Your rights if you have a common law tenancy

A common law tenancy is covered by the agreement you make with your landlord. It is 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.

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

Check if you have a different type of 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 rights and responsibilities

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. This includes your landlord if they do not live with you.

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 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.

Download a sample tenancy 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 six 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 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

Your landlord’s responsibilities

Repairs

Usually your landlord is responsible for most repairs in your home.

Check who is responsible if you rent from a private landlord.

Deposit

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

In some circumstances, they must protect your deposit in a deposit protection scheme.

Check if your landlord should protect your deposit

If you're unhappy with your landlord

Follow our guidance on making a complaint to your landlord.

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 4 weeks' 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

If your landlord wants to evict you, they must follow the correct process.

Check your eviction rights if you're a common law tenant.

Last updated: 9 August 2022

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

Get advice if you're in England