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Tenant rights and succession

The content on this page applies to the Department of Infrastructure Public Sector Housing section, although the other housing authorities apply similar rules and guidelines. If in doubt, contact your housing authority.

If you keep to the terms of the tenancy agreement, you can usually keep your home for as long as you want, but there are some exceptional circumstances where we might need to transfer your tenancy to another property.

We cannot end your tenancy unless:

  • you break 1 or more conditions of your tenancy
  • we need your home for another reason, for example, clearance for redevelopment or
  • we get a court order for possession

All tenants are closely monitored during the first year of their tenancy during which we will make sure that new tenants act responsibly and follow the conditions of the tenancy agreement. During this period, housing officers may visit you to make sure that there are no problems. If there are, they will take action to sort them out quickly.

New tenants

New tenants do not have the same rights as established tenants. During the first 12 months you do not have the right to:

  • exchange homes with any other tenant
  • take in lodgers

Breaking a tenancy agreement

If you break the terms and conditions of your tenancy, we will contact you and tell you what you need to do to put things right. If you continue to break your tenancy conditions we will take legal action. This can lead to:

1. Getting an injunction, which is a court order requiring you to stick to the terms of your tenancy. This is used mainly against tenants who cause unreasonable annoyance to others in the neighbourhood, such as by causing excessive noise, abuse, threats, violence, racial intimidation or harassment etc.

2. Seeking to take back your home. In this case we will:

  • warn you in writing that we plan to take legal action against you and serve you with a notice to quit
  • apply to court for a possession order. If the court grants the order, we can then seek a warrant for your eviction. This would mean that you would have to leave your home and would not be allowed back

We will always give you every chance to put things right to avoid court action.

The Department can ask for a possession order, from the courts, for reasons set out in law. These reasons are called grounds and if you break 1 or more of these grounds, we can ask for a possession order on your home and ask you to leave. To do this, we have to prove to a court that you have broken the rules and/or that taking your home off you is a reasonable action to take.

The following list explains the reasons why we could ask for a possession order.

  1. If you do not pay the rent
  2. If you break any other condition of your tenancy agreement
  3. If you, or anyone living with or visiting you, annoy or cause a nuisance to your neighbours
  4. If the condition of your home has deteriorated through your neglect
  5. If you knowingly gave false information or withheld relevant information to get your home
  6. If you are convicted for allowing your home to be used for immoral or illegal purposes

    If you do any of these things listed above we do not have to offer you another place to live if you are made homeless. In the cases below, we must show that we have reasonable grounds for possession, and in these cases we would generally offer you a suitable alternative place to live:

  7. If you refuse to leave your temporary home when building or modernisation work on your own home is completed
  8. If your home is so overcrowded that you are breaking the law
  9. If we want you to leave while we carry out major work on your home, which we cannot reasonably do while you live there
  10. If your home has been designed or adapted for people with special needs, or for someone who is elderly or disabled, who are no longer living there and we need the home for someone who needs these facilities
  11. If you have taken over the tenancy after the original tenant died and the home is too big for you. This does not apply to the husband or wife of the tenant who died

This is a brief summary of the main grounds for possession. If you receive a notice seeking possession, you should seek your own legal advice.

We may also ask you to transfer from a large house to a smaller home if your family becomes smaller and we need these facilities for someone else.

The difference between a joint and a sole tenancy

You are a sole tenant if only 1 tenant is named on the tenancy agreement. If 2 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 1 leaves. If 1 joint tenant formally ends the tenancy, the tenancy comes to an end, even if the other joint tenant/s did not know about it.

Generally, we will permit established couples to be joint tenants when they start their tenancy. In exceptional circumstances, we may consider joint tenancies with other close relatives, for example parent and child, or brother and sister.

Succession in the case of death

When a tenant dies, the tenancy continues in the name of a surviving husband, wife, or common-law partner, so long as his or her main home is with the tenant at the time. This is known as succeeding to the tenancy. However, this will not apply if the tenancy has already passed in this way. Any person who believes that they have a right to a tenancy in these circumstances must contact the Department’s customer service team on tel: +44 1624 685955, or email within 6 months of the death of the spouse or partner.

Passing on your tenancy

There are 2 situations, apart from the death of a spouse or partner, that enable you to pass your tenancy on to someone else. However, you must firstly get our permission in writing.

You can pass on your tenancy if:

  • you exchange your home with someone else
  • you have a court order ordering you to do so (as often happens in divorce)

In the event of relationship difficulties/divorce

Only the courts can decide matters regarding separation, divorce, and custody, and you should seek legal advice about this. Nevertheless, your housing officer can offer advice about your own, and your partner’s, housing rights, and things to consider regarding the tenancy.

Subletting and lodgers

Subletting is where you rent out your home to someone else. If you sublet your home you will have broken the terms of your tenancy agreement and we will take steps to take possession of your home. However, you are usually allowed to take lodgers, but must get our written permission before you do so. A lodger charge, currently £20.74 per week, will be added to your rent for each lodger staying in your home.

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