Tenancy agreement

In this section

Standards you can expect

Your customer experience is important to us

We are committed to delivering the best possible service to our tenants. These are the standards you can expect from us:

  • We will treat you with respect and be welcoming, courteous and fair
  • We will provide information in a format that is clear and meaningful
  • We will seek to ensure value for money in all of our services, and will always remember that the money we spend comes from rent paid by our tenants
  • We will promote our comments, compliments and complaints process, value your feedback on our services, and strive to improve areas where we could do better
  • We will measure how satisfied customers are with our services and use your feedback to improve performance

A full list of all our service standards are available on our website.

Types of tenancy

As a local authority landlord the types of tenancy we can use are set out in law. The type of tenancy which you have depends on your circumstances but it will be one of the following types

Introductory tenancy

This tenancy is usually given to people who are new council tenants. Introductory tenancies are usually for a 12 month probationary period where you need to demonstrate you are able to keep to the agreement. If you fail to keep to the terms of the agreement, for example by getting into rent arrears or causing a nuisance to your neighbours, then we are able to evict you more quickly than ‘secure tenants’. For introductory tenancies we are required to prove to the court that the problem has occurred and that it has been dealt with properly. The court can then give an order to end the tenancy.

We can extend the introductory tenancy period by a further six months if we feel you need this. At the end of your introductory tenancy (usually after 12 months) and as long as you have kept to the terms of the tenancy agreement, your tenancy will automatically convert to a secure tenancy which gives you more security in your home and more rights.

Secure tenancy 

If you’ve been a tenant with us for more than a year you will normally hold a secure tenancy. This usually means that you can remain in your home for as long as you like provided that you don’t break the terms of your tenancy agreement. There are some circumstances, for example redevelopment, where the council can make you move to another property. If this is likely to happen to you we will give you plenty of notice.

Flexible tenancy

We may offer you a flexible tenancy but we will discuss this type of tenancy and what it will mean with you.

Joint tenancy

You may have signed one of the types of tenancies described above as a joint tenant with someone else. If you are a joint tenant you are both responsible for keeping to the tenancy agreement.

Both tenants remain responsible for keeping to the terms of the tenancy agreement (including paying the rent) until the joint tenancy has ended. If you start with us as a sole tenant you may later request that we give you a joint tenancy with someone else. It is our decision whether to grant you a new joint tenancy and we will consider factors such as whether you have any rent arrears, how long the other person has lived with you, and whether the person owns property or holds a tenancy elsewhere.

If one of you no longer wants to be a joint tenant then you need to take proper independent advice from the Citizens Advice Bureau or a Solicitor.

Members of your household

Your tenancy agreement will state the maximum number of people legally allowed to live in your property. If you are considering having someone else move into the property to live then you should contact your Local Housing Office or an independent advisor for advice. You need to also be aware that this could affect any claim for benefits and you will need to declare that they have moved in.

Ending to your tenancy

If your circumstances change this may mean you want to end your tenancy.

Changing your tenancy

If your circumstances change this may mean that a change to your tenancy is required. These are some of the possible changes

Ending joint tenancies

If you hold a joint tenancy with your partner and your relationship breaks down, one tenant may move out of the property. If this happens the tenancy will remain in joint names until you take the necessary steps to resolve the situation. The tenancy agreement is a legal contract, and we cannot alter it without following certain steps. Whilst a joint tenancy is in place both people are responsible for paying the rent even though they may not both live at the property. In these cases, you need to seek independent advice and contact us.

Passing on the tenancy

If a tenant dies, it may be possible for someone who is living at the property to take over the tenancy. This is called succession.

If the deceased tenant was your partner and you had been living with them in the property at the time of their death, you will usually be able to stay on as the tenant yourself. If you are a close family member living in the property and the tenant dies without a surviving partner you may, in some circumstances, be able to stay in the property as the tenant or we may be able to offer you a property more appropriate to your needs. You should contact your Local Housing Office and if you want to your independent advisor, for advice in either of these circumstances or in any other situation where the tenant of the property has died or moved away leaving you in residence.

In some circumstances it may be possible for the tenant, within their lifetime, to transfer the tenancy to someone else living at the property, this is called assignment. If you are the tenant and you are thinking about transferring your tenancy you should seek independent advice as to what this could mean for you as well as speaking to us.

The right to pass on a tenancy to another person either through death or by choice can usually only occur once. If a tenancy has already been passed on previously it cannot happen again.

Moving out

If you are planning to move out of your home there are some things you need to do:

  • If you are moving by a transfer arranged through us, you will not need to give the full four weeks’ notice. Please discuss this with your Local Housing Management Officer
  • Leave your home clean, tidy, in good repair and decorative order. Remove all rubbish and all possessions. If you have been putting off reporting any repairs, please report these repairs and get them done before you go. This will mean we can re-let your home more quickly to a family who need it. If we need to carry out repairs to the property after you have moved out (caused by damage or misuse of the property) we will charge you for the cost of these repairs

For more information take a look at our Moving Out Standard leaflet

We will arrange for someone to inspect your home in the four week notice period, we will carry out minor repairs in your home during this time.

