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In Scotland, how long can a person legally sleep in another person's flat without being a tenant?

I expect that spending one night at a friend's is totally permissible, but being allowed to live there for months without paying that landlord would surprise me.

I have discovered that in civil partnerships/marriages, most tenancy agreements allow the sole tenant to live together with their partner, but this question would not be about that case.

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    What does the tenancy agreement say about long-term visitors?
    – Rick
    Sep 29, 2021 at 11:03
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    @RockApe I guess that depends on the agreement? Does that mean the answer to the question only depends on the specific tenancy agreement? Do you know what's normal? Sep 29, 2021 at 11:34
  • Also, what does the landlord have to say?
    – Rick
    Sep 29, 2021 at 12:27
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    "Without paying the landlord" the landlord has already been paid, unless we are talking about a landlord-managed housemate share, boarding house, group home, etc. sort of thing, Sep 29, 2021 at 23:24
  • In absence of a law, regulation, rule, or agreement that specifically addresses this situation there are two competing claims that could be made. The landlord could claim this person is a trespasser since Scotland prohibits squatting. A counter claim to be a cludgie caller might not justify sleeping there but at least you can use the bathroom. Oct 1, 2021 at 20:42

2 Answers 2

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Notwithstanding the current COVID-19 regulations, I cannot find any Scottish law, regulation or rule that prevents a lawful tenant from having long-term visitors.

However, it may (or may not) be a breach of the tenancy agreement depending on its terms which is where one should look for a definitive answer.

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    Are there any regulations which relate to a change in legal status from "guest" to (effective) "tenant"? I know that for some jurisdictions tenancy protections automatically kick in at a certain point, such that, for example, if a "guest" stays more than 60 days they're afforded the same protections as other tenants and, e.g., can't be evicted without official legal proceedings - even if they haven't signed a lease or payed rent. (That is, there's a limit on how long you can stay as a guest, because after that point you legally live there.)
    – R.M.
    Sep 29, 2021 at 21:12
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The rule applied by councils in the UK is that a person is not normally resident in a property if they have alternative accommodation in which they normally pay Council Tax. A certain amount of leeway is given for "guests" staying at a property, but broadly speaking, you need to let the council know that you have someone else staying in your house "as soon as possible" as their presence would eventually impact on your own Council Tax payment.

To make sure the right person is charged Council Tax at the right rate, you must tell us about any changes in the circumstances of the adults (aged 18 or over) living in a property.

If there have been any changes in your circumstances, for instance if someone new has moved in, or out then please let us know. You may be entitled to money off your Council Tax.


There is, however, nothing to stop your friend from mooching off you as a houseguest, basically forever.

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  • Unless the tenancy agreement says so - I have a maximum of 28 days before I have to notify my landlord I think. Equally I get single occupancy discount, so they’d definitely want to know if someone else moved in. I don’t know at what point their leniency would end?
    – Tim
    Oct 1, 2021 at 8:32
  • @Tim - The guidance for Council Housing just says exactly the same as the guidance for Council Tax (e.g."as soon as possible"). That being said, you'd need an excellent reason not to have made a 5 minute telephone call/fill out a simple online form at some point during the calendar month.
    – Richard
    Oct 1, 2021 at 8:54
  • yeah agreed. I think I’ll stick to not letting anyone live with me: I can do without an extra £30 a month bill!
    – Tim
    Oct 1, 2021 at 8:55
  • You can certainly have friends stay with you as long as you can reasonably argue that they're not actually living there (e.g. if they have other accomodation elsewhere). Anyone staying for more than 30 days, however, is not staying with you, they're living there.
    – Richard
    Oct 1, 2021 at 8:57
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    @Richard: Is there black-letter law prescribing that exact 30 days? A return plane ticket with a fixed date 31 days in the future is probably sufficient evidence against permanent residence, barring specific legislation to the contrary.
    – MSalters
    Oct 1, 2021 at 13:29

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