Ending an occupation contract

Ending an occupation contract

  • You should end your agreement properly to avoid problems in the future
  • You usually have to give at least 28 days’ notice in writing if you want to leave
  • If you are a joint contract-holder on a periodic standard contract you can leave the contract

If you want to leave your rented home, it is important that you end your agreement correctly. If you don’t you may still be liable to pay rent, even after you’ve moved out.  

If you are under 25, take a look at our ending your agreement advice page, specifically put together for young people. 

 The rules on how you can end the agreement depend on what type of renting agreement you have, whether it is fixed term or periodic, and whether it is a joint agreement or not. 

Is my agreement fixed term or periodic? 

A fixed term agreement is for a fixed period (such as six months or one year), which has not ended.  

A periodic agreement rolls from week to week, or month to month, depending on when your rent is due. 

If you have a secure occupation contract, your agreement is periodic. 

If you have a standard occupation contract, your contract must state whether it is periodic or fixed term. If it is a fixed term standard contract it must also state the length of the fixed term. 

If a fixed term standard contract expires but the landlord does not issue a new fixed term or end the agreement, it will automatically become a periodic standard contract. 

How do I end my renting agreement? 

You should always read your contract to see what it says about how you should end your agreement.  

It is best to think carefully before giving notice to end your occupation contract. If you do not leave when your notice runs out your landlord can apply to court to evict you easily, even if you are not otherwise in breach of our contract. 

Ending secure and periodic standard contracts

If you want to end your periodic secure or standard contract (including introductory standard, prohibited conduct standard and supported standard contracts) you should give the landlord the correct notice in writing. The minimum length of notice you should give your landlord is 4 weeks.  This a fundamental term, so your landlord can’t change this notice period unless you agree and the change improves your position. However, it is best to ensure your notice covers up to the end of your rental period. For example, if your rent is due on the 1st day of the month then notice should be given at least 4 weeks before the day rent is due. 

Ending fixed term standard contracts 

Ending the agreement before the end of the fixed term 

You can only end your agreement before the end of the fixed term if: 

  • your agreement contains a ‘contract-holder’s break clause’, allowing you to end the agreement early, or 
  • your landlord agrees to you ending the agreement, called ‘surrender’. 

You will need to check your agreement to see what it says. If it has a contract-holders’ break clause the minimum notice you have to give is 4 weeks. The notice period is a fundamental term, so your landlord can’t change this notice period unless you agree and the change improves your position. However, it is best to ensure your notice covers up to the end of your rental period. For example, if your rental period begins on the 5th of the month then notice should be given at least 4 weeks before so the end of your notice falls on the 4th or 5th of the month. 

You should check the clause to see if there are conditions when using the break clause.  

Ending the agreement at the end of the fixed term 

You can leave on the last day of a fixed term agreement without giving notice, however, to stop any problems in the future it is usually a good idea to give your landlord notice. Good communication with your landlord helps things to go smoothly. 

If you stay in your home after the fixed term has ended (even for just one day) your contract will automatically become a periodic standard contract, unless your landlord issues you with a new fixed term standard contract.  

I have a different kind of renting agreement. How much notice should I give? 

If you do not have a secure, periodic standard or fixed term standard occupation contract (including introductory standard, prohibited conduct standard and supported standard contracts) and have a different kind of tenancy or licence, you still normally have to give at least four weeks’ notice to end your agreement. If you have a monthly tenancy or licence, then it is best to give a calendar months’ notice. 

The only exceptions to this are: 

  • if your landlord agrees to accept a shorter notice period 
  • if you are an excluded occupier or an occupier with basic protection, in which case you should check your written agreement and get help if you are unsure  
  • if you pay rent less frequently than monthly (every three months, for example). If this is the case, you have to give notice equivalent to a rental period. 

It is always best to give notice in writing and make sure that the notice ends on the first or last day of the period of your tenancy or licence. For example, if your agreement is monthly and started on the 5th of the month, the notice you give the landlord should end on the 4th or the 5th. 

Check with an adviser if you are not sure how much notice you should give. 

I am a joint contract-holder. Can I give notice to leave? 

Joint contract-holders with secure or periodic standard contracts 

Some joint contract-holders can give notice to ‘withdraw’ from the contract without ending the agreement for other joint contract-holders.   

If you have a secure or a periodic standard contract (including introductory standard, prohibited conduct standard and supported standard contracts) you can leave the contract by giving your landlord a withdrawal notice.  

Withdrawal notices 

The minimum length of withdrawal notice you should give your landlord is 1 month. This is a supplementary term of most occupation contracts. However, your contract may specify a different notice period so you should check your contract carefully. It is best to ensure your notice covers up to the end of your rental period. For example, if your rental period begins on the 5th of the month then notice should be given at least 1 month before so the end of your notice falls on the 4th or 5th of the month. 

