s124 Housing Act 1996 introduced a new regime specifically aimed at Local Authorities and Housing Action Trusts. Under the scheme, such bodies can elect to operate an introductory tenancy regime. Once such a regime has been elected, every periodic tenancy entered into (barring some exceptions) will be an Introductory Tenancy.
The tenancy will remain an Introductory one until the expiry of the introductory period (which in most cases will be one year). Following this the Introductory tenancy will mature into a Secure Tenancy.
Introductory tenancies may be very useful for Local Authorities to give tenants a trial period; if there are any problems with the tenant, the landlord may obtain possession merely by court order, and is not required to prove any grounds for possession.
Introductory tenancies may only be assigned in very limited situations:
- In pursuance of a court order under matrimonial proceedings, or ordering financial relief against parents,
- The assignment is to a potential successor to the tenancy (see below “succession”)
If the Introductory tenant dies, a person will be qualified to succeed if:
- The person is either the tenant's spouse or another member of the tenant's family. (If the latter, the person must have resided with the tenant for the 12 months prior to the tenant's death),
- The person occupied the premises as his or her only or principal home at the tenant's death, and
- The tenant was not such a successor him or herself (only one statutory succession is permitted) (s131 HA 1996)
If no such qualified person exists, the normal rules of administration of estates will apply.
By the very nature of Introductory tenancies, the Landlord has considerable flexibility in determining them. No statutory grounds need be proven, nor must it be Reasonable to seek possession. Provided the Landlord complies with the correct procedure, the court has no discretion and must make the order for possession.
The Landlord must serve a s182 Notice on the tenant before possession proceedings are commenced. This notice must:
- State that the court will be asked to make a possession order,
- Set out the Landlord's reasons for seeking such an order,
- Specify a date after which the possession proceedings may be begun. This date may be no sooner than the tenancy could be determined by a Common Law Notice to Quit (see “Notice to Quit” here. ).
- Inform the tenant of his right to request a review of the landlord's decision to seek an order for possession within 14 days of the service of the s182 Notice.
- Inform the tenant to seek help, if needed, from the Citizens' Advice Bureau, a housing aid centre, a law centre or a solicitor.
It should be noted that if the trial period comes to an end after possession proceedings have been commenced, but before an order has been made, the tenancy will remain Introductory until the proceedings are determined. (s130 HA 1996)
As will be noted, the tenant has a right to review of the landlord's decision to seek an order for possession. If such a review is sought, the Landlord must carry out the review and notify the tenant, with reasons, as to the result of the review no later than the date specified in the s182 Notice.