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તમારા વિસ્તારમાં કોઇ કાનૂની સલાહકાર શોધો

4 Renting and Letting

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1. Introduction

2. Private tenancies

3. Council tenancies

4. Housing association tenancies

In recent years, many council homes have been transferred to housing associations. As well as housing associations, other bodies provide 'social housing', such as housing trusts and co-operatives. Those that are registered with the Housing Corporation (in England) or National Assembly for Wales are called 'registered social landlords' (RSLs). As with council or private landlords, there are different types of tenancy.

  • If your tenancy began (or you were transferred from a local council) before 15 January 1989, you probably have a secure tenancy, similar to most council tenancies.
  • If your tenancy began on or after 15 January 1989, you probably have an assured or assured shorthold tenancy, similar to those with private landlords. These may be for fixed terms (of, for example, six months) or 'periodic' (running from week to week or from month to month).

With other kinds of social housing provider, such as a trust or co-operative, you won't automatically have a secure tenancy.

There are also two special types of tenancy:

  • A starter or probationary tenancy, which some landlords give new tenants for up to 18 months. These are assured shorthold tenancies, and tenants who do not stick to the terms of the tenancy agreement can be evicted very easily. After a year, if possession proceedings have not been started, starter tenancies automatically become either assured tenancies.
  • A demoted assured shorthold tenancy, which you could be given if someone in your household behaves anti-socially, causes a nuisance or uses your home for illegal activities (such as drug dealing). Tenancies like this are normally demoted for at least a year and give you fewer rights than other tenancies, so it is easier for the landlord to evict you. If there are no problems during your demoted tenancy, you will become an assured tenant again.

If you are unsure what type of tenancy you have, check your tenancy agreement or seek advice.

If you want to end the tenancy
If you want to leave your house or flat, you can do so by giving notice, usually of four weeks. If you are still in a fixed term in the tenancy, your landlord can insist that you pay rent until the end of the fixed term. You can sometimes argue against this, for example, if the house or flat has serious defects, or if your landlord was able to get a new tenant soon after you left. You will need to get advice if you think either of these reasons applies to your situation.

Some fixed-term tenancies have a 'break clause', which allows you to leave before the fixed term expires. If you have a joint tenancy, and one tenant wants to leave, the legal situation can be complicated, and you should get advice.

If the landlord wants to end the tenancy
In most cases, the housing association or other landlord must serve notice on you to warn you that it plans to start 'possession proceedings', and tell you why. At the end of the period set out in the notice, the landlord can apply to the court for possession. If the court awards an outright possession order, and you don't leave by the date given in the order, the landlord can ask the court to call in bailiffs to evict you.

Instead of outright possession, the court may grant a postponed (suspended) order, which is when you are allowed to stay in your home as long as you stick to certain conditions, such as paying off a certain amount of arrears each month or week or not causing a nuisance to neighbours.

Alternatively, the court may grant an ‘adjournment on terms’, which is when the court delays the hearing as long as you pay the rent and a regular amount towards the arrears. But this can happen only in certain circumstances, and you would need expert advice to see if it would be possible for you.

If you have an assured or assured shorthold tenancy, your rights as a tenant are broadly the same as for a private tenant of the same type (see private tenancies). However, many housing associations give their tenants extra rights. If you have a secure tenancy, your rights are the same as for a secure council tenant.

Rent increases
Housing association and RSL tenancies which started before 15 January 1989 are protected by 'fair rent' controls, which means the landlord has to apply for a rent to be fixed by the Rent Service. But if you think your rent is too high, you can make your case to the Rent Service (see 'Further help').

For assured and assured shorthold tenancies, there is little legal control over rent levels. Your rights are the same as for the same types of tenancy with a private landlord (see 'Rent increases').

In many areas, housing association rents are lower than market rents and so can be difficult to challenge.

Responsibility for repairs
You generally have the same rights and means for getting repairs done as a private tenant does. This includes the right to take civil action or to get an injunction in court or to get your local council involved if your house or flat is hazardous (see 'Responsibility for repairs'). If repairs are not done by a housing association or RSL after a reasonable time, you could also use the landlord's complaints procedure (see 'Complaining about your landlord').

Most housing association tenants have more rights than private tenants, so you can take action to get repairs done without risking being evicted for doing this.

Buying your rented home
Some housing association tenants have the right to buy their home. Most housing association secure tenants, and people whose homes have transferred from the council to a housing association since they moved in, have the right to buy. This works in the same way as the right to buy for a secure council tenant.

Other tenants may be able to buy through the 'right to acquire' scheme. This is similar to the right to buy, but discounts are usually lower and fewer properties qualify.

The housing association can give you information about the right to buy, the right to acquire and any other home-ownership schemes that may be available.

Complaining about your landlord
In England, your rights and responsibilities as a housing association or registered social landlord tenant are set out in the Housing Corporation charter. In Wales, housing associations are regulated by the Welsh Assembly. You can get a copy of the charter or regulations from your landlord if you don't already have one. If you have a complaint, you should first take it up with the housing association or registered social landlord using its complaints procedure. If you are unhappy with its response, contact:

  • the Independent Housing Ombudsman Service, if you are in England; or
  • the Public Services Ombudsman, if you are in Wales.

See 'Further help' for their details.

5. Other issues

6. Problems with neighbours

7. Further Help

8. About this leaflet

This leaflet is published by the Gurkha Free Legal Advice (LSC). It was written in association with Shelter.

The leaflets are regularly updated but the law may have changed since they were printed so the information in them may be incorrect or out of date.

Leaflet version: October 2006

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