Informing the other joint contract-holders 

You should also notify the other joint contract-holders in writing and give them a copy of the withdrawal notice. You should do this at the same time you give the withdrawal notice to your landlord.  

Informing the other joint contract-holders will allow them time to search for other people who they could add as a joint contract-holder in your place. 

If you wish to withdraw from the contract, it is important to follow the correct procedure. If you leave without doing so, you will remain responsible for the contract and will still be liable to pay rent.  

Joint contract-holders with fixed term standard contracts

If you are joint contract-holder with a fixed term standard contract, you probably will not be able to withdraw from the contract during the fixed term. Once the fixed term ends your contract will become a periodic standard and you can withdraw from the contract following the procedure above. 

I have a different kind of joint agreement; how do I give notice to leave?  

If you have a joint agreement that is not a secure or standard occupation contract then you probably won’t be able to withdraw from your part of the contract. To find out what renting agreements are not occupation contracts see here.   

If you have a joint tenancy or licence and one of you gives notice to the landlord, the agreement will normally be ended for all of you. None of you will have the right to continue living there. 

If you’re thinking about leaving, be sure to talk about it with the other joint tenant(s) before you take any action. It may be possible for someone else to take your place, and/or for the landlord to give a new agreement to those who are staying. 

What if my landlord agrees that I can leave? 

It is possible to get out of any type of renting agreement at any time if you can come to a mutual agreement with your landlord. This is called ‘surrender’. To be valid, all parties to the agreement must agree and it’s always best to put what’s been agreed in writing so everyone knows where they stand. If you have a joint agreement all the joint contract-holders/tenants must agree to the surrender with the landlord. 

If your landlord has already served you with a notice to leave your property and you find somewhere else to live before the end of that notice, your landlord will probably be happy for you to leave early. It is however always best to speak to your landlord and, if they do not agree, you will still need to end your agreement using one of the methods above. Otherwise, you might find that you continue to be charged rent after you have left. 

If you are not sure whether you need to serve a notice, or whether you have surrendered your agreement, get help urgently. 

Can I get someone else to move in? 

This may be possible if you have no choice but to leave early and want to avoid paying rent on more than one home. 

You must get the landlord’s agreement for the person you suggest to move into the property. 

The landlord should give the new person their own agreement – otherwise, you could still be legally responsible for the tenancy. 

What if I just walk away? 

Walking away or posting the keys through the letterbox will not end your legal agreement with your landlord.   

You can still be charged rent and your landlord can apply for a court order to make you pay what you owe. 

It may also make it harder for you to find a new home because: 

  • your landlord is unlikely to give you a reference for another property 
  • you might not get your deposit back 
  • if you need to make a homelessness application to the council in future, the council may decide that you are intentionally homeless because you left a home that you could have stayed in. 

What other options are there? 

If the landlord won’t allow you to leave early and won’t allow a new contract-holder or tenant suggested by you to move in, you may be able to negotiate to only pay part of the rent you owe. 

For example, if there are four months left on a fixed term agreement, the landlord might agree to only two months’ rent instead while they look for a new tenant. 

Houses in multiple occupation

Houses in multiple occupation (HMOs)

If you live in a house or flat which is occupied by more than one household it may be classed as a house in multiple occupation (HMO). ‘Household’ means people who are living together as a family.

If the house or flat is an HMO, your landlord probably has extra legal responsibilities. 

Do I live in an HMO? 

You may be living in an HMO if you live in a house or flat that is: 

  • occupied by at least 3 contract holders, forming more than one household, and 
  • you share a toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities with other contract holders. 

This could include: 

  • a house split into separate bedsits 
  • a house or flat- share, where people have separate occupation contracts 
  • a hostel 
  • a bed-and-breakfast hotel that is not just for holidays 
  • students living in shared accommodation (although many halls of residence and other types of student accommodation that are owned by educational establishments are not classed as HMOs). 

It is not always easy to work out whether you live in an HMO or not. If you’re not sure, get help. 

What responsibilities does the landlord of an HMO have? 

The landlord’s most important responsibilities are to ensure that: 

These rules exist to ensure that people living in HMOs have access to decent facilities, and to reduce the risk of fire. If you are experiencing problems contact the environmental health department of your local council and they may assess your property under The Housing Health Safety Rating System. This aims to ensure that your home doesn’t have any serious hazards, and allows a council to take action against landlords whose properties are dangerous. 

You can find out more about repairs if you have a private landlord here.

Does my landlord need a licence? 

