline outlines the process of the Right to Buy and Right to Acquire schemes.

If you are using a mortgage to help purchase your home, your lender will have processes they need to complete. Your solicitor or conveyancer should usually do a number of searches for other information about the property, mainly from the local council. The speed at which these searches take place is not under our control.

Stage 1: Admitting or denying your application

After you have completed your application, Poplar HARCA has four to eight weeks to let you know if you qualify for Right to Buy or Acquire your home.

Stage 2: Telling you how much we will sell you your home for

If you do have the Right to Buy or Acquire your home, Poplar HARCA has twelve weeks to value your home and tell you how much we will sell it to you for. This is called the Section 125 Offer Notice.

Stage 3: You decide

Once you receive this notice, you have twelve weeks to let us know if:

  • you want to buy your home at the price offered or
  • you aren’t happy with the price and would like to have your home re- valued.

If you ask to have your home re-valued, you will receive a new Offer Notice. The first Offer Notice and information you receive will explain the re-valuation process in more detail.

Once you receive the new Offer Notice you have another twelve weeks to let us know if you want to buy your home at the new price.

Stage 4: Drawing up the plans and lease

Once you let us know that you want to buy your home, Poplar HARCA must draw up the plans and lease as quickly as possible.

Stage 5: Completing the purchase

You must complete the purchase as quickly as possible.

Stage 6: Landlord’s prior notice to complete

Poplar HARCA will issue a landlord’s prior notice to complete and you will have 56 days to complete the purchase of your home.

Stage 7: Landlord’s final notice to complete

If you haven’t bought your home after the prior notice runs out, Poplar HARCA will issue a landlord’s final notice to complete and you will have a final 56 days to complete the purchase of your home.

Stage 8: Closing your application

If you still haven’t bought your home after the final notice runs out, Poplar HARCA will close your application and you will have to apply again.

Please bear in mind that other factors outside our control may affect the speed of the process.

How do I apply?

Right to Buy 

Please complete all of the forms below:

Right to Acquire

Please complete all of the forms below:

 

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Cleaning, Gardening & Waste

How often do you clean my building or estate?

This is what you can expect from us inside blocks and out on your estate:

Daily

  • Inspect, spot clean and clear: door entry systems, lobbies, stairs and landings, intake cupboard doors, litter and bulk rubbish, drug related items, obscene graffiti
  • Litter pick
  • Check lift is working, and sweep and mop floor of lift car

Weekly

  • Sweep and mop: communal stair landings, stairwells and skirtings, lobby areas and entrances to blocks
  • Clean and polish lifts, and clean and disinfect bin rooms and URSs
  • Check communal lighting and timer clocks
  • Report repairs
  • Maintain designated Pocket Parks

Monthly

  • Check security and condition of lofts, tank room doors and intake cupboard doors
  • Clean and disinfect chute hoppers
  • Remove weeds from hard standing areas
  • Wash out and scrub enclosed bin chambers

Quarterly

  • Clean internal light fittings, handrails and balustrades
  • Deep clean all internal stained wall surfaces

Twice a year

  • Clean all internal communal windows
  • Deep clean communal and door entry areas

Yearly

  • Clean estate and street furniture
  • Clean sign boards
  • Deep clean communal staircases

How often is waste and recycling collected?

For information on the collection of household waste please visit the Tower Hamlets website.

What can I recycle?

You can reduce your waste by making use of Tower Hamlets Council‘s recycling facilities. Their website includes information on recycling bags and purple recycling bins, and collections for food, garden, commercial and bulky waste.

Can I leave items in communal areas?

No, items cannot normally be left in shared areas. If items are left in shared areas, they must:

  • Be stored so they do not cause an obstruction
  • Not be bags of, or bulk, rubbish
  • Not be fabric, wood or other flammable materials
  • Not contain flammable liquids
  • Not be a risk to health and/or safety

You will normally be given 24 hours to clear items. After 24 hours, items will be removed and disposed of. The cost of doing so may be recharged to you.

