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Check your tenancy type if you rent from a private landlord

This advice applies to England

If you rent from a private landlord, your rights depend on the type of rental agreement you have. This includes things like your right to get repairs done, stay in your home and get your deposit back.

A rental agreement is sometimes known as a ‘tenancy agreement’.

Some rental agreements will mean you’re a tenant - but there are some types of agreement that mean you’re not a tenant and you’ll have different rights.

If you know what type of agreement you have, check your rights and your landlord’s responsibilities.

Check if you rent from a private landlord

Your rights are different if you rent from the council or a housing association - check your rights when you rent from a council or a housing association.

Some types of rental agreement will mean you’re not a private tenant and your rights will be more complicated. If you have one of these agreements, you should get help from your nearest Citizens Advice. For example, you won’t be a private tenant if your home is:

  • a holiday let
  • a Crown tenancy
  • business premises
  • arranged by your local council because you’re homeless
  • let to you as part of your job
  • let to you by an agricultural landlord - for example, if you rent a farm

Check what type of rental agreement you have

The type of rental agreement you have depends on when it started. You don’t have to have a written contract to have a valid agreement - you might have agreed it verbally with your landlord.

The date your agreement started might be in your written contract if you have one. If not, it will be the date you agreed the rental agreement - this could be earlier than the day you agreed to move in.

Even if you have a written contract that says you have a certain type of agreement, you should still check what type of agreement you have. It might be different to what your written contract says - this means you might have more rights.

Your rental agreement started on or after 28 February 1997

Most people whose rental agreement started on or after 28 February 1997 will be assured shorthold tenants.

You’ll probably be an assured shorthold tenant if you:

  • pay rent to a private landlord
  • don’t live in the same building as your landlord
  • have at least 1 room of your own that you don’t share with anyone else other than your partner, or a family member like your child
  • have agreed to rent your home for a specific period of time - for example, 6 months or month by month

Check your rights if you’re an assured shorthold tenant.

If you’re a student

If you’re a student but you pay rent to a private landlord or their agent, you’ll probably be an assured shorthold tenant. Check our advice on renting from a private landlord if you’re a student.

If you live in a halls of residence and pay rent to your university, you’ll be an occupier with basic protection. Check our advice on living in university accommodation.

If you live in the same building as your landlord

You’ll probably be an assured shorthold tenant if either:

  • you and your landlord have separate flats in a purpose-built block of flats
  • your landlord has another home where they live most of the time

Check your rights if you’re an assured shorthold tenant.

You’ll probably be an excluded occupier if you either:

  • share living space like a kitchen or living room with your landlord
  • share living space with your landlord’s family - and your landlord lives in the same building

Check your rights if you’re an excluded occupier.

You'll probably be an occupier with basic protection if either:

  • the only spaces you share with your landlord are things like stairways and hallways - unless you also share living space with a member of their family
  • you and your landlord live in separate flats in a converted house

Check your rights if you’re an occupier with basic protection.

If your landlord moves out and doesn’t plan to return, you’re likely to become an assured shorthold tenant.

If you’re not sure, get help from your nearest Citizens Advice.

If you pay no rent or low rent

If you don’t have to pay rent or your rent is less than £250 a year (£1,000 in Greater London) you’ll be an excluded occupier. Check your rights if you’re an excluded occupier.

If you agree to provide services like cleaning or childcare to your landlord instead of paying rent, you might be an occupier with basic protection. Check your rights if you’re an occupier with basic protection.

If you took over the rental agreement from someone else

You’ll probably have the same type of rental agreement as the person you took it over from - you’ll need to check what type of agreement they had. You can do this by looking at their agreement or finding out when it started.

This might have happened if:

  • you inherited a tenancy from someone who died - this is known as ‘succeeding’ to the tenancy
  • someone gave you the tenancy - this is known as having a tenancy ‘assigned’ to you

If you know what type of agreement you’ve taken over, you can check what rights it gives you.

If you took over your agreement from someone but you’re not sure what type it is, get help from your nearest Citizens Advice.

If your landlord gave you a new tenancy

If your landlord gave you a new tenancy immediately after the previous one ended, you’ll usually still have the same type of tenancy. It doesn’t matter if you move to a different property that your landlord owns.