There are three types of licensing scheme for HMOs in Wales. Licensing schemes are designed to improve the standards of HMOs by placing certain obligations on landlords and agents: 

Rent Smart Wales 

Any private landlord of a property (including an HMO) must be registered with the Rent Smart Wales scheme. 

In addition, whoever does the letting and management of the property must be licensed under the Rent Smart Wales scheme. This might be the landlord, the agent or both (if there is a split of responsibilities for letting and management). To obtain a licence the landlord or agent will need to pay a fee, declare that they are a ‘fit and proper’ person, and attend training about their rights and responsibilities. 

A landlord can face penalties, including prosecution, if they are not registered and/or licensed with the scheme. 

Many people living in HMOs have a standard occupation contract. If you have a standard occupation contract and your landlord or agent has not registered with the scheme, any possession notice your landlord gives you is not valid. 

For more information on the Rent Smart Wales scheme see our page on Landlord registration and licensing. 

Mandatory licensing 

In addition to complying with the Rent Smart Wales scheme, your landlord must apply to their local council for a licence to rent out your property as an HMO if: 

  • it is at least three storeys high; 
  • contains five or more people; 
  • has 2 or more households living in it; 
  • contract-holders share toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities. 

The council will decide if a property meets an acceptable standard and is well managed before registering the property as an HMO.  Your landlord will need a separate licence for each HMO it owns. 

A landlord can be prosecuted and fined for renting out an unlicensed HMO. 

If you’re a standard contract-holder and the HMO should be licensed but isn’t, any possession notice your landlord gives you is not valid. 

Additional licensing 

Local councils can also choose to insist that other smaller HMOs in specific areas be licensed. 

Check with your local council to find out what the requirements are in your area and if your landlord has registered your home as an HMO. 

What can I do if my landlord doesn’t comply? 

If you live in an HMO and you think your landlord is not fulfilling her/his responsibilities, contact Rent Smart Wales or your local council. The environmental health department at the council are normally responsible for dealing with complaints about HMOs. 

The council can prosecute landlords of HMOs (or any manager they have employed) if they break the law. In extreme cases, the council can take over the management of the property. 

Restrictions on eviction

If your landlord should have a licence but doesn’t, they can’t give you a ‘no fault’ notice to end your contract. However they may be able to give you a ‘with grounds’ notice, for example if you are at least 2 months behind with rent.

Problems with housemates

Problems with housemates

Problems with housemates can be hard to resolve. What you can do usually depends on what the problem is and whose name the contract is in. 

Can you agree a solution? 

The first step towards solving any problem with your housemates is to discuss the situation. Ensure each person makes it clear what s/he wants – you may be able to reach a satisfactory compromise before the problem gets too serious. Think about inviting an impartial person from outside your household to help negotiate. 

Many problems in shared accommodation are to do with mundane things such as the washing-up, the volume of music or smoking in shared spaces. In these situations, if talking doesn’t help, the only options may be to put up with the situation or move out. 

Can you ask the landlord for help? 

If talking doesn’t sort the problem out it may be worth asking your landlord for help. In some cases s/he may be able to take action against the people responsible, although you can’t force them to do this. What your landlord can do depends on the type of contract you have and the particular problem in your household. 

What about extreme cases? 

In very extreme cases you may be able to get help from the council or the police. This is only likely to be possible in situations where: 

  • another contract holder  has threatened you with violence 
  • the noise or damage caused is so severe that it has become a serious nuisance 
  • there is racial or sexual harassment. 

If you are in any of these situations, get help immediately. 

Can I take in a lodger or sub-let?

I am a contract-holder. Can I take in a lodger or sub-let?

If you are considering having someone else live with you and pay you rent, it is important to understand what kind of renting agreement you should create. This arrangement could be a lodgers agreement or a sub-occupation contract. Key differences between a lodger and a sub-holder: 

  • A sub-holder rents from someone who her / himself is a contract holder rather than the owner of the property. The owner of the property is called the head landlord.  
  • A sub-contract can apply to anything from a single room to an entire property. The sub-holder must have exclusive access to at least one room – usually a bedroom.
  • Neither the contract-holder nor the head landlord can enter the sub-holder’s accommodation without permission. 
  • A lodger rents a room in the landlord’s home. S/he may receive some services from the landlord, such as meals, laundry or cleaning. 
  • A lodger can’t stop the landlord from entering their room(s). The lodger may also receive some services, such as meals, laundry or cleaning. These things will depend on what was agreed at the start of the agreement.  

Can I sublet my property? 

You should check your occupation contract to see if it allows you to sublet the property to another contract-holder. Your contract might not allow you to sublet. 

