Lodgers and Landlords’ Rights

The landlord is either the owner of the property in question or else they have a lodger agreement with the owner. The lodger is not a subtenant but does have certain rights.

The status of the lodger

A subtenant will have a tenancy agreement with the owner of the property. As such their rights include exclusive access of one room in the property. The landlord must gain permission by giving notice to enter this space.

This does not apply to lodgers as a rule. The agreement between the lodger and landlord may vary but usually involves renting one room and may sometimes include additions such as rights in regards to the shared living space, laundry, cleaning or provision of meals.

Another right that a subtenant has which a lodger may not is that the subtenant may be given permission to fit a lock on the door to the room that they are renting. A lodger shares facilities with the landlord whereas a subtenant does not.

The status of the landlord

A landlord who is allowed to rent out a room to a lodger is usually the property owner. If this is the case, check your mortgage agreement and check with your mortgage lender. In most cases, taking in a lodger will not be a problem for homeowners.

With regards to tenants who wish to take in a lodger, they must be renting out the whole property and have a spare room. The tenant must then get permission from the landlord before allowing a lodger to move in to the property.

Finally, with regards to council and housing association tenants who wish to take in a lodger, tenancy agreements differ. Check your agreement if in any doubt and inform the landlord as above with private tenants. If a tenant has a lodger move in and it is not specified in the tenancy agreement that this is permitted, then the tenant might face eviction.

The rights of the lodger

A lodger who shares facilities such as the kitchen and bathroom with the landlord has very few tenancy rights. This is because they are classed as an excluded occupier. This means that the lodger only has the right to stay as long as their written agreement with the landlord states.

However it is very easy for the landlord to evict the lodger. They do not need a court order, as they would with a subtenant who does not share facilities with the landlord. They must only give reasonable notice and this can be verbal. The effect of this lack of rights is that it can be difficult for lodgers and excluded occupiers to get repairs dealt with or keep the rent stable.

The lodger’s rights at the end of the landlord’s tenancy 

The lodger’s right to stay in the property continues as long as the landlord’s own tenancy continues or as long as the landlord still owns the property.

In the first situation the lodger’s rights depend on the type of tenancy the landlord has, the clauses about subletting in the landlord’s tenancy agreement and whether or not the head landlord had given permission for the lodger to rent a room from the tenant landlord.

If the head landlord i.e. the owner of the property has taken rent from the lodger rather than the lodger paying rent to the tenant, the lodger may have more rights.

The rights of the landlord

Firstly, the homeowner or tenant taking in the lodger will have the responsibilities of a landlord. This includes paying income tax on the income from the rent paid by the lodger if the amount reaches a certain level.

If the landlord is receiving benefits, the amount may change when the lodger moves in. This applies to housing benefit, job seeker’s allowance and income support. The landlord must be transparent about their earnings from rent from the lodger. It will be assumed that there are such earnings and these benefits will be reduced accordingly.

Similarly the landlord may have to increase the amount they pay in council tax if they take in a lodger.

Claiming for the full benefits or council tax discounts and not declaring a lodger may result in paying an overpayment or even being prosecuted for fraud.

Lastly, the landlord must also declare to their contents insurance providers that they have a lodger. If they do not, their insurance may not be valid in accordance with the original agreement and the landlord’s possessions may not be adequately protected.