Last updated 21/03/2013
A Starter Tenancy (also known as an Assured Shorthold Tenancy) is a trial period at the beginning of a tenancy for a maximum of 12 months. This type of tenancy provides the tenant with fewer rights and less protection from eviction than an Assured Tenancy (also known as a lifetime tenancy).
During the period of the Starter Tenancy, starter tenants do not have the following rights:-
We use Starter Tenancies as a way of encouraging people to develop tenancy management skills at the earliest opportunity and to promote settled communities. Starter Tenancies also act as an effective measure to help us deal with breaches of the Starter Tenancy Agreement such as anti social behaviour (both from tenants / occupants and visitors to their home), non payment of rent and willful damage to the property.
We offer Starter Tenancies to many new tenants. During this 12 month period it is easier for us to gain possession of the tenancy if the tenant has broken one or more conditions as detailed in the Tenancy Agreement. However, if the tenant has acted responsibly throughout this 12 month period they will then be granted an Assured Tenancy, which comes with greater rights and security.
In the case of a joint tenancy, the trial period ends as soon as one of the joint tenants has completed the 12-month trial period.
We aim to manage and resolve breaches of tenancy agreements in terms of failing to pay rent or causing nuisance and annoyance. In the majority of tenancies, enforcement action may never be necessary and for those tenancies, the tenancy agreement will be converted into an assured tenancy after 12 months and once regular monitoring processes have been satisfactorily met.
When we let a property, we will normally grant a Starter Tenancy which cannot be ended under the starter tenancy process within the first six months. We can take legal action for tenancy breaches by giving two months’ notice. We do this by requesting a Section 21 Notice (s21) at any time from the start date of the Starter Tenancy, and then act upon it after the notice period has expired but no earlier than six months from the tenancy start date. Thereafter, we can be granted possession through an Accelerated Possession Procedure if the tenant(s) remain in the property.
Before we take legal action, we will investigate allegations of any tenancy breaches. Legal action involving the use of injunctions or Notice of Seeking Possession for rent arrears can be used at any time during the Starter Tenancy period.
A review processes during the lifetime of each starter tenancy will help us identify breaches of the tenancy agreement and any associated issues with the tenancy. We will produce reports that immediately identify breaches of the tenancy agreement.
Within the first six weeks, we aim to make sure that the tenant(s) have moved into the property, that any benefits application has been submitted and to address any early signs of nuisance / tenancy breaches. Thereafter, the review process will involve us monitoring the tenancy and contacting the starter tenants to discuss (any) breaches that may lead to a decision not to convert their tenancy to a more secure form of tenancy at the end of the term. This review process supports our aims and objectives to help tenants where necessary and provide early advice and assistance to achieve tenancy conversion. At the same time, it helps us identify cases that require a more robust approach and potential legal action.
This continuous review process will communicate clearly to the starter tenant(s) how their tenancy is performing and what our intentions are likely to be when consideration is given whether to convert to a more secure form of tenancy at the end of the term.
The earliest point we can obtain possession is at the six months stage, and throughout the review process, we will keep starter tenants informed of our intentions in terms of conversion. In cases where we have identified breaches, these tenancies will have already been regularly reviewed and correspondence sent to the starter tenants warning them of the breaches as well as the serving of two months’ notice where applicable.
For starter tenancies where there are no breaches, the tenancies will head towards conversion at twelve months.
- Converted to an Assured Tenancy
- Extended for a further period of up to 6 months
If at the end of the tenancy there have been no breaches of the tenancy agreement such as failure to pay rent or anti-social behaviour, then the tenancy will be converted into an Assured Tenancy once satisfactory monitoring processes have been met.
Extension to the 12 months Starter Tenancy
The Starter Tenancy may be extended for a period of up to a further six months (i.e. 18 months from commencement of the Starter Tenancy) to enable the tenant to rectify any breaches by for example:-
- Setting up an acceptable arrears repayment plan which the tenant keeps to for at least 3 months.
- In instances where further time is needed to show that anti-social behaviour generally would not be repeated and / or where the Group needs to complete its investigations.
- A Section 8 Notice has been served
- A Section 21 Notice has been served
- A Possession claim has been issued
Typical breaches that will result in ending the tenancy can include the following:-
- Consistent poor rent payment patterns leading to rent arrears with no evidence of engaging with officers to agree a repayment plan.
- Repeated or single serious breach of the tenancy agreement due to antisocial behaviour from the tenant(s), occupants or visitors to the tenant’s home.
- Any other consistent breach of the tenancy agreement such as failure to allow access for essential works or tenant damage to the property.
We will make any decision to extend or end a starter tenancy fairly, reasonably and proportionally. Any decisions we take will be after we exhaust our starter tenancy policy with clear evidence that the tenancy agreement has been breached, and that the tenant has demonstrated they were unable to manage their tenancy in an acceptable manner.
Tenants can appeal our decision not to convert their tenancy to an Assured Tenancy by writing to us within 10 working days. An Appeals Panel made of at least three Senior Managers who are independent of the case and the original decision will look into the appeal.
The Appeal process
The Appeal process will incorporate the following key points:-
- Allow 14 days to submit appeal
- Supply written evidence in advance of the hearing
- Allow for oral and written review
- Involve impartial officers at the hearing
- The Starter Tenant will have the right to be legally represented at the hearing
- The Starter Tenant will have the right to receive information regarding reasons for decisions.
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Updated by Athanasios Protopapas on 20/03/2013 12:25:37
Comment: Updated document and added more information.Details: (show)
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Chapter title changed from "Why use Starter Tenancies?" to "Why we use Starter Tenancies".
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Chapter title changed from "What happens during the 12-month trial period?" to "How we manage Starter Tenancies".
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Chapter title changed from "What happens at the end of my Starter Tenancy?" to "What happens during the Starter Tenancy Period".
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Updated by Athanasios Protopapas on 27/03/2012 17:12:48
Comment: Updated details on starter tenancy and added timescale for appealing to a decision made by the Association.Details: (show)
Chapter titled "Overview" content changed.
Chapter titled "Why use Starter Tenancies?" content changed.
Chapter titled "What happens during the 12-month trial period?" content changed.
Updated by Athanasios Protopapas on 08/02/2012 16:47:44
Comment: Changed the category of the article from 'Tenancy Matters' to more appropriate 'Lettings'Details: (show)
New Category assigned "Lettings".
Category assignment removed: "Tenancy Matters".