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Demoted tenancies

You have fewer rights and can be evicted more easily if your tenancy has been demoted.

The council or housing association can ask the court to demote your tenancy if you, a household member or a visitor:

  • is involved in antisocial behaviour

  • uses the property for illegal activity

  • threatens to behave in this way

Antisocial behaviour is behaviour that causes or could cause nuisance or annoyance to another person.

Notice from the landlord

You usually get a notice that the landlord is going to ask the court for a demotion order.

The notice must explain the landlord's reasons for wanting to demote your tenancy.

You usually get at least: 

The notice must be on a special form if you rent from the council.

Demotion order in court

Only a judge can demote your tenancy.

Your landlord has 12 months to apply for a demotion order. This is counted from when:

  • they gave you the notice - if you rent from a housing association

  • the notice expired - if you are a council tenant

When your landlord applies to court, you will get:

  • paperwork to say when the court hearing will be

  • a defence form

Use the defence form to explain why your tenancy should not be demoted. For example, if the behaviour has not happened again or the person who caused it no longer lives with you.

A housing adviser may be able to help you prepare for the court hearing.

What happens at the court hearing

The landlord must prove that you, a household member or a visitor to your home has:

  • behaved in an antisocial way in the area or to council staff

  • used your home for illegal activities such as dealing drugs

You can tell the court why your tenancy should not be demoted.

The court will decide whether to demote your tenancy based on the evidence they have.

How long does a demotion last?

Your tenancy is demoted for 12 months.

After this you get your previous tenancy back, unless the landlord has given you a notice to leave. If this happens, the demotion will last another 6 months.

If your tenancy is demoted

Most things about your tenancy stay the same, including:

Right to buy your home

If you're a council tenant, the right to buy your home is put on hold until your tenancy becomes secure or flexible again.

Time spent as a demoted tenant does not count towards the 3 year qualifying period you need to buy your home under the right to buy scheme.

If you had a 'preserved' right to buy with a housing association, you may lose this right permanently. This is because you will have an assured tenancy at the end of the demotion period.

Transfers and exchanges 

You will not be able to swap homes with another council or housing association tenant while your tenancy is demoted.

You can apply for a transfer to another property but you may not be able to move before the demotion ends.

This should be explained in your council's allocations policy on their website.

Inheriting a demoted tenancy

If you have a joint tenancy, the other joint tenant automatically takes over the tenancy if one of you dies.

If you're the only tenant, the tenancy can pass to your spouse, civil partner or unmarried partner if they've lived with you for at least 12 months.

If you do not have a partner, the tenancy can pass to a close family member who has lived with you for at least 12 months.

This is sometimes called succession. There are different rules for council and housing association tenancies.

If you inherit a demoted tenancy, it will stay demoted until the end of the demotion period.

Eviction from a demoted tenancy

You can be evicted from a demoted tenancy much more easily.

The council or housing association do not have to prove a legal reason to evict you in court. They just have to follow the correct eviction procedure.

Make sure you avoid antisocial behaviour and pay your rent.

If the landlord gives you a possession notice during the demotion period, the demoted tenancy can continue beyond 12 months until the court looks at the possession claim.

If you rent from a housing association

The housing association has to give you either a section 21 notice or a section 8 notice. It's more likely that you would get a section 21 notice.

You do not have to leave when the notice expires. The housing association has to get a possession order and a bailiffs warrant to evict you.

If you rent from the council

You’ll get 4 weeks’ written notice of possession that explains why the council want to evict you.

You can ask the council to review their decision to evict you. You must do this within 14 days from the date when the notice was served.

The council must apply to the court for a possession order.

They can do this after:

  • the notice period has expired

  • they have made a review decision, if you asked for a review

If the council does not apply to court within 6 months of giving you notice to leave, your demoted tenancy becomes a secure or flexible tenancy again.

The possession order gives the time and date you’re meant to move out. This will normally be 14 days after the hearing.

If you stay past the date on the possession order, the landlord can ask bailiffs to evict you.

Find out more about eviction by bailiffs

Last updated: 6 January 2023

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