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What's the difference between a tenant and a lodger?


Some landlords will use the words “lodger” and “tenant” to describe who’s living in their property, without really knowing the difference between the two. But there are some key differences – including legal ones – between these two types of resident.

Explained most simply: the main difference between a tenant and a lodger is that a tenant will live in a property you’re renting out, but you don’t live there too. A lodger is someone who lives in a property that you live in too.

Tenancy agreements and contracts

A tenant usually has more rights than a lodger because they have a tenancy agreement with their landlord, most often an Assured Shorthold Tenancies (ASTs). This is the default rental agreement, unless you specify another type when letting your property.

An AST means the landlord can evict a tenant or the tenant can choose to end the tenancy, after an initial six month period – the landlord by giving an eviction notice, or the tenant by giving notice to quit. It’s also a legal requirement for all deposits taken by landlords using ASTS to be protected by a tenancy deposit scheme.

With lodgers, however, it’s slightly different. A landlord and lodger will have a licence instead of a tenancy agreement. Unlike tenants, who need a standard notice period before you can evict them, lodgers can just be served ‘reasonable’ notice to ask them to leave at any point. This is usually 28 days, but can be shorter. As a live-in landlord, you should get your lodger to sign a licence which sets out the conditions of their stay in your property and outlines any house rules, before they move in.


Tenants have the right to exclude the landlord from their space, which means you should give them notice before you want to enter the property – unless it's an emergency.

But lodgers can't exclude the landlord from their room – so they shouldn’t be allowed to have a lock on their door. You can ask your lodger to move to another room if necessary too, but try not to do this regularly!

Another difference between lodgers and tenants is that a lodger has a right to live in your property, but doesn’t have exclusive rights to any part of it – unlike a tenant.


Tenants with ASTs are protected by tenancy deposit protection regulation. Live in landlords with lodgers however aren’t required to protect their deposits, though they can do so if they choose.

Landlord's obligations

The obligations of a live-in landlord are much less onerous than those placed on live out landlords. However, both types of landlord should have annual gas safety checks done and be responsible for keeping the property safe and free from health hazards.

To find out more about taking in a lodger, download our free guide.