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Council tenants handbook

Understanding your tenancy agreement

Your tenancy agreement is a legal contract between you and us. It sets out the conditions we must both keep to. It's an important document so read it carefully and keep it safe.

Type of tenancy

We will tell you in writing which type of tenancy you have.

You will have either:

  • an introductory tenancy
  • a flexible (secure) tenancy
  • a secure tenancy.

You cannot ask to change the type of tenancy you have.

If you are the only person named on the tenancy and you are the only person who signed the tenancy, you are a sole tenant.  If there are two people named on the tenancy and you both signed the tenancy, you are joint tenants.

At the end of your introductory tenancy

As long as you have met your tenancy obligations we will change your introductory tenancy to a flexible (secure) tenancy or a secure tenancy. The tenancy you get will depend on your individual circumstances.

If you are on a flexible (secure) tenancy, your tenancy agreement will specify the period of your tenancy. This could be 2 or 5 years. At the end of your flexible tenancy, you will need to apply again. We will guide you through this process.

A secure tenancy will last until you leave or the law changes.

Changing your name on your tenancy

Complete the change of circumstances form.

You will need to supply us with original versions of the following (as appropriate):

  • marriage certificate or civil partnership proof
  • divorce papers or dissolution of civil partnership proof
  • deed poll documents
  • “wishes to be known as” statement.

You will not be asked to sign a new tenancy agreement.

Adding names to your tenancy

If you are a sole tenant we will not add anyone else’s name to your tenancy.  We will not create a new joint tenancy.

A joint tenancy can only involve two people. You cannot add any more people to become joint tenants.

If you have people living with you please let us know so we can add them to our system as “occupants”.

Removing names from the tenancy

If you hold a joint tenancy we cannot simply remove anyone’s name from this legal agreement.  We can only do this if we have a legal order from a court.

If you need more information about this please contact your neighbourhood officer as this is a complex area of the law. We will advise you to get independent legal advice.

Succeeding a tenancy

If you die while you still hold a tenancy with us there are circumstances where this tenancy can be passed to someone else. This is called succeeding to a tenancy.

For more information about succeeding to a tenancy, visit our tenancy advice for the bereaved page.

Assigning your tenancy

If you want to pass your tenancy to someone else while you are still alive, this is an assignment of your tenancy.

Giving up your secure tenancy is a serious decision. In most cases, this will make your housing situation very insecure.

Our first concern is for your wellbeing and security. Your case will have to meet strict criteria.

We will discuss with you the implications of you giving up your secure tenancy. We will have this discussion with you in private. Your neighbourhood officer will investigate your case on its individual merits.

Transfer your tenancy by mutual exchange

For many tenants an exchange can be a quicker way of moving than applying for a transfer.

You can apply to exchange your home by joining HomeSwapper.

For more information, visit our mutual exchange page.

Right to buy

A secure tenant has the right to buy when they have spent at least three years as a council or public sector tenant. You will only be able to buy under the scheme if your house or flat is:

  • your only or principal home 
  • self-contained.

There are many factors to consider before purchasing your property. We strongly advise that you read further information before you decide to apply. Visit our right to buy pages for more information.

Reasons we could repossess your home

We can apply for a court order to repossess your home if:

  • you are behind with your rent
  • you have broken any condition of your tenancy agreement
  • you have caused a nuisance
  • you gave false information on your application for housing
  • your home is bigger than you need after you took over the tenancy by succession
  • your home is overcrowded
  • you have not left any temporary accommodation we provided
  • you no longer live in the property
  • we need to develop and improve the property
  • the accommodation has been adapted to meet a person’s special needs, and nobody in your household has these needs.

If we repossess your home because it has been adapted or so we can redevelop it, we must offer you alternative accommodation. We will also compensate you for having to move.

Before we go to court we must first give you notice that explains why we intend to repossess your home. The notice will tell you when we intend to go to court and we must apply for the court order in the 12 months after that date.

If you are evicted because you broke a condition of the tenancy agreement, we may consider that you have made yourself homeless through your actions. This would mean we do not have a duty to re-house you and your family. It's likely no other council in the UK would have a duty to house you.

Contacting your neighbourhood officer

If you have questions about your tenancy, you can email the team that covers your area directly: