Is the agreement in your name?
Thinking of moving in with someone? You’ll need to decide whether to have separate tenancies, a joint tenancy, or a tenancy in only one person’s name. This decision will have a big impact on your rights.
If all of the people living in the property signed one tenancy agreement with the landlord when you moved in, you will have a joint tenancy agreement.
Alternatively, if each person in your household signed a separate agreement with the landlord, you are likely to have separate tenancies and may have different rights depending on when each of you moved in.
If one or more people in your household have a tenancy agreement 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 her/his landlord) you have very limited rights.
What rights do joint tenants have?
If you have a joint tenancy agreement, 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 . If one tenant is not paying the rent or causing other problems you could end up having to pay her/his 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 tenancy.
If one joint tenant ends the tenancy, everyone will have to leave unless those that want to stay can negotiate a new tenancy with the landlord. This is a complicated area and you should get advice.
Similarly, the landlord cannot evict one joint tenant without evicting all of you. However, s/he may decide to offer a new tenancy to the remaining tenants once the original tenancy has ended. Talk to your landlord about this if you want to stay.
If the tenants have disagreements, they are responsible for sorting them out between themselves. Only in extreme cases will the landlord or anyone else get involved.
What rights do people with separate tenancies have?
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 all have different types of tenancy agreement and some of you may have more rights than others.
If you have separate tenancy agreements and one of the other tenants is causing problems, your landlord may decide to evict her/him. If this does happen it won’t affect your tenancy.
What rights do I have if the tenancy is not in my name?
If you live with one or more people who have a tenancy with the landlord but you don’t, you are effectively a subtenant of the main tenant(s). This means that the person who has made an agreement with the 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 tenancy agreement is ultimately responsible for coming up with the money.
Check whether the main tenant has permission from their landlord to rent a room out to you, as this may affect your rights. These situations can be very complicated so get advice if you have problems