Tenancy agreement

Introductory tenancies, responsibilities, eviction, succession.

Your tenancy agreement is a legal contract between you (the tenant) and the landlord (Haringey Council). The tenancy agreement is an important document – please keep it safe.

We sometimes have to amend and update the tenancy agreement but we will consult with tenants about any changes.

Introductory tenancies

When you sign up as a new council tenant, you may be given a trial period to show that you can keep to the terms of your tenancy agreement. This trial period is your introductory tenancy.

If you are already a tenant with Haringey Council or a registered social landlord (like a housing association) on a secure tenancy and you are being rehoused, then you will continue to be on a secure tenancy.

Download our Introductory tenancies leaflet  to find out more.

Our responsibilities

Haringey Council's main responsibilities are to:

  • maintain the structure and outside of the building
  • maintain the installations (such as pipes, taps, sinks) for space heating, water heating, drainage and sanitation, as well as those for supplying water, gas and electricity
  • carry out those repairs which are our responsibility within set time limits
  • decorate the outside of your home and shared areas inside blocks of flats regularly
  • repair and maintain concierge, door entry and shared TV facilities if these are provided
  • take reasonable care to keep shared entrances, halls, stairways, lifts, passageways, rubbish chutes, lighting and other shared parts in reasonable repair
  • make reasonable arrangements to keep all shared spaces and hedges on our housing estates tidy

We can also carry out and charge you for repairs due to any deliberate damage to, or neglect of, the property and any shared facilities.

Our other responsibilities include:

  • providing information on council policy on transfers and lettings policies
  • recovering rent arrears, including court action and eviction
  • making information about your rights and responsibilities as well as our responsibilities available on our website
  • giving tenants 4 weeks' notice before increasing the rent, or one week's notice before increasing the district heating charge
  • consulting tenants on any proposed alteration to tenancy conditions
  • ending the tenancy by giving you four weeks’ notice to end the agreement in writing and serving the notice


If you are a secure tenant, we cannot evict you unless we are granted a possession order from the County Court. We can only get this order in certain circumstances.

The law relating to possession and eviction is complicated. Your local customer service centre or your tenancy management officer can give you more information. We strongly recommend you seek legal advice from your local Citizens Advice or a legal adviser.

We may get a possession order from the court allowing us to evict you if:

  1. you breach any obligation set out in the tenancy agreement  
  2. you do not pay the rent
  3. you are guilty of causing a nuisance or annoying your neighbours, or you have been convicted of using the property, or allowing it to be used, for illegal purposes
  4. the condition of the property or the shared parts has deteriorated as a result of your actions or neglect
  5. we granted the tenancy because you made a false statement
  6. the property was let on a temporary basis while work was carried out to a tenant’s previous home, and the work has been completed
  7. the tenancy was a mutual exchange (a council house swap) for which money was paid
  8. the property is overcrowded (defined by law)
  9. we plan, within a reasonable time, to demolish, build or carry out work to the building or land, and we cannot reasonably do so without gaining possession
  10. the property was originally designed for a physically disabled person who is no longer living there and it is now needed for a person with a disability
  11. the property is for people with special needs, and there is no longer a person living there with those needs, and it is now needed by a person who does have those special needs
  12. the accommodation is bigger than you reasonably need, if you succeeded to the tenancy (see below) as a member of the family other than as a husband or wife

In cases 1 to 7, the court will only grant possession to us if they think it is reasonable. If we evict tenants in any of the circumstances above, we do not need to offer other accommodation, unless we have a duty under homelessness law.   

In cases 8 to 12 above, we must offer you suitable alternative accommodation.  

In cases 1 to 7 and 10 the court will only grant a possession to us if they consider it reasonable to do so.

We will consider each case on its own merits before deciding whether to apply for a possession order. In most cases we will give you at least 28 days’ notice that we are going to go to court to get a possession order. The court will tell you when the case will be heard, so that you can attend and put your case. You may want to get legal help by contacting Citizens Advice or a legal adviser.

Granting sole and joint tenancies

The lettings team will automatically grant new council tenants a sole tenancy unless you specifically ask them for a joint tenancy. If you ask for a joint tenancy we will take certain issues into account. All requests for joint or sole tenancies must be made in writing. The criteria for joint or sole tenancies are listed below.

Also, see our granting joint and sole tenancies policy

Joint tenancies

The council will grant a joint tenancy to a couple who are married, civil partners, or living together as if they were, if:

  • they have been living together as such for at least 12 months (unless they are married or in a civil partnership)
  • the rent account is not in arrears
  • there is no outstanding legal action or notice for breach of tenancy against the sole tenant. for example, a Notice Seeking Possession or Notice to Quit (or where this is being considered)
  • there are no management problems such as nuisance or antisocial behaviour
  • both the proposed joint tenants are eligible for an allocation of housing

Advice when changing from sole to joint tenacy

We will provide advice to anyone interested in a joint tenancy. We will also advise the tenant to take independent advice. Please note that:

  • both joint tenants are equally responsible for meeting the conditions of tenancy including paying the rent
  • there are potential implications if there is a relationship breakdown
  • either joint tenant can apply for Housing Benefit, although benefit is assessed on the household circumstances
  • should a joint tenant die, the tenancy automatically continues for the surviving joint tenant
  • a new joint tenant cannot be held liable for a previous sole tenant’s arrears

Sole tenancies

This request is usually the result of relationship breakdown but also occurs automatically when one of the joint tenants dies. In the latter case, the surviving joint tenant becomes the sole tenant on the first Monday after the date of death. They are legally responsible for any arrears as a new tenancy is not created.

