Couple signing tenancy agreement

Can someone live with me in my council house?

author: Fiona Peake

By Fiona Peake

The rules around someone living with you in your council house usually depend on the regulations set out in your tenancy agreement. Since different council tenants have different tenancies, there are varying rights and responsibilities that could apply to you.

Can I have someone living with me if I’m on benefits? 

If you’re getting benefits such as Universal Credit or Housing Benefit, and you want to live with someone who’ll contribute towards the rent, you’ll need to inform the council about your change In circumstances. This will result in a deduction to your benefits each month.  

If someone is living with you but isn’t contributing to the rent, your benefits may still be deducted. The government expects that any non-dependant pays a share of your rent and tax, and therefore a non-dependant deduction may be made to your benefits as a result.  

Be aware that you’ll receive a deduction for each adult who lives with you.  

Can I have someone living with me if I’m not on benefits? 

It is always advised that you inform your landlord if someone is moving in with you. Failure to do so could make you in breach of your tenancy agreement. Whilst most tenancy agreements feature a clause about not allowing subletting, you may be able to discuss your particular case with your landlord and have a new tenancy agreement drawn up. 

Do I have to add them to my council tenancy?   

Usually, if you pay your own rent, you won’t need to add anyone to your tenancy for them to be able to live with you. In this instance, the person living with you won’t have any legal rights in the property as they aren’t named on the tenancy agreement.  

In any case, it is still important to inform your landlord to ensure you’re not in breach of your tenancy agreement. 

Types of tenancy  

As mentioned, the rules and responsibilities change depending on the type of tenancy agreement.  

Introductory Tenancy  

This type of tenancy is usually offered to new council tenants. They’re similar to a trial period and usually last 12 months. After a 12-month trial period, the introductory tenant would automatically become a secure or flexible tenant.  

With this type of tenancy, you aren’t allowed to make any major improvements to your property, swap your property with another council tenant, or apply to buy your property through the Right to Buy scheme 

You don’t have the right to take in a lodger or sublet your home if you’re an introductory tenant.   

Secure tenancy  

If you’re a secure tenant you’d be able to live in the property for the rest of your life, as long as you stick to the rules and regulations laid out in your tenancy agreement.  

When you’re a secure tenant you can rent out rooms (if you aren’t receiving housing benefits) but you can’t sublet the entire property.  

With your council’s permission, you’d be able to make improvements to your home or even swap your home with another council tenant.  

You’d also be eligible to apply for the Right to Buy scheme.  

Flexible tenancy 

If you’re a flexible tenant, your tenancy is for a fixed amount of time. This would usually be for at least 5 years, but it can sometimes be less. Once the fixed term is up the council may offer you another fixed term tenancy, a secure tenancy or they may not renew your tenancy at all.  

When you’re a flexible tenant you can swap your house with another council tenant if you get the council’s permission.  

You can rent out rooms (if you pay your own rent) but you can’t sublet the whole property. You can also buy your property through the ‘Right to Buy’ scheme 

Joint tenancy  

A joint tenancy is when all tenants share equal responsibility. You have a joint tenancy if you and all other tenants signed a tenancy agreement with a landlord when you moved in.  

Usually, you will have lived together at the property for at least 12 months before applying to be joint tenants.  

Adding someone to your tenancy can be done at any time and there is no fee to do so.  

Transferring your tenancy  

If you’re a secure or flexible tenant, you might be able to transfer your tenancy to someone else.  

If you want to transfer your tenancy, you’d need to fill out a ‘request to assign tenancy’ form which you can find online via your local council’s housing department. 

To find out more about your rights as a tenant, read on here.  

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Couple signing tenancy agreement Couple signing tenancy agreement