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Your rights if you have a common law tenancy

A common law tenancy is covered by the agreement you make with your landlord. It's not a statutory tenancy, which means your rights do not come from any specific laws. You still have rights, even if you do not have a written contract.

Check if you have a common law tenancy

You'll usually have a common law tenancy if you:

When you will not have a common law tenancy

You're unlikely to have a common law tenancy if you rent your home from:

  • the council

  • a housing association

  • a private landlord who does not live with you

  • a letting agency

If you're not sure, use our tool to check what type of tenancy you have.

Your tenancy agreement

Your tenancy agreement is a contract that should say what your rights and responsibilities are, such as:

  • how much rent you pay

  • how long your tenancy is for

  • how much notice to give if you want to move out

  • if someone can move in with you

  • if you can give your tenancy to someone else

  • any other rules about guests, pets or smoking

Your tenancy agreement can be verbal. It’s best to get an agreement in writing if you can. You still have rights even if you do not have a written agreement.

If you live with your landlord, this can sometimes be called a lodger agreement.

Download a sample lodger agreement (pdf, 134 kb)

How long your tenancy is for

Your tenancy agreement should say if you have a fixed term. At the end of the fixed term, if neither you or your landlord end your tenancy, your agreement renews automatically. This is called tacit relocation.

Your tenancy agreement might state how long it will be renewed for. For example, it might be for an initial fixed term of 6 months and then renewed monthly after that.

If not, your agreement is renewed for the same amount of time as the initial fixed term. For example, if your fixed term was 6 months, the agreement is renewed for another 6 months.

Your right to possession

You have the right to live in the property, and other people do not have the right to enter without your permission.

If you live with your landlord, your agreement will say which rooms or areas only you can use. Your landlord should not enter them without your permission. This is called exclusive possession.

Your landlord’s responsibilities


Your landlord is responsible for most repairs in your home.


Your landlord can only charge up to 2 months' rent as a deposit.

In some circumstances, they must protect your deposit in a deposit protection scheme. This does not apply if you live with your landlord.

Check our advice on deposits

If you're unhappy with your landlord

Check our advice on making a complaint to your landlord.

Your responsibilities

You should:

  • live in the property as your only or main home

  • pay your rent on time

  • take care of the property and keep it clean

  • tell your landlord if repairs need fixed

  • end your tenancy correctly if you want to move out

You should always ask your landlord permission to:

  • sublet your home

  • have someone move in with you

  • run a business from your home

  • decorate

If you want to move out

Write to your landlord. Use our letter template to end your tenancy to help you know what to say.

You must give your landlord at least 28 days' notice. If your fixed term was for 1 year, you must give 40 days' notice.

Usually you can end your tenancy before your fixed term ends. You'll need to reach an agreement with your landlord to do this. If they do not agree, then you can only end your tenancy at the end of the fixed term.

Passing your tenancy to someone else

If the property is rented furnished, you'll have to ask your landlord’s permission to pass on your tenancy on to someone else.

If the property is unfurnished, you have the automatic right to do this.

If your landlord asks you to leave

Your tenancy agreement may contain a term about ending your tenancy. Your landlord can follow this process to evict you.

If there's nothing in your tenancy agreement, you can only be evicted:

  • at the end of your fixed term

  • if you break a term of your tenancy

You should get a notice in writing. It should say when your tenancy will end and give you a number of days notice before you have to leave.

You must get at least:

  • 40 days’ notice, if you have a fixed term of 4 months or more

  • 28 days’ notice, if you have a fixed term of less than 4 months or if you break a term of your agreement

Check our advice on:

Last updated: 1 November 2023

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

Get advice if you're in England