Council Tenants: FAQs

It should be noted that any change to your tenancy, for example taking in a lodger or changing your tenancy to a joint tenancy, may have an impact on your entitlement to benefits. It is the responsibility of the tenant to inform the benefits section of any changes to your tenancy as non-disclosure may result in incorrect payments being made.

All tenants of Orkney Islands Council should have been provided with a Tenants' Handbook which contains information on your rights and responsibilities as a Scottish Secure Tenant. If you do not have a copy of the Tenants’ Handbook, please contact our Housing Management Section on telephone: 01856 873535.

Council Tenants: Frequently Asked Questions

How do I end my tenancy?
Can I change my tenancy to a joint tenancy?
Can I give my tenancy to someone else? (Assignation)
Can I sub-let my property?
Can I take in a lodger?
Do I need permission for my partner or family to move in?
Do I need permission to keep a pet?
Can I run a business from my home?
Can I decorate the property?
Can I move to a smaller house?
Can I move to a larger house?
Can I inherit the tenancy? (Succession)

How do I end my tenancy?

If you wish to leave your Council tenancy you must contact our Housing Management Section and give written notice of your intention to leave by completing the standard renunciation form, available from related downloads on the left of this web page. You must give us 4 weeks written notice if you want to end your tenancy. The notice is taken from the date it is received by our Housing Management Section.

If you do not give us notice of your intention to leave you will remain liable for the rent on the property until the tenancy is ended.

If you want to move to a different area within Orkney you may wish to consider applying for a transfer. You also have the right to a mutual exchange with another Council or Housing Association tenant. This could be within or outwith Orkney. See the related links section to the left for more information.

If you are moving because of problems with your tenancy, for example noise problems with neighbours, you should contact us to discuss this as there are a range of measures we can take to deal with this.

Further information can be found in the sections headed Homelessness Prevention and Mutual Exchange on the left of this page.

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Can I change my tenancy to a joint tenancy?

At the start of your tenancy you may choose to be the sole tenant of the property, or a joint tenant with another member of your household. This is discussed with all new tenants before the tenancy agreement is signed, where relevant.

If you are the sole tenant of the property you have the right to request in writing to become a joint tenant with another person, or people, who either live with you or are planning to live with you. We cannot unreasonably refuse your request. However, we may consider refusing a request where any of the following apply:

Joint tenants are normally jointly and severally liable for the tenancy. This means that all the joint tenants are responsible for meeting the conditions of the tenancy, including paying the rent.

For further information on the advantages and disadvantages of being a joint tenant, please see our leaflet on Joint Tenancies, available from related downloads on the left of this web page, which is included in your Tenants Handbook.

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Can I give my tenancy to someone else? (Assignation)

Yes, in certain circumstances. Scottish Secure tenants have the right to assign their tenancy to someone else provided certain conditions are met:

•    The person must have been resident in the property as their only or principal home for at least 6 months prior to the application to assign the tenancy
•    Orkney Islands Council has provided written permission for the assignation

If you wish to assign your tenancy you must contact us in writing to request this. We will not refuse consent unreasonably. However, we will consider the following when making our decision:

•    Is the property of a suitable size for the proposed new tenant?
•    Is there any action underway to end the existing tenancy, such as a notice of proceedings being served?
•    Is the proposed new tenant over 16 years of age?
•    Is the property suitable for the proposed new tenant? For example if the property has been specially adapted to meet the needs of a tenant with a disability, does the proposed new tenant require this?
•    Has the Council scheduled any work that would affect the suitability of the property? For example major improvement works that may affect the size of the property.
•    Would granting the assignation adversely affect any other person's occupancy rights?
•    Would granting the assignation increase the risk of anti-social behaviour within the property?

The above list is not exhaustive and each case will be considered on its own merits. If you are considering assignation, please contact us to discuss this further.

If we refuse your request to assign your tenancy you have the right to appeal this to the Sheriff. You will be provided with full details of how to appeal at the time of refusal.

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Can I sub-let my property?

