Glossary of terms


Works to make an existing home more suitable for people with disabilities or mobility problems.

Anti-Social Behaviour

Behaviour that causes serious nuisance to a person or household in and around their home, and where there is evidence that there has been a breach of tenancy.

Contents insurance

Insurance that covers damage to, or loss of, a person’s possessions in their home. This insurance is purchased by the resident, not the landlord.

Choice based lettings

A system that allows social landlords to advertise properties on line so that those who have registered for transfer can bid for a property.

Cyclical maintenance

Works that we carry out on a regular cycle, for example decorating the outside of the building. We will tell you in advance when we plan to do works on your building.


Sometimes it is necessary to move a resident for major works to be carried out to the property. This may be a ‘temporary decant’ (where the resident moves back after the works are completed) or ‘permanent decant’ (where the resident moves to another home permanently).

Decent homes standard

A standard set by government to make sure as many homes as possible are in a reasonable state of repair, has reasonably modern facilities, and can provide a reasonable degree of warmth through insulation and heating.


The period after the completion of a new build property or major refurbishments when the original contractor is responsible for fixing any faults and repairs.

Direct debit

A way to pay a bill (including rent) - you tell your bank to transfer money to another person or organisation at a particular time. This means you don’t have to remember to pay a regular bill. However, you must make sure there is enough money in your account.

Disabled facilities grant

Grant monies from the local authority to help fund adaptations. The grant has to be applied for and an occupational therapist assessment supporting the application is usually needed.

Emergency repair

These are repairs needed to remove immediate danger, avoid major damage or to make the property secure. We will get a contractor to your home as soon as possible to make your home safe within 24 hours.

Estate service

These are cleaning or gardening services we provide to the communal areas where you live. The service is delivered by a Caretaker and/or contract company and is paid for through the service charge.

Extra care

This is housing which is designed for older people (over 55) and which provides a round the clock care and support service based at the scheme that enables the residents to live independently.

Floating support

This is a service for people who live in their own home but need additional help from visiting support workers in order to live independently.

Focus group

This is when we invite a small number of people to a discussion group to get their views on our service to help us improve.

Fuel poverty

This phrase is used to describe households that spend more than 10% of their income on fuel bills in order to stay warm.

Gas safety check

This is a check that all social landlords must carry out by law each year to ensure that the gas pipes, gas boilers and other gas appliances in their property are working correctly and safely.

Handyman service

This is a free service to older (60 plus) and disabled residents provided by the Octavia Foundation to carry out minor works that are normally the responsibility of the resident.

HCA (Homes and Communities Agency)

This is an organisation that was set up by the Government to help fund the building of new affordable housing in England. The HCA is also our regulator and checks we are meeting the standards they have set for all social landlords.

Housing for Older People (HOP)

This is self-contained housing for older people (55 plus) which offers some local support services to enable the residents to live independently.

Housing ombudsman

This is an independent official who investigates complaints made by residents about their housing. They will only look at the complaint if the person has gone through all three stages of our complaints procedure.

Improvements bidding

This refers to residents applying for funding from our improvements budget to make an improvement to the communal areas of where they live (for example installing bike stands and re-landscaping garden areas).

Intermediate rent

This is the option to rent a home for less than the local market rate in order to save up money for a deposit to buy a property at a later time.

Key workers

These are people who work in key public services (for example within the National Health Service, schools or the Police) and who are housed by social landlords.

KPIs (key performance indicators)

These are the ways we measure how well our service is working. We set targets in key areas to make sure we are always striving to do better.


This is a contract which gives a person the right to live in a property for a fixed period of time as long as they pay their mortgage, charges to their landlord and do not breach the conditions of the lease.


This is a website used by social landlords in West London to advertise homes for rent which people can bid for (see Choice Based Lettings).


A service that helps two or more neighbours to talk to each other and find solutions to a dispute or clash of lifestyle.

Mutual exchange

This occurs when a tenant agrees to swap their home with another tenant who is from Octavia or another social landlord. You will need our agreement to do this.

Neighbour Disputes

Problems with neighbours where the person causing the problem is not doing so intentionally, the problem is not persistent, and no serious harm is caused. We are not able to take legal action in these circumstances, but we will advise on what can be done and talk to you about possible solutions.

Occupational therapist

This is an independent professional who works with residents in order to improve their ability to perform everyday tasks in their home.

Planned maintenance

This is when we carry out certain non-urgent works to several homes together rather than as individual jobs, as this is more efficient and cost effective.