If the contract does allow it, you will probably only be allowed to sublet with your landlord’s consent. You must put your request to the landlord in writing.  

Your landlord can’t refuse consent without a good reason or only give consent upon conditions that are unreasonable.   

Your landlord might ask for further information to help them deal with the request. Any request for information by your landlord must be made within 14 days of your written request.  

I have made a request to my landlord, when will I hear back?  

Your landlord should get back to you with their decision in writing within 1 month from:   

  • the day you made the request, or   
  • if your landlord asked for more information, the date on which the information is provided.   

My landlord has given consent but with conditions   

  • Your landlord must provide you with written notice of the conditions at the same that that they give you written consent.  
  • You can ask the landlord for a written statement of their reasons for the conditions.  
  • If your landlord doesn’t give a written statement of reasons within one month of you requesting the statement, then you may be able to accept the consent without the conditions.   

My landlord has refused to give consent   

  • If your landlord has refused to give you consent to sublet, you can write to your landlord asking for a written statement of reasons.  
  • Your landlord must provide you with a written statement within one month from the date you requested the statement.  
  • If your landlord fails to provide you with a written statement within the time frame, then this may be treated as having given consent without conditions.  

My landlord has given consent with conditions that I disagree with   

If your landlord provides you with a statement of reasons for refusing consent, or a statement of reasons  for conditions, that  you do not agree with,  you may be entitled to apply to the court on the grounds that:  

  • The landlords refusal of consent is unreasonable, or   
  • one or more of the conditions imposed is unreasonable  

If you need to apply to the court, get help immediately. 

What rights do sub-holders have? 

Sub-holders have the same rights as other contract-holders. See here for more information. This includes rights to: 

  • claim housing benefit to cover the rent 
  • occupy the room(s) that they have exclusive use of without interference from other people (including the contract-holder or the head landlord) 
  • get repairs done. 

However, the sub-holders rights may change if your occupation contract comes to an end.  (see below). This is particularly important if the head-landlord has a fixed-term agreement. 

What happens if my occupation contract ends? 

The sub-contract will be valid for as long as your contract continues. But whether the sub-holder has any rights after your contract comes to and end depends on whether the sub-contract is legal or not. 

This depends on: 

  • whether the head landlord agreed to the sub-contract  
  • whether the head landlord imposed any terms of the sub-contract, and  
  • if those terms were adhered to. 

If your head landlord knowingly accepts rent directly from the sub-holder, it may become legal. This is true even if the sub-holder agreement was originally illegal.  By accepting rent, the head landlord may be admitting that the sub-holder has a right to live in the property. However, some landlords will get round this by saying that they are only accepting the money as something called a ‘charge for use and occupation’ and not as rent.

This is a complicated area of law, so get help. 

Lodgers 

A lodger is someone who rents a room in her/his landlord’s home and who shares living space with her/him. Some lodgers receive services, such as meals or cleaning, as part of their agreement. Only certain people are allowed to take in lodgers. If you want to do so, you’ll need to work out how both you and your lodger’s rights are affected. 

Who can take in a lodger? 

Homeowners can usually take in lodgers. Most mortgage agreements allow you to rent out a room in your home, but you generally need permission from your lender. Check your mortgage agreement to see what it says. 

Most contract holders can only take in a lodger if they: 

  • rent a whole house or flat 
  • have a spare room 
  • get permission from their landlord before a lodger moves in. 

If you rent from a community landlord and have a secure contract, you have the right to take in a lodger. Most other types of renting agreements do notallow lodgers. Check your agreement to see what it says.

Will taking in a lodger affect my entitlement to benefits? 

Yes. Taking in a lodger will probably affect the amount of benefits you get if you’re claiming. You will need to tell the Council’s housing benefit office and your local benefit office that you have taken in a lodger and how much rent you are receiving. This will be the case even if your lodger is living rent-free. If you simply don’t tell them, you may end up having to repay an overpayment, or be prosecuted for fraud. 

Housing benefit
If you’re receiving housing benefit and you take in a lodger, the first £20 per week of rent that you receive from the lodger will not be counted as income when your entitlement is being calculated. If you also provide some meals to your lodger only half of any rent they pay each week above £20 will be counted as income. For example, if your lodger pays £50 per week for their room and some meals, £35 will not be treated as your income when the amount of housing benefit you are entitled to is being worked out. Your income from the lodger will be treated as being £15 per week. 

If you just rent the room to your lodger and do not provide any meals, only the first £20 per week that you receive in rent will be disregarded. Anything above £20 will be treated as income. So, if the rent is £50 per week, £30 will be treated as income when the Council work out how much housing benefit you are entitled to. 

