Skip to content

Difference between lodgers and tenants


What's the difference between a lodger and a tenant? No, it's not the start of a dodgy joke - it's a genuine question. The reason we ask is because a lot of people don't actually know.

There are lots of similarities between being a lodger and being a tenant. But there are also some big differences.

Here's the first one....

If you're a lodger, you live with your landlord

Seems pretty obvious, right? But it's worth pointing out because, when it comes to it, one of you owns the property and one of you doesn't. That can actually work in your favour sometimes. If, for example, the boiler breaks in the depths of January, your landlord is potentially more likely to want to fix it quickly because they'll freeze too if they don't.

But it does also mean...

Lodgers have fewer rights than tenants

A tenant has more rights than a lodger, as well as a more formal type of rental agreement. Tenants have a tenancy agreement (normally an AST for tenants). That means standard notice periods in their contract.

Lodgers, on the other hand, have what's called a 'licence', also informally referred to as a 'lodger agreement'. That means they can be asked to leave at any point if given ‘reasonable’ notice. This is normally 28 days but it could be shorter.

Locks on doors and rights to space

Whereas a tenant owns the space they rent for the period of their lease, a lodger doesn't have exclusive use of any one part of the property. That usually means no locks on doors. This is an important point. Lodgers can understandably feel like they should be allowed a private space with a lockable door, but that can potentially change the agreement into a tenancy. It's unlikely the landlord will want to do so as evicting a tenant is a far more complex process.

Deposit arrangements

Tenants with ASTs are protected by tenancy deposit protection regulation. Lodger landlords however aren't currently required to protect deposits, though they can do if they choose to.

Lodger or tenant (or either)?

Ultimately there can be some great benefits to living as a lodger, including cheaper rent, more choice, living somewhere that feels more like a family home, having a different vibe from a larger flatshare, really getting to know the person you live with or maybe having a deeper connection to your neighbourhood through them. You might find it suits you better than being a flatmate. 

Check out our guide to the benefits of living as a lodger for more info, including how much you could save in rent.

Either way, it's good to know what you're signing up for in advance.