How can I get rid of furniture or other bulk rubbish?

There are lots of ways to get rid of large items of furniture or other bulk rubbish:

  • Tower Hamlets Streetline service will collect large items for free. Call 020 7364 5004 for more information.
  • Emmaus East London take good quality furniture to upcycle and sell at low cost in their charity shops. Call them on 020 7538 1132.
  • Homestore will also collect good quality furniture free of charge to sell at a low cost to those in need. Call them on 020 8519 6264.

How do I report dumped rubbish?

Fly-tipping is illegal and costs Poplar HARCA residents over £250,000 a year.

Please report fly-tipping in confidence on 0800 035 1991 or info@poplarharca.co.uk.

Offenders can be prosecuted and fined hundreds of pounds.

How much will I pay for dumped rubbish?

Depending on whether you have dumped rubbish before, and depending on the amount of rubbish you have dumped, we will either recharge you for the removal or we will send you a warning letter. Usually a warning letter will be sent for the first instance of a few black bags or less being dumped.

All recharges will be subject to the current VAT rate and a £25 admin fee. Recharge amounts are dependent on external factors, however, we will not charge you any more than our contractors would charge us.

How do I report issues with the underground refuse system?

If the URS is full contact Streetline on streetline@towerhamlets.gov.uk or 020 7364 5004

Who is responsible for gardening?

We look after 2,500 trees, 200 communal green areas, 700 shrub areas and 15 pocket parks across our estates.

If you have a private garden or outside area you must keep it tidy and free of rubbish. Poplar HARCA is not responsible for any work in private gardens.

Can I cut down a tree in my garden?

You must not cut down any tree without prior written permission from us.

Please contact the Housing team on 0800 035 1991 or email info@poplarharca.co.uk

Do you carry out estate inspections with residents?

We regularly carry out inspections jointly with residents.

The issues looked at will depend on what is most important to local residents but usually will cover estate services, communal repairs, grounds maintenance, refuse collection and recycling, cleaning of communal areas and antisocial behaviour, as well as security and environmental improvements.

The frequency is agreed with residents in each area, usually in line with Estate Board meetings. For more information contact your local Estate Board.

How do I get rid of pests?

If you have pests in your property, such as mice or insects, please contact Tower Hamlets Customer Contact Centre on 020 7364 5007 or pest.control@towerhamlets.gov.uk.

Details of Tower Hamlets’ pest control service can be found here.

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Disability Adaptations or Equipment

Can I get adaptations or equipment to help me at home?

The NHS provides advice on what is available to help you at home if you or a household member needs help to do everyday tasks or you’re worried about falls.
Residents of Tower Hamlets should contact the Council’s Occupational Therapy Service for advice, support and an assessment.
The responsibility for paying for adaptations depends on who owns your property.

If you are a Poplar HARCA tenant we will pay for adaptations, with the help of a disabled facilities grant if the adaptation requires major works.
Disability Facilities Grants may also be available to leaseholders, speak with the Council’s Team before you commit to pay for any works.

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Enquire on Someone Else's Behalf

How do I enquire on behalf of other residents?

We will ask you to provide us with written permission to talk about or share anyone else’s information.

This is because:
• we have a legal responsibility to protect everyone’s personal data.
• we have to make sure that we act in the best interests of all our residents.

We have a template letter of authorisation available on MyHARCA you can use.

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Fire Safety

What can I do to prevent fire?

Most fires start through cooking, smoking or electrical faults including white goods. There is lots of valuable home fire safety information on the London Fire Brigade website. This includes how to register white goods so that in the event of known faults, the manufacturer can contact you.

You can also email or phone us to request a copy of our resident fire safety booklet which contains valuable tips on how to stay safe.

What do I do if there is a fire in my home?

  • Get everyone out
  • Close the door behind you
  • Try to warn neighbours
  • Use the stairs not the lift
  • Leave the building and move a safe distance away
  • Phone 999 from outside

What do I do if there is a fire in another property in my block?

