What's the difference between 'assured tenancy' and 'secured tenancy'? What determines which one you get placed on? What are the advantages of one over the other?
Hello I am a solicitor with over 15 years experience. I will try to help you with this.
Secure tenants have relatively strong rights in comparison to other housing association tenants. Most people that have secure tenancies have been renting their homes since before 1989.
If you live in self-contained accommodation and your tenancy started before 15 January 1989, you are likely to be a secure tenant. However, there are some exceptions, for example if:
your tenancy has been demoted because of antisocial behaviour
you live in a hostel or supported housing run by a housing association
your property was transferred from the council to a housing association via stock transfer
you work for the council and your home comes with your job
you have changed housing association following a mutual exchange after 15 January 1989
you are the tenant of a housing co-operative or a non-mutual housing association.
If you moved into your current home after 15 January 1989 but had a secure tenancy in a different property owned by the same association before that date, your tenancy is probably still secure.
Housing associations have to provide a written tenancy agreement for all new tenants. It should state clearly what kind of tenancy you have and explain your rights and responsibilities. The housing association can't normally make changes to your tenancy agreement without your written consent.
IAs a secure tenant, you have the right to live in your home as long as you don't break the rules of your tenancy agreement. The housing association should only evict you as a last resort. They must have a legal reason(known as a ground) and get a court order. In some cases it may have to offer you a suitable home elsewhere. The most common reasons for eviction include:
not paying the rent
causing nuisance to neighbours
using the property for illegal activities
living in another property and/or subletting your home without the housing association's permission.
If you are being taken to court by your housing association or even have a date when the bailiffs are going to evict you, get in touch with an adviser immediately to find out whether the eviction can be stopped or delayed.
All secure tenants pay 'fair rents'. There are rules about how and when the rent can be increased. Your tenancy agreement should include an explanation on the procedures involved.
The housing association should give you information about what repairs you are responsible for, which usually includes internal decoration and putting right any damage you cause.
The housing association is usually responsible for most other repairs, including any problems with the roof, guttering, windows, doors and brickwork. They also have to ensure that the plumbing, gas and electricity are working safely. If your home needs repairs, tell the housing association immediately.
If the housing association plans to do major work, it should consult you before the work begins. If you have to move out while the work is done, the housing association will probably have to rehouse you (temporarily or permanently), and you may be entitled to claim compensation.
As a secure tenant you automatically have the right to taek in a lodger and can probably sublet (such as a bedroom) if you get written permission from the housing association first. Check to see what your tenancy agreement says about lodgers and subletting. The housing association can't refuse permission without a good reason, but one reason might be if your home was to become overcrowded with someone else moving in.
If you move out and sublet the whole of your home to someone else, you will lose your secure status and the housing association will be able to end your tenancy very easily. However, it is possible to spend time living somewhere else and still keep your tenancy. To do this, you must be able to show that you are planning to return – for example, by leaving your personal belongings at home.
Secure tenancies can be passed on to your partner, civil partner or cohabiting partner when you die. This is known as succession. If you have a joint tenancy the other joint tenant will automatically take over the tenancy if you die. But, only one succession is normally allowed.
Another member of the family can succeed to a secure tenancy if they have lived with the tenant for the past 12 months.
This process is called assignment. As a secure tenant you have the right to assign your tenancy to any person who would be eligible to take on the tenancy by succession (see above). But if you want to do this, get advice first. If the correct process isn't followed, you could still be legally responsible for paying the rent and the person who stays on could be evicted.
If you want to move, it may be possible to transfer to another property owned by your housing association or to one owned by a council. Most councils and housing associations have a waiting list for tenants who want a transfer. However, you may have to wait a long time until a new property is available, particularly if you have a large family.
Alternatively, you may be able to swap with someone who rents from the same housing association, a different housing association or a local council. It may be possible to exchange with someone locally or in another part of the country.
You must both have permission from your landlords and the exchange must be arranged properly. Otherwise, you could both lose your homes. The landlords can only withhold permission for specific reasons, such as if an exchange would lead to overcrowding. It's essential to get advice about the paperwork involved and check whether you would have a different type of tenancy (which might give you fewer rights) after the exchange.
