What’s the most common type of tenancy agreement?

The most common type of private tenancy agreement is an assured shorthold tenancy. 

You’re likely on an assured shorthold tenancy if:

  • you started renting your property after January 1989
  • the property is privately owned by the landlord
  • the property is your main home
  • your landlord does not live in it with you

If your tenancy agreement does not meet these criteria, it might not be an assured shorthold tenancy - you could be a lodger on an excluded tenancy.

Assured shorthold tenancy rights

If you rent out an entire private flat or house, you’ll own the space you’re renting for the duration of your tenancy – either alone if you’re the single occupant or with others if you’re living with friends, family or a partner.

Some of your rights will depend on whether you have a separate assured shorthold tenancy or whether you signed a joint assured shorthold tenancy.

As an assured shorthold tenant, you’re entitled to exclude the landlord from your space, which means a landlord should give you notice before they turn up on your doorstep, unless it's an emergency.

But the landlord doesn’t have to give permission for a lock to be installed, so make sure you trust the people you’re thinking of renting a shared property with if there are no locks on the bedroom doors.

Separate assured shorthold tenancy

If you have a lock on your room, your room might be seen in the eyes of the law as the part of the property that you’re renting.

This will be the case if you signed a tenancy agreement for your own room and only share the communal spaces with your housemates.

In this case, you have the legal right to keep everyone out of your room and the responsibility for the room is yours alone.

If you have a TV in your room, you will also be responsible for getting your own TV licence.

Joint assured shorthold tenancy

If you signed a joint tenancy agreement with the other tenants in the property (ie all of your signatures are on the same tenancy agreement) then you’re viewed as renting out the whole property together.

In this case, you technically have an equal right to use all of the rooms in the house – even if there are locks on the doors. Although, in practice, most tenants will want to keep to their own rooms.

If you have a joint assured shorthold tenancy, you’ll only need one TV licence for the whole flat.

What is an HMO?

An HMO is a house in multiple occupation. You likely live in an HMO if both of the following apply:

  • at least three tenants live there, forming more than one household
  • you share toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities with other tenants

You can check if your home is registered as an HMO by contacting your local council.

Your home is regarded as a large HMO if:

  • you live in a home which is at least three storeys high
  • you live with at least four other unrelated tenants
  • you share a toilet, bathroom, living space or kitchen with other tenants

In this case, your landlord usually has extra legal responsibilities to reduce fire risks and to ensure people living in the HMO have appropriate facilities.

It’s unlikely that you’ll be allowed a lock on your bedroom in a large HMO as this could be regarded as a fire risk.

If you live in a large HMO, it’s likely you’ll be on an assured shorthold tenancy.

Excluded tenancy rights

If you live in the property with your landlord and share the kitchen, bathroom and other communal areas then this is usually counted as an excluded tenancy.

In this case, you’ll be regarded as a lodger or excluded occupier, not a tenant.

Make sure you closely check your tenancy agreement to see your eviction notice period if you are, or are thinking of becoming, a lodger.

Lodger rights vs assured shorthold tenant rights

As a lodger you have fewer protections and rights than a tenant on an assured shorthold tenancy.

Lodger vs tenant: deposit protection Landlords don’t need to protect a lodger’s deposit in a government-approved deposit scheme. Tenants on an assured shorthold tenancy must have their deposit protected in a government backed scheme

Lodger vs tenant: privacy rights A lodger isn’t allowed to have a lock on the door, but the landlord should respect their privacy at all times. Tenants on an assured shorthold tenancy are entitled to exclude the landlord from their home

Lodger vs tenant: rent increases If a lodger doesn’t have a fixed term agreement or the fixed term has ended, the landlord can increase the rent at any time and give the lodger notice to leave if they don’t agree to the increase. Tenants on an assured shorthold tenancy will have signed a fixed term agreement and so should be shielded against rent increases during the tenancy period

Lodger vs tenant: eviction rights Landlords can also usually evict lodgers without a court order and without giving four weeks’ notice, as long as they adhere to what’s set out in the tenancy agreement. It's a criminal offence for a landlord to evict a tenant on an assured shorthold tenancy without a court order.

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