Housing association starter tenancies

A housing association can give you a starter tenancy for a 12-month trial period before deciding whether to give you a longer-term tenancy.

What is a starter tenancy?

Many housing associations give new tenants a starter tenancy running for 12 months.

At the end of the 12 month trial period, the housing association can decide to

  • give you a long-term tenancy
  • extend your trial period by 6 months
  • take steps to evict you

If the housing association decides you can stay on long term, you usually automatically become a fully assured tenant.

Some housing associations offer a longer term assured shorthold tenancy instead (usually for 5 years).

Use our tool to check your tenancy type

How you can be evicted

A starter tenancy is an assured shorthold tenancy.

If the housing association decides it wants to evict you, it will usually give you the chance to appeal. An appeal gives you the chance to say why you should be allowed to stay.

It is quite straightforward for the housing association to take you to court to evict you. The housing association can use a section 21 notice to start the eviction process from 4 months after your starter tenancy begins.

You could be evicted before this if the housing association takes you to court for a legal reason such as serious antisocial behaviour.

Find out how starter tenants can be evicted.

Written tenancy agreement

Your housing association will get you to sign a written tenancy agreement. Keep your copy.

This explains your rights and responsibilities and may set out how long your tenancy lasts.

The conditions of your tenancy can't usually be changed without your written agreement.


You will have to pay your rent in advance. Your tenancy agreement will tell you if this is to be paid every week or month.

Your rent cannot be increased during the starter tenancy unless there is a clause in your tenancy agreement that says how and when it can be increased.

If you are on benefits or have a low income, you can claim housing benefit or universal credit to help you pay the rent. It may not cover all your rent.


The housing association is responsible for most repairs to your home, including any problems with the roof, guttering, windows, doors and brickwork.

The housing association must also make sure that the plumbing, gas and electricity are working safely.

Your tenancy agreement or tenant’s handbook often tells you about how long a particular type of repair takes to be fixed.

If your home needs repairs, report the problem to the housing association immediately.

You're usually responsible for minor repairs to internal decoration and paying for any damage you cause.

What happens to your tenancy if you die

If you have a joint tenancy, the starter tenancy automatically continues for the other joint tenant if you die.

If you have a sole tenancy, it will pass to your husband, wife, civil partner or cohabiting partner if they are living in the property at the time of your death.

If you don't have a partner, another family member may be able to inherit your tenancy if your tenancy agreement allows it.

This legal process is called succession.

Passing on your tenancy in your lifetime

You can only transfer – or ‘assign’ – your tenancy to someone else if the housing association agrees.

Unless your tenancy agreement says something different, the housing association can refuse an assignment for any reason.

Transfers or exchanges

During your trial period you can only swap your home with another housing association or council tenant if this is allowed under your tenancy agreement. You both need permission from your landlord.

Once your trial period is over you usually have a right to exchange your tenancy with another tenant. The housing association can only refuse permission for specific reasons, such as ongoing eviction proceedings.

Your housing association might allow you to transfer to a different property while you are a starter tenant but this will depend on their policy.

Right to buy

Starter tenants do not have the right to buy their home.


Use your housing association's official complaints procedure if you feel you're not being treated fairly or if your landlord has failed to meet their responsibilities.

Still need help?

Get advice if you still need help with a starter tenancy with a housing association.

Last updated 11 May 2017 | © Shelter

If you need to talk to someone, we’ll do our best to help

Get help

Email a link to this article

Thank you - your message has been sent.

Sorry! - your message has not been sent this time.

Was this advice helpful?

Thank you - your feedback has been submitted to the team.

Sorry! - your message has not been sent this time.