What Are Introductory Tenancies?
Some local authorities operate a system whereby new council tenants are given an introductory tenancy for up to 18 months before they can become full council tenants. Generally, council tenants have more protection against repossession than many private tenants - under a secured tenancy. However, if a local authority uses introductory tenancies, tenants will find that they can be much more easily evicted during that initial, introductory period.
Some housing associations also use introductory tenancies – which are sometimes known as starter or probationary tenancies.
Introductory TenanciesAn introductory tenancy is a type of probationary tenancy for new tenants before they can acquire all the rights of a full local authority or housing association tenant. They generally last for one year from the date of the tenancy or from when the tenant becomes entitled to inhabit the property. However, the local authority could decide to extend an introductory tenancy for a further six months.
Prospective tenants should check with their local authority’s housing department, or the housing association from whom they expect to rent, to find out whether they use the introductory tenancy system. In most cases a local authority introductory tenancy will automatically become a secured tenancy after twelve months provided that:
- no legal action to repossess the property is started during this time; and,
- the local authority does not extend the introductory tenancy.
Extending an Introductory TenancyIf a local authority or housing association decides that they want to extend the period of an introductory tenancy they must give the tenant notice that this is what they plan to do. The notice must be given at least 8 weeks before the introductory period would otherwise have expired. This notice should set out the reasons why the landlord has decided to extend the introductory period and give the tenant the opportunity to seek a review of this decision.
The tenant will have 14 days to ask for a review of the landlord’s decision to extend the introductory tenancy. The review will be carried out internally by the local authority. The tenant should receive the result of the review – and the reasons for it – before the original introductory tenancy was due to end.
Repossession and Introductory TenanciesIf a local authority decides that they want to evict an introductory tenant they must first give the tenant a formal, written notice of their intention. This notice must give four weeks’ warning of the repossession and set out the reasons why the local authority wants the property back. The notice will also inform the tenant that the landlord intends to ask for a possession order and set out the earliest date on which a possession case may be started.
The tenant then has 14 days in which they can seek to review the local authority’s decision to demand the property back. The most common reasons why a local authority will want to repossess a property from an introductory tenant are non-payment of rent or because the tenant has been behaving anti-socially or causing a nuisance to other tenants.
As with a decision to extend an introductory tenancy, a review of the decision to seek possession of a property let under an introductory tenancy will be carried out internally by the local authority. If, after the review, the local authority still intends to seek possession the tenant will be given the reasons for this. The review and the decision should both be completed by the date given in the possession notice for the start of legal proceedings.
If an introductory tenant fails to ask for a review of the local authority’s decision, or the review is unsuccessful, the local authority will request a possession order from the local county court. When a local authority has followed the correct procedures in seeking possession against an introductory tenant the court has very little power to do anything but grant a possession order. The local authority does not have to prove any legal ground to get a repossession order in respect of an introductory tenancy.