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Flexible council tenancies

Some councils offer flexible tenancies for a fixed term. The council might not offer you another tenancy when it ends.

What is a flexible tenancy?

A flexible tenancy is a type of secure tenancy but it only lasts for a fixed period.

The council must tell you in writing that it is offering you a flexible tenancy before the tenancy starts.

If your council gives new tenants an introductory tenancy you might get a flexible tenancy once your 12-month trial period is over.

Your rights in a flexible tenancy

You have the same rights as a secure council tenant for the duration of your fixed-term.

How long does a flexible tenancy last?

Flexible tenancies usually have a fixed-term of at least 5 years. The tenancy could last for as little as 2 years if there is a good reason for it to be shorter, for example if you have a history of rent arrears or antisocial behaviour.

Check your council's policy on the length of tenancies it offers.

You can find this information in a document called a tenancy strategy which should be available at the council's housing office or on its website. 

Use the search to find your council's website and contact details

You can request a review of the length of the tenancy offered to you if it is not in line with the council's policy.

Eviction during a flexible tenancy

You can only be evicted during the fixed term of your tenancy for certain legal reasons called grounds for possession.

For example if you:

  • haven't paid the rent
  • are involved in antisocial behaviour
  • rent out your home to someone else

The council must get a court order and follow the same procedure used for evicting tenants from a secure council tenancy.

If you want to leave your flexible tenancy

You can end your flexible tenancy by giving four weeks' notice in writing.

If you have rent arrears or have breached your tenancy agreement you must check the agreement to see if you are allowed to end your tenancy.

You can ask the council to accept a surrender of your tenancy if your agreement doesn't allow you to end it.

Consider your options before giving notice. If you give up a council tenancy it might be difficult to get another one.

At the end of the flexible tenancy

When your fixed-term ends, the council can:

Eviction when the flexible tenancy ends

The council must give you 2 written notices during the flexible tenancy if it wants you to leave at the end. 

You must get a 6-month notice of non-renewal which:

  • tells you that the tenancy will not be renewed
  • sets out the reasons why
  • states that you have 21 days to request a review of the decision 

You must also get a 2-month notice stating that the council requires possession.

You don't have to leave when the notices end but the council can then apply to the court to evict you.

The court must make a possession order if the council has served the correct notices and followed the correct procedure.

If the council does not serve the correct notices before your flexible tenancy ends, you will automatically become a secure tenant at the end of the fixed term.

Get advice on eviction

Get advice immediately if the council threatens to evict you for any reason.

Even if bailiffs are due, it might be possible to get the eviction stopped or delayed.

If you are on a low income you can get advice on eviction through legal aid.

Contact Civil Legal Advice on 0345 345 4 345 to see if you qualify

Shelter offers free telephone advice regardless of your income.

Call Shelter's free housing advice helpline on 0808 800 4444

Last updated 02 Oct 2014 | © Shelter

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