Orwell may offer tenancies to the head of household alone or to two persons who will share the rights and responsibilities of the tenancy. This is called a ‘joint tenancy’.
Depending on the tenancy type some Orwell tenants have a limited right to have someone else living with them as part of their household, or with Orwell’s consent, to sub let part of their home (but not all of it) or to take a lodger.
This section explains how joint tenancies may start and end, and what you need to do if you want to increase your household, take a lodger or sub tenant.
If you have signed your tenancy with another person then you are ‘joint tenants’ and share both the rights and the responsibilities equally. You are responsible for your own, and for your joint tenant’s actions. Orwell could pursue either or both joint tenants for arrears or about other breaches of the tenancy agreement.
Orwell would normally offer a joint tenancy to an established couple, and may consider offering a joint tenancy to other strong family relationships, for example:
- Parent and adult child.
- Brothers and/or sisters.
- Close friends.
As long as it is clear that the relationship is long-lasting and that it is appropriate for the persons to share an equal legal relationship.
We will not grant joint tenancies:
- To people nominated alone by a Council.
- In sheltered and very sheltered or supported housing, unless both persons need the support.
If your partner does not meet these conditions, he or she can still share your home, but will not be included in the legal tenancy.
Orwell will apply similar principles where an existing tenant asks for another person to share their tenancy. However the law regarding combining or separating tenancies is complex and a change to the formal tenants will require legal documentation to remove a person, and a new tenancy to be granted to enable an additional person to be joined in.
We may refuse to grant a new joint tenancy for any reason, but would normally do so if:
- There are rent arrears, other breaches, or a court order.
- There is no evidence of a stable relationship.
When people who are joint tenants split up, Orwell has no power to change the tenancy to the sole name of one or other of the tenants, unless they agree between themselves or get a Court Order to define this. Until one tenant can be formally removed from the tenancy agreement, it continues in joint names and both the rights, e.g. security of tenure, and the responsibilities. For rent arrears, continue to apply to either and to both tenants.
An injunction and some other types of order can be granted by a court to protect a person from domestic abuse. This may include temporarily preventing a tenant from entering their own home, but does not itself separate the tenancy. An additional order is required to separate the tenancy.
A joint tenancy can be separated in the following ways:
A tenancy may be separated by the Court through the Family Law Act, which applies both to married and to cohabiting couples, or through separation, divorce or child custody proceedings. The decision of the Court is binding on Orwell. When you provide us with a copy of the Property Adjustment Order we will amend the agreement to reflect it.
- If one joint tenant leaves and agrees that his or her interest in the tenancy be transferred to the remaining tenant’s sole name. Legal documents must be signed by the Association and by both joint tenants.
- If one joint tenant leaves but disappears without making any arrangement the joint tenancy continues. It may be possible for the remaining tenant to end the whole tenancy and for Orwell to grant a new sole tenancy of the same type. But we can only do so if the remaining tenant:
- Gives sufficient notice to avoid the need for both to sign.
- Is eligible for a new tenancy.
- Makes a legal declaration that the departed joint tenant intended this.
Contact your Housing Officer for full information about the options before either joint tenant leaves.
Sharing your home with other people
Shorthold and starter tenancies do not permit sharing of the home with any person other than those who Orwell agreed could move in with you at the start.
New household members
If you are a Secure, full assured or fixed term tenant tand anyone joins you to live as part of your household after you move in, you should advise your Housing Officer. This includes a new family member. This is because Orwell needs to be sure your household is not overcrowded, and also because a new partner or family member may eventually gain a right to take over the tenancy if you die or move out, so we need to keep a record.
We do not normally permit extra household members to join tenants after they move in to sheltered, very sheltered or supported housing.
A lodger is someone who:
- shares your home with you.
- eats or shares household tasks with you (perhaps).
- pays you an economic charge.
If you are an Orwell secure, full assured or fixed term tenant (except in sheltered or and very sheltered housing) you have a right to take a lodger to share your home with you, so long as you let us know beforehand the name, age and sex of the intended lodger, where they will sleep and how much they will pay.
A sub-tenant is a person who:
- rents their own independent space in your home.
- looks after themselves.
- has a formal economic relationship with you.
- has legal rights regarding his or her stay at your home.
You may not sublet the whole of your home and few of Orwell’s properties have space, facilities or layout to enable a part to be sublet. You may never sublet the whole of your home and may only sublet part of it if you have a secure or full assured tenancy that started before 1st January 2008, and you must have Orwell’s consent to do so.
Implications of taking additional household members, lodgers or sub tenants
You are responsible for the behaviour of everyone at your home. Bad behaviour of anyone can put your own tenancy at risk.
- Rent, charges or other contributions that they give you may reduce your Housing Benefit. If you receive Housing Benefit you must tell the Local Council’s housing benefit office immediately.
- If your tenancy ends, everyone must leave.
- You must not allow your home to become overcrowded. Your tenancy agreement shows the number of people Orwell allows to live there.
- Orwell will not take account of the presence of any lodger or sub tenant if we consider you for a transfer.