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Tenancy Frequently Asked Questions

Make sure you read your tenancy agreement carefully, if you have any questions you may find the answers below or feel free to get in touch with our team if not.

Starter tenancies

All new tenancies are known as starter tenancies. These tenancies typically last for 12 months, at which time they may be converted to an assured tenancy. Should you breach any of your tenancy conditions, within the first 12 months, then the starter tenancy period may be extended for a further 6 months or terminated.

Assured tenancies

Assured tenancies provide greater security and are long term lifetime tenancies. This means that you can stay in your home as long as you wish provided you comply with the terms and conditions of your tenancy agreement. An assured tenancy also gives you additional legal rights regarding succession, exchange and the possible purchase of your home.

Fixed term tenancies

If your tenancy has an end date, it is known as a fixed-term tenancy. Your fixed-term tenancy might be an assured shorthold tenancy or a starter tenancy. We do not tend to use fixed term tenancies, but some customers may still be on a fixed term that we are working through moving to other tenancy types.

Sole tenancies

A sole tenancy is a tenancy that is in one person’s name only.

Joint tenancies

A joint tenancy is a tenancy that is held by more than one person. Generally, joint tenancies are held by two people, who are both named on the agreement. However, a joint tenancy can be in the names of up to four people. All people named on the joint tenancy have equal rights and responsibilities for the tenancy.

The person or people named on the original tenancy agreement are known as ‘tenants’ and are therefore responsible for maintaining the tenancy, for example ensuring the rent is paid and that the house is kept in good condition.

The other people that live in your home with your, but who are not named on the tenancy agreement are called ‘occupants’. This may be your children, other relatives or a partner.

It is important that you keep us updated about who is living in your home. If your circumstances change, please let us know using one of the methods listed below so that we can update our records.

If you would like to request permission to make a change to the record of occupants living in your home please complete our online form. Examples of situations where you may need to make changes to the occupants in your household may include:

  • When you or your partner has a baby
  • When you have separated from your partner
  • When an older child has left home
  • When you would like a relative to move in with you
  • When someone in your household has died

There are some circumstances where we might not grant permission for other people to move into your home, such as:

  • If the addition creates overcrowding
  • If the person moving into your home has a known history of anti-social behaviour or other tenancy breaches.

Once you have submitted your request, we will review your application and notify you of the outcome. Subject to the approval of your request, our record of people living in your home will be updated.

A tenancy agreement is a legal document and therefore once a tenancy is created, people cannot simply be added or removed. If you would like to make changes a new tenancy agreement must be created.

If you would like to request a change to the people named on your tenancy agreement please complete our online form.

Examples of situations where you may need to make changes to the people named on your tenancy agreement may include:

  • When you have separated from your partner/spouse
  • When a person named on your tenancy agreement has died
  • When you have got married
  • When you or someone named on your tenancy agreement has changed their name by deed poll
  • When you have a new partner (please note if you would like to make someone a joint tenant, we will need to see proof that they have been living at the address for at least 12 months)

If you would like to add a person to your tenancy your request will be reviewed and verification checks will be carried out to ensure that the change of tenancy can go ahead.

Checks include:

  • Evidence that the proposed joint applicant has been living at the property for at least 12 months.
  • That the applicant is either a close family member, or married couple or in a civil partnership.
  • That there are no issues with the rent account.

A request for a joint tenancy will usually be considered providing:

  • the proposed tenant does not hold a tenancy either solely or jointly elsewhere.
  • there is not a valid County Court Order on the property.
  • there is no valid Notice of Seeking Possession for any Breach of Tenancy.
  • your rent account is clear.
  • the tenancy is currently in a sole name.
  • both parties are over 18 and intend to live in the property as their sole home.
  • there is an established relationship - this will normally mean that you are married or have been living together for at least 12 months.
  • the proposed new tenant is not subject to Immigration Control.

Removing someone from a joint tenancy must be done with the agreement of all parties and an assignment document signed by all people named on the tenancy agreement.

If there are arrears on the account, then a disclaimer will need to be completed for parties to sign so that the existing tenant agrees to take on all responsibilities for the tenancy from that date onwards.

When relationships break down between joint tenants or you separate from your partner who lives with you, it is not always easy to change the tenancy from a joint to a sole one. If your relationship breaks down please contact us as soon as possible for advice.

If the named tenants die, the tenancy can be passed to someone else in certain circumstances. The right for someone to inherit a tenancy when the tenant dies is known as succession. The right to inherit or succeed a tenancy depends on the type of tenancy and your relationship with the person who has died.

If you have a joint tenancy, the surviving tenant becomes the sole tenant of the property.

If someone moves in with you and you are claiming benefits you will also need to inform the Department of Work and Pensions on 0800 055 6688 and North Devon Council’s Housing Benefit Office by telephone 01271 388877 or email [email protected]. Your benefit payments will be adjusted according to your household’s new circumstances. Failure to do this may result in possible benefit over payments and you may be liable for prosecution for benefit fraud.