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
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.
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.
Ending a joint tenancy
A fixed term tenancy can only be ended early if either:
there's a break clause in the agreement
the landlord accepts a surrender of the tenancy
The tenancy won't end unless all joint tenants agree to use the break clause or to a surrender.
If you have a rolling or periodic joint tenancy with no end date, any joint tenant can give a legal 'notice to quit'. This will end the tenancy for all the joint tenants.
If this happens, all the tenants must leave unless the landlord grants a new tenancy to anyone who wants to stay.
If joint tenants move out without ending the tenancy
Your joint tenancy continues and you all remain jointly responsible for the rent.
Your landlord must give you notice if you still live there and they want you to leave. They can apply to court if you don't leave by the end of the notice period.
The eviction process takes several months.
Talk to your landlord if you want to stay on after others leave. You could ask for a new joint tenancy with replacement tenants or sign a new agreement in just your name.
Rights if you have separate tenancies
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.
If you and your housemates have separate agreements with the same landlord, each of you is responsible only for your own rent.
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.
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.
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
Landlords often take a single deposit for a joint tenancy. This can happen 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.
Deposits paid by assured shorthold tenants must be protected with a scheme.
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.
Last updated: 18 February 2019