Your Tenancy Agreement is a legally binding document which details the rights and responsibilities of both you the tenant and Newington HA as your landlord. The following provides a guide to the main elements of the Agreement and will be used as a source of information in the event of a dispute.
If you are not transferring from the NIHE or another Social Landlord you will start as an Introductory Tenant. This means that for a trial period of 12 months you don’t have all the rights of a secure tenant. This trial period is to demonstrate that you can maintain your tenancy and refrain from causing neighbour nuisance or anti-social behaviour within your community.
As an introductory tenant, the law doesn’t give you the right to: buy your home during the introductory year; take in lodgers; sub-let part of the property; make improvements; or exchange your home with another tenant. But, although you don’t have an automatic legal right to these things (as a secure tenant has), in exceptional circumstances you can apply to the Housing Manager to take in lodgers, improve your home or exchange – and he will decide if you can go ahead.
If you have had no problems within the trial period you will automatically become a secure tenant on the date stated in your Tenancy Agreement.
If you have just completed your 12 month Introductory Tenancy or transferred from the NIHE or another Social Landlord you are automatically granted a secure tenancy in accordance with the Housing (NI) Order 2003. The Housing Order provides tenants of registered Housing Association’s statutory rights under the terms of The Tenants Guarantee. If you require additional copies of the Tenants Guarantee please contact our office.
Further independent advice regarding your tenancy can be provided by, The Housing Rights Service, The Citizens Advice Bureau, independent advice agencies such as Tar Isteach, the Law Centre or a Solicitor.
Newington HA will consider all transfer requests from tenants who meet the criteria contained within the NIHE ‘Common Waiting List’ Selection Scheme. Please contact staff at our office if you wish to submit a transfer request, however as a general rule you must meet the following criteria:
- have had a tenancy for at least two years
- have less than 4 weeks rent arrears
- not guilty of any other serious breaches of your tenancy agreement
In certain circumstances these access criteria will or may be waived. Examples include:
- the tenant has been assessed as homeless by the NIHE (will be waived)
- there are good housing management reasons for granting a transfer
- there has been a change in circumstances which means the property is no longer suitable for the tenant’s needs
You should note that it is not possible to help all applicants for transfer and those with the greatest need will have priority over others.
A direct exchange, sometimes known as a mutual exchange or swap, is were a Newington HA tenant wishes to exchange properties with the tenant of the NIHE or another Social Landlord.
To exchange your home you must first obtain permission from Newington HA and the other relevant landlord. Newington HA will not withhold permission for the exchange unreasonably but we must be satisfied that the exchanged properties are suitable for both tenants needs. Exchanges may be withheld when a tenant is in rent arrears.
When an exchange is granted you will not only exchange properties but also your tenancy agreement. This process is known as an Agreed Assignment. No new tenancy agreements are signed and each tenant accepts and inherits the conditions, rights and responsibilities of the others tenancy agreement.
If you are interested in an exchange you can contact our offices for further information.
It is extremely important that tenants wishing to exchange do not do so until they have received permission and have completed all necessary documentation. If you move without permission you both will be unlawfully occupying the exchanged properties and could face eviction.
Ending Your Tenancy – Moving Out
If you wish to end your tenancy with Newington HA you are legally obliged to provide us with 4 weeks notice in writing. You can contact our office and we can arrange an appointment for you to complete a Termination of Tenancy Notice.
All tenancies end on a Sunday and all keys are required to be returned to our offices on the Monday before 12 noon. Even if your four weeks notice period has ended we will continue to charge rent until the keys are returned. You are also responsible for the security of the dwelling during this period and are liable for any damages that may occur. If the Association has to force entry to obtain possession of the property you will be charged for the costs of replacement locks.
Your home should be left in a clean and tidy condition when you leave. All furniture and personal items should be removed from the property. You may be charged for the costs of removal of all personal items remaining. If you have removed fixtures such as light fittings they must be replaced otherwise you will be liable for the cost of replacement.
Before you leave your home you should ensure that you have also:
- your rent paid in full
- taken meter readings of both electricity and gas (this will ensure that you are not charged for the new tenants usage of supply)
- leave a forwarding address so you can be contacted if necessary
- have your mail redirected
- cancel services such as telephone and Satellite or Cable TV
Assignment of Tenancy
An Assignment of Tenancy occurs when the existing secure tenant transfers their tenancy rights to someone else. An Assignment cannot happen without the written permission of the landlord expect when ordered to do so by the Courts. This will normally occur through Family and Matrimonial cases.
No tenant is permitted to sell a tenancy to another. If proven, the secure tenancy will cease and the Association will recover possession of the property through the Courts. If you leave your property your tenancy will also cease and any remaining residents will be treated as unlawful occupiers unless they have the legal right to the property.
A tenant can have the tenancy Assigned to a qualifying family member who would have a right to Succession of Tenancy.
Succession of Tenancy
Following the death of a Secure Tenant, the tenancy may be inherited by certain family members who are living in the property. If the deceased was a joint tenant the remaining tenant will become the sole tenant. The Association must receive the request to succeed the tenant within one month of the tenants’ death and may be granted in the following circumstances:
- the applicant is the spouse including a same sex couple who have a registered civil partnership
- the applicant is the deceased partner or is a family member who has lived continually with the tenant for the 12 months prior to death. Family member includes parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, niece or nephew
- the applicant is a carer who has given up a tenancy or license or sold their home to care for the tenant
- the applicant has accepted parental responsibility for the deceased’s children or dependants
It is important to note that legally succession can only occur once. So if a successor dies there is no automatic right to a further succession. When a tenancy is succeeded the person may be asked to move to alternative accommodation. This may happen if the property does not meet the need of the successor or there is a high demand for the type of property being succeeded.
Lodgers and Subletting
You have the right to take in lodgers without any need to get the agreement of Newington HA. However you must inform us of their names and any rent that you are charging. It is also important that you inform Housing Benefit, if applicable, as this may affect your entitlement.
Your lodgers will be treated as members of your household under the terms of your tenancy.
You also have the right to sublet part of your home provided you obtain Newington HA’s written consent. (You have no right under the Order to sublet the whole of your home. If you do, you will lose your security of tenure).
The Association cannot refuse consent to sublet without good reason and conditions cannot be attached to the consent. If consent is refused, you must be given reasons in writing. If you are refused consent to sublet and you consider this unreasonable, you have the right to challenge the decision in Court. The Association may refuse the request to sublet if it will cause overcrowding within the property. It may also refuse if subletting may interfere with any plans that the Association has to make changes to your home.
If you are not sure whether the arrangements you are thinking of making would amount to subletting rather than just taking in a lodger, you should consult Newington HA or, if necessary, take legal advice.