Lodgers typically share a property with their landlord (or with a tenant who rents the property from the landlord). Usually, they have their own room and share other rooms and facilities. Lodgers (also called ‘excluded occupiers’) often have a written agreement in place, but even though they do not have the same rights as tenants, they do have some legal rights.
What is the status of the lodger?
Agreements between lodgers and landlords (or tenants) may vary, but they usually involve renting out one room and include additional rights and restrictions. For example, the lodger may have rights in respect of shared living spaces, laundry, cleaning and provision of meals. There will also be agreements as to the rent to be paid, when and how.
Lodgers will not have exclusive use of their ‘own’ room, and their landlord will have the right to enter into their room – without the lodger’s permission.
What are 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 remain in the property so long as their written agreement with the landlord states. So the lodger’s right to stay in the property continues as long as the agreement allows. It may be for a fixed term, or it may be that you have a periodic agreement – in which case you must be given a period of reasonable notice before eviction.
Unlike ‘normal’ tenants, it is very easy for the landlord to evict the lodger – they do not need a court order. They must only give reasonable notice to the lodger to leave, and this can be verbal. What is ‘reasonable’ depends on the circumstances, including how long the lodger has lived there, the period of time between rent periods, and so on.
The effect is that it can be difficult for lodgers/excluded occupiers to get repairs dealt with or to keep the rent stable. However, note that the landlord is still responsible for making sure your home is in a proper condition.
What is the status of the landlord?
A landlord who rents out a room to a lodger is usually the property owner. If you are the property owner, you should check your mortgage agreement (if you have a mortgage) to make sure it is not in breach of the terms. In most cases, taking in a lodger will not be a problem for homeowners.
Tenants who wish to take in a lodger must rent the property as a whole – and have a spare room. They must also get the landlord’s express permission before allowing a lodger to move in to the property.
Where council or housing association tenants wish to take in a lodger, the terms of their tenancy agreements may differ, so these need to be checked carefully to see what their obligations are. If, for example, you take in a lodger but this is not permitted, you could face eviction from the property.
What are the rights of the landlord?
The landlord (including a tenant taking in a lodger) will have the responsibilities of a landlord. This includes paying any income tax due on the income from the rent paid by the lodger.
If the landlord is receiving benefits, the amount may change when the lodger moves in – or the right to any such benefit may be lost. This applies to, for instance, housing benefit, job seeker’s allowance and income support. The landlord must be transparent with the authorities about their earnings from rent from the lodger. It will be assumed that there are such earnings and these benefits will be reduced accordingly.
The landlord may also have to increase the amount they pay in council tax if they take in a lodger.
Note that claiming for the full benefits or council tax discounts and not declaring the income received from a lodger may result in being assessed for an overpayment, and a potential prosecution for fraud.
The landlord must also declare to their contents insurance providers that they have a lodger. If they do not, their insurance may be invalidated and the landlord’s possessions may not be adequately protected. The lodger’s belongings may also be at risk.