Tenancy agreements in shared homes

When you move in with other people, you may be offered separate tenancies, a joint tenancy, or a tenancy in only one person's name. Your tenancy type affects your rights.

Types of tenancy agreement

You have a joint tenancy if all of the people living in the property signed one tenancy agreement with the landlord when you moved in.

Find out more about joint tenancies.

You probably have separate tenancies if each person in your household signed a separate agreement with the landlord.

If one or more people in your household has a tenancy agreement with the landlord but you don't, you may only have a licence. This can happen if you've moved in with a friend or partner and have made an agreement with your friend or partner, but not with the landlord.

Find out more about rights and responsibilities in a shared home.

Rights of joint tenants

If you have a joint tenancy, all the tenants have exactly the same rights. You are all equally responsible for paying the rent and keeping to the terms of your agreement.

Your landlord may need a licence if your home has a certain number of people.

Your landlord is responsible for most major repairs.

Energy bills in a shared home are usually shared between all the tenants.

You could be held responsible for another joint tenant's share of the rent and bills if they don't pay their rent or cause other problems.

Right to rent

From 1 February 2016 you can only become a private tenant or lodger in England if you have the right to rent.

A landlord or letting agent must carry out a right to rent check before you start a private tenancy.

Find out more about right to rent immigration checks.

Tenancy deposits in shared homes

If you are an assured shorthold tenant, any deposit you paid for your rented home should be protected.

At the end of the tenancy, your landlord might be entitled to keep some or all of your deposit if there is any rent owing or damage to the property, even if it's not your fault.

Ending a joint tenancy

When the fixed-term of a joint tenancy has ended or you never had a fixed-term agreement, one of the joint tenants can end the tenancy with or without the agreement of other tenants. This ends the tenancies of everyone else in the shared home.

If this happens, all tenants must leave, unless those who want to stay can negotiate a new tenancy with the landlord.

Find out more about ending a fixed-term tenancy and ending a periodic (month to month) tenancy.

Eviction of joint tenants

The landlord can't evict one joint tenant without evicting all of you.

Talk to your landlord about if you want to stay after another joint tenant leaves. Your landlord could decide to offer a new tenancy to you and any other tenants who want to stay once the original tenancy has ended.

Find out more about eviction notices from landlords.

Rights of people with separate tenancies

If you and your housemates have separate agreements with the same landlord, each of you is responsible only for your own rent. This is probably the case even if you share a kitchen or bathroom, particularly if you moved in at different times or your landlord found each tenant individually.

You may have a licence rather than a tenancy if the landlord doesn't tell you which room is yours and you sort out the living arrangements between yourselves.

If you have separate agreements and one of the other tenants is causing problems, your landlord could take action to evict them. This won't affect your tenancy.

Your rights if the tenancy is not in your name

If you live with one or more people who have a tenancy with the landlord but you rent from a tenant, you are probably a subtenant or licensee of the main tenant.

This means that the person who has made an agreement with the landlord:

  • only has to give you reasonable notice if they want you to leave – this notice could be a very short amount of time and could be verbal
  • is responsible for paying the rent to the landlord – but everyone else should still pay their share

Check whether the main tenant has permission from their landlord to rent a room out to you, as this may affect your rights.

Get advice if you have problems with the tenancy in a shared home.

Use Shelter's directory to find a housing adviser

Last updated 09 Oct 2014 | © Shelter

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