Introductory council tenancies

An introductory tenancy is a 12-month trial council tenancy. At the end of the trial period you will normally get a longer-term tenancy.

What is an introductory tenancy?

An introductory tenancy is a trial tenancy that allows the council to decide if you are a good tenant. Not all councils give introductory tenancies to new tenants.

The trial period lasts for 12 months from the date the tenancy starts or the date you move in, whichever is later. The council can extend your introductory tenancy for a further 6 months.

The council must tell you whether you will become a secure tenant or flexible tenant after the trial period.

You should not be offered an introductory tenancy if you are transferring from a secure council tenancy or an assured housing association tenancy.   

Tenancy agreements

The council will ask you to sign a written tenancy agreement before your tenancy starts. 

Your tenancy agreement tells you:

  • what type of tenancy you have

  • explains your rights and responsibilities

The council may give you a tenant's handbook, which should explain all you need to know about your tenancy.


It's easy for a council to evict you if you have an introductory tenancy:

The council has to take you to court. If the council followed the correct procedure to evict an introductory tenant, it is likely that the court will order you to leave. 

Rent and rent increases

Your tenancy agreement sets out how much the rent is and when it should be paid.

Rent increases usually happen in April. The council must give you at least 4 weeks' written notice of a rent increase.

If you have a low income and need help to pay the rent. you can claim universal credit.

Responsibility for repairs

You are responsible for reporting repair problems to the council immediately.

The council is responsible for most repairs, including any problems with the roof, guttering, windows, external doors and brickwork.

The council must make sure the gas, electricity and plumbing are working safely.

The council should have a 24-hour service for emergencies and proper procedures for carrying out any work involved.

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

Taking in a lodger or subletting

You don't have the right to take in a lodger or sublet your home if you are an introductory tenant.

It is a criminal offence to rent out the whole of your home to someone else if you are a council tenant.

Buying your council home

You can't buy your home while you are an introductory tenant.

Time spent as an introductory tenant counts towards the 3-year qualifying period you need to buy your home at a discount under the right to buy scheme.

Passing on the tenancy if you die

If you are a joint tenant, the tenancy automatically passes to the other joint tenant if one of you dies.

If you are the only tenant, your tenancy can pass to your spouse or civil partner as long as they are living in your home at the time of your death.

If you're not married or in a civil partnership, an unmarried partner or another family member can take over the tenancy if you die, as long as they have lived with you for at least a year.

The tenancy will continue as an introductory tenancy for the remainder of the 12-month trial period and will then become a secure tenancy or a flexible tenancy.

The legal process is called succession. It can only happen once unless your tenancy agreement allows a second succession.

Passing on your tenancy in your lifetime 

You can sign your tenancy over to anyone who would have the right to succeed if you died. The legal process is called assignment.

The correct process must be followed or you could still be responsible for paying the rent and the new tenant could be evicted.

Moving or transferring to another area

If you want to move while your tenancy is still in its trial period, you may be able to transfer to another council or a housing association home

You can only exchange your property with another council or housing association tenant after your trial period ends.

If you want to move to a different council area, you can either:

  • go onto its transfer register if the transfer policy allows it

  • apply to go onto the waiting list if you work there or have been offered a job there

You can find a council's allocation and transfer policy on its website.

Use the GOV.UK search to find your local council website

How to complain

Use the council's complaints procedure if you think the council isn't treating you fairly or is not meeting its responsibilities as a landlord.

Last updated: 24 July 2020

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