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.
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.