Qualifying occupiers

You are a ‘qualifying occupier’ if you live in a council or housing association property, as your only or main home and:

  • you are a member of the tenant’s family who is 16 or over
  • the tenant has obtained the landlord's agreement to transfer the tenancy to you, or to sublet all or part of the home to you, or
  • the tenant has got our agreement to take you in as a lodger.

This gives you certain rights if the council (or a housing association) takes action to repossess the home that you live in. Action could be taken if rent is overdue, or perhaps if the tenant (or a person living with the tenant or visiting the tenant) has acted in an antisocial way. You have the right to apply to the court to be included in future proceedings. You will be able to put your case to the court about how the repossession action will affect you.

What you should do if you believe you are a qualifying occupier

As a qualifying occupier, the council or housing association should serve a 'notice of proceedings' on you, as well as the tenant of the property, if they intend to go to court for possession of the property. This is like a final warning, which allows the council or housing association to apply to the court (within six months of sending you the notice) to start legal action, which can be

  • a formal repayment agreement with the tenant, getting permission to start taking the rent out of the tenant’s wages, or
  • getting permission to evict the tenant and all of their household, including you.

Do not ignore the notice, because it will tell you:

  • the earliest date that the council or housing association can ask for a court date (this must be at least four weeks away)
  • the reason or reasons why the council or housing association wants to take legal action against the tenant.

Talk to the tenant. You could do something to stop the case going to court, like offering to pay the rent (if the action is due to arrears).

Becoming part of the court proceedings

If you want to be part of the court proceedings, you must apply to the court. You may want to contact a solicitor. It will be for the sheriff to decide whether to take your views into account when deciding if it is reasonable to grant an order to possess the house.If the council or housing association wants to proceed with court action, they will make an application to the court. The tenant will be sent a summons, but you will not be sent this document. However, if you want to know what is in the summons, you can ask to see a copy at the sheriff clerk’s office. This will tell you what date has been set for the court hearing. You can also find this date out by asking the tenant if we have sent the summons to them. You can get advice from Shelter and Citizens Advice and this is normally free. You can also get advice from a solicitor but you will have to pay (depending on your income).

Haddington CAB - Call 01620 824471

Musselburgh CAB - Call 0131 653 2748 or 0131 653 2544

If you want to read more about legal proceedings for possession of a social housing tenancy, go to our Eviction topic.

What if this doesn't apply to you?

If you don't think you are a 'qualifying occupier' (perhaps you are not part of the tenant's family, or he/she did not get permission to sublet to you), then go to our topic for people who are not tenants or owners.