Only certain housing association tenants have the right to buy. You may qualify if:
you used to be a council tenant, and
your home was transferred from a local authority to a housing association and you have a preserved Right to Buy, and
your tenancy has not been demoted at any time.
If you don't have the Right to Buy, there is a similar scheme for other housing association tenants (the right to acquire ), although only a few tenants are eligible for this.
Most housing association tenants have assured tenancies, but you should check your status if you are uncertain. If you have another type of housing association tenancy, your rights will be very different.
You are probably an assured tenant unless:
your accommodation is not self-contained
your tenancy started before 15 January 1989 (in which case you probably have a secure tenancy)
you have been given a starter tenancy for the first year and this hasn't finished yet
your tenancy has been demoted because of
you live in a hostel etc provided, or temporary accommodation arranged for you by the council when you made a homeless application
you work for the housing association and your home comes with your job.
As an assured tenant, you have the right to live in your home as long as you don't break the rules of your tenancy agreement. The housing association must have a legal reason (known as a ground) and get a court order to evict you.
Common reasons for eviction include:
not paying the rent or regularly paying it late
using the property for illegal activities.
If you are threatened with eviction for any reason, speak to an adviser immediately. Even if the bailiffs are on the way, it may be possible to stop or delay the eviction. The housing association may not have a good enough reason to evict you. Or you may be able to put things right, for example, by claiming benefits or settling a neighbour dispute.
If the problem isn't sorted out, the housing association has to give you written notice if it is going to ask the court to evict you. After the notice period has ended, the housing association can apply for a court hearing. You will be able to tell your side of the story to the court before a decision is made.
Assured housing association tenants pay a market rent, which is usually set by the landlord once a year. It should be lower than you would pay a private landlord for the same kind of property.
Check your tenancy agreement as there are rules about increases. Your landlord will normally give you written notice first and give you at least four weeks’ notice.
The amount of rent you pay should not go up more than once a year, unless by mutual agreement, and you should always be given at least four weeks' written notice. You may also have to pay service charges for the maintenance of communal areas
The housing association is usually responsible for most other repairs, including any problems with the roof, guttering, windows, doors and brickwork. They also have to ensure that the plumbing, gas and electricity are working safely. If your home needs repairs, report the problem to the housing association immediately.
Most assured tenants can take in a lodger or sublet part (such as a bedroom) if they get the housing association's written permission first. The association can't refuse without a good reason, but one reason might be if your home was to become over crowded with someone else moving in.
However, if you move out and sublet the whole of your home to someone else, the housing association will be able to end your tenancy very easily. If you need to spend time living somewhere else but want to keep your tenancy, you must be able to show that you are planning to return – for example, by leaving your personal belongings at home. If you want to do this, get advice first.
If you are on benefits, the amount you get may be reduced, even if the lodger or subtenant doesn't pay you any rent.
Assured housing association tenancies can be passed on to your partner, civil partner or cohabiting partner when you die – this is known as succession. If you have a joint tenancy, the other joint tenant will automatically take over the tenancy if you die.
Only one succession is normally allowed.
Family members cannot succeed to most housing association tenancies, unless the tenancy agreement allows for this.
Most assured tenants can only assign their tenancy if the housing association agrees to it. If you want to assign your tenancy, get advice first. If the correct procedure isn't followed, you could still be legally responsible for paying the rent and the person who stays on could be evicted.
If you want to move, it may be possible to swap to another property owned by your housing association or with a council tenant.
Alternatively, you may be able to swap homes by arranging an exchange with someone who rents from the same housing association, a different housing association, or a council. It may also be possible to swap with someone in another part of the country. Speak to your housing association to find out more.
You must both have permission from your landlords, otherwise you could both lose your homes. The landlords can only withhold permission for specific reasons, such as the exchange leading to overcrowding. It's essential to get advice about the paperwork involved.
Thanks for your support. This text looks familiar and I see it's from http://england.shelter.org.uk. I was hoping for summarised key points as I didn't have time to read everything on couple of these sites. But would be nice if lawyers at least include link to the source if they're going to just copy and paste others' work here.