Public Housing FAQs

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What is a Secure Tenant?
Secure Tenants have landlords who are public bodies such as local authorities. The landlord must get a court order if they want to end the tenancy. The property must be a place to live in. The tenant must be an individual rather than a company or charity etc. The property must have been let as a separate place to live in. Temporary accommodation given to homeless people will not be secure tenancies.
 
I have received a written notice from my landlord telling me I have to leave the property by a certain date. What can I do?
If you receive a written notice from your landlord telling you to leave the property don't panic. The notice will have on it a date when your landlord wants you to leave. You do not have to leave by this date. Your landlord must go to court to get a possession order to evict you. Your landlord is not allowed to force you to leave without first getting a court order. However, your landlord will be entitled to claim back their court costs against you if they do go to court. You should always seek legal advice from a Citizens Advice Bureau or a solicitor about the written notice you have received. If the notice is incorrect because it is written in the wrong way, or does not say why your landlord wants to evict you and does not give a date from which court proceedings will be started, you may be able to delay your landlord getting the property back.
 
I have been living in a property, but my name is not on the rent book and the person whose name is on the rent book has just died. What can I do?
If you were a member of the tenant's family then you may be able to take over the tenancy after their death.
 
A member of the family means the following:
brother, sister, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, mother, father, son, daughter, grandparents, grandchildren, husband, wife or unmarried partner.
 
If you were not married to the tenant you have to have been living with the tenant for at least 12 months before the tenant died and the property must have been your only home.
 
I am a Joint Tenant and the other tenant wants to leave. Am I entitled to stay?
If you are a joint tenant and the other tenant wants to leave this could effect your right to stay. This is because if the other joint tenant serves a "notice to quit", telling the landlord they want to leave and the notice is in the correct form, it will break the joint tenancy. If you were granted a joint tenancy this will mean you do not have separate tenancy agreements only one agreement. Your landlord would be entitled to say that as they granted a joint tenancy, if it has been broken it no longer exists. Your landlord would be entitled to ask you to leave and to get a court order if you did not leave. However, in some cases your council landlord might agree to offer you a tenancy on your own in the same property or a different property.
 
I have not stayed in my property for a while and my landlord is now threatening to throw me out. What can I do?
The fact that you have not lived in the property does not automatically give the council / housing association etc. the right to throw you out, but it may be an argument they use when applying to the court to get a possession order. This is because to be secure in your tenancy the property you are living in must be your only main home.
 
If you have let or sublet the property to somebody else you may be in breach of the conditions of your tenancy.
 
However, if a friend or relative has been looking after the property for you whilst you were away and the rent has been paid, you may be able to argue that you still live in the property.
 
If you have been away, but intend to return to the property you may be able to argue that you have not abandoned the property.
 
I moved into a council property which was in someone else's name and they agreed I could stay there if I paid the rent. Do I have any rights?
If your name is not on the rent book and you are not the tenant's partner, or a person who could succeed to the tenancy then whether or not you have any rights will depend on the basis on which you occupy the property. If the landlord knows about you and has agreed to you living there with the tenant then you may have the same rights as the tenant, if the tenant leaves. The landlord will have to recognise your rights to the property. If the tenant is also living in the property with you and you are a lodger, the tenant does not need the landlord's permission for you to be there. You will be regarded as a lodger if the tenant provides services such as cleaning or changing bed linen and there is an agreed period of time for you to stay. If you are simply visiting and have been allowed to stay for a short period of time on an informal basis you will be regarded as a licensee. You will have no rights as the tenant can simply ask you to leave.
 
If the tenant has sublet part of the property to you then the letting may be enforceable. If it was made after 1st January 1989, but before 28th February 1997 it may be regarded as an assured tenancy. If it was made after 28th February 1997 it is likely to be an assured shorthold tenancy.
 
However, if the tenant did not have permission from the head landlord, (for example, council or housing association etc.) to let the property in the first place then your accommodation will not be safe. Security of tenure of the tenant is lost by the subletting and the head landlord can therefore take possession proceedings against the tenant. The head landlord may be able to then take separate proceedings against you in respect of the sub-tenancy.
 
However, if before possession proceedings the tenant surrenders the tenancy, (other than by notice to quit) it could be argued that your status is raised from a subtenant to a tenant once the head landlord accepts the tenant's surrender. However, you would still need to show that the original sublet was let and occupied by you as a separate dwelling from that of the tenant.
 
My landlord says I have not paid my rent, but I receive Housing Benefit and the payments are late. Will I be evicted?
If you receive housing benefit and your landlord seeks a possession order because your rent payments are late, but the payments are due from the housing benefit office it is probable that you will not be evicted. This is because your landlord must show not only that there are rent arrears, but also that it is reasonable to evict you. If your rent will be paid eventually and it is only because the housing benefit payments are late the court will usually take the view it is not reasonable to evict you.
 

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