Non-tenant occupiers

A non-tenant occupier is someone who has an agreement to live in a property but does not have a 'legal tenancy'. You can find out if you are a non-tenant occupier and what your rights are on this page.

What is a non-tenant occupier?

A non-tenant occupier is someone who has an agreement that they can live in a property, but the agreement does not meet the criteria to make it a legal tenancy.

For a legal tenancy to be created you and your landlord must have agreed:

  • who is renting from whom

  • which property, or rooms, you will be renting

  • the amount of rent you will pay

  • how long the agreement is for.

'Payment in kind' can sometimes be counted as an agreement to pay rent, for example, you may have agreed that you can stay in someone's house in return for doing their garden every week. However, if the value of this payment is very low, or 'token', this probably won't count and you won't have a legal tenancy.

I don't have an agreement in writing

Not having a written agreement doesn't mean that you do not have a legal tenancy. So long as you have agreed the criteria above with your landlord, you have a legal tenancy and are therefore a tenant.

I don't have a legal tenancy

If you and your landlord have not agreed to all of the above criteria then you will be a non-tenant occupier. So for example if you are staying with a relative for two months but are not paying rent, you will be a non-tenant occupier rather than a tenant as there is no agreement about rent.

You may also be a non-tenant occupier if you stay in:

  • supported accommodation, especially if you are only staying there temporarily, where the accommodation is provided to allow you to receive support (for example, a rehabilitation centre)

  • dormitory style accommodation with other people who aren't members of your family

  • short stay, temporary hostel accommodation

  • a hotel

  • a hospital.

My rights as a non-tenant occupier

Your rights as a non-tenant occupier depend on the agreement you have made with the person who provides your accommodation. If this is a casual arrangement with no written agreement, it can be hard to prove that you have any rights.

Moving out

If you want to leave the property, you should give your landlord reasonable notice, either verbally or in writing, although your landlord may find this hard to enforce if you do decide to up and leave. Reasonable notice means that you should take into account the situation of the person providing you with the accommodation.


If your landlord wants you to leave, they should give you reasonable notice. Reasonable notice means your landlord should take into account your situation (for example, if you are ill) and give you long enough to find somewhere else to live.

If you refuse to leave, your landlord may need to get a court order to evict you, but this will probably be granted easily and you could well end up paying their court expenses.

Can I be evicted without a court order?

In the following circumstances, it's possible that you could be evicted without a court order:

  • if you share your accommodation with your landlord or a member of their family and you don't have 'exclusive possession' of any part of the home. The page on sharing with your landlord has more information on what your rights are in this situation.

  • if you are staying in holiday accommodation (for example, a hotel or holiday cottage).

If you are in any of these situations and your landlord asks you to leave, it's very important to talk to an adviser as soon as possible. A housing adviser will be able to look at your particular circumstances and tell you whether your landlord can ask you to leave without a court order, or whether they need to go to court first. They may be able to help you stay in your accommodation for a while, or find a new place to live.

Applying to the council as homeless

If you don't have any legal rights to live in the accommodation you are staying in, you are considered to be homeless. If you make a homeless application to the council, the council must offer you:

  • somewhere to stay while the council looks into your situation

  • advice and assistance to help you find another place to live.

Depending on your circumstances, you may also be entitled to permanent housing.

If you need to talk to someone, we’ll do our best to help. Get Help

Last updated: 24 January 2020

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

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