Advice on managing your council tenancy, rent and evictionLast updated: 30 August 2013 12:33 UK
Read more about the different types of contract, or tenancies, available for council-owned properties. Moving into a council property means you become a tenant with rights and responsibilities.
Your local housing office can help with a range of housing-related services, including answering repairs and maintenance questions, receiving payments you owe the council, and offering general housing advice.
To find the nearest housing office to you, contact us at Housing, or look for your road in the list downloadable below in the Associated Documents section.
Your tenancy agreement is the document you sign when you agree to become the tenant of your home. It is a contract between you and Portsmouth City Council. The tenancy records information such as your name, the date you became our tenant, the rent and other conditions you must keep to as a tenant. Your local housing office can help you with your tenancy agreement, as well as with:
- Joint tenancy - a joint tenancy agreement allows you to share the responsibilities of your tenancy with someone who lives with you
- Transferring your tenancy - if you leave Portsmouth to live somewhere else, you can apply to transfer your tenancy to your partner or a member of your family who has lived with you for at least a year
- Succession to tenancy - your spouse or civil partner has an automatic right to succeed to the tenancy should you, as sole tenant, die. A common law partner can also succeed if they've lived in the property for a year or more before your death. Other family members may have a right to succeed. If the person who takes over your tenancy then dies, no one living with them will have an automatic right to take over the tenancy in the same way.
The government website, Gov.uk, has more information about different types of tenancy.
Leasehold ownership is simply a long tenancy, giving you, the leaseholder, the right to occupy and use a property for a long period - known as the 'term' of the lease.
Leasehold ownership of a property usually means you own everything within the four walls, including plaster, floorboards, walls and ceilings, but does not usually include the external or structural walls. The structure of the building and the land it stands on is still owned by the landlord, Portsmouth City Council.
A lease is a private contract between the leaseholder and the landlord. It sets out the contractual obligations of the two parties: what the leaseholder and the landlord are bound to do.
Additional charges for your council property
When you sign your tenancy agreement, you will be informed of any additional charges over and above your rent. Depending on the type and location of your accommodation, you may have to pay for heating, lighting, cooking and hot water.
If the complex has a communal gas and electrical supply, this will be divided between all residents and your portion added to your rent. You will not receive a separate gas or electric bill.
Home contents insurance
Portsmouth City Council is responsible for the structure of your home, but generally not what's inside. It’s terrible to lose things you own due to fire, theft or accident, so we strongly recommend that all tenants and leaseholders take out home contents insurance. This means that if your possessions are stolen, even if an item of sentimental value is irreplaceable, it is some compensation to be insured.
Portsmouth City Council does provide insurance which may be suitable for you, To apply, or for more information, contact your local housing office. We will help you complete the application form if you need assistance.
There are lots of different insurance companies - so shop around for the best deal for you. Price comparison websites are often helpful for finding out what's available.
If you discover a loss for which you wish to claim and you've taken out insurance with us, please contact your area office.
How we work out your rent
Each year the council considers carefully how much money is needed from rents and subsidies to repair and maintain existing council properties, and to cover other costs, such as building new properties. This determines the rent we charge tenants. Council properties and housing associations have similar levels of rent for similar properties.
The council pays housing rents into a separate account, which, along with small amounts of government subsidy, pays for the services that Portsmouth tenants receive. Rent from tenants does not contribute to other council services, nor is rent subsidised by council tax payments.
Paying your rent
We set a rent for each property and you have a responsibility to pay your rent. We will help you claim any available assistance, but if you run into problems and have difficulty paying, it is important to contact your housing officer as soon as possible to explain the situation. This will allow them to look into any help or advice you may need to meet your responsibilities and keep your tenancy.
There are a number of ways to pay your rent:
- online from the home page. Look for 'Pay council bills and services' and choose 'Housing accounts'
- by standing order or direct debit; giving your bank the council's bank account details, which are: Portsmouth City Council (housing revenue collection account), Co-operative Bank Plc, 46-48 Arundel Street, Portsmouth, PO1 1TD, account number 61105517, sort code 08-90-81
- using our automated telephone payment service on 0845 6066243
- cash or cheque
- debit or credit card
- giro swipe card at the Post Office.
Non-payment of rent and eviction from a council property
We have over 15,000 residential tenancies. Every year, despite a lot of effort to stop it happening, about 50 tenants are evicted.
For everyone concerned, this is the worst possible way to end a tenancy. Eviction usually causes a great deal of anguish and unhappiness and costs a lot of money. So we do everything we reasonably can to prevent it.
Not paying rent is the most common reason people are evicted. We have to collect rent, to provide and repair our properties. Breaches of other tenancy conditions, such as anti-social behaviour, can occasionally result in eviction too.
For advice and support, speak to your housing officer or contact an advice service such as Advice Portsmouth on 023 9279 4340.
Court hearing for non-payment of rent
If the council takes you to court, we recommend that you seek independent legal advice to help you present your side of the argument, and attend the court hearing when asked.
One option is to use a county court housing advice and representation scheme. Some schemes are free, providing independent and confidential advice and representation to homeowners and tenants in repossession cases. Citizens Advice Bureau also offers free advice and can recommend a solicitor, or contact Advice Portsmouth on 023 9279 4340, to find the best place to get help.
We recommend these schemes because, in addition to help in court, they can identify other advice needs which you might not be aware of yourself.
The court will advise you on what will happen at the hearing and, if the court awards us a possession order, it will tell you what you must do to avoid eviction, by, for example, laying out a payment schedule for you to follow. You can apply to vary this order by contacting the court direct (the council has no power to change terms laid down by the court).
If you do not comply with the court's terms, eviction is then one option open to us.
What happens if I am evicted for non-payment of rent?
The court will tell you the date and time that the bailiff will arrive to evict you. A council representative will attend on the day, to secure the property and remove any belongings left behind.
If you are evicted from a council property, you will have to find alternative accommodation for yourself and anyone else living with you. Having children with you in the property is no guarantee that the courts will not evict you, and we are not obliged to re-house you if you are evicted for non-payment of rent.
Can I stop the eviction?
Yes: contact us immediately. The earlier you take action or seek advice the better, because it is easier to help you. Once a warrant for possession is issued, your final opportunity is to have it suspended. To do this you must contact the court direct. The court will then reconsider your case, but may not agree to alter the decision.