This page is targeted at housing professionals. Our main site is at www.shelter.org.uk

Flexible tenancy definition

This content applies to England

A flexible tenancy is a form of secure tenancy granted for a fixed term and a prospective tenant can request a review of the length of the term offered.

Flexible tenancies

From 1 April 2012, a local authority landlord has been able to grant 'flexible' tenancies, rather than periodic secure tenancies.[1] The authority must adopt a tenancy strategy or interim policy to allow for it.

A flexible tenancy is a form of secure tenancy that is granted for a fixed term of a minimum two years. In most cases it should be granted for a minimum term of five years.[2]

Most of the information relating to secure tenancies will apply equally to flexible tenancies. For example, the landlord and tenant conditions for creating a secure tenancy must be equally satisfied when creating a flexible tenancy. See Definition of secure tenancies for more details on the conditions.

Tenancies that cannot be secure equally cannot be flexible, see the Tenancies that cannot be a secure tenancy page for more on this.

How local authorities create a flexible tenancy

The landlord and tenant conditions for creating a secure tenancy must both be satisfied when creating a flexible tenancy.

Local authorities can grant flexible tenancies after they have adopted a tenancy strategy or interim policies that allow for it. It is up to each local authority to decide whether it will grant flexible tenancies and, if so, in what circumstances.

The local authority landlord must serve prior written notice on the prospective tenant that their tenancy will be a flexible tenancy of a minimum fixed term.[3]

If the local authority grants introductory tenancies to new tenants, it must notify the prospective tenant that on expiry of the trial period, their introductory tenancy will become a flexible tenancy.[4]

In specific circumstances a local authority can let a flexible tenancy at an 'affordable rent', ie a rent of up to 80 per cent of the market rent. For more information see Affordable tenancies.

Right of review of offers

A prospective flexible tenant can request a review of the length of the term offered when it does not reflect the local authority's policy on the length of the fixed-term flexible tenancies it will grant.[5]

The request must be made in writing and within 21 days of the offer of the tenancy, unless the local authority landlord agrees to a longer period in writing. Regulations set out the procedure to be followed on review.[6]

There is no right to appeal a decision on review. Further, there is no right to request a review of the decision to offer a flexible tenancy rather than a periodic secure tenancy.

Any legal challenge in either of these circumstances will have to be made by way of judicial review and/or by making a complaint to the Ombudsman (see Complaining to the Ombudsman for more information).

Duration of flexible tenancies

A flexible tenancy must be granted for a minimum term of two years.[7] However, the Government has issued statutory Directions to the Regulator of Social Housing which set out that a flexible tenancy ought to be granted for a minimum term of five years, except in 'exceptional circumstances' when they can be granted for a minimum of two years.[8]

The requirement that a tenancy with a fixed-term of three years or more must be made by deed (ie the contract must say it is a deed and the signatures of the landlord and tenant must be witnessed) does not apply to flexible tenancies of this duration.[9]

[1] s.107A Housing Act 1985, as inserted by s.154 Localism Act 2011.

[2] s.107A(2) Housing Act 1985; Para 2(3)(d) Appendix A 'Final Directions', Implementing Social Housing Reform: Directions to the Social Housing Regulator – Consultation: Summary of Responses, DCLG, December 2011.

[3] s.107A(2) and (3) Housing Act 1985, as inserted by s.154 Localism Act 2011.

[4] s.137A Housing Act 1996, as inserted by s.155 Localism Act 2011.

[5] s.107B(3) Housing Act 1985, as inserted by s.154 Localism Act 2011.

[6] The Flexible Tenancies (Review Procedures) Regulations 2012 SI 2012/695.

[7] s.107A(2)(a) Housing Act 1985, as inserted by s.154 Localism Act 2011

[8] Para 2(3)(d) Appendix A 'Final Directions', Implementing Social Housing Reform: Directions to the Social Housing Regulator – Consultation: Summary of Responses, DCLG, December 2011.

[9] s.52 Law of Property Act 1925 as amended by s.156 Localism Act 2011.

Back to top