  • Ring 999.
  • In the event of fire in another property, it is generally safer to stay in your own home unless you are directly affected by fire or smoke, in which case you should leave if you believe you can do so safely.
  • When the fire brigade arrive, they may choose to evacuate the block in a controlled fashion in which case, follow their advice.
  • If your home is affected but you are unable to leave the building:
    • call for help from a window
    • use towels and sheets to block smoke
    • if affected by smoke, stay as low as possible

I have a security gate. Is this safe in the event of fire?

The presence of a gate or grille can prevent the emergency services from reaching you quickly and could result in entrapment. The London Fire Brigade recommends that they should be left unlocked at all times that residents are in the property. In case a gate is inadvertently locked, keep a spare key in a designated location in your home and ensure that all members of your household know where this is.

You should not fit security gates without expressing permission from Poplar HARCA. We have a right to remove them and re-charge you if you do.

Is it safe to leave items in communal areas?

Because communal areas serve as escape routes they should be kept clear of anything that can burn or give off smoke. This is especially important when communal areas are enclosed as there is a risk of smoke logging. Bags of waste, buggies, shoes etc. should be kept inside homes. Bulk items such as furniture awaiting collection pose a particular arson risk and should not be left in communal areas.

Can I store items on balconies?

If a fire breaks out on your balcony, it could spread much faster than a fire inside the building. Ideally you should keep your balcony completely clear, but plants and a few items of patio furniture are acceptable.

Never barbecue on your balcony or store barbecue fuel such as gas cylinders, starter fuel or any other flammable substances.

White goods such as fridges and tumble driers must not be stored on balconies. They are not suitable for outdoor use and pose an ignition source.

Is it safe to barbecue?

Never use a barbecue (including a disposable barbecue) on balconies, in indoor communal areas or inside your home. You will also need prior permission from us to barbecue in outdoor communal spaces.

Position barbecues away from fences, trees or other combustible materials and never use flammable liquids such as petrol or spirits – solid fire lighters are safer.

Have water, sand or a fire extinguisher to hand and keep children and pets away.

Does Poplar HARCA provide smoke alarms?

Smoke alarms save lives. You should fit one on every level of your home. If you are a tenant and don’t have these, please contact us and we will install wired-in smoke alarms for you.

If you are a leaseholder, it is advisable to fit wired-in smoke detection on each level of your property. If you rent out your home this is likely to be required in order to obtain a landlord license. Battery smoke alarms with a ten year battery life can be purchased relatively cheaply from DIY or hardware stores. The London Fire Brigade will also fit a battery alarm free of charge if you sign up for a home fire safety visit via their website or by calling 0800 028 4428.

My smoke alarm is chirping – what should I do?

This may indicate a fault but most likely a spent battery. If you are a tenant, please contact our Repairs service. If you are a leaseholder, it is your responsibility to repair the alarm/change the battery.

Is smoking permitted?

You can smoke in your home, but be especially careful to dispose of smoking materials safely.

Smoking is not permitted in the communal areas of Poplar HARCA residential blocks. This is a legal requirement introduced under Smoke Free legislation.

Cigarette ends have the potential to start a fire if they land on anything combustible. If you smoke on a private balcony, do not drop cigarettes over the side of your balcony as this could result in fire on a balcony below you. If you smoke on your balcony, use an ashtray and dispose of smoking materials carefully as you would indoors.

If you are a Poplar HARCA resident, your tenancy or lease will be at risk if you are found smoking in communal areas. If you are the tenant of another landlord, we will press the landlord to take action.

How do I report fire or other safety concerns?

Call us on 0800 035 1991 or email info@poplarharca.co.uk outlining your questions or concerns and the relevant team will get back to you. In an emergency, always ring 999.

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Fob Keys

How do I get a fob key?

You’ll be asked to prove your identity and address so that only residents have access to the block.

New fob keys cost £15.

