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Council tenants FAQs

What type of tenancy do I have?  /  I’m a council tenant, can I go away temporarily and leave someone else in my home  /  I’m a council tenant can someone else stay in my home  /  What happens when a council tenant dies?  /  Gardens  /  Improvements and alterations  /  Joint tenancies  /  Moving out  /  Pets  /  Requests for records/information

What type of tenancy do I have? 

All new council tenancies are on a trial period of one year before tenants become secure tenants. During this trial period a tenant is an introductory tenant and they have fewer rights and less security than secure tenants.

Q. Am I an introductory tenant?

If your tenancy is less than a year old and this is your first council or housing association tenancy you will be an introductory tenant. If you had a tenancy before but there was a gap between your old tenancy ending and your current tenancy beginning you will also be an introductory tenant.

Council secure tenants who are moving from one tenancy to another with no gap between them will still be secure tenants in their new home.

Housing association secure or assured tenants moving into a council home with no gap between the tenancies will be secure tenants.

Note: some introductory tenancies are extended to 18 months if tenancy conditions have been broken.

Q. Am I a secure tenant?

Most council tenants are secure tenants. If all the following apply you are probably a secure tenant:

  • you are over 18
  • your tenancy was not given to you to help you do your job
  • your tenancy began before 1 April 2008 or began after this date and you have been a tenant for more than 18 months
  • your tenancy has not been ended with a Notice to Quit or by a court order

Q. Am I a service tenant?

If your tenancy was given to you to help you do your job (for example because you are an estate or school caretaker) you will probably be a service tenant and your rights and duties will be different to those of secure or introductory tenants.

Your ward housing team can confirm the type of tenancy that you have.

Tenure policy

Read our full tenure policy here which was developed after consultation with residents, partners and staff and which outlines the types of tenancies that we provide.  



Page last updated Dec 19, 2013 5:06 PM

I’m a council tenant, can I go away temporarily and leave someone else in my home 

You do not need to tell us unless you will be away for longer than three months although it is sensible to tell us if you are away from home for more than a short time.

If you are going to be away for more than three months and would like someone else to stay in your home in your absence you must ask your housing officer if they will agree this. You will need to give them details about who will be staying in your home and let them know how they can contact you.

We do not usually agree that tenants can be away from home for longer than six  months although if you have a good reason to be away for longer this can be considered (for example if you are working or studying away from home temporarily)

Note: if you are away from home for more than three months and you have left someone else living in your flat without the agreement of the Council the occupant may be considered ‘an illegal occupant’ and we may take legal action to repossess your tenancy

Q. Can I sub-let my flat to a tenant if I am going away temporarily?

You must not sub-let your home to a tenant. If you are going away temporarily you cannot have a tenant but you can have someone staying in your flat as your agent if we agree.



Page last updated Dec 19, 2013 5:06 PM

I’m a council tenant can someone else stay in my home 

Q. Can my relative/partner/friend move in with me?

You don’t need our permission for a friend/relative/partner to move in with you unless they are a lodger who is paying you rent.

It is sensible to tell us if someone else is moving in so that we can update our records. If you receive housing benefit or council tax benefit you should tell the benefit service.

Note: Tenants may break their tenancy conditions if they become overcrowded by letting people move in with them.

Q. Can I have a letter to confirm that my wife/husband/relative can move in with me?

We can write a letter confirming that you are our tenant and that you do not need to have our permission for a family member to move in with you. We can also confirm the size of your home.

Q. Can I have a lodger?

If you are a secure tenant you can have a lodger as long as your housing officer gives you written permission.  A lodger may be able to help make up the shortfall in your rent if your housing benefit is reduced in April 2013.

If you are an introductory tenant you must wait until you are a secure tenant before you can ask to have a lodger.

A lodger is someone who shares all the facilities in the home like a member of the tenant’s household and rents a furnished room from you. Secure tenants have a right to have a lodger and we cannot refuse a request.

