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Rights of subtenants who live with their landlord

This advice applies to England

A subtenancy is created when an existing tenant lets some or all of their home to another tenant - the subtenant. As a subtenant, you have a tenancy for the accommodation that is let to you and you have exclusive use of it.

If, as a subtenant, you share some accommodation with your landlord, you will have certain rights. This page gives more information on these rights.

Do you share accommodation with your landlord?

If you share some accommodation with your landlord such as the bathroom or kitchen, then you're known as an excluded occupier. This is a term used in housing which helps to identify your housing rights. Excluded occupiers have very limited rights.

You'll be an excluded occupier as long as:

  • you share some of the accommodation with your landlord other than storage areas or means of access, such as a corridor, passage, staircase or entrance hall, and
  • your landlord lives in the accommodation as their only or principal home, from when your tenancy started and continuously afterwards.

The type of tenancy you have

A subtenant who shares accommodation with their landlord has an excluded tenancy.

You have exclusive possession of the area that you pay rent for. For example, if you rent a room in the same house as your landlord, they cannot enter your room without your permission. In these circumstances, there may be a lock on your room door, but even if there's not, no-one can enter it without your consent.

If you don't have exclusive possession of your room, then you're likely to be a lodger rather than a subtenant.

Is your tenancy for a fixed term or is it periodic?

Your agreement may be for a certain period of time, for example, six months. This is called a fixed term agreement.

Or you may have a periodic agreement. This is one that runs from one rent period to the next, for example, from month to month.

Paying rent

You must pay your rent when it's due, otherwise your landlord can evict you. Your agreement will normally state how much the rent is, what it includes, to whom and when it should be paid, and how it can be increased.

If you pay rent weekly, your landlord must give you a rent book. However, this doesn't apply if you pay 'board' as part of your rent for meals that are provided.

If you're on a low income, you may be able to get help to pay your rent by applying for Housing Benefit.

Getting repairs done

Your landlord is responsible for some important repairs that are set out in the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. Generally, this means that they're responsible for keeping in repair:

  • the structure and exterior of your home
  • basins, sinks, baths, toilets and their pipework
  • water and gas pipes, electrical wiring, water tanks, boilers, radiators, gas fires, fitted electric fires or fitted heaters.

It's also your landlord's responsibility to ensure:

  • that any furniture provided complies with fire safety regulations
  • that gas appliances are kept in good order and that an annual safety check is carried out by a recognised engineer
  • that the electrical system and any electrical appliances supplied are all safe to use.

Your right to stay in your home

Fixed term agreements

If you have a fixed term agreement, you can only be evicted by your landlord when either:

  • that term has come to an end, or
  • there is a term in your agreement, known as a break clause, which allows the agreement to be ended early. If there is a break clause, the landlord can evict you after giving you the notice set out in that clause.

Periodic agreements

If you have a periodic agreement, you must be given a period of notice before you can be evicted.

Your agreement may set out the notice period required. If it doesn’t, then as a subtenant with an excluded tenancy you have a right to a notice period which is the same as your rent period. For example, if you pay rent monthly, you have a right to one month's notice.

Does your landlord need a possession order to evict you?

Your landlord doesn't need a possession order from the court to evict you, but they can get one if they choose to. You'll be trespassing if you stay in the accommodation without your landlord's permission either after the fixed term has ended or after the notice period has expired.

Evicting you peaceably

As long as your fixed term agreement has come to an end, or you've been given notice to leave on your periodic agreement, your landlord can evict you peaceably. For example, they can change the locks while you are out.

If your landlord uses, or threatens to use, physical force against you to evict you, they may be committing a criminal offence.

  • More about how your resident landlord must end a letting - GOV.UK at

If you want to leave

If you have a fixed term agreement, you can only leave early if:

  • there is a term in your agreement, known as a break clause, which allows you to end the agreement early, or
  • your landlord agrees to end the agreement early. This is called surrender.

If you leave before the end of the term without your landlord’s consent, you're liable to pay the rent until the term ends even if you aren’t living there.

If you have a periodic agreement, you have to give the notice period that is set out in your agreement. If the agreement doesn’t say how much notice is required, then as a subtenant with an excluded tenancy you have to give notice equivalent to your rent period. For example, if you pay rent monthly, you have to give one month's notice.

Next steps

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