Introductory council tenancies

An introductory tenancy is a trial tenancy while the council decides if you are a good tenant. 

The trial lasts for 12 months from when your tenancy starts or when you move in, whichever is later. 

Your introductory tenancy can be extended by 6 months. The council must write to tell you why at least 8 weeks before your trial ends.

The council must say if you will become a flexible tenant instead of a secure tenant after the trial.

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

Tenancy agreements

You need to sign a written tenancy agreement. 

Your agreement tells you:

  • what type of tenancy you have

  • your rights and responsibilities

The council may give you a tenant's handbook with all you need to know.


It's easy for councils to evict introductory tenants.

The council has to get a court order to evict you and they must follow the right rules.

Rent and rent increases

Your tenancy agreement sets out how much the rent is and when to pay it.

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

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


You are responsible for reporting repair problems to the council as soon as you notice them.

The council is responsible for most repairs, including problems with the:

  • roof

  • guttering

  • windows

  • external doors

  • brickwork

They must make sure the gas, electricity and plumbing work safely.

The council should have a 24-hour service for emergencies. They should have a proper system for doing repairs.

You are usually responsible for decorating inside your home and for damage you cause.

Renting out a room or subletting

You do not have the right to rent out a room in your home while you're an introductory tenant.

You can take in a lodger when your tenancy becomes secure if you have the space.

You can ask for permission to rent out a room while you're an introductory tenant.

It's against the law for council tenants to rent out the whole of your home.

Find out about unlawful subletting from Citizens Advice.

Buying your council home

You cannot buy your home while you are an introductory tenant.

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

Passing on the tenancy if you die

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

If you are the only tenant, your tenancy can go to your spouse or civil partner if 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 they have lived with you for at least a year.

The tenancy continues as an introductory tenancy for the rest of the 12 month trial. Then it becomes a secure tenancy or a flexible tenancy.

Passing the tenancy on is called 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. This is called assignment.

Make sure you ask your landlord what you need to do to sign the tenancy over. If you do not sign it over properly, you could still be responsible for the rent. The new tenant could be evicted.

Moving or swapping homes

You only have the right to exchange your home with another council or housing association tenant after your trial period ends. Some councils will allow an exchange if you want to swap during the trial period.

If you want to move during your trial, you could transfer to another council or a housing association home

If you want to move to another council area, you can either:

  • go onto their transfer register if their transfer policy allows it

  • apply to the waiting list if you work in the area or have a job offer there

Councils have allocation and transfer policies on their websites.

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

How to complain

You can complain if you think the council is not treating you fairly or is not being a responsible landlord.

Last updated: 2 April 2023

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