For tenants in social housing, an introductory tenancy is a probationary tenancy for twelve months. After the trial period, an introductory tenant will become a secure tenant if they meet the conditions in their tenancy agreement.
Having an introductory tenancy
The Housing Executive and housing associations in Northern Ireland run an introductory tenancy scheme. You are an introductory tenant if you satisfy all the conditions below:
- the Housing Executive or a housing association has given you a home through the Housing Selection Scheme
- your tenancy started less than a year ago
- you don't live in accommodation that comes with your job
If a housing association has an introductory tenancy scheme, their scheme must be available to all new tenants. A housing association can't discriminate by only giving introductory tenancies to certain people. Ask your housing association if you're not sure.
Differences between an introductory tenancy and a secure tenancy
An introductory tenancy gives you similar rights to a secure tenancy, but you can be evicted more easily.
Introductory tenants can't:
- exchange their tenancy with another tenant unless there are exceptional circumstances
- request a transfer to another social housing property unless there are exceptional circumstances
- transfer the tenancy, unless a court makes an order or there are other exceptional circumstances
- exercise the right to buy although the period of introductory tenancy may count towards the right to buy discount
- take in lodgers or sub-let all or part of the property
- make improvements to the property without the landlord’s permission
An introductory tenant's rights
As an introductory tenant you have the right to be:
- told about introductory tenancies and the landlord’s repair duties
- consulted about housing matters and told if there are changes that affect introductory tenancies
An introductory tenant's obligations
As an introductory tenant you must:
- pay your rent on time
- keep your property and garden in good condition
- be a good neighbour by not causing nuisance, annoyance or disturbance to other tenants
- make sure anyone living at or visiting your property does not cause annoyance or disturbance to other tenants
- allow your landlord and their agents into the property to inspect and carry out repairs
- give your landlord four weeks notice when ending your tenancy
When an introductory tenant breaks their tenancy agreement
If a tenant under an introductory tenancy breaks any of the conditions of their tenancy agreement, the landlord could evict them.
The Housing Executive or a housing association could end an introductory tenancy when:
- there are serious rent arrears
- there are grounds for repossession due to the tenant's anti-social behaviour
- the tenant moves out and rents their home to someone else
Becoming a secure tenant
You can become a secure tenant twelve months from the date your probationary tenancy started.
Usually you become a secure tenant automatically after the first year unless your landlord has started action to evict you during the tenancy.
Having different introductory tenancies in twelve months
If you were an introductory tenant in another social housing property just before your current tenancy started, your time in the earlier tenancy should count towards twelve months.
For example, if you lived in your previous home for six months, you should only have to spend another six months as an introductory tenant in your new home.
Joint tenants with an introductory tenancy
If you have a joint tenancy, the introductory tenancy ends when one of the tenants completes the twelve-month trial.