About your Tenancy Agreement
FAQs (frequently asked questions) outlining your rights and responsibilities as a tenant:
What is a temporary tenancy?
What is a joint tenancy?
What happens if I have a joint tenancy and my relationship ends?
Can I sub-let or take in lodgers?
Can I go away but still keep my tenancy?
Can I lose my home?
Can I transfer my secure tenancy to someone else?
What happens to my tenancy when I die?
Would my successor have to move?
What happens when the succession has been passed on once already?
If you are a relative dealing with a deceased tenants affairs.
What responsibilities and rights do I have as a secure tenant?
If you have a secure tenancy you have rights and responsibilities as contained in your tenancy agreement.
Your tenancy agreement is a legal contract between the Council and you. A secure tenancy grants you the right to live in your home provided you comply with our conditions as laid out in your tenancy agreement. The conditions apply not only to yourself but also to anyone who visits your property.
Some of your key responsibilities are:
- Pay your rent in full and on time.
- Pay suppliers for the service you use - gas, electricity and council tax etc.
- To occupy the property at the start of the tenancy and do not part with possession or sublet without the Council's consent.
- That you live in the property as your only or principal home.
- Ensure the property is not used for illegal or immoral purposes.
- Ensure that the behaviour of everyone who lives with you or visits your home does not cause a nuisance, annoyance or harassment to anyone.
- Ensure that no one living in or visiting your home verbally or physically abuses, threatens or assaults anyone.
- Take care of your home and not cause damage.
- Keep the interior of the property in a good state of repair, decoration and cleanliness.
- Keep any pets living with you or visiting under control so they do not create a noise or nuisance to the neighbourhood.
- Report repairs and provide access for repair and maintenance contractors, including annual servicing of gas appliances.
- Keep gardens tidy and free from rubbish.
- That when moving out you give at least four weeks notice in writing. The property must be left with vacant possession and keys returned promptly to us.
- Your rights as a secure tenant are set out by law and are contained in our Housing Tenants Charter (pdf). A leaflet on the Charter is also available on request from the Housing Services Department.
Some of your key rights are:
- You can live in your home for the rest of your life as long as you comply with your tenancy agreement.
- You have the right to pass on your tenancy by succession or assignment.
- You have the right to exchange your home with another Council or housing association tenant provided you have obtained prior written consent from the Housing Services Department or housing association (your future landlord).
- You may have the Right to Buy (external link) your council home.
- you have the right to repairs which are the Council's responsibility.
- You have the right to make improvements to your home, provided you have obtained prior written consent. You will be consulted about substantial changes that will affect your tenancy.
- You have the right to a written tenancy agreement which forms the contract between you and the Council.
Temporary tenancies are granted under the provisions of Part 7 of the Housing Act 1996 (as amended by the Homelessness Act 2002) where the Council has a duty to provide accommodation for a homeless household. These are not secure tenancies and therefore do not enjoy the rights enjoyed by secure tenants.
The Council grants joint tenancies when applicable. A joint tenancy means that two people (including same sex couples) are equally responsible for ensuring the tenancy conditions are met. This includes the responsibility to pay rent.
If one of the joint tenants does not pay the rent, the other joint tenant can be held responsible for paying the rent and any arrears. Both tenants have the right to live in the property until the tenancy is ended.
Please let your Housing Officer know and seek legal advice.
A sub-tenant is someone who pays you rent but lives separately from the rest of your household. You are not allowed to sub-let the whole of your home - this is a serious breach of your tenancy agreement.
If you wish to sub-let part of your home you must obtain our written permission first. A lodger is someone who pays you rent, eats a meal with you and shares your home. You can take in lodgers but you must tell us.
You must not take in a lodger if this will result in unreasonable disturbance to neighbours or the property becoming overcrowded.
Please note that if you receive Housing Benefit taking in lodgers or sub-letting will affect your entitlement.
In certain circumstances it may be necessary for you to be away from your home, but where you have the full intention to return. You are advised to contact your Housing Officer to discuss your case and make the necessary arrangements, please be aware that you will be expected to continue to pay your rent during this time.
As a secure tenant you can only be evicted if the Council obtains a Possession Order. We can apply for a Possession Order if you seriously breach your tenancy agreement.
Some examples of reasons for seeking a Possession Order are:
- Persistent refusal to pay rent
- Nuisance or annoyance to neighbours
- Not occupying the property as your principal home
- If the tenancy was obtained by deliberately giving false information any other persistent breaches of the tenancy agreement
Secure tenants have the right to assign their tenancy to another person in the following circumstances. A deed of assignment must be used and you can only assign your tenancy once, except in the example of mutual exchange. Please discuss your individual circumstances with your Housing Officer.
- If you are exchanging your property with another secure tenant - before assignment can go ahead you must obtain written permission from the Housing Services Department or housing association (your future landlord).
- If a court order has been obtained in matrimonial proceedings.
- If you wish to assign the tenancy to someone who would succeed to your tenancy on your death.
A secure tenancy can be passed on at death - this is known as the Right to Succession. The tenancy can only be passed on once. Please discuss your individual circumstances with your Housing Officer.
If your tenancy was granted before 1st April 2012 the following will apply:
- If you have a joint tenancy it can pass on your death to the surviving joint tenant. They will need to contact the Housing Department to arrange this.
- It cannot be passed on again. If you are not a joint tenant the tenancy may be able to be passed on to your husband/wife/partner.
- If you do not have a husband/wife/partner then the tenancy can be succeeded to by a family member if they have lived in the property for at least 12 months immediately prior to your death, and they are a person qualified to succeed. In the case of a non-spouse successor, for example a son or daughter, if the property is considered too large for their needs, it may be necessary to offer smaller, more suitable accommodation.
- The person who the tenancy gets passed on to is known as the "successor".
If your tenancy was granted after 1st April 2012 the following will apply:
- If you have a joint tenancy with a husband/wife/partner, it can pass on your death to the surviving joint tenant. They will need to contact the Housing Department to arrange this.
- It cannot be passed on again. If you are not a joint tenant the tenancy may also be able to be passed on to your husband/wife/partner if they have been living in the property at least 12 months prior to death.
- The qualifying person who the tenancy gets passed on to is known as the "successor".
If your husband/wife/partner succeeds to the tenancy they will not have to move unless they want to. Only a family member (who is not a husband/wife/partner) can succeed to a tenancy if it was granted before 1st April 2012. If this is the case they may have to move if they are under-occupying the property or if the property is not suitable for their needs. For example if a property has disabled adaptations which are not now required. Please discuss your individual circumstances with your Housing Officer.
Housing Law only permits one right of succession. If you are not qualified to succeed to the tenancy upon the death of the tenant, please contact your Housing Officer to discuss your individual circumstances.
In a situation where a tenant passes away and no one is left in the property, the responsibility usually falls with the next of kin to formerly bring the council tenancy to an end. This can be done by the next of kin writing to the housing department, enclosing a copy of the death certificate, giving four weeks notice on behalf of the deceased.
It will be necessary to ensure that the property is cleared of personal effects and the keys returned at the end of the four week notice period. Please contact the Housing Officer who will be able to talk through this process and give appropriate advice.
If it is convenient the housing officer may ask to inspect the property prior to the keys being returned. It will also be necessary to inform council tax and housing benefits separately, because benefits will cease to be paid on the Monday following the death of a tenant.
Any expenses incurred by the council ending this tenancy are charged to the estate.