QHS (Quality Housing Services)

This is an independent organisation that carries out regular checks on our service to make sure we are providing a good service and help us improve.

Registered provider

This is an organisation which provides social housing and is included on a register held by the social housing regulator. Octavia Housing is a Registered Provider.

Rent arrears

Rent monies not paid in time by a resident to the landlord.

Resident Inspectors

These are residents who carry out checks on our service to help us improve. You have to apply to become a resident inspector.

Resident involvement

A phrase to describe the range of different ways in which residents work with us to influence & improve services, give us feedback, scrutinise performance, and help us to improve.

Right To Acquire

This is a scheme which gives tenants who have an ‘Assured’ Tenancy and have lived in one of our properties for at least five years the opportunity to buy their homes at a discount.

Right To Buy

This is a policy that gives certain tenants who have a ‘Secure’ Tenancy the option to buy their homes at a discounted rate.

Routine repairs

These are works needed where the problem does not cause immediate inconvenience or present a danger. We will make an appointment to do the work within 15 working days.


A phrase to describe how we should protect people who may be in need of support from abuse or neglect.

Service charge

A charge to residents for services they receive to communal areas, such as caretaking, cleaning or gardening.

Service standards

These are a list of standards that we always aim to meet when we provide a service to you, for example returning a telephone message within one working day.

Shared / communal areas

These are the parts of our schemes which tenants share, such as the stairways, landings, car parks, bin areas and gardens.

Shared ownership

This is a Government funded scheme which helps people to afford to buy their own home by first buying a share of the home and paying a rent on the remaining value.

Social landlord

An organisation that offers lower cost housing to people who are in housing need or have lower income.

Standing order

This is an instruction that a person gives to their bank to pay a certain amount of money to another account at regular intervals. You can pay rent this way.

Supported housing

This is housing that is intended for people with a range of support needs. It offers support services to enable the residents to live independently. The person is usually referred by the local authority.

Tenancy agreement

The legal contract under which the landlord lets a property to a resident. The agreement sets out the rights and responsibilities of the landlord and the resident.

Tenants steering group (TSG)

This is an elected group of Octavia tenants who meet on a regular basis in order to check our performance and influence how we deliver services.

Under occupation

This describes a situation where a property has more bedrooms than needed by the household living there.

Urgent repair

This is for work that needs to be done quickly but where there is no immediate health, safety or similar risk. We will make an appointment and do the work within 5 working days.


This is a register of Octavia Housing residents who have said that they would like to be involved in different ways and have a say in how we deliver services.


This is a property that is empty and is waiting for repair work to be carried out so that it is ready for letting to the next resident.


This is buying extra shares in a shared ownership home so a greater percentage is owned. When the final share is purchased this is referred to as ‘final staircasing’ and the shared owner has ‘fully staircased’ and becomes a leasholder.


This is where a home owner sells their property to another buyer. The legal term for this is ‘assignment’.


This is where a home owner changes their mortgage lender to obtain a better rate or borrow money for things such as home improvements.

Buildings insurance

This is insurance provided to cover the structure of the building and any fixtures. The insurance is provided by Octavia or, where we do not own the building, the owner or agent acting on their behalf.


Tenants cannot sublet the whole of their property and can only sublet part of their property with our permission.


This service is designed to encourage and support independence and to reduce isolation. For Westminster residents over 50 only.

Housing case worker

Someone who provides you with additional support to help you manage your home or sort out a problem.

Digital champions

A service that helps RBKC tenants to get online.


Service that puts lonely or isolated tenants in touch with a volunteer who shares their hobbies and interests. For Westminster residents over 55 only.

Sheltered housing

Service for local people over 50 who want to continue living independently in their own flat, but with the security of knowing that they can contact a mobile warden for help if they need it.

Garden guardians

Elderly residents who have a private garden and find it difficult to maintain, can get practical help from Octavia Foundation and Age Concern Kensington & Chelsea.

Affordable credit

The cost of purchasing items on credit can create an additional financial burden for low-income households.

Handyman service

A free handyman service for residents aged 60 or over or who are receiving Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payments.

Hardship and education grants

A financial grant for individual tenants who are experiencing hardship or have education or training needs.

Bedroom tax

If you have more bedrooms than the new rules allow, your housing benefit will be reduced.

Benefit cap

This is the maximum amount of benefits you will be able to receive.

Universal credit

One single monthly payment of benefits paid directly to an individual.