They are free if:

  • The system doesn’t recognise it (you must hand in the old fob)
  • It’s no longer working because of wear and tear (you must hand in the old fob)
  • It’s been stolen (you must have a Crime Reference Number)

Can I get additional fob keys?

Yes – additional fobs cost £15 each.

Can leaseholders’ tenants get a fob key?

We will only issue fobs to the leaseholder.

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Money Advice & How to Pay

How can I pay my rent or service charge?

Online
Use our resident portal, MyHARCA. You’ll need your payment card.

Allpay
Download the Allpay app.

Text message
You need a UK registered phone, your payment card and a current debit card. Register here.

Direct Debit
Call us on 0800 035 1991 to set up a direct debit.

Standing Order
You set this up with your bank.

Use your address or account number as the reference.

Poplar HARCA’s bank details are:

  • Barclays Bank
  • Account number 0068 0001
  • Sort Code 20-26-53

How do I get a new payment card?

Apply on MyHARCA.

 

What benefits am I entitled to?

Get free and impartial advice from The Money Advice Service

If you would like to see what benefits you might be entitled to or how changes in work circumstances might affect you, use the benefits calculator to quickly calculate your entitlements.

Where can I get advice on Welfare Benefits?

Do I need Home Contents Insurance?

Poplar HARCA does not provide home contents insurance.

If you think you don’t need home contents insurance, how would you replace stolen or damaged furniture, fixtures, fittings and belongings?

Thistle Tenant Risks and Allianz Insurance plc provide specialist Tenants Contents Insurance. Weekly payments start at £1.40 for under 60s and £0.85 for over 60s.

Full details of the policy cover are available on the My Home website.

Where can I get debt advice?

You can get advice on debt and borrowing money from The Money Advice Service

There are also a range of free services available locally:

Island Advice Centre
Island House, Roserton Street, E14 (off Castalia Square)

  • Drop-in Advice Sessions
  • Wednesdays: Welfare Benefits/General, 10am-12pm
  • Fridays: Debt and Housing, 10am-12pm

Tel: 020 7987 9379

Toynbee Hall
The Community Centre, 52 Old Castle Street, E14 7AJ

  • Drop-in Advice Sessions
  • Monday – Friday, 9am-5pm
  • Thursdays 5pm onwards (Evening Appointments)

Tel: 020 7392 2953

Limehouse Project
789-791 Commercial Road Unit 2, St Anne St, E14 7HG

  • Drop-in Advice Sessions
  • Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9:30am-1pm

Tel: 020 7392 2953

Bromley By Bow Centre
St Leonards St, E3 3BT

  • Drop-in Advice Sessions
  • Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, 9:30am-12:30pm

Tel: 020 8709 9757

Tower Hamlets Law Centre
789 Commercial Road, Limehouse, E14 7HG

  • Appointments Available
  • Monday – Friday, 10am-1pm and 2pm-4pm

Tel: 020 7538 4909

 

Can I improve my credit rating?

Your credit score, also known as a credit rating, affects your ability to borrow money or get financial products such as credit cards.

You can check your score for free – and if it’s not great, there are ways you can improve it.

Poplar HARCA is part of the Rental Exchange.  We provide rental payment records to Experian.  Paying rent on time, can help improve your credit rating.

The Rental Exchange has been developed with advice from regulators and consumer groups, and fully complies with all relevant laws, including Data Protection.

Join the Rental Exchange

 

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Move Home

How do I apply to move?

You can download an application form here

Information about the process, priority and the number of homes and the number of other people on the list is available from the Tower Hamlets Homeseekers website.

What happens if I need to move because of ill health?

Information about health priority is here.

What options are available?

Mutual Exchange: Home Swapper 

Moving to another part of London:  Homes for Londoners

Sheltered housing: LBTH Supported

Intermediate rent: First Steps Rent

Low cost home ownership: First Steps Buy

Housing advice: Housing advice

Homeless: Housing Options Service

Can you help with overcrowding?

Poplar HARCA has an overcrowding reduction plan to help tenants.

Poplar HARCA tenants with an assured tenancy living in an overcrowded home will be offered one home that is the right size for your family.

