Fixed Term Tenancies
A fixed term tenancy is legally known as an ‘Assured (shorthold) Fixed Term Tenancy’ and is granted for a specified period. We grant fixed term tenancies usually for five years, or two years in exceptional circumstances.
We'll review the tenancy within the fixed term. As long as we've not taken any possession action against you (for example for anti-social behaviour or rent arrears or fraud), and your circumstances remain unchanged (for example your family composition, or your eligibility for social housing, or your income), then you'll usually be offered another fixed term tenancy.
Your tenancy agreement explains what rights and responsibilities you have. You should read it carefully before you sign it. Your Tenant Information Pack contains information to help you better understand your tenancy.
Who will be offered a fixed term tenancy?
We offer fixed term tenancies to all new tenants and Red Kite transferring tenants with tenancies granted on or after 1st April 2012.
In most circumstances, all new tenants to Red Kite will be offered a five year fixed term tenancy following the satisfactory completion of a one year starter tenancy either with us or another social landlord.
In most circumstances, we'll offer these for a period of five years, or two years for exceptional circumstances, and it'll usually follow the satisfactory completion of a one year starter tenancy period whether with us or another social landlord.
The exceptions will be Red Kite Assured Periodic (lifetime) tenants who were our tenants on 15th January 2012, and have remained social housing tenants since that date, who will be granted a tenancy with us for no less security when they choose to move to another social rented home with us (unless the home is let on Affordable Rent terms).
In exceptional circumstances, a starter tenant or renewing fixed term tenant will be offered a two year fixed term tenancy. Exceptional circumstances include, but are not limited to:
- If a starter tenancy has been extended due to anti-social behaviour, and/or
- In a specific location/geographical area where shorter tenancies could help to tackle anti-social behavior, and/or
- Where a Notice of Seeking Possession has been issued due to rent arrears and the Court has accepted a payment agreement which you have kept to, but there are still arrears, and/or
- Where a Notice of Seeking Possession has been issued for a breach of tenancy in relation to anti-social behaviour, or other tenancy breach, and/or
- Where there is a need for support, for example if you have specific needs, that is likely to cause difficulties in sustaining a tenancy, and/or
- Where the home may require extensive works, or be needed for future development purposes, and/or
- Where a home already has significant adaptations and you or your household may not require these in the long term, and/or
- If your household is overcrowded or is under-occupying at the time of the review, but no suitable alternative home has been secured, and/or
- If the home has been identified as particularly suitable for purchase as part of portable discounts under the Voluntary Right to Buy (for example, within a block that already has a large proportion of leaseholders), and/or
- If the property has been identified as having a high value, and therefore has the potential to be particularly suitable for sale in the private market, and/or
- If the property is identified as particularly suitable for disposal.
What happens during the fixed term?
You'll be expected to meet the obligations set out in your tenancy, which include but are not limited to:
- paying your rent and other charges
- occupy your home as your only and principal home
- reporting repairs which are our responsibility and carrying out repairs which are your responsibility
- letting us know when your circumstances change, for instance your family size or your income
- giving us, our agents and contractors access when required including in emergencies
- engaging with us in managing your tenancy
- requesting help when you need it and letting us know if you are experiencing any problems
- ensuring you, your household and visitors do not cause a nuisance or annoyance to others in the neighbourhood.
If you're having difficulty in managing your tenancy, for instance with paying your rent, you should contact us immediately and we will discuss with you how we can help you to resolve the situation. Sometimes this may involve making referrals to other organisations that are in a better position to help you.
If the problem is serious, like criminal activity or deliberately damaging your home or not paying your rent and if you do not co-operate with us to find a solution, we may take steps to end your tenancy and you may lose your home.
What rights do fixed term tenants have?
Fixed term tenants have similar rights and responsibilities to secure and assured tenants, except you have reduced rights to:
- Succession - the right to take on a tenancy following the death of the tenant is restricted to the tenants spouse, civil partner or partner;
- End the tenancy - the landlord must agree that the tenancy is surrendered.
Your tenancy agreement explains what rights and responsibilities you have. You should read it carefully before you sign it.
What happens at the end of the five (or two) years?
A review of your circumstances will be started 12 months before the end of the fixed term and we will look at:
- Your management of your tenancy;
- Under-occupation – whether changes in your circumstances mean that your home is now bigger than your household requires;
- Whether the home you live in has specialist adaptations and you no longer need them;
- Whether you still have a continuing housing need which meets our allocations policy and the Bucks Home Choice Allocations Policy. A financial assessment will determine whether you could afford to find other accommodation.
You'll receive written confirmation of the outcome of the review at least six months before the tenancy is due to end. We'll also explain the reason for the decision, which is likely to be one of the following:
- You are granted another five year fixed term tenancy, or
- We offer advice and support to help you move to another home which is more suited to your housing need, or
- We confirm that a new tenancy will not be granted and you need to find alternative accommodation within six months.
If you are required to leave your home, we'll provide advice about other housing options. We'll also ask you to speak to Buckinghamshire Councils’ Housing Options Team to discuss other options available to you.
Can you appeal against a decision that says you can’t stay in the property?
Yes you can. You must lodge your appeal in writing within 10 days of being informed of our decision. The appeal will be heard by a Review Panel which will consist of staff who have had nothing to do with the decision that was made, and may include one of our volunteers. You can bring someone with you to the appeal to support you. More information is available on request.
The appeals process
The Review Panel will consider:
- If the Notice has been served correctly
- If the action (to serve the Notice and end the tenancy) is appropriate
- If the decision to terminate the tenancy has been taken fairly.
You'll be informed of the outcome in writing and you will have no further right of appeal.
Can we end your tenancy before the end of the fixed term?
Yes we can. If you break any of the conditions in your tenancy we can apply for a possession order under the Housing Act 1988 (as amended). Some of the reasons why we would take possession action include, but are not limited to:
- Serious anti-social behaviour, criminal activity or harassment
- Non-payment of rent or other charges
- Fraudulently obtaining the home
- Abandoning or subletting the home
- Causing or allowing damage to the home.
Prior to serving a Notice, letting you know of our intention to proceed with possession action, we will talk to you about how you've broken your tenancy conditions and work with you to try and solve this.
Where can you get help?
There are various services to help new and existing tenants to successfully manage their tenancy and home, including advice about money and benefits. For more information about the services we provide, please visit our website or call our Relationships Team on 01494 476100 to talk about what you need. You can also seek independent advice from your local Citizens Advice Bureau, law centre or solicitor.
It's important to keep a copy of your tenancy agreement in a safe, secure place.