When you move into a new home you should be asked to sign an agreement that sets out the terms under which you can live in the property. This could be different depending on a what is being provided and who lives in the property. If you are not asked to sign an agreement the terms under which you and the landlord agree you can live in the property will create an arrangement that is legally binding even without a signed agreement. This is a summary of the different types of arrangements you may come across.
If you rent your own home and you and your family have sole use of the property you should expect to have a tenancy. If you rent from a private landlord this will usually be an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (known as an AST). If you rent from a Housing Association or Council, there are a number of different types of tenancy including an AST, an Introductory or starter tenancy, a flexible tenancy, an assured tenancy or a secure tenancy – the type you have should be fully explained to you when the tenancy starts.
Where you rent a room in a shared house you should also have a tenancy if you have the right to live in a specific room and can decide who comes into your room. If you are not allocated a specific room and can be moved to another room or decide between you who has which room, you may have a licence rather than a tenancy.
In most cases we would expect you to have a tenancy if you live in supported living whether this is on your own or shared with other people.
The landlord will be responsible for maintaining the property and carrying out most of the repairs.
Under a tenancy you should expect to have a contract which should include:
• name and address of your landlord
• start date of tenancy
• how much the rent is and when it is due (your rent may be covered by housing benefit if you are entitled to claim this)
• what other charges, if any, you will be expected to pay (some or all of these may be covered by housing benefit if you are entitled to claim this)
• the length of any fixed term agreement and what happens when the fixed term ends (you will either be asked to sign another fixed term agreement, or more usually the tenancy will become a rolling tenancy, known as a periodic tenancy)
• your responsibilities as a tenant
• what happens if the landlord wants to increase your rent/and or charges
• the notice period you have to give if you wish to leave/give up the tenancy
• the notice period the landlord has to give you if they want the property or room back – this will usually be a minimum of two months for an AST. The landlord must follow the correct legal procedures if they want you to leave. If you do not leave at the end of the notice period, the landlord has to go to court to get the property or room back.
Licence (Licence to Occupy)
The main difference between a tenancy and a licence is that a tenancy usually gives you more protection from eviction. For a licence the landlord only has to give reasonable notice if they want you to leave. Reasonable notice is usually based on how often you pay the rent, so if you pay your rent weekly you may get as little as a weeks’ notice, if you pay your rent monthly you should get one months’ notice. If you do not leave at the end of the notice period, the landlord does not have to go to court to get you evicted and they can change the locks even if your possessions are still in the property.
A licence will not apply if you live in a home that is not shared with other people.
If you live in a home that is shared with other people a licence gives you permission to live in the property but does not give you the right to live in a specific room and you may be asked to move to another room.
Where a landlord provides services that require them to have access to your room without your permission such as cleaning your room and providing meals direct to you in your room you may have a licence. This depends upon the arrangements that are agreed.
Excluded Occupiers (Excluded Licences or Tenancies)
You may sometimes come across an “excluded” licence or tenancy. This should not apply to you if you live in supported living unless you share your home with your landlord or a member of their family, for example where you are a lodger.
Excluded licences also apply in certain other circumstances:
• if you are living in a hostel, bed and breakfast or a hotel
• if you are living in temporary accommodation provided as an emergency by your local council if you were homeless
• if you do not have to pay any rent
• if you are living with family or friends and have no tenancy in your name or you do not own the property
The landlord can evict you after reasonable notice, which should be at least 7 days. The notice does not have to be in writing and they do not have to go to court to get you evicted if you don’t leave at the end of the notice period.