Most housing association tenants have assured tenancies, but you should check your status if you are uncertain. If you have another type of housing association tenancy, your rights will be very different.
Am I an assured tenant?
You are probably an assured tenant unless:
- your accommodation is not self-contained
- your tenancy started before 15 January 1989 (in which case you probably have a secure tenancy)
- you have been given a starter tenancy for the first year and this is yet to finish
- your tenancy has been demoted because of anti-social behaviour
- you live in a hostel, temporary accommodation arranged for you by the council when you made a homelessness application, or housing where support is provided
- you work for the housing association and your home comes with your job .
Speak to an adviser if you are not sure what your status is.
Can I be evicted?
As an assured tenant, you have the right to live in your home as long as you don’t break the rules of your tenancy agreement. The housing association must have a legal reason (known as a ground) and get a court order to evict you.
The most common reasons for eviction include:
- not paying the rent, or regularly paying it late
- causing nuisance to neighbours
- using the property for illegal activities.
If you are threatened with eviction for any reason, speak to an adviser immediately. Even if the bailiffs are on the way, it may be possible to stop or delay the eviction. The housing association may not have a good enough reason to evict you. Or you may be able to put things right, for example, by claiming benefits or settling a neighbour dispute.
If the problem isn’t sorted out, the housing association has to give you written notice if it is going to ask the court to evict you. After the notice period has ended, the housing association can apply for a court hearing. You will be able to tell your side of the story to the court before a decision is made.
For more information see our pages on eviction of housing association tenants.
What are the rules about rent and rent increases?
Assured tenants pay a market rent, which is usually set by the housing association once a year. It should be lower than you would pay a private landlord for the same kind of property.
The amount of rent you pay should not go up more than once per year, unless by mutual agreement, and you should always be given at least four weeks’ written notice. You may also have to pay service charges for the maintenance of communal areas.
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 appealing 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 either 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 will probably have to rehouse you (temporarily or permanently), and you may be entitled to claim compensation.
For more information, see our pages on repairs in social housing.
Can I take in lodgers or sublet my home?
Most assured tenants can take in a lodger or sublet part of their homes (such as a bedroom) if they get the housing association’s written permission first. The association can’t refuse without a good reason, but one reason might be if your home was to become overcrowded with someone else moving in.
However, if you move out and sublet the whole of your home to someone else, the housing association will be able to end your tenancy very easily. If you need to spend time living somewhere else but want to keep your tenancy, you must be able to show that you are planning to return (for example, by leaving your personal belongings at home). If you want to do this, get advice first.
If you are on benefits, the amount you get may be reduced, even if the lodger or subtenant doesn’t pay you any rent.
Can I pass on my tenancy when I die?
The legal process is called succession, and it can normally only happen once.
If you have a joint tenancy, the other joint tenant will automatically take over the tenancy if you die.
If you are the sole tenant, there are rules about who the tenancy can be passed on to. A successor must be living in the property as their ‘only or principal home’ and must be a surviving spouse, registered civil partner or cohabitee. No other family member is entitled to succeed.
For more information, see our page on succession rights.
Can I pass on my tenancy during my lifetime?
This process is called assignment. Most assured 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 get a transfer or exchange my home?
If you want to move, it may be possible to get a transfer to another property owned by your housing association. Most housing associations have a waiting list, so you may have to wait a long time until a suitable property is available, particularly if you need a large property.
Alternatively, you may be able to swap homes by mutual exchange with someone who rents from the same housing association, a different housing association, or the local council. It may also be possible to exchange with someone in another part of the country. Speak to your housing association to find out more. You must both have permission from your landlords, otherwise you could both lose your homes.
How can I buy my own place?
As an assured tenant of a housing association you might have the right to buy your home, at a discount, under the Right to Acquire scheme. This is very similar to the right to buy scheme for council tenants but only a few tenants are eligible for the scheme. For more details of who is eligible and to read a Guide on the Right to Acquire, click here.
A few housing association tenants have a preserved Right to Buy their home. You may qualify for this if:
- you used to be a council tenant, and
- your home was transferred from a local authority to a housing association, and
- your tenancy has not been demoted at any time.
The Right to Acquire scheme will be abolished in Wales on the 26 January 2019 for existing housing association properties and has already been suspended in some areas.
So if you are a social housing tenant and want to buy your home at some time in the future, you may find you are no longer allowed to do so. Get advice as soon as possible. Take a look at the Welsh Government booklet which sets out the steps to take if you wish to apply to acquire your home before the rights are abolished. (The booklet is available in other languages here).
For more information contact your landlord or a Shelter Cymru adviser.
Alternatively, you may be able to buy a home through a number of other home-ownership schemes designed to help tenants get onto the property ladder. These include :
Ask your housing association or local council about the schemes that are available locally.
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 say 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.
If you need more advice about what your tenancy agreement says or what your rights are, contact Shelter Cymru.
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.