You must have Orkney Islands Council's written permission before you can sub-let your tenancy. Consent will not be withheld unreasonably. When we receive a request to sub-let a property we would normally consider the following:

•    Is any action being taken to end the tenancy? For example has a Notice of Proceedings been served or an order of recovery of possession been made?
•    Can the tenant specify when she or he will return to the property?
•    Would granting the sub-let adversely affect another person's occupancy rights?
•    Has the Council scheduled any work that would affect the property - for example major improvement work?
•    Is the size of the property suitable for the household who are proposing to sublet it?
•    Is the proposed rent and/or deposit reasonable?
•    Would granting the sub-let raise the risk of problems such as anti-social behaviour?

Please note that the above list is not exhaustive and each case will be considered on its own merits.

When we approve a sub-let we can provide advice and assistance to help you with an appropriate lease and other matters you need to attend to.

It is important to note that if you sub-let your property you remain responsible for it. This means that if rent arrears arise during the sub-let period it is your responsibility to repay these, even if your sub-tenant failed to pay you the rent. You will also be held responsible for any damage caused to the property, anti-social behaviour or any other tenancy breach which occurs during the sub-let.

If you would like to sub-let your home you should contact our Housing Management Section to request permission.

If we refuse your request you have a right of appeal to the Sheriff. Full details of how to appeal will be provided at the time of refusal.

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Can I take in a lodger?

You must have written permission from Orkney Islands Council before you can allow a lodger to move in. Please note that a family member moving in with you is not a lodger.

A lodger is someone who is moving into your home and to whom you will be providing services such as cleaning. If you intend to rent your home to someone but will not be providing any services to them then it is likely to be a sub-let rather than a lodger.

We will not unreasonably refuse consent for you to have a lodger. We will consider the following when we receive an application to move in a lodger:

•    Is any action being taken to end the tenancy? For example has a Notice of Proceedings been served or an order of recovery of possession been made?
•    Is the size of the property suitable for the proposed lodger?
•    Has the Council scheduled any work that would affect the property - for example major improvement work?
•    Would granting the request adversely affect another person's occupancy rights?
•    Would granting the request raise the risk of problems such as anti-social behaviour?
•    Is the proposed rent and/or deposit reasonable?

The above list is not exhaustive and we will consider each case on its own merits.

If you wish to move in a lodger you should contact our Housing Management Section for permission. If we refuse your request you have the right to appeal to the Sheriff. Full details of how to appeal will be provided at the time of refusal.

It should also be noted that taking in a lodger may have tax implications. If you are in receipt of benefits, taking in a lodger may affect your entitlement. We would recommend taking approriate advice from the tax office, Job Centre Plus or Housing Benefit Section accordingly.

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Do I need permission for my partner or family to move in?

You do not require our permission for a partner or family member to move into your home with you but you should notify us. You must ensure that allowing them to move in will not cause overcrowding.

Please note that as the tenant, you are responsible for the behaviour of others who live with you.

If you would like your partner, or anyone living with you, to be a joint tenant of the property please contact us.

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Do I need permission to have a pet?

Your tenancy agreement will advise you if you are allowed to have a pet. Most Council tenants have automatic permission to keep up to 2 domestic animals, such as dogs or cats and so forth. There are a few exceptions to this and you should check your tenancy agreement to see if you are able to keep a pet. Permission will not be granted for any pets that are banned by legislation, for example a dog that is banned by the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991.

If you wish to keep a non-domestic or exotic pet, for example a sheep or a snake, or you wish to keep more than 2 domestic pets you must contact us for permission.

You must ensure that your pet is supervised and under control and does not cause damage to the property. You must also take reasonable steps to see that pets do not cause any nuisance, this includes fouling, noise or smells from pets.

Please note that if your pets cause damage or are a nuisance we can withdraw permission for you to keep them and require them to be removed from your home.

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Can I run a business from my home?

You can run a business from your Council tenancy only if we have given you our written permission to do so. Please note that running a business could include teaching a musical instrument or any other enterprise in pursuit of financial gain.

If we grant your request to run a business from home the following conditions apply:

•    The business must not be anti-social to anyone living in the neighbourhood, for example, by causing noise levels that are unacceptable
•    The Council's consent is needed where house alterations are proposed
•    The application must not breach planning or other legal requirements
•    Your husband or wife or joint tenant is required to give their written agreement where major changes occur such as house alterations

If you are considering running a business from home please contact our Housing Management Section for further information.

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Can I decorate the property?

