Demoted council tenancies
A demoted tenancy is a one year probationary council tenancy. Councils use demoted tenancies to take action against tenants who have been involved in anti-social behaviour. Demoted tenants can be evicted much more easily than secure council tenants.
You probably have a demoted tenancy if the court made an order to demote your secure tenancy, and less than a year has passed since then. The council should have sent you information about your rights and letters from the court should confirm how long your tenancy has been demoted for. Check these, and if you’re not sure whether your tenancy is still demoted, ask the council or get advice locally.
When can secure tenancies be demoted?
Demoted tenancies are very similar to introductory tenancies. They give you more limited rights and less protection from eviction than a secure tenancy. The council can evict you very easily if the problems that led to the demotion of your tenancy continue.
The council has to follow the correct procedure and get a court order if they want to downgrade your tenancy in this way. They normally have to start by giving you a written demotion notice, giving reasons why they are applying for a demotion order and when court action will begin (they should normally give you at least four weeks’ notice).
Once it goes to court, the judge will only agree to demote your tenancy if you (or someone who lives with you, or visits you regularly) have:
- behaved antisocially or caused nuisance in the area, or
- threatened to do so, or
- used your home for illegal activities such as drug dealing.
The judge must also consider whether in all the circumstances it is reasonable to make a demotion order.
The council should then give you a written tenancy agreement explaining the rights and responsibilities you will have while your tenancy is demoted.
When will I become a secure tenant again?
If an order is made, the demotion will normally last for one year, unless:
- the council starts possession proceedings against you during the 12 months
- you leave your home (in which case you will lose the tenancy)
- the court overturns the order (for example if the judge believes that it should not have been made in the first place)
- you die and no one is entitled to take on the tenancy (see below).
If you don’t cause nuisance or break your tenancy agreement in other ways, you should automatically become a secure tenant again after 12 months. But if the council starts court action during the 12 months, you can be evicted very easily.
What should I do if I’m having problems in my tenancy?
If you are having problems in a demoted tenancy for any reason, get advice immediately. Don’t wait until things get really bad, as you could risk losing your home.
An adviser may be able to help you by:
- arranging mediation to help sort out disagreements with neighbours or family
- referring you to an agency who help people with drug or alcohol problems
- giving you advice on how to deal with rent arrears or other debts
- arranging help with mental health problems or learning disabilities.
They may also be able to talk to the council on your behalf.
Can the council evict me?
Yes. Demoted tenancies can be ended much more easily than secure tenancies. The council doesn’t have to prove a legal reason in court but they have to follow the correct procedure to evict you. Get in touch with an adviser immediately if this happens. Don’t assume you will be able to deal with the court hearing yourself. You can contact Shelter Cymru on 0345 075 5005 or the Community Legal Service Direct (legal aid) helpline on 0845 345 4 345.
The council must give you at least four weeks’ written notice that they are going to ask the court to evict you and explain the reasons why. Get advice immediately if this happens. You have the right to ask the council to review their decision, but only if you do so within 14 days of receiving the notice. If you do nothing there is a serious risk that you will lose your home. An adviser may be able to help you convince the council that you shouldn’t be evicted and can check whether there is any way you can put things right, such as claiming benefits or settling a neighbour dispute.
If the case goes to court, provided the council has followed the correct procedure, the judge is very likely to evict you. In very limited circumstances, you may be able to argue before the court that the decision of the council to evict you was unlawful or that your eviction would not be proportionate. This is however a developing area of law and you will need to seek advice from an experienced adviser before raising such an argument.
See advice near you to find an adviser in your area.
What are the rules on rent and rent increases?
Your rent will be the same as it was before your tenancy was demoted.
Your rent should always be your top financial priority as you could lose your home if you get into rent arrears. If you are claiming benefits or have a low income, you may be able to claim housing benefit to help with the cost. An adviser can help you check whether you are claiming everything you are entitled to and that your claim is up to date.
Check your tenancy agreement to see what it says about how the rent can be increased. The council normally has to give you written notice in advance. If you pay your rent weekly, they should give you at least four weeks’ notice. It is usually very difficult to challenge rent increases, even if they seem unfair.
Who is responsible for repairs?
The council should give you information about what repairs you are responsible for, which usually includes internal decoration and putting right any damage you cause. The council is usually responsible for most other repairs, including any problems with the roof, guttering, windows, doors and brickwork. They also have to ensure that the plumbing, gas and electricity are working safely.
If your home needs repairs, report the problem to the council immediately. They should have a 24 hour service for emergencies and proper procedures for carrying out any work involved. If the repairs aren’t carried out, or are done badly, get advice.
Do I still have the right to buy my home?
The right to buy will be suspended until your tenancy becomes secure again. The time you spent as a demoted tenant will not count towards your discount.
Can I take in lodgers or sublet my home?
You don’t normally have the right to take in a lodger or sublet part of your home while your tenancy is demoted. If you do so without written permission from the council, you can be evicted very easily.
Can I get a transfer or exchange my home?
You won’t normally be able to exchange your home or get a transfer while your tenancy is demoted. There’s usually a long waiting list and most councils will give priority to people who have not been involved in antisocial behaviour. Once your tenancy becomes secure, you will be able to apply.
Can I pass on my tenancy?
You can’t pass on a demoted tenancy by assignment (ie transfer it to someone else during your lifetime) unless it’s done as part of a divorce or other family proceedings. You will be able to do so once your tenancy becomes secure again, but only to a person who would be entitled to succeed to it on your death.
If you die while your tenancy is demoted there are rules about who the tenancy can be passed on to. If you have a joint tenancy, the other joint tenant will automatically take over the tenancy when you die. If you are the sole tenant, it happens through a legal process called succession.
The rules, say that succession can only happen once.
Your tenancy can be passed on to your civil partner, spouse or partner (whether heterosexual or same sex) or another member of your family, providing they have been living with you for at least one year.
How can I get involved in the management of my home?
The council has to consult you about decisions that affect you. They should take your views into account when they make decisions about how your home is managed, although this doesn’t necessarily mean that they will act on your wishes. Ask the council for more information about how you can get involved.
What if I have a complaint?
If you feel that the council isn’t treating you fairly or has failed to fulfil its responsibilities, you can complain using their official complaints procedure. If you’re not happy with the response you get, you can complain further to the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales.