There are a number of tenancy changes available to secure Council tenants.
The main changes are creating joint tenancies, succession to a tenancy where the tenant has died, signing over a tenancy to a family member (assignment) or swapping your home with another tenant (a mutual exchange).
Who can have a joint tenancy?
Couples making a joint application for housing are usually granted a joint tenancy. However, the Council does not give inter-generational joint tenancies (for instance between a parent and a child) and only in very exceptional circumstances agrees to more than two people holding a joint tenancy.
The tenancy is in my name only. Can my partner be added to my tenancy?
Yes, provided that your partner has lived with you for 12 months and does not have a tenancy elsewhere. It is also necessary that you are not a successor to the tenancy, that the tenancy has not been assigned to you, and that you are not in breach of your tenancy terms and conditions (for example, rent arrears, anti-social behaviour).
I have just got married; can my spouse be added to the tenancy?
Your spouse can be added to the tenancy straightaway without waiting for 12 months providing all the other conditions described for adding a partner to a tenancy are met.
I have a joint tenancy and my partner/spouse has died. Will I automatically keep the tenancy in my name?
Yes, the partner to a joint tenancy automatically succeeds to the tenancy and property following the death of the other joint tenant.
My partner/spouse has died? Can I succeed to the tenancy?
If you are the partner or spouse to a sole tenant who has died, you will automatically take on (or succeed to) the tenancy of the property you are living in providing there has been no previous succession or assignment.
I am related to the tenant who has died. Can I take on the tenancy?
Only one tenancy succession is allowed in law. If there has not already been a succession, a family member who has lived with the tenant for the past 12 months can apply to succeed to the tenancy. `Family member' has a very wide definition in the Housing Act 1985 so it is worth enquiring about your entitlement.
If more than one person meets the requirements for succession and if the family cannot decide who succeeds, the Council will make the choice. If the request is agreed, the Council will take into account the needs of the family. For example if the property is too large - you are the only person living in a three bedroomed house - you will be asked to move to a smaller home between 6-12 months after the death of the tenant.
What if there has already been one succession?
The Council will consider the application very carefully from the applicant and may in some cases consider granting a discretionary new tenancy in a property that suits their needs.
Can I hand over my tenancy to my partner/spouse? I don't want to live at the property any more.
The conditions for allowing a tenancy assignment are very similar to those for a succession. You can ask to assign to anyone who would have been entitled to succeed when the tenant died. There can be one succession or assignment only to a particular tenancy.
You must apply to the Council for permission to assign your tenancy. We will check to see whether or not you are in breach of your tenancy (for instance whether you have rent arrears or where there is a court order that you have not kept to) and will ask you to put any of these things right first.
If the request is agreed to, you will both need to sign the relevant paperwork.
You can assign any size of property.
You should consider the implications of assigning your tenancy. If in the future you reapplied to the Council as a homeless applicant, you may be considered intentionally homeless, and you may be not offered accommodation.
Can I assign my tenancy to a member of my family?
We will consider all the same things as if you wanted to assign to a spouse/partner. In addition the family member will need to demonstrate that they have lived with you for the past 12 months.
You still have my spouse/partner as the tenant and they left the property months ago. Can the tenancy be changed to my name?
We will discuss various options with you as you cannot automatically take on a tenancy that is in someone else's name. Options include applying to court for a decision about the tenancy, particularly if you are getting divorced, or contacting your spouse/partner and asking them to assign the tenancy to you.
This applies whether or not you have a joint tenancy of the property. We also take any breach of tenancy into consideration before agreeing to any tenancy change. For more information, see the secure tenancy agreement terms and conditions.
My partner/spouse who is the tenant has emigrated and I don't know how to contact them. Can I have the tenancy?
We will consider how best to resolve the tenancy issue with you. The result will depend on individual circumstances.
How do I go about swapping my tenancy with someone else?
This is covered in detail in the Mutual Exchange pages.