We cannot say when an offer will be made, and it could be in any location, for any type of property and any tenure e.g. affordable rent. If you refuse the offer it will not affect your housing application.

What is mutual exchange?

It’s a home swap between two social housing tenants, each must have a secure or assured tenancy.

Find out more and register on the Homeswapper website.

Notice of Seeking Possession

What is a Notice of Seeking Possession?

Don’t ignore a legal notice from Poplar HARCA.

Contact us: 0800 035 1991.
It’s important you get advice if you receive any legal notice.

A Notice Seeking Possession from Poplar HARCA is the first stage of a process that could lead to you losing your home.

A Notice is served if Poplar HARCA has evidence that you have breached your tenancy agreement.  For example:

  • anti-social behaviour
  • criminal behaviour
  • refusing reasonable access to Poplar HARCA staff or contractors
  • rent arrears
  • subletting the property
Taking anyone to Court is a last resort, so if there’s a way to avoid it we will.   That could mean you do things like agreeing to repay arrears over a period of time, or changing your behaviour, or agreeing to let us in to your property.
Free and impartial advice is available from Tower Hamlets Council,  Shelter  and Citizens Advice.

 

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Repairs

Which repairs and maintenance responsibilities belong to me, and which belong to Poplar HARCA?

Poplar HARCA is responsible for repairs and maintenance in communal areas, and you are responsible for many repairs and maintenance inside your home. Check your responsibilities here.

If you are a leaseholder or shared owner of your home you should consult your lease for further information.

What is an emergency repair?

An emergency repair is classified as:

  • something that poses an immediate danger to the safety and wellbeing of a resident, their family and other visitors to the area

or

  • something that could cause major damage to the property

Examples include the breakdown of heating and hot water during the winter or a severe water/gas leak. For more information, read our Repairs Policy.

Will my emergency repair be fixed straight away?

We aim for contractors to arrive within an hour to carry out a full repair. Sometimes it is necessary to make the issue safe and then arrange a separate appointment for a full repair or replacement to be carried out.

How do I report an emergency repair when your office is closed?

Our phone lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week so you can report an emergency at any time. If you report a repair that is not an emergency outside of office hours you may be told to contact us when the office reopens.

The quickest and easiest way to report non-emergency repairs is through MyHARCA.

What repairs will I be charged for?

We will charge you for any repair or replacement that is needed as a result of inappropriate action or inaction by you, a member of your household or a visitor to your home. We may also charge you if we carry out a repair that is your responsibility.

What appointment times do you offer?

We offer morning (8am – 12noon) or afternoon (12noon – 5pm) appointments from Monday to Friday. We are flexible so if you need our operatives to avoid the school run, or need a more specific time just let the Repairs Team know when you report the repair and we will do our best to arrange it for you.

How will I know that a contractor is who they say they are?

All of our contractors carry identification which they will show you when they arrive for an appointment. If you have any doubts please call the Repairs Team who will be happy to verify whether or not the operative is who they say they are.

When will Poplar HARCA replace my kitchen, bathroom and/or boiler?

We replace items when, due to fair wear and tear, they are no longer in a functional condition and it is no longer possible to repair them. Our Property Services team assesses the condition of items and refers them for replacement when needed. We will contact you to let you know if a replacement is necessary and arrange a convenient appointment.

Why does Poplar HARCA need to service my boiler?

We have a legal responsibility to service your boiler every year to make sure that it is working properly and is safe. We will let you know two months before the service is due so that a convenient appointment can be scheduled. It is very important that you keep the appointment and allow our contractor to complete the service so that we can make sure your home is safe and that your boiler will continue to work as it should. If you do need to change an appointment let us know so we can book a more suitable one for you.

Can I make altererations to my home?

If you would like to carry out a permanent alteration to your home such as an extension, fitting a new kitchen or installing a shower, email our Property Services team at info@poplarharca.co.uk who will assess your request. For more information, read our Alterations Policy.