It is the tenants' responsibility to decorate the property, although we do have a decoration grant scheme to assist new tenants with the cost of decoration when they first move in. The level of grant awarded depends on the condition of the property.

In some limited circumstances, for example following an improvement being undertaken we may provide a decoration grant to an existing tenant to rectify damage to décor. We also have loan available in certain circumstances. Please contact us for further information.

Tenants should remember that if they move out they will have to leave the property in a suitable condition for new tenants to move in. The cost of repairing any damage caused to the property by decoration or other works may be recharged to you if you move out.

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Can I move to a smaller house?

If you are a Council tenant and your current home is larger than you need then you may be entitled to a grant if you agree to move to a smaller Council or OHAL property. This is called the Removal Grant Scheme.

The Removal Grant is available to tenants in areas of high demand, such as Kirkwall and Stromness. However, it can be offered to tenants outwith these areas where demand can be evidenced. This would be at the discretion of the Executive Director of Education, Leisure and Housing.

The level of payment tenants may receive is based on the reduction in house size and is detailed below:

Moving from:

To a 2 Apartment

To a 3 Apartment

To a 4 Apartment

From a 3 Apartment

£700

N/A

N/A

From a 4 Apartment

£900

£700

N/A

From a 5 Apartment

£1,100

£900

£700

In addition a payment of £500 applies for tenant transferring from a one bedroom extra care property to a one bedroom general needs property outwith the extra care scheme. This applies in exceptional circumstances.

To be eligible for the scheme the following criteria must be met:

•    The tenant must be a Council Scottish Secure tenant
•    The current property must have one or more bedrooms surplus to their needs, as determined by our Lettings Policy.
•    The property must be in Kirkwall, Stromness or other area determined as being one of high demand.

If you are eligible for the scheme you will be awarded a Gold Priority Pass in line with our Lettings Policy.

The Executive Director of Education, Leisure and Housing may use his discretion to award a Platinum Priority Pass in cases where the property type, size or location is in urgent demand.

If you would be interested in moving to a smaller property you should contact our Housing Management Section to discuss this further. You will be required to complete a Housing Application Form, available from the related downloads section on the left of this web page, to join the transfer list. Please note that you cannot apply to move to a property that is smaller than your household needs according to our Lettings Policy. The scheme may apply to existing Council tenants who wish to move to a smaller property owned by OHAL.

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Can I move to a larger house?

If your current Council tenancy is too small for your household then you should apply for a transfer. You will need to complete a Housing Application form to join the transfer list and your application will then be assessed according to our Lettings Policy. The overcrowding priorities are assessed as follows:

•    Your present home is short of at least 2 bedrooms - Silver
•    Your present home is short of at least 1 bedroom - Bronze

Please contact our Housing Management Section on: (01856) 873535 for a Housing Application Pack or download a PDF copy of the Housing Application Form from related downloads on the left of this web page.

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Can I inherit the tenancy? (Succession)

If the tenant of the property dies, the tenancy can be passed to a qualifying person. This is called succession.

There are three categories of priority in relation to who qualifies to succeed to the tenancy. The first priority is the tenant's spouse or cohabitee of the opposite or same sex. In the case of the tenant's spouse, the property must have been their principal home at the time of the tenant's death. Cohabitees must have been occupying the property as their principal home for at least 6 months before the tenant's death.

If no one qualifies under the first priority, or if no one accepts the tenancy, then the second priority group will be considered. This group consists of members of the tenant's family who have been occupying the property as their principal home for at least 6 months prior to the tenant's death and who are over 16 years old.

Finally, if neither of the above categories apply or if no one has accepted the tenancy, the tenant's carer may be entitled to succeed to the tenancy. The carer has to have been living in the property as their principal home at the time of the tenant's death and must be over 16 years of age. In addition, they must have given up their own accommodation in order to care for the tenant or a member of their household.

If you would like any further information on succession or your rights in relation to this please contact our Housing Management Section. You may also wish to see our Scottish Secure Tenants Rights Leaflet from 'Related Downloads' section of this web page.

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Related Links

School Place, Kirkwall, Orkney, KW15 1NY

Telephone: 01856 873535

Email: customerservice@orkney.gov.uk

Orkney Islands Council: BOREAS DOMUS MARE AMICUS