The nature of one’s council house tenancy plays a vital role in determining their rights as a tenant. For instance, council housing residents with an Introductory Tenancy agreement can neither swap nor transfer their house with another council property. They cannot purchase it through the Right to Buy Scheme as well. A Secure or Flexible Tenancy agreement on the other hand actually secures tenants for the rest of their lives; unless they are in violation of their tenancy agreement. Secure tenants can swap, purchase or transfer (depending on specific circumstances) their council property. In the case of Joint Tenancy, the rights to the property are automatically passed on to the surviving tenant, in case one of them passes away.
Can I Take Over My Mum’s Council House?
Yes, you can take over your mum’s council house if you are able to fulfil the following conditions:
- The council house is your main home
- You have lived there for at least 12 months
- It is a secure tenancy
- There is no partner to inherit the council housing tenancy
If the tenancy agreement of the premises in question started before April 1, 2012, you will gain succession rights to the council house of a family member if you’ve lived at least a year with them. However, if the tenancy agreement started on or after April 1, 2012, you have succession rights only if you meet all the conditions that are pre-set in the tenancy agreement.
In order to show evidence that you’ve lived in your parent’s home for at least 12 months prior to their death, you may need to provide bank statements, bills or letters addressed to you, marking the council property as your postal address. However, if there is a surviving spouse or unmarried partner, their right of succession will supersede yours.
If you and your mum were joint tenants to the council housing property, you will become the sole tenant after her passing away. However, if there has already been a previous succession of the property in question, a second succession may not be possible; until there is an exception made by council authorities.
In order to prove your right to succession, you will be required to fill a form after you inform the local council or housing association of the death. They may ask you to provide a copy of the death certificate along with proof of your stay in the premises for 12 months and a confirmation of no surviving partner to claim inheritance. You can take help from your local Citizen’s Advice office.
To learn more about the topic, we will explore the following areas:
- Can Council Houses Be Passed Down?
- Can Council House Be Passed Down Without Succession Rights?
- What Happens When Council House Tenancy Cannot Be Passed Down?
- Can Council Houses Be Bought?
- What Are The Different Types Of Tenancies For Council Housing?
Can Council Houses Be Passed Down?
Yes, council houses can be passed down but this can only be applied once per the tenancy agreement. For instance, if the tenancy has passed down from one person to another, the successor will not be able to pass it down again. The only exception to this rule may be the permission for “second succession” or “discretionary succession” granted by local council authorities in their council tenancy agreement with renters.
In addition to this, the type of tenancy also plays an important role in deciding on the succession of a renter. Let’s analyse the different situations that apply in the case of succession of tenancy:
- The succession of a council house in case of joint tenancy: A joint succession agreement includes two (or more) tenants as the renters who share the responsibility of maintaining responsibilities towards the property. In this case, if one tenant dies, the tenancy is automatically passed on to the surviving tenant. However, it is essential for the successor to maintain the council property as their main residence.
- The succession of a council house in case of sole tenancy: In most cases, council house tenancy can be passed down to the surviving partner/spouse/civil or unmarried partner of a deceased tenant through “succession rights”. However, it is essential for the partner to be living in the council house at the time of the demise of their partner in whose name the tenancy agreement is. In some cases, it may also be passed down to close family members if the deceased is your parent or grandparent, aunt or uncle, brother or sister, child, grandchild, niece or nephew.
As a general rule, in the case of succession rights, the rights of surviving partners override those of close family members.
Can Council House Be Passed Down Without Succession Rights?
There are times when someone without succession rights would like to stay in a council house vacated either by the tenant’s choice to move out or their death. In such a situation, the interested party may file an application with the local council or the housing association landlord.
Their application has a greater chance of acceptance if the previous tenant was under a secure tenancy agreement and if the current applicant:
- had been sharing the council house with the previous tenant for at least one year
- had been taking care of the previous tenant
- had taken the responsibility of the previous tenant’s children (if any)
If the applicant fulfils any of the above criteria, the council may consider allowing them to continue with living in the same property under a new tenancy agreement or find more suitable council housing premises for them.