If your previous tenancy was an assured tenancy, you and your landlord might have agreed for the new one to be an assured shorthold tenancy. You’ll need to have followed the right process to do this - an adviser at your nearest Citizens Advice can check if it was done correctly.

If you had a joint tenancy or joint landlords and you renewed your tenancy, you’ll still have the same type of tenancy if both the following apply:

  • at least one of the landlords is the same as before
  • at least one of the tenants is the same as before - this means it doesn’t matter if the other person on your joint tenancy hasn’t renewed with you

If there was a gap between the end of your last tenancy and the start of your new one, you won’t automatically have the same type of tenancy. You’ll need to check what rules applied when you agreed your new tenancy - get help from your nearest Citizens Advice if you’re not sure how to do this.

If your landlord provides services for you

If your landlord needs to go into your room to provide services like cleaning or laundry, you’ll probably be an occupier with basic protection. Check your rights if you’re an occupier with basic protection.

If you’re still not sure what type of rental agreement you have

You can get help from your nearest Citizens Advice.

Your rental agreement started on or after 15 January 1989 but before 28 February 1997

You’ll probably be an assured shorthold tenant if your landlord gave you a ‘section 20’ notice and you:

  • pay rent to a private landlord
  • don’t live in the same building as your landlord
  • have at least one room of your own that you don’t share with anyone else other than your partner, or a family member like your child
  • have agreed to rent your home for a specific period of time - for example, 6 months or month by month

Check your rights if you’re an assured shorthold tenant.

Your landlord should use a special form to give you a section 20 notice. They can still give you a section 20 notice without using the form - as long as it includes the right information.

Your nearest Citizens Advice can help you check if your section 20 notice is valid.

If your landlord didn’t give you a section 20 notice or it didn’t include the right information, you’ll be an assured tenant.

You’ll also be an assured tenant if your tenancy either:

  • originally had a fixed term of less than 6 months
  • had a break clause that let your landlord end the tenancy before 6 months

Check your rights if you’re an assured tenant.

If your landlord provides services for you

If your landlord needs to go into your room to provide services like cleaning or laundry, you’ll probably be an occupier with basic protection. Check your rights if you’re an occupier with basic protection.

If you live in the same building as your landlord

You’ll probably be an assured shorthold tenant if your landlord gave you a ‘section 20’ notice and either:

  • you and your landlord have separate flats in a purpose-built block of flats
  • your landlord has another home where they live most of the time

Check your rights if you’re an assured shorthold tenant.

If your landlord didn’t give you a section 20 notice, you’ll probably be an assured tenant.

Check your rights if you’re an assured tenant.

If you share living space like a kitchen or living room with your landlord, you’ll probably be an excluded occupier.

Check your rights if you’re an excluded occupier.

You'll probably be an occupier with basic protection if either:

  • the only spaces you share with your landlord are things like stairways and hallways
  • you and your landlord live in separate flats in a converted house

Check your rights if you’re an occupier with basic protection.

If your landlord moves out and doesn’t plan to return, you’re likely to become an assured shorthold tenant.

If you’re not sure, get help from your nearest Citizens Advice.

If you pay no rent or low rent

You’ll be an excluded occupier if:

  • you don’t pay rent
  • your agreement started on or after 1 April 1990 and your rent is less than £250 a year (£1,000 in Greater London)

Check your rights if you’re an excluded occupier.

If you agree to provide services like cleaning or childcare to your landlord instead of paying rent, you might be an occupier with basic protection. Check your rights if you’re an occupier with basic protection.

If your agreement started before 1 April 1990 the rules are different - get help from your nearest Citizens Advice.

If you took over a rental agreement from someone else

You’ll probably have the same type of rental agreement as the person who you took it over from - you’ll need to check what type of agreement they had.

This might have happened if:

  • you inherited a tenancy from someone who died - this is known as ‘succeeding’ to the tenancy
  • someone gave you the tenancy - this is known as having a tenancy ‘assigned’ to you

If you know what type of agreement you’ve taken over, you can check what rights it gives you.

If you’re still not sure what type of agreement it is, get help from your nearest Citizens Advice.

