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Your council tenancy

A tenancy agreement is a contract between a landlord (in this case us, the council) and you, the resident. ​

​Your tenancy agreement

Your tenancy agreement sets out what we, the landlord, must do and what you, the tenant, must do.

Conditions in your tenancy agreement

Your tenancy agreement also sets out conditions such as rules on keeping pets and anti-social behaviour.
If you break the conditions of your tenancy agreement, or allow other members of your household or your visitors to break the conditions, we may take legal action against you. This can include evicting you from your home.

Types of tenancy

If you are a council tenant you will usually have one of two types of tenancy:
  • a secure tenancy
  • an introductory tenancy.
The type of tenancy you have depends on your circumstances and on legal rules. It will also affect your rights as a tenant.
If you do not know what type of tenancy you have, look at the agreement you signed at the start of your tenancy.
All tenancy agreements insist that the tenancy property is your main home.
If this is not the case, or if you sublet the tenancy property to someone else, you may stop being a secure or introductory tenant and we can then bring your tenancy agreement to an end by serving a notice.

Introductory tenancies

You will be given an introductory tenancy for the first 12 months that you are a council tenant if you were not a council or housing association tenant at another property before your tenancy started. 
After that you will become a secure tenant as long as you have met the conditions of the introductory tenancy.

Differences between an introductory and secure tenancy

As an introductory tenant you can't:
  • exchange your home with another council tenant
  • transfer the tenancy to another person, unless they are ordered to by a court or in other very rare circumstances
  • exercise the right to buy (but your introductory tenancy may count towards your Right to Buy)
  • take in lodgers or sub-let all or part of the property.

If you breach your tenancy agreement

If you breach your tenancy agreement, we can evict your more easily than if you were a secure tenant.
We will issue a notice of proceedings for possession. You will have the right to appeal this decision. We will provide details when we serve the notice.

Secure tenancies

As a secure tenant you have the right to stay in your home unless we get a court order to evict you. You also have the right to be consulted on any changes to your tenancy terms and conditions.
We have the right to move you in some circumstances, such as if your home is due for modernisation or demolition.

Becoming a secure tenant

You will usually become a secure tenant automatically after the first year has passed as long as we don't:
  • start action to evict you during your introductory tenancy
  • decide to extend your introductory tenancy for another year. 

Fixed-term tenancies

If you have a fixed-term tenancy (sometimes referred to as a flexible tenancy) you are still a secure tenant.
Before the fixed term ends we will decide whether to grant you a lifetime tenancy. We won't offer you another if you:
  • did not paid the weekly rent or other charges
  • have let the property to fall into bad repair because of neglect or if you have damaged it
  • caused a nuisance, or let members of your household or your visitors to cause a nuisance or annoyance
  • did not use the property as your main home or you have sub-let it
  • continuously breached your tenancy conditions
  • you now own a property.
If you have not met the conditions we will write to you at least six months before your tenancy is due to end. We will then serve a notice to end your tenancy at least two months before it is due to end.
You will have the right to appeal this decision. We will provide details when we serve the notice.

Joint and sole tenancies

You are a sole tenant if only one tenant is named on the tenancy agreement. If two people are named on the agreement you have a joint tenancy. 

Joint tenants

Joint tenants each have all the rights and responsibilities set out in the tenancy terms and conditions.
A joint tenancy means that two people are responsible for making sure the tenancy conditions are met and have equal rights to stay in the tenancy until it is ended.
If one joint tenant formally ends the tenancy, the tenancy comes to an end even if the other joint tenant has not asked to end the tenancy.

Adding another person as a joint tenant

We will consider offering a joint tenancy only to a husband, wife, civil partner or partner. We don't offer joint tenancies to other persons who may be living with you.
The person you wish to have the joint tenancy with will need to have lived with you for at least two years. You will need to write to us to tell us that they are living permanently at your address. The two years will begin when you tell us in writing that this person is living permanently at your address.
In deciding whether or not to give you a new joint tenancy we will look at a number of factors including:
  • whether you have succeeded to (inherited) your tenancy
  • all your rent and charges have been paid.
You can get more information from your housing compliance officer. If we refuse to give you a new joint tenancy, we will tell you the reason.
Joint tenants have equal rights to stay in the property until the tenancy has ended. You therefore advise that you get legal advice before asking for a joint tenancy.

I have a joint tenancy and the other tenant has left - can I have a sole tenancy?

Just because one of the joint tenants has gone away or does not live at your home anymore it does not mean that their tenancy has ended. A tenancy agreement continues until it is legally ended by the tenant(s) or by us.
Both tenants will remain 'jointly and severally liable' for the tenancy. This means that the tenant who has left the home will still be responsible for any rent charges after they have left.
You should contact your housing compliance officer to discuss your situation and find out if you can get a new sole tenancy.

What happens if I have a joint tenancy and my relationship has ended?

If you have a joint tenancy and your relationship breaks down, we cannot decide who stays in the property. You will need to agree between yourselves or you can ask a court to decide.
You will need to tell us what is happening.
If you are getting divorced you can apply to the court to transfer the tenancy to one of the joint tenants. We advise you get legal advice.

Inheriting a tenancy (succession)

When a tenant dies, another family member may be entitled to inherit the tenancy. This is known in legal terms as a 'succession'.

