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

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.

Find out more about ending a joint tenancy

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 then apply to court if you don't leave.

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 just in your name.

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

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.

Deposits paid by assured shorthold tenants must be protected with a scheme.

Check your tenancy deposit is protected

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.


Last updated 19 February 2019 | © Shelter

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