If your landlord gave you a new tenancy

If your landlord gave you a new tenancy immediately after the previous one ended, you’ll still have the same type of tenancy. It doesn’t matter if you moved to a different property that they own.

If you had an assured tenancy, you and your landlord might have agreed for the new tenancy to be an assured shorthold tenancy. You’ll need to have followed the right process to do this - an adviser at your nearest Citizen Advice can check if it was done correctly.

If you had a joint tenancy or joint landlords, you’ll still have the same type of tenancy if both the following apply:

  • at least one of the landlords is the same as before
  • at least one of the tenants is the same as before - this means it doesn’t matter if the other person on your joint tenancy hasn’t renewed with you

If there was a gap between the end of your last tenancy and the start of your new one, you won’t automatically have the same type of tenancy. You’ll need to check what rules applied when you agreed your new tenancy - get help from your nearest Citizens Advice if you’re not sure how to do this.

If you’re still not sure what type of tenancy you have

You can get help from your nearest Citizens Advice.

Your rental agreement started before 15 January 1989

You’ll probably be a protected tenant. This is sometimes known as a ‘regulated’ or ‘Rent Act’ tenant.

Protected tenants have more rights than other types of tenant - for example, it’s harder to make you leave your home and your rent will usually be lower.

You’ll probably be a protected tenant if you:

  • pay rent to a private landlord
  • don’t live in the same building as your landlord
  • have at least one room of your own that you don’t share with anyone else other than your partner, or a family member like your child
  • you’ve agreed to rent your home for a specific period of time - for example, 6 months or month by month

Check your rights if you’re a protected tenant.

You’ll usually lose your protected tenancy if you move out of your home.

Get help from your nearest Citizens Advice if you think you have a protected tenancy and want to make sure you don’t lose it.

If you don’t have the right to rent in the UK

If the Home Office has given your landlord notice that you don’t have a right to rent because of your immigration status, you’ll be an excluded occupier. Get help from your nearest Citizens Advice.

If your rent includes food or other services

If your rent includes food or other services like cleaning or laundry, you won’t normally be a protected tenant. You’ll have a restricted contract instead - this means you have fewer rights.

If you think you have a restricted contract, get help from your nearest Citizens Advice.

If your landlord provides services for you

If your landlord needs to go into your room to provide services like cleaning or laundry, you’ll probably be an occupier with basic protection. Check your rights if you’re an occupier with basic protection.

If you live in the same building as your landlord

You’ll probably be a protected tenant if one of the following applies:

  • you and your landlord only share things like the bathroom, toilet, stairways and hallways
  • you and your landlord have separate flats in a purpose-built block
  • your landlord has another home where they live most of the time

Check your rights if you’re a protected tenant.

You’ll probably have a restricted contract if any of the following apply:

  • you and your landlord live in separate flats in a converted house
  • you share living space like a kitchen or a living room with your landlord

If your landlord moves out and doesn’t plan to return, you’re likely to become a tenant. The type of tenant you become will depend on when they moved out.

If you think you have a restricted contract or if your landlord used to live with you and has since moved out, get help from your nearest Citizens Advice.

If you pay no rent or low rent

If you don’t have to pay rent, you’ll be an excluded occupier. Check your rights if you’re an excluded occupier.

If you agree to provide services like cleaning or childcare to your landlord instead of paying rent, you might be an occupier with basic protection.

You might also be an occupier with basic protection if you pay low rent. The rules about how low your rent needs to be are complicated - get help from your nearest Citizens Advice.

Check your rights if you’re an occupier with basic protection.

If you took over a rental agreement from someone else

You’ll probably have the same type of rental agreement as the person who you took it over from - you’ll need to check what type of tenancy they had.

This might have happened if:

  • you inherited a tenancy from someone who died - this is known as ‘succeeding’ to the tenancy
  • someone gave you the tenancy - this is known as having a tenancy ‘assigned’ to you

If you know what type of agreement you’ve taken over, you can check what rights it gives you.

If you took over your agreement from someone but you’re not sure what type of agreement it is, get help from your nearest Citizens Advice.

Check your rights if you have a problem with your landlord or your home

When you know what type of private rental agreement you have, you can check your rights and your landlord’s responsibilities.

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