Tenancies offered by the Council
As a new tenant you will get an introductory tenancy.
If you have never been a Council or Housing Association tenant before, or you have had a break in your former Council or Housing Association tenancy then you may be offered an Introductory Tenancy. These run for 12 months, unless:
- We serve a Notice of Intention to Seek Possession and then make an order to the court to end the tenancy early for example due to rent arrears or anti social behaviour or
- If the tenancy is extended for an extra 6 months because the Council considers that there are issues regarding the conduct of yourself, someone residing with you or visiting you or you fail to pay the rent (including paying arrears) when due.
- Provided you have been a good tenant after 12 months your tenancy will automatically become secure.
Introductory tenants do not have the same rights as secure tenants for example they:
- Cannot undertake a mutual exchange, assign the property or apply for a transfer
- Cannot take in lodgers, sub-let all or part of their property
- Cannot carry out any improvements/alterations to their home
- Have no Right to Buy their home.
At the end of your introductory tenancy you will get a five year flexible fixed term tenancy unless you are living in a sheltered property or a bungalow, since these properties are designated for older people and/or people with physical disabilities.
Flexible Fixed Term Tenancies
From 1st June 2013 the Council will be offering fixed term tenancies to all new tenants except for:
- Anyone entering sheltered housing or a property designated for people aged 55+
- A bungalow
Since these properties are designated for older people and people with physical disabilities.
Anyone entering sheltered housing/bungalows will on expiry of their introductory tenancy be granted a standard secure tenancy not restricted to a fixed term. Everyone else on expiry of their introductory tenancy would have a 5 year fixed term flexible secure tenancy. Prior to the end of the fixed term tenancy an assessment will be carried out of the households circumstances.
The assessment could result in:
- No new flexible fixed term secure tenancy being offered and, following the service of a notice confirming that the Council requires possession of the property, the issue of proceedings for possession should you fail to comply with the Council’s notice.
- A new tenancy being granted for a further 5 year fixed term.
- The tenant being transferred to alternative accommodation within Wealden’s own social housing stock or to a housing association property.
A secure tenancy is now only given to those that move (either by way of a transfer or mutual exchange) and were a Secure Council Tenant or an Assured Housing Association Tenant at their previous property before the move took place.
Presently, as a secure tenant you can live in your home for the rest of your life as long as you comply with your tenancy agreement. Secure tenancies can only be ended by a court order, following a court hearing to look at the reasons behind the breaches of tenancy.
Secure tenants (along with Flexible Fixed Term Tenants) have a number of rights which other tenants do not have including:
The right to exchange your home with another Council or housing association tenant provided you have obtained prior written consent from the Housing Services or housing association (your future landlord).
Subject to eligibility you may have the Right to Buy your council home.
The right to make improvements to your home, provided you have obtained prior written consent.
- Right to assign the property (give it to someone else) or apply for a transfer
- Right to take in lodgers, sub-let all or part of their property
- Right to carry out any improvements/alterations with the Council’s written permission
Non-secure tenancies are sometimes given when a homeless household is placed in temporary accommodation owned by the Council by virtue of Homelessness legislation. Once permanent housing is found an Introductory or secure tenancy will be given (depending upon the length of stay in non-secure accommodation).
In order to terminate, and gain possession of, a non-secure tenancy, the landlord is not required to prove any statutory ground. All that is required is for the landlord to serve on the tenant a valid Notice to Quit. Following which, a claim for possession may be brought. The tenancy will subsequently end on the date specified in the court order for possession.
Non-Secure tenancies do not have all the rights that secure tenants have including no:
- Right to Buy, Right to Exchange, Right to Succession, Right to Take in Lodgers or to Sublet.
Tenancies offered by Housing Associations
Starter tenancies are offered by housing associations and are equivalent to Introductory tenancies offered by the Council. If you are a new housing association tenant you may be offered a starter tenancy – normally lasting 12 months. This is so you can prove you’re a responsible tenant before the housing association offers you an assured tenancy. The security of tenure for a starter tenancy is comparable to an “assured shorthold tenancy” which is commonly given to tenants in the private rented sector (discussed below).
The tenancy can be ended by the serving of a Notice of Seeking Possession and then seeking a court order to remove you from the property.
Starter tenants do not have the following rights:
- Right to transfer, use a mobility scheme or mutually exchange your home
- Right to take in lodgers or sublet part of your home
- Right to assign the tenancy unless by a court order
- Right to make improvements
- Right to buy or acquire your home
Fixed Term Tenancies
A fixed term tenancy can be offered by the Council or Housing Association and is a tenancy offered for a certain period of time after which it will be reviewed. At the end of the period the tenancy may either be ended or a new fixed term tenancy or another type of tenancy granted.
A fixed term tenancy can only be ended by the council/housing association following a breach of the tenancy conditions by the tenant/s. Again a court order is needed as for a secure and assured tenancies.
Fixed term tenants have the same rights as secure tenants including Right to Buy (subject to eligibility), right to carry out a mutual exchange.
Assured Tenancies offered by housing association are the equivalent to secure tenancies offered by the Council. The main difference is that assured tenants do not have the Right to Buy but instead may have the Right to Acquire.
As a secure tenant you can live in your home for the rest of your life as long as you comply with your tenancy agreement. If you breach your tenancy conditions legal action can be taken to end your tenancy.
Assured tenants have the following rights:
- have your home repaired
- sometimes buy your home after a certain amount of time at a discount – ‘Right to Acquire’
- swap your home with another council or housing association tenant, with the housing association’s permission
Tenancies offered by Private Landlords
Assured Shorthold Tenancy
An assured shorthold tenancy is a tenancy that gives a tenant the legal right to live in a property for a period of time. Such tenancies are usually granted for a set period of six months. Following the initial six-month period it might roll on a week-to-week or month-to-month basis (this is known as a periodic tenancy).
In order to evict a tenant before the fixed term is up a Section 8 Notice needs to be served on the tenant/s and an application made to the court for a possession order. The court will not give a possession order unless it is satisfied that a valid reason exists. Tenants being evicted during the fixed term will enjoy the same protection as an assured tenant, meaning the prescribed requirements must be met by the landlord. However, providing a landlord serves two months’ notice to expire after the 6-month period then no reason for eviction needs to be given.
Assured shorthold tenants have certain basic rights:
- to live in the accommodation undisturbed
- to live in a property in good repair
- to information about the tenancy
- Protection from eviction by anyone other than an authorised court bailiff.
License to Occupy
A license to occupy is offered to an occupier of a property by a landlord who does not want the occupier to enjoy the security of tenure offered through varying forms of tenancies. An occupier with a license to occupy may therefore only be given 28 days notice to leave, or less in certain circumstances. Some Licensees will not be given a term in which they may occupy the property but receive implied permission on a week-by-week basis. Furthermore, some licensees do not even enjoy the protection from eviction offered by the Act with the same name created in 1977.
Licenses are very attractive to landlords for a number of reasons. The law is therefore very careful to illustrate the difference between tenancies and licenses. A tenancy described by a landlord, as a license has become known as a “Sham” tenancy within housing law terms.
A simple example of what might constitute a licence is a landlord renting out a room in his/her house to a lodger. The right to occupy will be granted under a license. Little rights are therefore enjoyed by the lodger who can be asked to leave at very short notice. Equally, a family member living with another family member or friend may live there under a license. The license does not need to be written up although in some cases a “contractual” license is produced and signed by both parties. If an occupier is given a written license but pays rent to live in a property with exclusive possession, not sharing it with any other lodgers or landlords then the license may in fact be a tenancy. At this point both parties may need to speak to solicitor or adviser about the implications of the situation.