How do you keep my home safe?

Every year we carry out a wide range of safety checks in the communal areas of blocks and individual homes to make sure they are safe. This includes:

  • regularly inspecting properties to reduce fire risk
  • checking gas and electrical installations
  • assessing the condition of asbestos
  • testing water

You can help us to keep all our homes safe by reporting concerns as soon as they arise, keeping communal areas and private balconies clear and testing your smoke detectors regularly.

How can I prevent mould and condensation in my home?

Condensation is caused by water vapour in the air hitting cold surfaces such as walls, and mould often grows on damp surfaces when this happens. Some water vapour is normal, but too much can cause problems. By keeping your home well ventilated you can reduce water vapour and by keeping your home heated you can avoid cold surfaces for water to form on.

To prevent condensation and mould from forming, remember our mould acronym:

  • Move furniture away from walls
  • Open windows
  • Use the extractor fan
  • Lids on pans when cooking
  • Dry clothes outdoors, or in a bathroom with the door closed and fans switched on

How can I prevent blockages?

Most blockages are caused by inappropriate items (e.g. nappies, wipes, sanitary products, fat, food debris) being flushed down toilets or poured down sinks. Hair and soap can also build up in bathroom drains. Using a plug guard, regularly checking plug holes and taking care to scrape plates well before washing will help to keep your drains clear.

I have a problem with pests can you help?

If you have pests in your property, such as mice or insects, please contact Tower Hamlets’ Pest Control Team on 020 7364 5007 or pest.control@towerhamlets.gov.uk. Details of Tower Hamlets’ pest control service can be found here.

What is involved in an electrical test?

We aim to carry out an electrical test in every tenant’s home, every five years. A test will usually take two operatives 2-3 hours to complete. It is very important that you keep the appointment and allow our contractor to complete the testing as it is an essential part of our approach to safety in residents’ homes. If you do need to change an appointment let us know so we can book you a more suitable one.

What should I do if I smell gas?

If you smell gas in your home you should immediately contact the gas emergency service provider by calling 0800 111 999.

You should also:

  • turn off the gas supply (the emergency control valve is usually next to the gas meter)
  • extinguish all sources of ignition and do not smoke
  • do not turn light switches or plug sockets on or off
  • open all windows and doors
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Satellite Dishes

Can I install a satellite dish?

You must have Poplar HARCA’s written permission before installing a dish.

Sky and other subscription services can be accessed through block communal dishes. Your subscription company will advise you when you sign-up to their service.

Poplar HARCA will normally refuse requests to install a satellite dish unless there is no communal system.

If permission is given:

  • the dish cannot be installed on cladding
  • no damage can be caused to the building
  • if planning permission is required, this has been obtained
  • the equipment (including cabling) is installed to a recognised standard
  • the environmental and aesthetic impact is minimised

It is a breach of your tenancy agreement or lease if dishes are installed without permission.

You will be recharged the whole cost of remedying any damage caused.

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When a tenant dies

What happens when a tenant dies?

We know it is difficult when anyone dies, all the more so if it’s someone close to you.
The law says that a tenancy does not end when the tenant dies.  This means that Poplar HARCA, or a representative of the tenant’s estate, has to end the tenancy by serving notice.
If you are not claiming a right to live in the property
We will ask you to:
  • provide a copy of the death certificate
  • provide evidence of your relationship to the tenant
  • confirm notice ending the tenancy
  • tell us if you are removing the tenant’s belongings from the property
If you are claiming a right to live in the property
This is called succession.
There are legal rules about who can succeed a tenancy.  It will depend on what the tenancy agreement says, whether or not anyone in the past has succeeded the tenancy, the size of the property and the personal circumstances of the person claiming succession.

You can apply for succession by filling in this form.

You can also get advice about your right to succeed.

MyHARCA

Access our services on the go and jump the queue!

MyHARCA is the quickest way to pay your rent, view your statements and report a repair.

You can also apply for a parking bay, report ASB and get in touch with us.

Sign In