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.

Types of tenancy agreement

Joint tenancies

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.

Separate tenancies

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

Tenancy in another person's name

You may have a licence if someone else in your household has a tenancy agreement with the landlord but you don't.

For example, if you've moved in with a friend or partner and made an agreement with them, not directly with the landlord.

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.

You are responsible for paying another joint tenant's share of the rent if they don't pay their rent.

Your landlord is responsible for most repairs. Find out more about asking for repairs.

Ending a joint tenancy

Any of the joint tenants can end the tenancy with or without the agreement of other tenants:

If any joint tenant gives proper notice, this ends the tenancies of everyone else in the shared home.

If this happens, all the tenants must leave unless the landlord agrees to a grant a new tenancy to anyone who wants to stay.

You can’t end a fixed term tenancy before it expires unless:

  • the tenancy agreement has a break clause, or
  • all the joint tenants and the landlord agree to this

Eviction of joint tenants

The landlord can't evict one joint tenant without evicting all of you. Your landlord has to follow the legal procedure to end a joint tenancy.

Talk to your landlord 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.

Rights if you have separate tenancies

Tenancy status

You will probably have an assured shorthold tenancy for your room.

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

Rent

If you and your housemates have separate agreements with the same landlord, each of you is responsible only for your own rent.

Eviction

If you have separate agreements, your landlord can take action to evict you (for example, for rent arrears).

This won't affect the tenancy of anyone else who has a separate tenancy in the property.

Repairs

Your landlord is responsible for most repairs. Talk to your landlord directly if repairs are required.

Rights if you rent from a tenant

Tenancy status and rent

If you live in a shared house but you rent from a tenant who lives in the property, you are probably an excluded occupier.

You are responsible for paying your rent to the tenant you rent from. They are responsible for paying the rent for the property to the landlord.

Eviction

The tenant you pay rent to is your landlord. They only have to give you reasonable notice if they want you to leave. 

This notice could be a short amount of time and does not have to be in writing.

Tenancy deposits in shared homes

Deposits paid by assured shorthold tenants or joint assured shorthold tenants should be protected in deposit protection schemes.

A landlord normally takes a single deposit for a joint tenancy. This happens even if you and the other joint tenants paid separate or different shares to the landlord or agent.

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.

The landlord is entitled to deduct money owed from the whole deposit if one joint tenant:

  • fails to pay their share of the rent - they can deduct the shortfall
  • causes damage to the property - they can deduct the costs of repair

You may not get all your deposit back even if these problems are not your fault.

HMOs

Extra rules apply if your home is a house in multiple occupation, for example if your home has a certain number of unrelated people.

Your landlord may have to get a licence from the council. If they don’t it can be more difficult to evict you.

Right to rent immigration checks

You can only become a private tenant or lodger in England if you have the right to rent.

Before you start a private tenancy, a landlord or letting agent must carry out a right to rent immigration check

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Last updated 19 Feb 2019 | © Shelter

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