Other welfare benefits
If you are receiving a means-tested benefit like income support (IS) and job seekers’ allowance (JSA), the first £20 each week that you receive in rent will not be counted as income. If you also provide some meals to your lodger, only half of what they pay you each week over £20 will be counted as income. 

If you don’t provide meals, then all of the rent that you receive over £20 will be classed as income when the amount of benefit you are entitled to is being calculated. 

Universal credit
If you are receiving universal credit, the rent that you get from your lodger is not counted at all as income. You will still need to tell the local benefits office that you have taken in a lodger. 

Council tax
You will be responsible for the council tax. If you were previously living alone and were eligible for the 25% single person’s discount you will no longer be entitled to that once you have a lodger. You may able to claim to council tax reduction. You should contact your local council for more information. 

Other things to consider before getting a lodger 

Insurance
Renting out a room may also affect your contents insurance. Most insurers will put up premiums, but it’s still important to inform them if you want to be sure that your belongings are protected. If you don’t tell them, the insurance may not be valid. 

 What contract status do lodgers have?
If a lodger shares facilities such as the kitchen and bathroom with the landlord, s/he will be an excluded occupier. 

If you don’t share facilities, the person renting a room could be a sub-holder rather than a lodger.

Should there be a written agreement?
It is a good idea to have a written agreement which clearly sets out the arrangements between you and the lodger for paying the rent and any deposit, the house rules and how the agreement can be ended. Both you and the lodger should sign the agreement and keep a copy each. Setting out the rights and responsibilities writing from the start can help to avoid misunderstandings or disputes further on down the line. 

Where can I find a lodger?
Some areas have lodging schemes which can help to match prospective lodgers to people with rooms available to rent. Your local council may be able to give you information about anything operating in your area. Some councils have accommodation websites where landlords can advertise rooms to rent free of charge. The Housing Department of your local council is a good starting point to find out what is available in your area. 

If you live near a university, they may have a lodging scheme for students and may be able to advertise your room. 

Put the word out to friends and family that you have a room to rent – they may know someone who is looking for a place live. Some people feel more comfortable renting a room out to someone they know, even if just through a friend, family member or acquaintance. 

You can advertise your room in shop windows, on local notice boards or put an advert online. in the newspaper. 

Choosing a suitable lodger

Remember, if you take in a lodger you will have to be prepared to share at least part of your home with them. Even if they have their own bedroom, you are likely to be sharing the kitchen and bathroom. Think carefully whether you are willing to do that before you commit to renting a room out. 

When you meet a prospective lodger, think about whether they will fit in with your household. You can ask them for references from previous landlords and could do a credit check. 

If you have children at home, you may want to ask your lodger for a police check, but there is a fee payable. 

Sub-occupation contracts

Sub-occupation contracts

What is a sub- occupation contract? 

  • A sub-occupation contract is a renting agreement made with a landlord who is also a contract-holder with another landlord
  • The sub-occupation contract will relate to all or part of the property
  • If you have a sub-occupation contract you are a  ‘sub-holder’. Your landlord is the ‘contract-holder’ and their landlord is the  ‘head landlord’. 

Am I a sub-contract holder? 

If you are renting a whole property from someone who has renting agreement with a head landlord, then you may are probably a sub-holder. If you are renting only a room in your landlord’s home then you may be a lodger. It will depend on what was agreed. If you are unsure, get help.

What do I need to know before I enter into a sub-occupation contract? 

Before you can enter in to a sub-occupation contract, the contract holder will probably need to get consent from their landlord.  

If the contract-holder’s landlord consents but only on certain conditions, the contract-holder must notify you of those conditions before you enter into the contract. The sub-occupation contract must set out these conditions.  

What if the conditions aren’t complied with ?  

If the conditions of the head landlord’s consent are not complied with, then the head landlord may choose to treat the sub-occupation contract as a periodic standard contract. The head landlord must notify both you and the contract-holder within 2 months.

You may be able to end the sub-occupation contract if your landlord has not complied with the conditions. It can be difficult to work out what your rights are as a sub-holder, so get help if you aren’t sure.

What rights do I have as a sub-occupation contract holder? 

You will have the same rights as other contract-holders. 

You have the right to: 

  • be given a written contract. This should include any conditions that were  required by the head landlord. If these are not in your contract or incorrect you can apply to court to correct your contract. 
  • Claim housing benefit to cover the rent 
  • Occupy the rooms that you have exclusive use of, without interference from other people (including the contract-holder and the head landlord)  
  • Get repairs done 

I am a contract-holder and want to take in a sub-holder, what should I know? 

If you are in receipt of housing benefit and are subletting part of your home, the first £20 of your weekly income from the sub-occupier is ignored. 

