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Living rent-free – what are my rights?

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1259 views 2 replies latest reply: 05 September 2015
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Tenant

Hi

By mutual, verbal agreement I am living in a friend’s previously empty second property rent-free. She left it in a good state of repair. She has told me I can stay here for as long as I like while she is alive. She receives no remuneration whatsoever. I have furnished the house myself and I pay all the bills associated with living here: gas, electricity, council tax etc. And I’m registered to vote here.

I have complete trust in my friend. Nevertheless:

– Am I a tenant, or licensee, or neither?

– What are my rights now?

– What would my rights be if my friend died?

– What are my friend’s obligations, and mine, when it comes to repairs – minor or major?

Thanks.

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Administrator

Hi Paul

I’m not sure about this one. In terms of being a tenant, if you have exclusive possession that would make you a tenant but not paying rent, not being able to exclude others from the property and not having a fixed length of time in which you can stay there would not make you a tenant. I’m not sure whether the fact that you’ve paid the bills might give you more of a tenant status.

You could be a licensee as you’re not paying rent but normally a licensee shares the same building with their landlord – you might need to ask a legal brain about that (I’m not a lawyer), either via Citizens Advice or a Law Centre, or even Shelter.

If you are a licensee then you have very few rights and you can be asked to leave with only enough notice to pack your belongings. If your friend dies then the new owner of the property could remove you in the same way. 

I would get some advice from Shelter and find out what you are legally in terms of your occupying status – that should then answer the rest of your questions. If it doesn’t, feel free to come back here.

Alex

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