Fixed-term tenancies explained
Learn how fixed-term tenancies work, including your rights, requesting repairs and ending your tenancy.
Most of our social tenants have fixed-term tenancies that last for an agreed number of years. If you’re a new social housing tenant, you’ll usually be offered a six-year fixed-term tenancy, with a probationary period of up to 18 months.
Sometimes we offer shorter fixed-term tenancies, for example when a property is due for regeneration. These tenancies are for not less than two years.
Your fixed-term tenancy agreement sets out your legal rights and responsibilities as a tenant. You’ll receive a copy of the agreement when you sign up for your tenancy. As it’s a legal document, you should keep it safe for future reference, and you should be aware of the rights and responsibilities specific to your tenancy agreement.
If you have any questions about your tenancy, or to request a new copy of your tenancy agreement, please contact us.
Rights and responsibilities
Although the property is owned by us, it’s your home and you have the right to live in it without interruption from us, as long as you keep to the terms of your tenancy agreement. We don’t have spare keys to your home and won’t enter the property without permission – unless it’s an emergency such as a gas leak or major water leak.
We’ll send you an appointment letter if we need access to your home, for example to service your gas boiler or carry out electrical safety checks. You’re required to let us in if we’ve given you notice.
After your probationary year, your tenancy agreement may give you additional rights. However, you’ll need to get confirmation in writing from us that any changes are suitable, safe and right for you. You should check your specific tenancy agreement, but you may be able to:
- transfer to another property through House Exchange, our home swapping service
- assign your tenancy to someone else
- take in a lodger if you have enough space
- keep pets
- redecorate or make home improvements.
There are also things you agree to as part of your tenancy agreement, such as:
- paying your rent and service charges on time
- treating your neighbours with consideration and respect
- dealing with pests, such as mice or rats
- ensuring trees and hedges don’t obstruct windows, doors or footpaths.
We’re responsible for the structure of your property, communal areas and any fixtures and fittings we supplied. For example, we’ll look after:
- bathroom fixtures, like sinks, baths and toilets
- communal areas, like entrances or lifts
- roofs, gutters and drains
- keeping your home secure and weatherproof
- fences or garden walls that border public footpaths or highways.
Defects in a new-build home
We’re also responsible for repairing any defects or “snags” if you're a social housing tenant living in a new-build home: eg doors that stick or don’t close properly.
What you're responsible for...
You’re responsible for interior decoration, looking after your garden and any goods you bring into your home. This means you have to look after things like:
- kitchen appliances, such as fridges and freezers
- door handles and locks
- blocked sinks
- anything damaged by you, your family or your guests
- fences or garden walls that don’t border public footpaths or highways.
If necessary, a primary tenant can choose someone to make decisions for them about their home and tenancy. This can be a secondary tenant living in the same home, or someone else such as a family relative.
Please use our simple online form to add someone as a nominated representative.
The end of your tenancy period
At the end of your fixed-term tenancy, you’ll usually be offered another five-year fixed-term tenancy – unless your circumstances have changed significantly. This will be decided at least six months before your agreement is due to end.
When agreeing a new fixed term, we’ll make sure your home is still suitable for you and your family. For example, you may have more children, or your children may have grown up and left home. If your home has become overcrowded, we may suggest you apply to transfer to a bigger property – though this won’t stop us offering you a further tenancy for your current home.
We’ll also assess changes to your income and whether you have specific needs, such as home aids and adaptations.
If there have been problems with your tenancy (such as rent arrears, irregular payments, or antisocial behaviour), you may be issued with a notice ending your tenancy. If you disagree with this decision, you have the right to appeal.
Decants: moving in to temporary accommodation
Occasionally residents need to move in to temporary accommodation because of a problem that needs repairing at their home. This is normally because of an event such as a fire, flood, or major unplanned repair. This move is often referred to as a “decant”.
Sometimes a move is just for a short period, sometimes for longer, depending on the work needed to the home.
If you have to move out it’s because your home is unsafe. We’ll need to ensure that it’s safe to live in before you can move back in.
Moving out in these situations can be difficult, but we’ll minimise your disruption and keep you updated throughout.