Your Rights as Council Tenants
Your Tenancy Agreement
A tenancy agreement is a legally binding contract between a landlord and a resident. A tenancy outlines our obligations to you, the tenant, and outlines your obligations to us, the landlord. In addition, it sets out other conditions relating to the tenancy such as the rules on keeping pets. If you break the conditions of your tenancy agreement, or allow others to do so, we may take legal action to evict you from your home.
Types of tenancy
People who occupy our properties as tenants usually have one of the following three types of tenancy:
- Secure Tenancies
- Introductory Tenancies
- Demoted Tenancies
The type of tenancy you have depends on your circumstances and on rules determined by government legislation and your exact rights depend on which type of tenancy you have. There are certain situations in which tenants do not have Secure, or Introductory or Demoted Tenancies (e.g. Tenancies granted to caretakers, and those housed in temporary accommodation by the council as homeless).
It is a requirement of all three kinds of tenancy that the tenancy property is your main home. If this is not the case, or if you sublet the tenancy property to someone else, you may stop being a Secure, Introductory or Demoted Tenant and we can then bring your tenancy agreement to an end by serving a notice.
Lambeth Council offers what is termed an ‘introductory tenancy'. This is a 12-month probationary tenancy after which the tenant will become a secure tenant, providing they have met the conditions of the tenancy agreement.
Am I an introductory resident?
You are probably an introductory tenant if you satisfy all of the following conditions:
The council has given you a home through its waiting list, and
Your tenancy started less than a year ago
It is important to note that Waltham Estate RMO does not discriminate by only giving introductory tenancies to some people and not to others; all new tenants are introductory tenants.
What is the difference between an introductory tenancy and a secure tenancy?
An introductory tenancy gives you many of the same rights as a secure council tenancy; however you can be evicted more easily. In addition, introductory tenants cannot:
- Exchange their tenancy with any other tenant
- Transfer the tenancy, unless they are ordered to by a court or in other very rare circumstances
- Exercise the right to buy (however, the period of introductory tenancy may count towards the Right to Buy)
- Take in lodgers or sublet all or part of the property or
- Make improvements to the property without the council's permission
What are your rights as an introductory tenant?
As an introductory tenant you have the right to be:
- Told about introductory tenancies and the council's duties to repair
- Consulted on housing matters and kept up to date about any changes that affect your introductory tenancy
What are my obligations as an introductory tenant?
- As an introductory tenant you must:
- Pay the weekly rent
- Keep the property clean and decorated
- Respect the neighbours and not cause a nuisance
- Make sure that anyone living at or visiting the property does not cause a nuisance
- Keep your garden in a neat and tidy condition
- Allow council workmen into the property to carry out inspections and repairs
- Give the council four weeks notice to end the introductory tenancy
The introductory tenant has other responsibilities that will be explained when you sign the tenancy agreement.
What happens if an introductory tenant breaches the tenancy agreement?
If you breach your tenancy agreement, your local tenant management organisation (TMO) may take action to evict you. Examples where we have ended an introductory tenancy are:
- The tenant failing to pay the weekly rent, or consistently paying their rent late
- The tenant causing or allowing visitors to cause a nuisance or annoyance
- The tenant moving out and subletting the property
During the first year of your tenancy, we will visit you in your home to ascertain how you are managing your tenancy and discuss any difficulties you may have. If, however, you break any conditions of the tenancy agreement, a notice of proceedings for possession may be issued and you will need to attend a tenancy review meeting, which may lead to possession proceedings being initiated.
When will you become a secure tenant?
It is possible to become a secure tenant 12 months from the date your tenancy started or the date you moved in, whichever is later. You will normally become a secure tenant automatically after the first year has passed as long as the council doesn't either:
- Start action to evict you during the 12 month period, or
- Decide to extend your introductory tenancy for a further year
If you have spent time as an introductory tenant in another property before your current tenancy started, the time you spent there should count towards the 12 months. If you lived in your previous home for six months for example, you should only have to spend six months as an introductory tenant in your new home.
If you lived there for more than a year, you should be given a secure tenancy straight away, unless action has been taken to extend your introductory tenancy. The same applies if you had a starter tenancy with a housing association immediately before you obtained your council tenancy.
If you have a joint tenancy, the trial period ends as soon as one of the joint tenants has completed the trial period.
What is the difference between a ‘joint' and a ‘sole' tenant?
You are a sole tenant if only one tenant is named on the tenancy agreement. If two or more people are named on the tenancy agreement then you have a joint tenancy. Joint tenants each have all the rights and responsibilities set out in the tenancy agreement, even if one leaves the property. If one joint tenant formally ends the tenancy, the tenancy comes to an end, even if the other joint tenant(s) did not know about it.
I am having relationship difficulties or getting divorced, what will happen to my tenancy?
Only the court can decide matters regarding separation, divorce, custody to children etc. and you should seek independent legal advice about such matters. Your housing officer will inform you of your rights regarding the tenancy.