Any income you receive from your sub-holder might affect your other benefits.  It is therefore best to get advice before you agree to sub-let. 

If you live on your own, subletting a room in your home means you will lose the 25 percent single person discount on your council tax. There may be some exceptions, say if the sub-occupier is a full-time student.

To find out about amny other things to consider if you are thinking about sub-letting part of your home, please read our advice here.

What happens if your landlord’s contract with the head landlord ends? 

You can continue to live in the accommodation as long as the immediate landlord has the right to stay there (i.e. as long as her/his contract continues, or as long as s/he owns the property). 

However, if her/his contract ends, or the property is being repossessed by a mortgage lender, then your rights depend on: 

  • what type of contract the contract-holder has 
  • what their agreement says about subletting or taking in lodgers  
  • whether the head landlord agreed to you living there. 

If the sub-occupation contract is in force immediately before the head contract ends, then the sub-occupation contract may continue as an occupation contract and the contract-holders rights and responsibilities as a landlord are transferred to the head landlord.  

If the head landlord accepts rent directly from you, then you may well have more rights. By accepting rent the head landlord may be admitting that you have a right to live in the accommodation. This is a complicated area of law so get help if you are in this situation. 

Will I lose my home if there is a possession claim against the contract holder? 

If the head landlord takes possession proceedings against the contract holder (who is your landlord) then the head landlord must give you notice of this action. 

If the head landlord follows the correct procedure, then they can also apply to the court for a possession order against you.  

If you are in this situation, get help immediately.

What procedure should the head landlord follow for possession? 

You must have been served with a notice by the head landlord. You must also be provided with a notice stating that the head landlord intends to apply for an extended possession order and that you as a sub-holder have the right to be party to the proceedings against the contract holder. 

The court will only grant an extended possession order if it grants a possession order against the contract holder. 

If you receive a notice and are unsure of your rights, get help immediately. 

Lodgers

Lodgers

A lodger is someone who rents a room in their landlord’s home and who shares living space with the landlord.  

Some lodgers receive services, such as meals or cleaning, as part of their agreement. Only certain people are allowed to take in lodgers. 

A lodger’s landlord could be the owner of the property, or someone who rents the property from the owner. 

What rights do lodgers have? 

If you share facilities such as the kitchen and bathroom with the landlord, you will be an excluded occupier. Excluded occupiers have very few rights. The landlord will only have to give reasonable notice, which could be a very short amount of time, in order to evict you. 

If you don’t share facilities, you could be a sub-holder rather than a lodger. This means that the landlord may need a court order to evict you. 

Should there be a written agreement?
It is a good idea to have a written agreement which clearly sets out the arrangements between you and the landlord for paying the rent, any deposit, rent in advance, house rules and how the agreement can be ended.

Be careful about paying a lot of money upfront. If the arrangement doesn’t work out it might be difficult to get the money back and you may need to make a claim in the court to recover it. Many live-in landlords don’t require deposits or rent in advance, but if they do, make sure that this is included in your written agreement and that this covers the circumstances that the landlord can keep part or all of the money when you move out.

Both you and the landlord should sign the agreement and keep a copy each. Setting out the rights and responsibilities of landlord and lodger in writing from the start can help to avoid misunderstandings or disputes further on down the line. 

I have a lodgers agreement with someone who is renting the home from another landlord

If the person you have a lodgers agreement with is renting the property from another landlord (called a ‘head landlord’), this does not usually affect your agreement. However, if your landlord’s contract with the head landlord ends, the head landlord might be able to evict you even if your lodgers agreement was for a fixed term.

Much will depend on whether your landlord’s contract allowed them to take in a lodger or sublet. For more information about what they should consider if they intend to take in a lodger or sublet, see here.

The law in these situations is complex, so get help.

Things to agree in advance 

Things to agree in advance 

Whoever you decide to live with, it helps if everyone agrees on some ground rules before moving in together. If everything’s clear from the start, it could save major rows later on. 

 Check that everyone understands what type of contract they will have and what it means.  

Does the head landlord or lender know you’re living there?

If you’re moving in as a lodger or sub-tenant, ask the person you’re renting from whether they have permission from their landlord or mortgage lender to rent a room out. If they don’t, you won’t have many rights. If the landlord or lender decides to evict the person you’re living with, you will have to leave too. 

Are there are any house rules?

Just going with the flow rarely works. 

If you can, find out: 

  • Which part of the house or flat will be your part? 
  • Are there any rooms you’re not allowed to go into without permission? 
  • Is there a cleaning rota, to save arguments over the washing-up? 
  • Is there a no-smoking rule? 
  • Can girlfriends or boyfriends stay over regularly? 
  • What about other guests? 
  • Will everyone socialise together, or will you all lead separate lives? 
  • What’s the policy on parties?
  • Are you allowed pets? Does anyone else in the flat own pets? 