Relationship breakdown – ending a secure tenancy and granting a replacement sole tenancy

A joint tenant who becomes single may end the tenancy by giving us written notice (sometimes called a notice to quit or a McGrady notice). When you end a joint tenancy, the property is not automatically offered to the remaining tenant. They may be offered a sole tenancy of that property or, if appropriate, an alternative, smaller property. If the leaving tenant wishes to apply for housing, they must apply to join the register in their own right.

In deciding whether to grant a new sole tenancy, the council will take into account:

  • whether the departing joint tenant left as a result of domestic violence by the remaining tenant (in which case proceedings to evict would normally be taken)
  • whether the remaining tenant under-occupies the property

Advice for joint to sole applicants

As a general rule, we cannot remove a name from a joint tenancy agreement at the request of a joint tenant (even if both tenants agree). By law, you have to give us 4 weeks’ written notice telling us that you want to end the tenancy. However, the notice ends the whole tenancy and can leave you at risk of eviction. This is because if a joint tenant ends the tenancy agreement, the property is not automatically offered to the person still living in the property.

For this reason, you must get independent legal advice before ending a joint tenancy. All applicants will be issued with an advice letter with this information at time of the application.

Ending a joint tenancy

There are various reasons why you might end your joint tenancy. If you do want to end a joint tenancy you should contact your customer services centre. They will put you in touch with your local housing office where you can discuss your circumstances.

Succession to tenancy if the tenant dies

Succession is a legal term used to describe the passing of a secure tenancy to another person on the death of the tenant. The person who takes on the tenancy is called a successor. All applicants applying for succession must complete a succession form.

See also our succession policy

Tenancies granted before 1 April 2012:

The persons entitled to succeed are a:

  • partner
  • spouse
  • civil partner
  • person living with the tenant as if husband or wife or civil partner (i.e. including same sex couples)
  • family member who has been resident with the deceased secure tenant throughout the 12 months before their death and who is a:
    • parent or grandparent
    • child or grandchild
    • brother or sister
    • uncle, aunt, nephew or niece

It should be noted that a foster child is not counted as a child for the purposes of succession. Only blood relations (including step-children and illegitimate children) or those by legal adoption are entitled to succeed.

Tenancies granted on or after 1 April 2012

Following the implementation of the Localism Act 2011, the policy was amended to restrict the rights of succession to:

  • spouses
  • civil partners
  • people living with tenants as if husband or wife or civil partner (i.e. including same sex couples)

Where succession is refused because of a prior succession or assignment, there is discretion to grant a new tenancy. The decision will be taken by the decisions panel. Such a tenancy will be a new tenancy and carry new succession rights.

Statutory succession and under occupation

If the spouse or civil partner of the deceased tenant (or, where the tenant died on or after 1 April 2012, a person living with the deceased tenant as such) inherits the tenancy, they have a right to stay in the property on a permanent basis (even if the property is larger than they need), subject to the terms and conditions of the tenancy. If the successor is under-occupying a home, they could still be subject to welfare reform.

Transfering the tenancy to someone else

When a tenant leaves to live elsewhere, in certain circumstances they can pass on their tenancy to an adult member of their household. This is known as an assignment of tenancy. This needs our approval and can only happen:

  • by mutual exchange – if the tenant is swapping their home with another social tenant and both have written permission from their landlord
  • by order of a court– a court has decided that the tenancy must be transferred from one partner to the other as part of a divorce or family proceeding
  • by handing over to an eligible successor – the tenancy is to be handed over to someone who would have a legal right to succeed to the tenancy if the tenant had died. The same conditions relating to length of time living in the property also apply

Who can become an assignee?

Members of a household have a statutory right to the assignment of a lifetime secure tenancy, for tenancies granted before 1 April 2012 if they are:

  • a spouse, civil partner or persons living as if married or civil partner (occupying the property as their only or principal home with the assignor at the date of the assignment)
  • Eligible family members, such as:
    • a parent or grandparent
    • a child or grandchild
    • a brother or sister
    • an aunt or uncle
    • a nephew or niece
    • a stepchild or illegitimate child

Tenancies granted after 31 March 2012:

Only spouses, civil partners or partners living as if married or civil partner (occupying the property as their only or principal home with the assignor at the date of assignment) can be assigned the tenancy.

For more information see our assignment policy .

Grants of tenancy

If someone has had a long-term interest in a property, such as a carer, but does not have the right to succession or assignment then it may be possible for them to get a grant of tenancy. This is granted at the discretion of Haringey Council.

We may allow a live-in carer to take on the tenancy if there are no other family members and they were living with the tenant and using the property as their only or main home for at least 12 months before the tenant’s death. We will need other information on the sale of the carer’s former home, their conduct while living in the property and evidence of the care arrangement before we make a decision.

Examples of where we may not allow a person to take on the tenancy are:

  • if the previous tenant had also succeeded to the property in the same way. There can only be one succession to any secure tenancy
  • if the property has been specially adapted for someone with a disability and no one left in the home needs the adaptations. Or if the property is too large for the person left. We would need to ask the county court to give the tenancy back to us. It will only do this if the judge thinks it is reasonable to do so, and we must offer the new tenant suitable alternative accommodation

If we do not grant the right to take on the tenancy to the person living in the property, we will need to take action to evict them.

Citizens Advice has more information about your rights in these situations.

Leaving your property

For information about giving notice and leaving your council property, please visit our page on moving out of you council home.

Find out more about tenancy issues

To find out more about tenancy issues, please complete our council property enquiry form and we will get back to you.