Tenancies and your rights
Your tenancy agreement sets out your responsibilities as a customer and our responsibilities as a landlord.
There are two different types of tenancy available to tenants of South Tyneside Homes.
If this is your first tenancy with us you will probably have an introductory tenancy.
This will last for twelve months, then you will automatically become a secure tenant.
Once you have lived in your home for twelve months, you will automatically become a secure tenant.
Most of our customers are secure tenants. This means that they are protected under the Housing Act 1985.
This means that as long as this is your only and main home, we cannot make you leave without a court order.
With an introductory tenancy, you have the same rights as a secure tenant, but with the following exceptions:
- You do not have the right to buy your home
- You do not have the right to compensation if you improve your home, however you are allowed to decorate your home
- You do not have the right to exchange your home with another customer
- You do not have the right to sub-let part of your home
As a secure tenant, you have the right to:
Live in your home for as long as you like
We will not interfere with this right unless you break any of the rules in your tenancy agreement or any of the other reasons for possession apply.
Have your home kept in good repair
You have the right to have most repairs carried out by us.
Where a tenant has passed, the tenancy may, in certain circumstances, be given to a member of the family or a partner.
This is known as the right of succession. There can only be only be one succession per tenancy.
If your tenancy began before 1 April 2012, any family member who has lived with you for at least 12 months before your death has the right to succeed your tenancy, provided there has not been a previous succession.
If the tenancy began after 1 April 2012, a husband, wife or civil partner has the right to succeed the tenancy provided there has not been a previous succession.
A tenancy can also be assigned to a member of your family who would qualify as a successor in the event of the death of a tenant. This is known as an assignment of tenancy.
Contact can be made with the Area Housing team at South Shields Town Hall on 0300 123 6633, if you want to know whether this right applies to your tenancy.
Take in a lodger
If you have some spare space in your home you can take in a lodger. A lodger is someone who shares your home as part of your household.
You do not need our permission to take in a lodger but you should let us know.
You must take care not to overcrowd your home. If in doubt, contact your estate officer for advice.
If you are receiving housing benefit, you must tell the Benefits Agency that you have taken in a lodger as it could affect the amount of benefit you receive.
Sub-let part of your home
You have the right to sub-let part of your home. You must get our permission in writing to do so.
We cannot refuse permission unreasonably. If we do we must write and tell you why.
If you do sub-let your home without our permission and your sub-let tenant applies for Housing Benefit, their claim will not be processed until you have received our written permission.
You must not sub-let the whole of your home.
Carry out home improvements
You have the right to carry out repairs and improvements to your home but you must get our written permission first.
You must complete an application for alterations form before you make any major or structural alterations to your home. This includes:
- changing or installing a central heating system
- replacing windows
- installing a new kitchen or bathroom
- building a porch or other extension
- removal of internal walls / building internal walls
If you are not sure whether or not your proposed alterations need permission, please complete the form anyway.
If our permission is not needed we will let you know as soon as possible.
A surveyor will visit your home to assess whether permission can be granted and you will be informed in writing.
For more information please see alterations guidance notes.
Buy your home
You may have the right to buy your home if you have been a secure tenant for at least three years.
You may not have the right to buy your home if it is:
- being used as temporary accommodation
- designed to be suitable for elderly or disabled people
Find out more about the right to buy scheme.
Take part in managing your estate
There are several ways that you can take part in managing your estate.
- join a local tenants' group or you can ask us to help start one
- attend one of our focus groups
- give us your views through one of our consultation exercises
For more information please contact the Involvement team on 0300 123 6633.
You can also help us improve your local area by joining your Delivery Officer on an area walkabout.
They offer you the opportunity to look at the area where you live and report any issues.
You can also check that problems are being dealt with and standards are being met.
Exchange your home with another customer
If you want to move to a Council or housing association home in another Council area, you have the right to exchange your home.
You will need to find someone to exchange with.
You must have written permission from us to exchange your home.
The person you want to exchange with must also have the written permission from their Council or housing association.
We will only say no for certain reasons; for example, if we think that the home is too large or too small for the person who wants it.
For more information on exchanging your home please see mutual exchanges.
Receive compensation for some improvements
If you have carried out any improvements to your home, you may be able to get compensation when the tenancy ends.
Section nine in your tenancy agreement gives more information about this compensation.
To find out the types of improvements we will compensate you for. contact us on 0300 123 6633.
Read information that we keep about you
As one of our customers, we hold information about you and your tenancy.
You will have given us most of this information when you applied for a home.
Under the Data Protection Act 1998 you have the right to access your personal housing file where you can check the details to make sure that we have got it right.
We are allowed to remove confidential documents from people outside the organisation, such as doctors or social workers.
If you are unhappy with a certain piece of information in your file, you should GET advice from the Data Protection Commissioner.
You have the right to be consulted and informed of any changes in the conditions of your tenancy or the way we manage your home.
This includes improvements to your home, work planned for estates and changes to your tenancy agreement.
This does not apply to rents and service charges, where we can alter these without consultation. We do have to give you four weeks written notice of any change in rents or service charges.
We consult in a number of ways, including:
- through meetings
- Community Area Forums (CAFs)
- Focus groups
- Tenant and Member Panels
- individual visits
We produce information on how well we look after your home, including:
- collecting the rent
- getting repairs done
- allocation of homes
You have the right to see this information.
We tell you how we are doing in a number of ways.
We display our performance figures on this site, in newsletters, on wall charts and in annual reports.
If you want to know more about how we make decisions on housing, you have the right to go to public meetings and the right to see minutes of meetings.