Am I an assured shorthold tenant?
Housing associations often provide assured shorthold tenancies if the tenancy is temporary, or if it is a starter or demoted tenancy.
You are probably an assured shorthold tenant if:
- you live in a hostel or supported housing
- your accommodation was arranged for you by the council when you made a homeless application
- your secure or assured tenancy has been demoted by the courts
- you are in the first 12 months of a starter tenancy, or
- your tenancy started after 26 February 1997 and you are not an assured tenant.
An assured shorthold tenancy is a tenancy that gives you a legal right to live in accommodation for a period of time. Your tenancy might be set for a period (known as a fixed-term phase of the tenancy) such as six months. Or it might roll on a week-to-week or month-to-month basis (this is known as the periodic phase of the tenancy).
Can I be evicted?
Yes. Assured shorthold tenants can be evicted fairly easily. The housing association does not have to prove a reason (also known as a ground) unless your tenancy is within its fixed-term phase. However, it will have to serve you with a notice, follow the correct procedure and get a court order. The most common reasons for eviction during the fixed-term phase of a tenancy include:
- not paying the rent
- causing nuisance to neighbours
- using the property for illegal activities
- living in another property and/or subletting your home without the housing association’s permission.
Contact an adviser as soon as you receive this notice. Do not wait. The adviser may be able to help you by:
- talking to the housing association on your behalf
- sorting out any problems with your Housing Benefit claim
- arranging help with personal problems
- helping you settle a dispute with your neighbours.
Even if you have been taken to the court by your housing association or have a date when the bailiffs are going to evict you from your home, get in touch with an adviser immediately to find out whether the eviction can be delayed or even stopped. Some advisers may be able to help you with checking that the correct procedure has been followed, or advise you on what other options you have if you do lose your home.
See our pages on eviction of housing association tenants for more information.
What are the rules about rent and rent increases?
There are rules about how and when the rent can be increased. Your tenancy agreement should explain the procedure. In most cases you should be given at least four weeks’ written notice of a rent increase. Your rent cannot be increased during the ‘fixed term’ unless you agree to it. If you think your rent has been increased unfairly, you may be able to appeal to the Rent Assessment Committee (RAC). You must apply for an appeal before the date that your rent is due to go up. An adviser can tell you if it is worth making an appeal and may be able to help you put your case to the RAC.
Your rent should always be your top financial priority – even if you have other debts – because you could lose your home if you get into rent arrears. Make sure you tell your housing association immediately if you are having difficulty with paying either your rent or service charges, because it should give you help and information about benefits that you could be eligible for. If you are claiming benefits or are on a low income, you may be eligible for Housing Benefit to help you pay the rent.
Who is responsible for repairs?
The housing association should give you information about what repairs you are responsible for, which usually includes internal decoration and putting right any damage you cause.
The housing association 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 housing association immediately.
If the housing association plans to do major work, it should consult you before the work begins. If you have to move out while the work is done, the housing association may have to rehouse you (temporarily or permanently), and you may be entitled to claim compensation.
See our pages on repairs in social housing for more information.
Can I pass on my tenancy when I die?
If you have a joint tenancy, the other joint tenant will automatically take over the tenancy if you die. But, if you are the sole tenant, there are rules about who the tenancy can be passed on to. The legal process is called succession, and it can normally only happen once.
Can I pass on my tenancy during my lifetime?
This process is called assignment. Most assured shorthold tenants can only assign their tenancy if the housing association agrees to it. If your tenancy agreement doesn’t say anything about assignment, you probably need permission from the association. If you want to assign your tenancy, get advice first. If the correct procedure isn’t followed, you could still be legally responsible for paying the rent and the person who stays on could be evicted.
Can I buy my own place?
Assured shorthold tenants do not have the Right to Acquire their home. However, you may be able to buy a home through a number of other home-ownership schemes designed to help tenants in Wales get onto the property ladder.
Can I get a transfer or exchange my home?
If you are an assured shorthold tenant you will not normally be able to exchange or transfer your home. However, take a look at what it says in your tenancy agreement or speak to your housing association to find out more.
Getting involved in the management of your home
Your housing association should consult and involve you in decisions that are likely to affect you. You might be able to join a tenants’ committee and help in the running of the housing association.
However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that it has to act on your wishes. Ask the housing association for more information about how you can get involved, and how final decisions will be made.
Where can I find out more about my rights?
Your tenancy agreement should state what kind of tenancy you have and explain your rights and responsibilities. The housing association can’t normally make changes to it without your written consent. You should also check your tenants’ handbook, because some housing associations give their tenants additional rights.
The Welsh Government has produced a Regulatory Framework which all housing associations registered in Wales should follow. This Framework sets out important standards which each housing association should meet and explains what tenants can expect.
What if I want to make a complaint?
If you feel that the housing association isn’t treating you fairly or has failed to fulfil its responsibilities, you should use its official complaints procedure. You usually have to do this before you can take things any further.
If you’re not happy with the response you get, you can complain further to the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales.