Occupiers’ Rights in Shared Accommodation: What You Need to Know

About one in five houses in England are privately rented. If you are a landlord with shared tenants, it’s important that you remain up to date with your rights.

However, tenants should also know what their rights are too.

Here’s our guide to dealing with occupiers in shared accommodation, what the definition of the two terms is, and what rights occupiers have compared to tenants.

What is shared accommodation?

Shared accommodation is when someone living in a property doesn’t have exclusive use of more than one room.

Someone living in shared accommodation will typically have their own bedroom but will share a kitchen, living room, bathroom, or toilet, with other people.

For a property to be considered ‘shared accommodation’, the people living in it must not all be related. While ‘family units’ can live in shared accommodation, a property that consists of just one family unit is not regarded as shared.

Is shared accommodation the same as an HMO?

You might see ‘shared accommodation’ and ‘houses in multiple occupation’ (HMOs) used interchangeably, but this isn’t necessarily the case.

The UK Government’s definition of an HMO is:

  • A property where three or more tenants live, forming more than one family unit
  • A property where the toilet, bathroom, and kitchen facilities are shared between tenants

A ‘large HMO’ is one that five or more people share. Large HMOs must be licensed by the local authority and meet minimum fire safety standards. Smaller HMOs may also need to be licensed, but this is at the discretion of each local authority.

So all HMOs would be considered shared accommodation, but not all shared accommodation would be viewed as an HMO.

Types of occupiers

An occupier is someone who lives in a rental property, but not as a tenant. In shared accommodation, a person can be an occupier in different ways.

What is a permitted occupier?

A permitted occupier may live in the property on a long-term basis with one of the tenants. They could be someone who hasn’t signed a tenancy agreement but lives alongside one of the tenants of the property.

For example, the tenant could be a parent and their children the occupiers. Alternatively, the occupier could be the partner of the tenant who stays over a couple of nights a week.

In this scenario, the occupier has no legal rights to the property and does not have to pay rent. The tenant they live with is ultimately responsible for them. If the tenant vacates the property, their occupier must also leave.

Find out more about occupiers’ rights.

What is an excluded occupier?

An excluded occupier may be someone who sublets the property and lives with the landlord.

Let’s say an existing tenant lets some of the property to another tenant, and they both share accommodation. In this scenario, the subtenant is known as an ‘excluded occupier’ and has an ’excluded tenancy’.

An excluded occupier has more rights than an occupier but not as many as a tenant. For example, they have exclusive possession of the area they pay rent for, and the landlord can’t enter their room without permission.

If an excluded occupier’s tenancy expires or their notice period ends, the landlord can evict them ‘peaceably’, for example, by changing the locks while they are out. The landlord also doesn’t need a possession order to evict them.

Bear in mind that this only applies if the tenant and excluded occupier share a living space. If they don’t, the occupier has basic protection and must be evicted with a possession order.

More information about removing a tenant.

There are some other circumstances where someone may be an excluded occupier. For example, people who stay in the property rent-free, or when a landlord agrees that a squatter can remain in a property temporarily until a tenant is found.

Brown Turner Ross: providing legal advice to landlords and tenants

While most landlords and tenants have a great relationship, sometimes things can go wrong.

Whether you’re a tenant fighting eviction or a landlord wanting to get the rent you’re owed, our solicitors will give you the advice needed to ensure the best possible outcome.

Your solicitor will be accessible every step of the way, and as we try and work to a fixed fee, you know where you stand financially.

Contact us today for friendly and professional legal advice.

Southport Solicitors

Tel: 0170-454 2002

Fax: 0170-454 3144

11 St George's Place

Lord Street



Liverpool Solicitors

Tel: 0151-236 2233

Fax: 0170-454 3144

The Cotton Exchange Building

Bixteth Street


L3 9LQ