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Council tenant rights and responsibilities

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Types of tenancies

Introductory and secure tenants

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

If you are a council secure tenant and move from one tenancy to another with no gap between, you will remain a secure tenant in your new home.

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

Your rights and duties of being an introductory or secure tenant are in your tenancy conditions that you agreed to when you signed your tenancy agreement.  We can give you a copy of these if you need another copy.  Just ask your neighbourhood housing officer

Service tenants

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 neighbourhood housing officer can confirm the type of tenancy that you have.

Joint tenancies

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.

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

When one tenant chooses to move out, 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 neighbourhood housing officer can advise you about this.

For more information please read our Camden council tenants guide.


Subletting your council home is a criminal offence. You could be prosecuted and face up to two years in prison and/or an unlimited fine for illegally subletting a council or housing association home. If you believe a tenant has sublet a council or housing association home please report this.

Report an unlawful occupancy

Going Away

If you are going to be away from your home for more than three months and would like a friend or relative to stay in your home in your absence, you must ask your neighbourhood 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

Friends and relatives staying

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.


If you are a secure tenant you can have a lodger as long as it does not cause overcrowding.  You don’t need permission but we’d prefer you to tell us so we can explain the pros and cons.

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, although we will only do so if we have a good reason.

There is a lot to think about before letting out any rooms in your home to paying guests.  There are websites (for example Airbnb) which help arrange short term lets, but if you are thinking of doing this you must get our permission first.

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.

The Government’s Rent a Room scheme lets you earn up to a threshold amount tax free if you rent out a furnished room in your home.


If you are a tenant of a property with a garden and wish to place a shed, conservatory, green house or any other structure in your garden please speak with your neighbourhood housing officer.

Please note that if your home is a flat or a listed building you will also need to apply for planning permission.

Under your tenancy conditions tenants must keep their gardens tidy. 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.

Internal works

If you are a secure tenant and wish to carry out improvements inside your home, you must first speak with your neighbourhood housing officer. Improvements may include, replacing kitchen cupboards, baths etc.

External works

Satellite Dishes

We will consider requests for satellite dishes but these will only be agreed in exceptional circumstances.

If there is a particular problem with a 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. Please report these to your neighbourhood housing officer.

Security measures

You must not fit a security camera, 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 security measure meets safety guidelines and that you have planning and building control permission when this is necessary.


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

Tenants 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.

Ending your tenancy

If you are a Camden Council tenant you need to give us at least 4 weeks notice in writing that you wish to end your tenancy and it must end on a Monday. 

If you don’t, then we will need to charge you damages which would be equivalent to four weeks full rent from the day you told us you were moving.  The only exceptions to this are when you are transferring from a Camden Council tenancy to another Camden Council tenancy or to a Housing Association tenancy.  


When you are moving out you need to make sure that your home is left empty of your belongings and rubbish and left in a clean and tidy condition.  This includes your garden.  

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

What to do if a tenant dies

If a tenant dies, you will need to inform your to the neighbourhood housing team. They will need the following information:

  • details of the executor or next of kin;
  • a copy of the death certificate; and
  • when you think the keys to the home will be handed back to us.  

We may already have been made aware of the death by the Tell Us Once service if you used this but will still need the information above.  This is also the time when you need to tell us if there is anyone who wants to succeed to the tenancy.  

You will need to arrange for all the tenant’s belongings and furniture to be removed, after which all keys should be returned to the neighbourhood housing officer.

Please do this as quickly as possible otherwise we are legally required to serve a notice to quit. If, for any reason, you are unable to do this please get in contact with the neighbourhood housing officer.

If you have been living with the tenant you might have a right to succeed to the tenancy.  Talk to the housing officer for your address as soon as possible if you think this might apply to you.

Handing in keys

You will need to hand in your keys to us by midday on Monday when you move, this includes the main door keys to your block or house, window keys, shed keys and garage keys. If the keys are not returned, we can continue to charge you rent for another week or another four weeks if you hadn’t told us you were leaving.

We will ask you to sign a notice of vacation form when you hand the keys in. This confirms the day and time we got the keys. You will be given a copy of this which you should keep safe as it is your evidence of you handing in your keys if it is needed in future.

You can also return keys by post if you wish using the notice of vacation form which should be addressed to your neighbourhood housing officer with your forwarding address. Bear in mind that we will only end your tenancy from the day we receive the keys (or four weeks after if we hadn’t been given notice) not the day you sent the letter.

For more information please check your Conditions of Tenancy. We have also produced some useful leaflets to help, advice to tenants moving home which explains your obligations to us and moving home to-do list which is a checklist you can use as a reminder of all the different things you might need to consider.


We sometimes need to get personal information from you so we can provide you with services and look after your tenancy.

What we do with your information

For all Camden council tenants there is a privacy notice from us (PDF) and a notice from the Government (PDF), who also collect information for new lettings. These privacy notices explain what we do with personal information we collect.