Do I have a demoted tenancy?
If you behave in an anti-social manner housing associations can demote your tenancy to a less secure type for a certain period of time. This means you could lose your original tenancy status and be evicted more easily.
You probably have a demoted tenancy if:
- you used to have an assured or secure tenancy, and
- the housing association got a ‘demotion order’ from the court, and
- less than a year has passed since the order was made.
If your tenancy has been demoted, the housing association should have confirmed this in writing and sent you information about your rights. You should also have received letters from the court, confirming how long your tenancy has been demoted for. Check these, and if you’re unsure whether or not your tenancy is still demoted, ask the housing association or contact a local advice centre that can help you.
How does a demoted tenancy affect my rights?
A demoted tenancy gives you the same rights as an assured shorthold tenancy. However, it gives you less rights and less protection from eviction than an assured or secure tenancy.
Demoted tenancies usually last for one year. If there are no problems during that time, you will automatically be given a new assured tenancy. This applies even if you had a secure tenancy before your tenancy was demoted. But you cannot be given a new secure tenancy.
When can my tenancy be demoted?
The housing association has to follow the correct procedure and get a court order if they want to downgrade your tenancy to a demoted tenancy. It normally has to start by giving you a written demotion notice, explaining why it is applying for a demotion order and when court action will begin.
The housing association should normally give you at least two weeks’ notice. However, if the court believes that your behaviour was exceptionally bad, the housing association may not have to give you notice at all.
Once the case goes to court, the judge will only agree to demote your tenancy if you, or someone who lives with you or visits you regularly, has:
- 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 should also only make a demotion order if s/he considers it is reasonable to do so in all the circumstances.
The housing association should then give you a written tenancy agreement explaining the rights and responsibilities you will have during the demotion.
When will I become an assured or secure tenant again?
If an order is made, the demotion will normally last for one year, unless:
- the housing association starts court action to evict 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: ‘Can I pass my tenancy on when I die?’).
If you don’t cause a nuisance or break your tenancy agreement in other ways, you should automatically be given an assured tenancy after 12 months.
You cannot be given a new secure tenancy, even if you had one before the demotion. If you had a secure tenancy before the demotion you will lose the extra rights that it gave you, permanently. This includes the Right to Buy.
What should I do if I’m having problems with my tenancy?
If you are having problems with your demoted tenancy for any reason, get advice straight away. Don’t wait – you could risk losing your home. A Shelter Cymru adviser or a citizens advice bureau, or law centre 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 housing association on your behalf.
Can the housing association evict me?
Yes. Demoted tenancies can be ended much more easily than assured tenancies. The housing association 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 housing association 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 housing association 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 housing association 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 housing association 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. 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, because you could lose your home if you get into rent arrears. If you are claiming benefits or are on a low income, you may be able to claim Housing Benefit to help with the cost. An adviser can check whether you are claiming everything you are entitled to and that your claim is up to date.
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 and your rent cannot normally be increased more than once a year unless you agree to it.
If you think the housing association has increased the rent without following the rules, you may be able to appeal to a Rent Assessment Committee (RAC).
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. It also has 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.
Do I still have the right to buy my home?
No. You will lose the Right to Buy. The Right to Buy will be suspended as soon as the housing association applies for a demotion order, and will be removed permanently if the demotion order is made.
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. And if you do so without written permission from the housing association, 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 housing associations will give priority to people who have not been involved in antisocial behaviour. But once your tenancy becomes assured, you will be able to apply.
Can I pass on my tenancy during my lifetime?
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 through other family proceedings. However, you will be able to do so once your tenancy finishes being demoted and becomes assured.
Can I pass my tenancy on when I die?
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 spouse, civil partner or partner (whether heterosexual or same sex) or to another member of your family, providing they have been living with you for at least one year.
What if I have 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.