Am I an introductory tenant?
An introductory tenancy is a one-year trial council tenancy. It gives you most of the same rights as a secure council tenancy but you can be evicted much more easily. As long as you don’t break your tenancy agreement while you are an introductory tenant, you will automatically become a secure tenant.
You are probably an introductory tenant if your council runs an introductory tenancy scheme (not all councils do), and:
- the council has given you a home through its waiting list, and
- your tenancy started less than a year ago, and
- you do not live in accommodation that comes with your job.
The council can’t discriminate by only giving introductory tenancies to some people and not to others. If the council has an introductory tenancy scheme, it must apply to all new tenants.
When will I become a secure tenant?
You will normally be an introductory tenant for 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:
- start action to evict you during the 12 month period, or
- decide to extend your introductory for a further 6 months.
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. For example, if you lived in your previous home for six months, you should only have to spend six moths 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. The same applies if you had a starter tenancy with a housing association immediately before you got 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 information can I get from the council?
The council should give you a written tenancy agreement explaining the rights and responsibilities you have as a tenant. It should say what kind of tenancy you have, how much rent you have to pay, when it can be increased and whether there are any service charges. The council can’t normally change the conditions of your tenancy without your written agreement, although they can increase the rent if they follow the correct procedure (see below). If you pay rent weekly, the council also has to give you a written record of your rent payments (a rent book).
Can the council evict me?
Introductory tenants can be evicted much more easily than secure tenants. The council doesn’t have to prove a legal reason in court but they have to follow the correct procedure. The most common reasons they might try to evict you include:
- if you have caused nuisance to neighbours
- if you haven’t paid the rent, or you have paid it late on a regular basis
- if you move out of your home and rent it to someone else.
The council has to give you written notice that they are going to ask the court to evict you. The notice must:
- give you at least 4 weeks notice
- tell you the reasons why they have decided to ask the court to evict you
- tell you that you have a right to request a review of their decision within the next 14 days
- explain that you can obtain help or advice from a Citizens’ Advice Bureau, housing aid or law centre, or a solicitor.
Get advice immediately if you receive this notice. You must ask the council to review their decision within 14 days of receiving the notice – if you do nothing there’s 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.
What are the rules on rent and rent increases?
The council sets the amount of rent you have to pay as an introductory tenant. It is usually much lower than private landlords would charge for a similar property. Your rent should always be your top financial priority as you could lose your home if you don’t pay it. If you are on a low income you may be able to claim housing benefit. An adviser can help you check whether you’re claiming everything you are entitled to.
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 first. If you pay your rent weekly, they should give you at least four weeks’ notice. It is 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 done, or are done badly, get advice, or see our pages on repairs in social housing.
Can I take in lodgers or sublet my home?
Introductory tenants don’t have the right to take in a lodger or sublet their homes. If you do so without permission from the council, you can be evicted very easily.
Can I get a transfer?
If you want to move, it may be possible to get a transfer to another property owned by the council, but this isn’t normally possible until your tenancy becomes secure. Most councils have waiting lists which are quite long, especially if you need a large property. If you want to swap homes with another tenant by mutual exchange, you will also have to wait until your tenancy becomes secure.
Can I pass on my tenancy?
It is usually only possible for an introductory tenancy to be passed to someone else during your lifetime if it is part of a divorce or separation settlement. It will be possible in some other situations once your tenancy becomes secure. The legal process for this is called assignment.
If you have a joint tenancy and you die, the other joint tenant will automatically take over the tenancy. But if you are the sole tenant, there are rules about who the tenancy can be passed on to by succession:
- Your tenancy can be passed on to your spouse or civil partner as long as s/he has been living in your home at the time of your death.
- If you’re not registered as a civil partner or married, a partner or another member of your family can take over the tenancy, providing they have been living with you for at least a year.
- The tenancy will still remain introductory until the one year has passed.
- Succession can only happen once, unless your tenancy agreement allows for more than one succession. So if you took on the tenancy by succession, you normally can’t pass it on again.
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 think 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.
Contact a local advice agency who can help you do this.