Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How quickly can I move if I apply for a mutual exchange?
A: From the moment you submit your application form, the Council has 42 days or 6 weeks to process your request for a mutual exchange. Just because we have accepted your application, does not mean you will be granted permission. The Council will investigate and consider all aspects of the tenancy and property as well as conducting; gas, electric and property inspections where appropriate.
Q: I am dealing with the affairs of a Council tenant who has died what do I do?
A: Coping with the death of a friend or relative is never easy and trying to deal with their affairs can be complicated and upsetting. We will carry on charging rent until the representatives of the tenant, who has died legally ends the tenancy. Unfortunately there is no rent free period to allow for the property to be cleared and Housing Benefit will not pay for this period. To end the tenancy you need to do the following:
- Contact the Housing Management Team to advise of the tenant’s death, you will be issued a letter detailing all you need to do such as provide a copy of the death certificate and complete a Notice to Quit (NTQ).
- Ensure all of the tenant’s belongings and furniture are removed from the property. If items remain you must contact the Housing Management team to give permission to remove the items. We reserve the right to charge for any items that have not been removed or damage to the property.
- Hand back all sets of keys along with a copy death certificate and completed NTQ at a date and time arranged with the relevant housing management officer. You will receive a written receipt when you do this.
Q: Can I add my partner or child to my tenancy?
A: This is called a joint tenancy and as there is no legal right to a joint tenancy, the Council is under no obligation to grant them. As a general rule we only allow spouses and partners who have lived at the property for at least 12 months. We do not allow children or siblings to become joint tenants.
Likewise if the property has been specially adapted, is far greater than the needs of the current household or there has been a previous succession we may also withhold permission.
The person you are requesting become a joint tenant may still be protected under succession rights – see successions. But it is advisable to speak to your housing management officer for more information.
To request a joint tenancy you must put this in writing to your housing management officer who will investigate the request and give you a written decision.
Q: I have split up with my partner and we are joint tenants/married what do I do?
A: Once a joint tenancy has been created, this is legally binding and means both tenants are jointly and severally liable for maintaining the tenancy, although only one tenant needs to be resident in the property in order to satisfy this. Dissolving a joint tenancy is a complicated matter and if neither party can agree who will stay or who will leave you should speak to a solicitor about obtaining a Court Order.
If you and your partner can decide who will stay and who will leave you can speak to the Council in order to request they dissolve the tenancy. However there is no obligation for them to do this. We will consider all requests, taking into account the size of the property and the number of occupants, previous successions and adaptations. For example a single person living in a three bed house would be required to move to a suitably sized 1 bedroom property.
This is because the Council would end the joint tenancy completely and give a new tenancy to the remaining party.
If you are married but your partner is not a joint tenant you are not able to exclude them from the ‘matrimonial home’ by changing the locks. Their rights are protected by law and you should seek advice from a solicitor before taking action.
Sometimes people can take over the tenancy and stay in their home when the tenant dies if they are a close relative or partner. This is called succession. There can legally be only one statutory succession for each Council tenancy. However sometimes the Council’s own rules allow an extra succession to happen but, this is very unusual.
It is possible for a tenant to pass their tenancy on to another person by assignment. This means the assignee steps into the shoes of the outgoing tenant and occupies under the same terms. A departing tenant cannot pass on their tenancy to anyone the wish and they can only pass on the tenancy if there has been no previous succession or assignment.
Assignment is only possible for secure tenancies as either a mutual exchange, where a Court orders it as part of divorce or judicial separation proceedings or on termination of a civil partnership, where a Court orders it under the Children Act or to a potential successor – I.e someone who would have the right to succeed the tenancy on death of the tenant. Assignment of a secure tenancy is not possible under any other circumstances. This means that joint tenants cannot assign their interest to the sole name of one of them.
- Margaret always lived with her mum and dad in their 3 bedroom Council house (they were joint tenants)
- When Margaret’s father passed away her mum became the sole tenant (this was a statutory succession)
- When Margaret’s mother passed away, she spoke to her housing management officer.
- She could not take over the tenancy because there has already been a succession but they deemed her eligible for a non-statutory succession and so she was offered a suitable 1 bedroom flat in the same area.
- Liz has lived with her grandmother for 5 years. When her grandmother passed away she was able to become the tenant of her house. This was a statutory succession.
- Liz continued living in the house. It was a 2 bedroom house and the Council asked her if she would move to a smaller place.
- She decided, under the Council’s Transfer Incentive Scheme, to move to her a flat nearer to her family and she received a financial incentive to downsize.
- Abdul has always lived with his mum, who is a Council tenant. Abdul’s mum has been very ill. She needs to go into a care home where she can be looked after properly.
- The housing management officer helps Abdul’s mum fill in the forms and she gives her tenancy to Abdul. This is an assignment. Abdul is able to stay in his home after his mum has moved out.
- Jack went to live at his cousin’s flat 6 months ago.
- His cousin is now moving abroad to work. He would like Jack to take over his tenancy.
- They talk to the housing office. Jack cannot take over the tenancy as he has not lived at the flat for long enough.
- The Housing Options Team offers help and advice and assists Jack in finding a private rented flat.