What Happens When Council House Tenancy Cannot Be Passed Down?
If the council decides that you do not qualify to be a successor for council house tenancy, they will give you a 4-week notice to vacate the premises. However, if tenants fail to meet this deadline, council authorities can get a court order issued for the vacation of premises. Unless the tenant shows evidence of their right to success, the local council will not be able to stop or delay the eviction process.
If a tenant is afraid of being homeless as a result of this eviction they can get help from the council.
In some cases, you may be asked to evict the premises as the current council house is in excess of your needs and the council has been able to find a more suitable property to meet your requirements.
If you think that the council has made a mistake by asking you to vacate the premises and not approving your succession to tenancy, contact your local citizens advice bureau.
Can Council Houses Be Bought?
Yes, council houses can be bought under the Right to Buy by local council tenants scheme but there are certain basic conditions to be met. These include the following:
- The council house is the applicant’s main home
- The property is self-contained
- The applicant is a secure tenant
- The applicant has had a public sector landlord for at least five years
There is also an option of buying your council house under a joint application. In this case, it is essential for the applicant to either file their council house application with someone as their joint owner and be willing to share their responsibilities as a house owner or have up to three family members (who have lived with them for at least 12 months) willing to share ownership rights.
Under “Preserved Right To Buy” you can purchase a council house that you lived in but the council sold it to a housing association landlord.
In case, you are a housing association tenant, you can apply for the purchase of your council house by filling the Right to Acquire Application Form To be eligible, your must spend at least three years as a council house tenant and fulfil all the eligibility criteria that apply to local council tenants. However, you should not apply under the Right To Buy or Preserved Right To Buy schemes.
Voluntary Right To Buy allows you to purchase a council house that you may not have lived in.
What Are The Different Types Of Tenancies For Council Housing?
A tenancy agreement serves as a legal agreement bound by terms and conditions that the undersigning parties agree to while a living space is rented out. Tenancy agreements for council housing may be classified as below:
- Introductory Tenancy: This is considered to be a 12 month trial period for tenants during which their rights to exchange property or make modifications to it are limited.
- Secure Tenancy: This form of tenancy secures your occupancy in the council house for life; unless you break any tenancy rules stated in the agreement. In this case, you may sub-let rooms in the property but not the entire premises.
- Flexible Tenancy: This type of tenancy is usually for a fixed term of 2 to 5 years; at the end of which the council may decide to offer you a renewed contract on similar terms, offer a secure tenancy or not renew at any terms at all.
- Joint Tenancy: Under this contract, you and the joint tenant both become liable for rent payments and become eligible for all the privileges under secure tenancy jointly.
Whether or not someone can claim tenancy transfer to their parent’s council house depends upon two main factors:
- the type of tenancy
- succession rights
Secure and Flexible tenants can easily transfer their tenancy through succession rights, while Introductory tenants may not. However, for a child to be able to claim succession rights over their parent’s council property, there needs to be an absence of a partner; whether spouse or unmarried partner. In the case of a surviving partner, the first right of succession is granted to them and it will be at their discretion to allow children to share the premises with them.
FAQs: Can I Take Over My Mum’s Council House?
Can I transfer my council house tenancy to someone else?
Yes, as a secure or flexible tenant, you can transfer your council house tenancy to someone else. However, priority will be given to your partner/spouse or close family member who has shared the premises with you for at least 12 months.
Yes, anyone can live with you in your council house. However, they won’t be able to enjoy the rights of a tenant unless their name is on the tenancy agreement. For this purpose, you may have to convert your tenancy agreement to a joint one.
Yes, you can add or son to your tenancy agreement by taking permission from your local council office or housing association landlord.
Will I lose my council house if I get married?
No, you will not lose your council house if you get married. However, council authorities encourage tenants to inform them of any change in their living conditions, the addition or subtraction of a resident to their home; ideally within 28 days of the change to circumstances.
Can you inherit a council tenancy?
Yes, you can inherit a council tenancy but this can only be done once. After one succession of tenancy, you will need to seek permission from the council authorities for a second succession which is usually uncommon unless the local council decides to make an exception.