What do the other people in the flat do? If they work, what are their hours? Will you be queuing for the bathroom in the morning? Or will you have to keep quiet during the day so flatmates working nightshifts can sleep? 

Will anyone be claiming benefits? If so, living with other people may affect the amount they receive. For example, if your friend or partner is claiming housing benefit, it will probably be reduced if you move into her/his place – even if you don’t pay any rent. If s/he doesn’t tell the housing benefit department that you are living there s/he could end up having to pay an overpayment back or be prosecuted for fraud.

Who pays for what?

Most people who live together argue about money occasionally. But it helps if you’re clear about certain things from the start: 

  • How much rent you will pay, when and how it will be due, and who you will pay it to
  • How you will divide up household bills – especially the phone. 
  • Is there a kitty for communal items like toilet roll and washing-up liquid? 
  • What happens if somebody breaks something? Does it come out of your shared deposit or does the person who broke it have to pay for it? 
  • What’s the situation with council tax? 

If you live alone, you will probably receive a 25% discount on your council tax bill. You will no longer be entitled to this if someone else moves in. If you live in a household comprised entirely of students, you won’t need to pay any council tax at all, but if one person isn’t a student, you will get a full bill. 

Whose name the occupation contract is in

Whose name the occupation contract is in

Thinking of moving in with someone? Whether you have separate contracts, a joint contract, or a contract in only one person’s name, will have a big impact on your rights.  

If all of the people living in the property signed one contract when you moved in, you will have a joint occupation contract and you are joint contract-holders.

If each person in your household signed a separate contract with the landlord, you are likely to have individual occupation contracts for your rooms. You may have different rights depending on when each of you moved in.  

If one or more people in your household have an occupation contract with the landlord but you don’t (for example, if you’ve moved in with a friend and have made an agreement with her/him, but not with the landlord) you have very limited rights.

What rights do joint contract-holders have?

If you have a joint contract, all contract-holders have exactly the same rights. You are all equally responsible for paying the full rent and keeping to the terms of the contract. If one person is not paying the rent or causing other problems you could end up having to pay their share, or any other costs. Your landlord may be entitled to keep the deposit if there is any rent owing or damage to the property at the end of the contract. 

Can a joint contract-holder leave the contract?

If you have a joint secure or periodic standard contract, or a fixed term standard contract that has a contract-holders break clause, you may be able to leave the contract. This is known as ‘withdrawal’  and will not end the agreement for everyone else. The right to withdraw is a fundamental term.

Withdrawal notices 

The minimum length of withdrawal notice you should give your landlord is 1 month. This is a supplementary term of most occupation contracts. However, your contract may specify a different notice period so you should check your contract carefully. It is best to ensure your notice covers up to the end of your rental period. For example, if your rental period begins on the 5th of the month then notice should be given at least 1 month before so the end of your notice falls on the 4th or 5th of the month.  

Informing the other joint contract-holders 

You should also notify the other joint contract-holders in writing and give them a copy of the withdrawal notice. You should do this at the same time you give the withdrawal notice to your landlord.  

Informing the other joint contract-holders will allow them time to search for other people who they could add as a joint contract-holder in your place. 

If you wish to withdraw from the contract, it is important to follow the correct procedure. If you leave without doing so, you will remain responsible for the contract and will still be liable to pay rent. 

Can a landlord evict one of the joint contract holders?

If the landlord under an occupation contract believes that a joint contract-holder is responsible for anti-social behaviour or other prohibited conduct, they can end that joint contract holder’s rights under the contract, without ending the entire contract. 

The landlord must serve a notice to the joint contract holder outlining the breach and state that the landlord will apply to the court for an order ending the joint contract holder’s rights.  

The landlord must also notify the other contract holders with details of the breach and intention to apply to the court.   

If the tenants have disagreements, they are responsible for sorting them out between themselves. 

What rights do people with separate occupation contracts have?

If you and your housemates have separate contracts 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 contract-holder individually.  

You may all have different types of contracts and some of you may have more rights than others.  

If you have separate contracts and one of the other contract-holders is causing problems, your landlord may decide to evict her/him. If this does happen it won’t affect your contract.  

Can I add someone to my contract as joint –contract holder?

If you wish to add someone to your contract as joint contract holder, you will need to get your landlords consent first. The law says that your landlord is not allowed to refuse your request without a good reason.

You must put your request in writing to the landlord. 

Your landlord must come back to you within 14 days from the day the request is made. 

