Demoted council tenancies

The council can ask the court to demote your tenancy if you behave antisocially. This is an alternative to eviction but means you can be evicted more easily in future.

What is a demoted tenancy?

If you have been involved in antisocial behaviour and you have a secure or flexible tenancy, the council can get an order from the court to demote your tenancy.

The council will monitor your tenancy closely while you are a demoted tenant.

It's easier for the council to evict you during this period so it is important to avoid antisocial behaviour and pay your rent. 

How your council tenancy can be demoted

The council must give you:

  • at least 4 weeks’ notice in writing on a special form
  • reasons why it is applying for a demotion order

The council has 12 months from when the notice expires to apply to the court to demote your tenancy.

What happens in court?

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

  • behaved antisocially in the area or to council staff
  • used your home for illegal activities such as drug dealing

You can tell the court why your tenancy should not be demoted. For example, if the behaviour complained about has not been repeated or the person responsible for the behaviour no longer lives there.

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

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

Contact a Shelter adviser online, by phone or in person

How long does a demoted tenancy last?

Your tenancy is demoted for 12 months. After this you automatically become a secure or flexible tenant again unless the council has taken steps to evict you during the demotion period. The council must give you written notice if your tenancy is going to go back to being a flexible tenancy. 

If the council gives you a possession notice during the demotion period then the demoted tenancy can continue beyond 12 months until the court considers the possession claim.  

Eviction from a demoted tenancy

You can be evicted quite easily if antisocial behaviour continues or you break other terms of your tenancy, such as not paying your rent.

The council must give you notice and apply for a court order.

The court will order you to leave as long as the council follows the correct procedure.   


Your rent will be the same as it was before your tenancy was demoted.

If you are paying off rent arrears in instalments you must stick to this agreement.

If you have a low income you can claim housing benefit or universal credit to help pay your rent.

Responsibility for repairs

You remain responsible for internal decoration and paying for any damage you cause.

The council remains responsible for most other repairs, including any problems with the roof, guttering, windows, external doors and brickwork. It also has to ensure that the plumbing, gas and electricity are working safely.

Tell the council immediately if your home needs repairs. The council should have a 24-hour service for emergencies and proper procedures for carrying out any work involved.

Get advice if the repairs aren't carried out or are done badly.

Right to buy your home

The right to buy your home is suspended 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.

Transfers and exchanges 

You won't 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 your council's rules may disqualify you while your tenancy is demoted.

The rules should be explained in your council's allocations policy which can be found on its website.

Use the GOV.UK search to find your council's website

What happens to the tenancy if you die?

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

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

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

This legal process is called succession. The tenancy can only be passed on once in this way unless the tenancy agreement allows for a second succession.

If a demoted tenancy passes to a partner or another family member it will remain demoted until the end of the demotion period and will then become secure or flexible again as long as the council has not taken steps to evict.


Use the council's complaints procedure if you feel that the council has failed to fulfill its responsibilities or isn't treating you fairly.

Need more help?

Demoted tenants have reduced rights. You can be evicted quite easily if you owe rent or break other terms of your tenancy. 

Get advice immediately if:

  • the council wants to demote your tenancy
  • the council serves you with notice
  • your tenancy has already been demoted and you are in rent arrears or have other problems in the tenancy

Last updated 12 May 2017 | © Shelter

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