Can I pass my tenancy on to my partner or someone else when I die?
When a tenant dies, the tenancy continues in the name of any surviving joint tenant(s). Even if you were not a joint tenant, the tenancy will continue in the name of the surviving husband, wife or common-law partner, so long as the property was his or her main home at the time of death and can provide documentation's to that affect. This process is known as ‘succeeding' to the tenancy. A tenancy can only be succeeded to another person once.
If there is no husband, wife or common law partner to succeed the tenancy then the tenancy will be ended by a "Notice to Quit" being served on the property. If however, a member of the family wishes to succeed to the tenancy, he or she must have lived at the property for at least one year immediately before the death of the tenant.
Where a succession to a tenancy has taken place and the property exceeds the size required by the successor, we might take legal action to obtain the property back. In this circumstance, we will offer the successor alternative accommodation in relation to their assessed household need. This is not applicable however if the tenancy is succeeded by the husband, wife or common-law partner.
Can I pass my tenancy to my partner or to anyone else at any other time?
There are two other situations that enable you to pass or assign your tenancy on to someone else. Before you can do this however, you will need our permission in writing.
- You exchange your home with someone else.
- You have a court order ordering you to do so (divorce settlement)
What is subletting and am I allowed to sublet my property?
Subletting is when you rent out your home to someone else. You may sublet part of your home, but this can only be done with our permission. Subletting the whole of your home constitutes a breach of your tenancy agreement and we may take action to repossess the property.
If I take in a lodger or sublet part of my home will it affect my housing benefit entitlement?
It may reduce your housing benefit entitlement. In such circumstance you are advised to contact the housing benefit department as soon as possible to inform them of any changes in your circumstance.
Changing your tenancy conditions
If we wish to change your tenancy conditions, Lambeth Council will have to consult with all tenants formally to tell them what changes they wish to bring in and what the effect will be. Lambeth Council will have to ask your views, consider any views you put forward, and then decide whether to go ahead with the proposed changes if you are having difficulties managing any aspect of your tenancy and require support, please contact the estate office. Alternatively please contact the Tenancy Support Service on:
Freephone: 0800 707 6615 or on 020 7062 0589
How can I end my tenancy?
Your tenancy runs from Monday to Monday, and it will continue to do so until you or we, legally bring it to an end. If you wish to do this, you must give us at least four weeks' written notice to quit, ending on a Monday. You will remain responsible for rent, reporting repairs and all the other conditions of your tenancy until the date your tenancy ends. You will find a pre-printed Notice to Quit at the end of this leaflet. To use it, you need to complete and return it to your estate office.
What if I am a joint tenant?
If you are a joint tenant, your tenancy can end if one of you gives "Notice to Quit". This is legally binding on both of you, so if your spouse or partner serves notice against your wishes or without your knowledge you should speak to your estate office immediately.
What if I am going to be away from my home for a while but I am not sure if I want to end my tenancy?
If you are planning to be away from home for example, if you are going into a nursing home or are likely to be taking an extended holiday, then you should tell your estate officer who will need to discuss such things as benefit entitlement with you and who the estate office should contact in the case of an emergency.
If you do not tell us you are going away, there is a risk that we may decide you have abandoned the property and that you do not plan to return. In this case, we are likely to start court action
to take back the property.
What happens after I have served Notice to Quit?
During the notice period (28 days) we will arrange to visit your home and carry out an inspection. We will also give you the opportunity to raise any questions or concerns with us. If you have damaged the premises, or carried out any alterations or adaptations without our permission, we will give you the chance to put the work right. If you do not, you may be charged for the costs we incur in doing this work.
What will you need to do before leaving the property?
The checklist below should help you organise your move out of the property. If you have any questions or concerns about any aspect of your move, please contact your estate office.
Ending your tenancy checklist, make sure that you have:
- Removed all your possessions and property from your home and garden
- Left no persons in the property
- Left all the premises clean and tidy
- Notified the water, gas and electricity companies of your departure
- Returned to us all the keys to the premises by noon on the date your tenancy ends (including window locks and shed keys where applicable)
- Balanced your rent account
- Given us a forwarding address (e.g. for post)
- Left the internal decorations in good condition
- Left the garden clear of rubbish
Did you know you can receive £100 when you move if you:
- Leave your home in a reasonable condition
- Give four weeks' notice of your departure date
- Allow us to advertise and show prospective tenants your property
- Provide us with your new address
- Do not owe us any money on your rent or parking accounts or that you are keeping to any agreed payment plan
- Return all your keys to us
- Complete any information we have requested from you
- Do not have any know anti-social behaviour or are in breach of your tenancy agreement
Golden goodbyes will not be paid to:
- Leaseholders or anyone who has bought their home under the Right to Buy scheme or low-cost home ownership schemes
- Mutual exchanges
- Unauthorised occupants