What are a lodger’s legal rights?
A lodger should be aware of their rights and responsibilities before taking occupancy with their landlord to prevent any conflicts. We strongly recommend a Lodgers Agreement which will help to 'define the relationship'.
Generally, the legal rights of a lodger will be more narrow than the rights of a tenant. The landlord is likely to provide their potential lodger with a written agreement stating all the legal rights and obligations of both parties. In addition to his own rights, a lodger should be aware of the rights of the landlord regarding rent collection and eviction.
Rights included in the Lodger agreement
Classified as an excluded occupier, a lodger is restricted to certain parts of the house with limited (if any) utilities. But, they do have some legal rights that entitle them to a safe stay in the landlord’s property as long as the agreement lasts.
Rent and receipt
- Depending on the nature of the agreement, the rent can be paid on a monthly or a weekly basis.
- The agreement should state the exact amount of rent and what it includes along with any other tax or utility bills to be paid by the lodger as well as the time of payment and whom should it be paid to.
- It should also include when and why the landlord might increase the rent.
Landlords asking for weekly rent should provide their lodger with a rent book to keep track of payment. The lodger is entitled to some sort of receipt against the payment of the rent so both the landlord and the lodger have a proof of timely payment should it be called into question later. The landlord has the right to evict the the lodger should rent not be paid on time.
Right to the room rented by the lodger
Unlike a tenant or a subtenant, a lodger does not have exclusive rights to the room they pay for, (save more something being expressly agreed). They cannot lock their lodging space before going out as it remains accessible to the landlord in the lodger’s absence without prior notice or permission.
Living condition and repairs
The landlord is responsible for the maintenance of the living space and must keep it fit for human habitation. However, the landlord is not obliged to replace or repair any damage to the property that occurs during the lodger’s stay. In fact, they can subtract the cost of damage from the deposit paid by the lodger at the end of their agreement.
The lodger has the right to continue occupying the rented space until
- Their fixed term agreement comes to an end
- Their landlord gives them an eviction notice (in case of periodic agreement)
However, the lodger is entitled to a reasonable notice period as they usually have excluded license both in cases of fixed term and periodic agreements. The exact amount of time to be provided for the lodger to move out is decided by the landlord.
Break clause in a fixed term lodging agreement
A break clause in a fixed term agreement can allow the landlord to evict the lodger before the term ends in case of any problem or dispute. But, the lodger will be entitled to the notice period mentioned in the break clause.
The landlord can choose to evict the lodger if they refuse to leave, even after the end of a fixed term agreement and having been informed about the notice period, peaceably. For example, renting out the room to someone else while the lodger is out or changing the locks so the lodger cannot enter the property.
The lodger is considered trespassing on the landlord’s property should they remain at the rented place after the end of a fixed term agreement and notice period. The landlord has the right to get a court order in such cases. But, threatening the lodger or using physical force may be considered a criminal offence, even after the expiration of the lodger agreement. When in doubt get some legal advice.
Leaving before the end of agreement
There are certain ways to legally end a lodger’s agreement before the intended time period should the lodger choose it. However, the landlord may have the right to make the lodger pay the whole sum for the entire period of occupancy even if they leave early.
Ending a fixed term agreement
The lodger can put an end to a fixed term agreement only if:
- There is a break clause in the agreement that gives the lodger, as well as the landlord, the right to terminate the agreement early
- The landlord agrees to an early end of the agreement
Ending a periodic agreement
Ending a periodic agreement requires the lodger to give prior notice to the landlord (the notice period set out in the lodger agreement). The notice period is decided depending on the lodger’s excluded license, in case it is not specified in the periodic agreement.