This is different from a sub-tenant who is given sole use of a room or part of the property, and who normally lives separately from the household, under a more formal arrangement. We can refuse a request to have a sub-tenant.

If you take in a lodger and are receiving benefits you must get advice from housing benefits and the DWP (Department for Work and Pensions) as your benefits may be affected.  If you don’t you may be given too much benefit which you will have to repay. Failure to declare additional income may also be regarded as fraud and you could risk prosecution.

If you are working you can get up to £4250 in rent from a lodger before you have to pay tax on this but if you get over £4250 you will need to tell your tax office.

You will find further useful information on our leaflet below.



Page last updated Dec 19, 2013 5:06 PM

What happens when a council tenant dies? 

Q. My relative has died and I am dealing with their home, what do I need to do?

When a tenant dies the ward housing team will need details of the executor or next of kin and a copy of the death certificate.  You can find out which ward housing team to contact here.

You must arrange for all the tenant’s belongings and furniture to be removed after which all keys should be returned to the ward housing team. The full rent will be charged until we receive the keys.

If there are items of furniture or white goods in good condition that you don't want, we work in partnership with a furniture recycling organisation who will collect them free of charge before you hand in the keys. If the items aren't in good condition you may also be entitled to a free collection.  Organisations such as freecycle can help you pass unwanted belongings onto other people who may want them and local charity shops may also take them from you.

If you need help removing the tenant’s belongings let us know. We may be able to arrange for the flat to be cleared for you if you make this request in writing. We may charge for this service.

Read more information about how to end a tenancy after a tenant dies

Q. I lived with my relative who has died, can I take over their council tenancy?

Husbands, wives and registered civil partners who were living with a tenant when they died can become the tenants as long as the property is their only or main home. This is called succession.

For tenancies that started before 1 April 2012 this also applies to other close relatives who have been living with a tenant for at least a year before they died and who may also be able to succeed to the tenancy but only if the property is their only or main home and there has not been a succession before. 

For tenancies that started after 1 April 2012 close relatives are entitled to succeed as a discretionary successor under our tenure policy if they fulfill the same conditions.

When there is a succession we may ask the new tenant to move to a smaller property if they have more bedrooms than they need.

We may also consider granting a new tenancy to a tenant’s carer or someone who has lived with a tenant for longer than 5 years if a tenant dies.

Note: Successors usually need to supply documents with the form to prove they live at the address (this could include bank statements, credit card bills, utility bills or other official letters or documents).

You can read more about successions in the leaflet Can I become the tenant of my home?

You can read our tenure policy here.

Q. Can my husband/ wife/ partner take over my tenancy if I die?

If you have a joint tenancy your joint tenant will remain a tenant if you die.

A husband, wife or registered civil partner of a tenant can usually succeed to a tenancy when a tenant dies as long as they were living with the tenant when they died and the property is their only or main home.

A partner who is not married to the tenant or in a registered civil partnership must have been living with the tenant for at least a year before they died to be able to succeed to the tenancy and the property must have been their only or main home.

Q. Will my son/ daughter or other close relative be able to take over my tenancy if I die?

For tenancies that started before 1 April 2012 the following family members may be able to succeed to a tenancy if they were living with a tenant for a year up to their death, the property is their only or main home and the tenant was not a successor or a former joint tenant who became a sole tenant after their joint tenant died:

  • parents
  • grandparents
  • children
  • grandchildren
  • brothers and sisters
  • uncles and aunts
  • nephews and nieces.

This includes relationships by marriage e.g. stepchildren.

A child can succeed to a tenancy.

For tenancies that started after 1 April 2012 these family members may be able to succeed as discretionary successors under our tenure policy if they fulfill the same conditions.

There is more information about people who live with council tenants in chapter 8 of our Tenants Guide - When a tenant dies or moves out.

Read the full tenure policy here.