If you have made a request in writing to add someone as a joint contract-holder, some things the landlord can consider are: 

  • whether the proposed joint contract-holder is suitable 
  • the nature of your relationship with the proposed joint contract-holder 
  • who could be entitled to take over the contract if consent is given 

For more information about getting the landlord’s consent, please see our advice here.  

What rights do I have if the occupation contract is not in my name?

If you live with one or more people who have an occupation contract with the landlord but you don’t, you may be considered to be a lodger or a sub-holder of the occupation contract holder(s). This means that the person who has made an agreement with the head landlord:  

  • is effectively your landlord  
  • may only have to give you reasonable notice if s/he wants you to leave (this notice could be a very short amount of time and could be verbal)  
  • is responsible for paying the rent and bills. Everyone else should still pay their share, but if they don’t, the person on the occupation contract is ultimately responsible for coming up with the money.  

A contract holder must obtain permission from their landlord to rent a room out to you.

You can read more about sub-letting here.  

Moving in together factsheet

Who should I live with?

Who should I live with?

Do you want to live on your own, in a house or flat-share, with your girlfriend or boyfriend, or with a friend? 

Moving in with someone is a big step. Make sure you think carefully and weigh up the pros and cons before you decide. 

Living on your own 

Living on your own offers you plenty of freedom and independence, but it can be lonely. Are you prepared to do everything for yourself, from cooking and cleaning to paying the bills, and to come home to an empty house? 

It is generally accepted that living on your own is the most expensive way to live. Living with other people is a good way to share the costs. Community landlord homes are usually more affordable, but you may have a long wait. 

Moving in with your partner 

Moving in with a partner is an exciting prospect, but it can put a strain on your relationship, especially if you haven’t been together very long. Discuss it properly, agree some ground rules and make sure you’re ready for it.  

If you are moving into a property that your partner already rents, you might be able add your name to the contract, depending on who they rent from and what type of contract they hold. Adding your name to the contract will give you more rights.  

If the landlord refuses to add you to the contract, get help. 

If you are both moving into a new rental property, you will probably be given a joint occupation contract which secures your rights as a contract-holder. 

 If the worst happens, and you split up, get help  immediately. Your rights can vary a lot, depending on your circumstances and your status. 

Shared flats and houses 

Sharing a house or flat is usually cheaper than living on your own, and can be great fun as long as everyone pays their own way and does their share of the housework.  

If you live in a house or flat that contains more than one household (such as a bed and breakfast, or a house split into bedsits) it might be legally classed as a house in multiple occupation (or HMO). If this is the case, the landlord has extra legal responsibilities to ensure that the property is managed properly. 

Moving in with friends 

Moving in with friends can be a good solution. But you still need to be clear what the arrangements are. Your rights will be very different if you move into your friend’s place as a lodger or sub-holder than they will if you have a joint contract in a shared house or flat. 

If you have to leave your current home and have nowhere else to go, staying on a friend’s sofa might be a good solution for a short time. But it can become problematic in the longer term. You may feel like you are getting in the way, and you will have very limited rights if they want you to leave. If you are in this situation, get help immediately – you are probably experiencing ‘hidden homelessness’ and you should be entitled to help from the council. 

Living with a landlord or a member of their family 

If you share with a landlord, you will have very limited rights. Remember: the person you pay your rent to is your landlord. So if you move into a mate’s place as a lodger or sub-contract holder, according to the law, they will be your landlord. 

Living with your landlord or a member of their family will have a big impact on how easily you can be evicted. You are likely to be an excluded occupier if: 

  • you share living space with your landlord, even if s/he’s your friend or partner. Kitchens, bathrooms and living rooms count as living space, but hallways and entrances normally don’t 
  • you live in the same building as the landlord (unless it’s a purpose-built block of flats) and share living space with a member of her/his family. 

Excluded occupiers can be evicted more easily because they are only entitled to reasonable notice if the landlord wants them to leave. Reasonable notice could mean that they get only a short amount of time, and the warning may be verbal. 

If you are renting a home from a ‘close relative’ of you or your partner and they live in the same house, you won’t be able to get housing benefit. 

What else should I think about? 

Finding someone to live with is only the first step. 

Once you have found a place to live, check the terms of the contract before signing it. If you are unsure of any of the terms get help 

Establish some ground rules with your housemates, this will save arguments in the long run. 

Shared and subletting

Sharing accommodation

Sharing a home with other people can be great fun, but it’s important to choose carefully who you live with, and to check that you understand your rights. 

Your rights will also be affected by the type of contract you have. To find out more about what type of renting agreement you have, see here. 

Please select one of the options below for more information about sharing accommodation. You can also read this factsheet.