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
causing nuisance to neighbours
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 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, report the problem to 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.
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.