Page last updated Dec 19, 2013 5:06 PM

Gardens 

Q. Can I put up a shed (or other structure) in my garden?

You must not put up a shed (or any other structure) in your garden without written agreement from your housing officer. If you have a shared garden it is unlikely that this will be agreed unless the neighbours who share your garden agree.

If your home is a flat or a listed building you will also need to apply for planning permission. If your home is a house and you occupy all of it, you may need to apply for planning permission.

Q. Can I fence off a section of the shared garden?

It is unlikely that we would allow you to fence off part of the estate gardens for your own use but we are usually happy to agree that tenants can tend a small area when this is possible.

If you live in a street property and your garden is shared with neighbours, dividing the garden with fences will usually only be considered if your neighbours agree and if you are willing to meet the costs yourselves.

Note: Under their tenancy conditions/lease tenants & leaseholders must keep their gardens tidy. If someone complains about a garden the housing officer should visit to take a look.

Although we do not provide a gardening service for residents the housing officer may be able to make a referral to a support agency who may be able to identify sources of help if residents are too frail or unwell to keep their garden tidy.



Page last updated Dec 19, 2013 5:06 PM

Improvements and alterations 

Q. Can I carry out a minor improvement inside my home (eg new kitchen cupboards, bath etc)?

Your housing officer must give their agreement before you can carry out an improvement inside your home. If you are a secure tenant or a leaseholder they will only say no if they have a good reason and they will tell you what that is.

If you are an introductory tenant you must wait until you are a secure tenant before you can ask to carry out improvements.

Notes:

  • improvements that affect the outside of the property (like new doors or windows) are less likely to be agreed than improvements that don’t affect anyone else especially if there are safety issues (as with metal security doors or grilles).
  • permission is not usually given to put down laminate flooring as this can cause noise problems for neighbours.
  • secure tenants can ask for compensation for some improvements if they leave them behind when they move out or when they must either leave it behind or replace with the original.

Q.  Can I carry out a major alteration to my home?

Your ward housing manager must agree in writing before you can make any changes to your home. For some changes you may also need to get building control approval or planning permission. If you are a leaseholder you may also need a legal document called a licence for alteration

A leaseholder’s request to do an alteration is administered by leaseholder services and the ward housing manager makes the decision. The details should be sent to both.

Major alterations include putting in new windows, loft conversions and relocating a bathroom or kitchen, or taking out a wall to make a flat open-plan.

Q. Can I put up a satellite dish?

We will consider requests for satellite dishes but these are not usually agreed. The tenancy conditions say they will only be agreed in exceptional circumstances.

Q. What are you doing about my neighbours who have put satellite dishes up without permission?

We are replacing our communal TV aerials with IRS (two communal satellite dishes). When we do this work we will enforce removal of all dishes that have been put up without permission. We will take legal action if necessary and seek our costs from those concerned.

If there is a particular problem with a particular satellite dish (if it is a nuisance or a health and safety hazard, on a listed building or in a conservation area) we may need to enforce removal straight away.

Q. Can I put a security gate or grille on my flat?

You must not fit a security gate or grille to your flat, or carry out any other improvements, without your housing officer’s written agreement. 

Although your housing officer will not refuse permission without a good reason you will need to satisfy them that the door, gate or grille meets safety guidelines and you have planning and building control permission when this is necessary.



Page last updated Dec 19, 2013 5:06 PM

Joint tenancies 

Q. Can I have a joint tenancy with my husband/wife/partner?

If a tenant asks for a joint tenancy with their husband, wife or registered civil partner we will usually agree to this as long as a marriage or civil partnership certificate is provided.

We will also consider requests for joint tenancies with a partner when the tenant is not married or in a civil partnership but this will only be considered when the couple have been living together for at least a year.

Notes:

  • There is no right to a joint tenancy
  • Joint tenancies will not usually be considered if there are rent arrears
  • The request must come from the tenant
  • The housing officer should speak to the tenant on their own about a request in the first instance
  • Joint tenancies can have disadvantages as well as advantages. Tenants should not make up their mind without getting advice or discussing it with their housing officer first.

