People who are not tenants or owners

This topic is for you, if you are a non-tenant occupier, which is someone who may have a loose agreement to live in a property but does not have a legal tenancy. For a legal tenancy to be created you and your landlord must have agreed (whether in writing or not):

  • 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.

If you have agreed to pay for your stay by doing maintenance jobs, for example, this will only count as equivalent to rent if it is any more than a token amount. A lodger would be a tenant, if the conditions listed above apply.

Household members and housing applications

Any person who applies to a social housing register for somewhere to live is entitled to include the usual members of their family and household on the application. If you are part of a household, and the tenant(s) apply to move, you should be able to be housed with them. Family and household members can include:

  • husband/wife or civil partner
  • opposite-sex or same-sex partner
  • parents
  • grandparents
  • children (including foster children, step-children, and any other children treated by you as your own)
  • grandchildren
  • nephews and nieces
  • brothers and sisters
  • aunts and uncles
  • any of the above related to your spouse or partner.

For information on the ways that the Council can try to prevent you from being made homeless, if the relationship with relatives breaks down (for example), see Asked to leave....

Living in a house that is privately rented by someone else

If you are a non-tenant occupier, you do not have the same protection from eviction as a tenant. However, if someone you live with wants you to leave, they should give you enough notice to allow you to find somewhere else to live. 'Enough notice' ;means a reasonable period, taking into account any special circumstances, such as illness. If you don't move when asked to, the landlord could in some circumstances get a court order to evict you - and this may result in you being charged the court costs, so it is best to make every effort to comply. You should look at the section Helping you find somewhere else to live, and consider asking for a Housing Options interview.

Living in a Council or housing association property

If you are living in a Council or housing association property, are a member of the tenant's family, or they have permission to sublet to you (or take you in as a lodger), you may have rights as a 'qualifying occupier' in court action for repossession. This means you can have your say in court about how the repossession action will affect you. For more information, see Qualifying Occupiers.

However, if you are living there without permission (for example if the legal tenant has sold you the keys), you will be in a very weak position if the landlord wants to get possession of the property back. If you subsequently apply to the Council as a homeless person, and the Council has reason to believe that your actions contributed to your homelessness, you may be found to be 'intentionally homeless' (which will mean the Council is not obliged to provide you with somewhere else to live). For more information, see the section on Homelessness. You should look at the section Helping you find somewhere else to live, and consider asking for a Housing Options interview.

Living in an owner-occupied house that may be repossessed

If a mortgage lender wants to take action to repossess a property, they must serve notice on:

  • the debtor (the person who took out the mortgage)
  • the proprietor (the property owner), and
  • the occupier (someone who lives in the property).

In many cases these will be the same person. The debtor will automatically be included in a court case, while someone who lives in the property may only apply to be a party to the court action if they are an ‘entitled resident’, which includes:

  • spouse
  • civil partner
  • common law’ spouse or civil partner,

- whose only or main residence is the mortgaged property (in whole or in part).

If you think you are an entitled resident, and you want to have your say in court, it would be a good idea to get your own independent legal advice.