Starting and Ending a Tenancy
We've developed a tenancy policy [pdf document 674kb] that covers the types of tenancy we offer.
Flexible Tenancy agreement [pdf document] - please read for full details of your rights and responsibilities.
We offer the following type of tenancy:
- introductory (a trial period for new tenants which lasts 12 months)
- secure (lifetime)
- flexible (tenancies for a fixed period)
When you move in, we will give you:
- a copy of your tenancy agreement
- two sets of keys or fobs (if you need a new or replacement fob please contact customer services. The charge for each fob is £10, replacements for faulty fobs are free)
- a gas safety certificate for your home
- an energy performance certificate. This gives you information about the energy efficiency of your home and how it can be improved.
- useful advice leaflets
- Tenants handbook [pdf document]
You need to tell the following organisations that you have moved:
- Gas and electric provider
- Department for work and pensions, housing benefit and Council tax
- DVLA [external link] for your driving licence
- Elections office to update the electoral register
- TV licensing [external site]
- If you have children, inform the school they attend
- Post office [external site] to redirect your mail
Your tenancy starts on the date shown on your tenancy agreement. This is when you become the legal tenant. From then on you are responsible for the property and for paying the rent. We will visit you soon after you move in to see how you are settling in and to discuss any problems you may have.
If you live in a council home, but are not the official tenant or joint tenant (because your name isn't on the tenancy agreement) you can apply to take over the tenancy in certain circumstances.
In some situations you have the legal right to take over the tenancy: in other cases the council has the right to either agree or refuse your application - depending on your circumstances and whether there is a demand for the property.
Someone who is still alive
If you wish to take over a tenancy of a person who is still alive you need to contact your local Housing Office and discuss the circumstances with a housing officer. All situations are dealt with on an individual basis.
Someone who has died
The law says that if a council tenant dies, the tenancy of their home can pass to their husband or wife, (or to the person who had been living with them as husband or wife). Or it can pass to a relative (parent, child, grandparent, grandchild, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, nephew or niece) if they had been living with the tenant for the previous twelve months. This is called a succession.
Council policy extends these rights to someone who had been living with the tenant as part of a lesbian or gay couple.
If the tenancy passes to a relative, and the home is bigger than they need, we have the legal right to move them out to a suitable alternative home. But we would not move out a husband, wife, or partner in the same situation.
If someone has already taken over the tenancy following the death of a previous tenant, the tenancy does not have to go to someone else if they die. You only have one legal right to Succession.
When there is a need to change the name of the tenancy holder, we can help guide you through this process and put the change in place. You will need to provide the original legal documents to prove your change of name before we can alter the tenancy (for example: deed poll, court papers, adoption papers, marriage certificate).
If the tenancy is to be assigned to another person or succession in the event of the death of the tenancy holder, we do not require these documents.
There are several ways you can advise us of ending your tenancy. You can complete a 'Notice to Quit' in our Customer Services Centre, you can complete our Notice of tenancy termination e-form [opens new window] or a signed letter providing a forwarding address. Please note you must give us 4 weeks notice.
The notice period ends on a Sunday and all keys must be returned on the Monday following before noon. You do have the option to withdraw your notice before the tenancy end date, however, we may have already advertised your property on our CBL system. Any offers made on your property will be withdrawn.
We will undertake a pre-termination visit where we will agree your termination date. This will also help to ensure you are not held responsible for any damage and we will talk to you about your rent account and what you need to do before you leave the property.
When you are due to leave your property, all household furniture, rubbish, carpets and your own white goods should be removed from the property, attic, garden and shed/outhouse and all should be left in a clean and tidy condition. There will be a charge if we have to arrange to remove any items before it can be re-let. If you have rented a furniture package, all goods must be left behind.
Don't forget to take meter readings and advise your energy suppliers, turn the water off at the stopcock, close the windows and lock the outside doors.
All keys must be returned after noon on the Monday following the termination date, rent will be charged up to and including the Sunday following their receipt. This includes front and back door keys, window keys, any shed keys, keys for shared gates, and any fobs. If we have to change the locks because you have not returned your keys/fobs we will charge you for this.
All keys should be handed in to customer services at the Town Hall. Keys should be labelled with the property address and any garages keys should be labelled separately.
If you are leaving the property and moving into another council property owned by us, your previous address will be assessed for a decorating allowance, which will be given to the incoming tenant. Please note any allowances awarded will be deducted from a decoration allowance awarded to your new property.
If you leave your property and give us back the keys before your four weeks notice ends, you may still be charged rent up until the end of your notice. If you have paid rent up until the end of your notice and have handed in your keys, and we re-let the property out in the meantime, you will be offered a partial rebate.
If you owe us rent arrears or other money such as rechargeable repairs but are no longer our tenant, you must still repay this debt. We may use any of the methods below to recover the money:
- visiting and writing to you before the end of the tenancy
- telephone calls to your home
- letters or visits to your new or last known address
- contacting a family member or your employer
- using Bailiff agencies who could visit you at your new address
- enforcing County Court Judgements obtained while you were a tenant
If you do not respond or do not keep to your payment plan, we will use a range of methods, including court action, to make you pay your debt. To avoid further action, please contact customer services on 01325 388542 to arrange payment.
If you are an existing council house tenant and you move to another council house within Darlington, benefits will be paid to the Sunday on your old address and start from the Monday on your new address. There will be no break in your entitlement.
Should you leave your tenancy and move to another address, which is not a local authority property, your benefits will end on the day that you move out, however full rent will be due until the Sunday.
Compensation for improvements
If you have obtained written permission for improvements you have undertaken at the property after 1 April 1994, you may be eligible for compensation. If you wish to make a claim you will be required to complete a compensation for tenant improvement scheme form [pdf document]
Claims must be made between 28 days before and 14 days after your tenancy ending. If you have made any unauthorised or unsatisfactory alterations to your accommodation you may be charged if we have to put them right.
If you are joint tenants, any one of you can end the tenancy by giving four weeks notice. We do not legally have to allow the other joint tenant to stay in the home, this would depend on circumstances and whether the property could be more suitable for another type of household. Your tenancy would not be ended without good reason.
Death of tenant
Benefits stop immediately when a tenant dies. Full rent will be charged until the person dealing with the deceased's estate hands in the keys for the property.
We will need the details of the next of kin, the address of the person dealing with the deceased tenants affairs and the date the keys will be handed in.