Tenancy issues


Pets can be an important part of your household but if you want to keep one you must consider you responsibilities as well as your rights.


Gardening includes regular lawn mowing, trimming hedges and bushes and ensuring weeds, plants and bushes don't go into neighbouring gardens or on to pathways.

Lodgers and subletting

As a council tenant, you can can sublet or take in lodgers as long as it does not make your home overcrowded and you get permission.

Clutter in communal areas

If you live in a block with shared communal areas such as landings, stairwells and walkways, you must make sure they are kept clear of personal possessions and other items.

Domestic and sexual violence (DSV)

Your Housing Compliance Officer can help you understand your rights as a council tenant if you are experiencing domestic and sexual violence.
Your Housing Compliance Officer can:
  • refer you to Newham One Stop Shop for detailed support and advice
  • advise you on additional home security the council can provide
  • advise you on your tenancy status and how you can protect your rights
  • advise you on your options to secure alternative permanent accommodation
  • advise you on taking enforcement action against the person causing the abuse.
You must inform your Housing Compliance Officer if you hold a tenancy but because of your circumstances you:
  • move to temporary accommodation
  • are placed in a refuge
  • decide to apply as homeless.
Do not give up your tenancy without advice from your Housing Compliance Officer. If you do, you could end up with no home and no right to a further tenancy.
If you have been forced to leave your property and the abuser is:
  • a sole or joint tenant with you
  • has committed an offence against you, or
  • has a Court Order to leave the property,
this will be considered a breach of their tenancy and they could lose their home.
Your Housing Compliance Officer will be able to discuss this further with you.
If you experiencing domestic or sexual violence and want help or advice, visit or call the One Stop Shop on 0845 451 2547.
If you are in immediate danger, you should phone 999.

Ending your tenancy

If you want to move out of your council home, you must send us a ‘notice to quit’ to tell us that you want to end your tenancy. This is a legal document and must be filled in correctly or you may not be able to end your tenancy. To get a copy of the form email or phone us on 020 8430 2000 ext 57999.
We must receive your notice to quit at least four weeks before you want the tenancy to end. This is known as a ‘notice period’.
Your tenancy will end on a Monday. You can move out at any time up until that date but you must agree your moving-out date with us first. You will not be able to stay in the property after that date.
When you leave you must give ‘vacant possession’ which means that you must leave the property:
  • clean
  • clear of furniture, anything else you own and all rubbish
  • with no people or pets still living there.

Joint tenants

If you are a joint tenant and one of you gives us notice to end the tenancy, the tenancy will end for all the tenants.
If you are a joint tenant and you want to move out before the end of the notice period all tenants in a joint tenancy must sign the notice to quit.

Death of a sole tenant

A tenancy does not automatically come to an end when a tenant dies. If you are acting on behalf of someone who has died, you should email email or phone us on 020 8430 2000 ext 57999 to find out what documents you must send us to end the tenancy.
We may ask you for:
  • the original death certificate
  • a copy of Grant of Representation
  • a copy of the full Last Will and Testament
  • copies of the letters of administration.

Inspecting the property (pre-termination visit)

We may ask to see your home during the notice period, to make sure that you understand what you have to do at the end of your tenancy and the condition you should leave the property in.

Paying off your rent

You must pay all the rent you owe by the date your tenancy ends.
If you have difficulty paying all the rent you owe by the end of the tenancy, you should contact your rent service officer as soon as possible by:
  • telephoning 020 8430 2000 and asking for the Rent Service
  • writing to us at:
    Rent Services
    Bridge House
    320 Stratford High Street
    E15 1EP
  • emailing your rent services officer using the email address on letters he or she has sent to you.

Moving out of your council home

When you move out of your council home you must leave it clean and clear. You must remove all your personal belongings and rubbish before you return the keys.

What you must take with you

Items you must clear, regardless of what condition they are in:
  • furniture
  • white goods such as fridges, freezers and dishwashers
  • cookers; always use a registered trader to disconnect gas appliances - to find a registered Gas Safe engineer visit or call 0800 408 5500
  • rubbish
  • flooring (carpets, floor tiles, lino, laminated flooring), ensuring you clean any adhesive or foam backing and get rid of debris that may be left behind
  • garden ornaments and toys
  • home additions such as fitted wardrobes, mirrors, pictures, bathroom cabinets, over-bath showers
  • unauthorised improvements such as security gates and grilles.

If you book a bulky waste collection, we can collect up to six items of your rubbish or unwanted items.

You can also take a range of items to be re-used, recycled or disposed of to the Jenkins Lane Re-use and Recycling Centre. Newham residents can use the centre free of charge.

Areas you must clear

You must clear the whole property including:
  • all rooms
  • cupboards
  • all gardens
  • garage
  • pram sheds
  • loft space
  • cellar
  • outbuildings including sheds, out houses, conservatories.

When you leave

When you leave, you must make sure you: 

  • leave all curtains and net curtains
  • sweep, mop and clean all rooms
  • clean all cupboards, surfaces, bathroom suite and kitchen sink
  • leave the garden in good order, with trimmed plants and mown lawns
  • close and lock all windows, the mortis lock, back door and back garden gate
  • have not left any sets of spare keys with neighbours, carers, friends or relatives 
  • give all sets of keys back to us on the same day.
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