Q. Can I have a joint tenancy with my brother/sister/parents/other relative/friend?

We will not agree to an existing tenant having a joint tenancy with anyone other than a husband, wife, registered civil partner or partner.

Q. My joint tenant has moved out can I have the tenancy in my sole name?

As long as one joint tenant continues to live in a property as their only or main home a joint tenancy continues. This means that we cannot consider granting a sole tenancy unless a joint tenancy is brought to an end by one of the tenants. Your housing officer can advise you about this.

Joint tenants do not have an automatic right to a sole tenancy if their joint tenancy ends. Your housing officer can advise you if this is something that can be considered in your circumstances.



Page last updated Dec 19, 2013 5:06 PM

Moving out 

Q. Will the Council make a payment if I give up my council tenancy?

You can apply to our tenants options fund if you are a Camden Council tenant and you are giving up your property to move to settled accommodation, such as a smaller council flat, a private tenancy, or a flat you have bought. To be eligible your rent account must be up to date.

Every tenant leaving a council tenancy can apply for a one-off payment of £1000. In addition, if your current home has three or more bedrooms, you can apply for a further payment to cover items such as removal costs, deposits to secure a private tenancy, legal fees if you are purchasing a property or help to pay for adaptations in a smaller home.

Q. I want to move out and give my home back to the Council what do I do?

If you want to end your tenancy you must give us at least four weeks notice in writing ending on a Monday (unless you are moving to another Camden Council home.) If you don’t give us four weeks notice we can ask you to pay an amount up to four weeks rent.

You must remove all your belongings and leave your home and garden clean and tidy. We may be able to help with this before you move out, for example, if you have items of furniture or white goods in good condition, we work in partnership with a furniture recycling organisation who will collect them free of charge from you.   Organisations such as freecycle or local charities can also be a good way of passing on unwanted belongings to someone else who might want them.  If the items aren't in good condition you may also be entitled to a free collection by us.  If you want to leave unwanted items behind let us know. We will arrange for the flat to be cleared for you if you make this request in writing but we will have to charge you for this.

You must make sure everyone moves out and returns the all the keys to us before noon on a Monday to ensure you are not charged for that week. When you return the keys you must sign our vacation form or write us a letter giving us permission to dispose of anything if you have left anything behind. If you do not do this we may charge you for storage.

Our moving home to-do list is a handy reminder of what needs to be done when you move home and the advice to tenants moving leaflet gives you more information on what you are required to do to move.



Page last updated Dec 19, 2013 5:06 PM

Pets 

Q. I’m a council tenant/leaseholder can I have a pet?

Council tenants do not have to ask for permission to have a dog or cat but they cannot have more than 2 dogs* or 3 cats in their home at any one time.

Under the terms of their lease leaseholders must ask their housing officer for permission to have a pet.

Tenants and leaseholders must not keep any animals or insects that might cause alarm or nuisance to their neighbours. We can ban individual tenants from keeping animals.

*Residents on the Alexandra Road estate must not keep dogs apart from guide dogs for the blind.



Page last updated Dec 19, 2013 5:06 PM

Requests for records/information 

Q. Can I have a copy of my tenancy agreement?

We would be happy to give you a copy of your tenancy agreement. We can either post it to your home address or you can collect it if you bring identification.

Q. Can I have a copy of my housing file?

We would be happy to give you a copy of your housing file. If there are specific documents that you want rather than the whole file let us know as this helps us to respond to your request more quickly and can save paper. Please let us know if you would like a paper copy or if you would prefer an email.

We usually charge £10 towards the cost of providing your file.

We have to check your file before we send you a copy. This is because we may need to ask for permission to disclose information that has been provided by someone else.

Contact


 

Page last updated Dec 19, 2013 5:06 PM

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