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When can I give my tenancy to someone else?

The Housing Act 1985 allows, in some circumstances, assignment of a secure tenancy to a person who would be entitled to succeed in the event of the tenant’s death; such as a spouse, partner or family member.

You can only transfer your tenancy to a family member with our approval. A tenancy can be assigned in the following ways:

  • Giving away your tenancy to someone who would be entitled to succeed the property on your death.
  • Swapping your tenancy with another local authority or housing association tenant, this is known as Mutual Exchange.
  • The court will tell us who should keep the tenancy as part of a divorce or family proceedings. 

The law sets out the rules as to who can give someone else their tenancy and under what circumstances. There are more details set out in your Tenancy Agreement.

Apply to transfer your tenancy

If you are leaving Stevenage to live somewhere else, you can apply to assign your tenancy to your partner or a member of your immediate family who has lived with you for at least a year.

Sometimes we may allow you to give your tenancy to someone else but not allow them to remain in the same property. For example, we might not allow a single person to occupy a family home and may choose instead to re-house the person you have given your tenancy to.

If you wish to apply to assign your tenancy to a partner or close relative, you should send a signed letter to us. Your application will be assessed within 20 working days.

Succession rights when a tenant dies

Succession relates to the statutory right of certain people to succeed to a tenancy following the death of a tenant. There are different rules for Succession depending on the type of tenancy agreement.

Tenancy types

Secure tenancy types - Granted BEFORE 1 April 2012

A spouse or civil partner has priority and must have been living with the deceased at the time of death.

If there is no spouse or civil partner, a family member can succeed if residing with the late tenant for twelve months prior to death.

The following rules apply:

  • Only one succession is allowed.
  • If there has already been a succession pre-1980, a second succession could be allowed but only once.
  • The Spouse or civil partner do not need to downsize if under occupying. Family members would need to downsize if under occupying

Joint tenants are liable for any arrears; statutory successors are not.

Secure tenancy types - Granted AFTER 1 April 2012

The Localism Act 2011 introduced changes to the law on succession rights. For tenancies created from 1st April 2012, the statutory right to succeed to a tenancy rests only with a spouse, partner or civil partner of the tenant who was residing with the tenant as their only or principal home at the time of the tenant’s death. Other family members will not have a statutory right to succeed to a tenancy.

The following rules apply:

  • Only one succession is allowed.
  • A spouse or civil partner do not need to downsize if under occupying.
  • A discretionary tenancy may be offered to a surviving relative in occupation depending on the circumstances – please see further information below.

Joint tenants are liable for any arrears; statutory successors are not.

Secure tenancy types - Starting BEFORE 1 April 2012

Under the terms of the Housing Act 1985, where no succession to a tenancy has already taken place, specified family members may succeed to a secure tenancy on the death of the tenant, if certain conditions are met. This is known as a statutory succession. Where the successor tenant is the spouse, partner or civil partner of the tenant, they will not be required to move even if under-occupying. If the statutory successor tenant will be under-occupying the property, they will be required to move to a property that is suited to their needs under the terms of this allocations scheme. The right of succession is to the tenancy, not the property.

Discretionary successions

Where a statutory succession to a tenancy has already taken place, or for a post April 2012 tenancy where there is no spouse, partner or civil partner eligible to succeed to the tenancy, we will consider a request to succeed to the tenancy from certain family members or live-in carers who were resident with the tenant at the time of the death of the tenant. They must be eligible to join the housing register and qualify for an offer of accommodation in their own right and satisfy certain other conditions as set out in our succession policy; paragraphs 12 and 13 of the Housing Allocations Policy 2018 provide further information on this. This is known as a discretionary succession.

Our policy on discretionary succession may change from time to time.

In every case where we have agreed a discretionary succession and there is under-occupation of the existing property, the discretionary successor will be required to move to a property that is suited to their needs under the terms of this allocations scheme. They will be subject to time limited bidding under choice based lettings but if they fail to bid or are unsuccessful in their bids, then a direct allocation of a suitable property will be made. Only one direct allocation will be made and if this is refused, we will consider that the discretion is no longer justified and the discretionary successor will be required to leave the property and make their own arrangements for their future housing. We will take legal action to recover possession of the property in occupation by the discretionary successor if they refuse to leave the property.

Applying for succession

If you think are eligible, you should contact us within one month of the tenant's death. In special circumstances, we may grant an extension of time.

You can apply by sending a signed letter to the Resident and Estates Team.

In certain circumstances you have a right to succeed someone else's tenancy but there are complicated rules about who has this right and how many times a tenancy can be passed on. We may allow you to succeed a tenancy even if you do not have a right to, we will decide this depending on your individual circumstances. We will be as sympathetic as possible, but must always balance individual cases against the large number of applicants on the Housing Register.

Resident and Estates Services

Stevenage Borough Council
Daneshill House
Danestrete
Stevenage
SG1 1HN

residentservices@stevenage.gov.uk

01438 242666

© 2020 Stevenage Borough Council