If you want to move to another property

If you want to move to another property, there are a number of different ways in which you can do this. For more information on moving, please visit the housing section of the website or call the Allocations advice line on the number on 023 8083 3006.

Mutual exchange

If you want to move you could think about moving by mutual exchange. This means you will need to find another local authority or housing association tenant to swap properties with. You can go online to Homeswapper to find tenants who live locally and nationally that want to move. It is free for you to register on this site.

Once you have found someone who would like to swap properties with you then you need to complete an application to exchange properties and hand this into your Local Housing Office who will assess whether or not your application can be approved. You cannot swap homes without getting our agreement.
You will not be able to move if you have any rent arrears or if your home is in a poor condition. If you are considering applying for an exchange please make sure you clear any arrears first and that your home is in good condition.

If you exchange your home with someone else please be aware that in exchanging you are agreeing to accept the property in its current condition, including all its fixtures and fittings. You will become responsible for any alterations or work carried out by the tenant you have exchanged with.

If you are overcrowded sometimes it can be quicker to move by finding someone to exchange with who wants to downsize.


If you are in housing need as a Southampton City Council tenant you can apply to move via Homebid, the council’s choice-based lettings scheme by completing an application form online.

Your application will be assessed, not everyone will qualify but if you do you will be awarded points based on your circumstances.

All available properties (including council and housing association homes) are advertised on Homebid which is published weekly and available on our website.

Once your application has been assessed you will be given information about how to ‘bid’ for properties you may have seen in Homebid. When bidding closes the council will generally offer the property to the person who has the highest number of points.

Unfortunately the council does not have enough properties available to rehouse everyone who needs a home and it may take some considerable time before you are successful in bidding for a property. For more information on waiting times and points please take a look at Homebid.

Working from home

We encourage people to work from home as long as they do not cause a nuisance to their neighbours and do not infringe planning regulations. We welcome tenants who provide a service for the community, for example, through fostering or childminding. However, some occupations for instance those which cause noise or involve lots of people coming to and from your property may be unsuitable.

Please refer to your tenancy agreement for more information on this. If you are considering working from home then please contact your housing office to discuss your plans.

Antisocial behaviour

What to do if you are experiencing antisocial behaviour

As a first step, in most cases of anti-social behaviour we encourage tenants who are experiencing problems with neighbours, to try and settle the dispute amicably. Often your neighbour may not realise that they are causing an annoyance and involving us straight away can make your neighbour feel threatened which may make the situation worse.

Explain to your neighbour in a calm and reasonable way the problem you have and be prepared to compromise. You may be able to settle the matter straight away without any further action. However if you approach your neighbour and they behave unreasonably, you should walk away. If you are unable to resolve the problem yourself you can report it to us and we will advise you how we can help.

Find out more about how to deal with antisocial behaviour.

Death of a tenant

If the tenant has died and you are dealing with their affairs you will need to do the following:

  • Let the Local Housing Office know. They will be able to give you advice on what to do
  • Give us two weeks’ notice to end the tenancy – a tenancy does not automatically end when a tenant dies so you will be asked to complete a form giving notice
  • Clear everything from the property and hand in all the keys.

If we have to make any charges because there is work to do in the property after you have cleared it these will be made to the estate of the deceased tenant not directly to you.


You may only keep pets in your home or allow them to visit you if we agree to it. However, you are allowed to keep some pets such as cats in your home, without asking our permission first.

For other pets, such as dogs, you must obtain permission from your Local Housing Office before you bring them home. There are some animals which you will never be allowed to keep at your property; these include livestock and animals which are potentially dangerous or likely to cause a nuisance to other residents.

Please see your tenancy agreement for a full list of animals which you can and cannot keep.

Your responsibilities

Your responsibilities as a council tenant are explained in detail in your tenancy agreement which you must take time to read. Your main responsibilities however, are as follows

  • To pay your rent on time and not get into arrears
  • Not to cause, or allow anyone else to cause anti-social behaviour in your home or neighbourhood
  • To live in the property as your only or main home and not to sub-let the property to someone else
  • To keep your home in good condition and allow us in to make repairs and improvements

Your tenancy agreement

When you signed up for your new home you were given a copy of your tenancy agreement. This is a very important document setting out your rights and responsibilities as a tenant and our obligations as a landlord.

It is the legal contract between you and the council.

Please keep your agreement in a safe place as you may need to refer to this in the future.

This is a copy and does not contain your signature, but apart from that is the same as the one you have signed.