Living With Your Landlord – What Are Your Rights As A Lodger?
Renting as a lodger or living with your landlord appears to an increasingly common arrangement for renters living in the UK. Research last year from the house-sharing website SpareRoom found that 91% of landlords who had previously rented to lodgers were considering doing this again.1 With the private rental market, especially within cities, increasingly competitive, you may be considering renting as a lodger as an alternative to finding an assured shorthold tenancy. Often lodger arrangements will include bills, meals, cleaning or other services.
Renting to a lodger can be attractive to landlords. If the rent collected is under £7,500, a landlord will not need to declare this and it is tax-exempt2. Less scrupulous landlords may ask to be paid in cash and not declare income above this limit to HMRC or to the DWP.
SpareRoom say that 60% of landlords would describe their lodger as a friend3. The arrangement can feel much less formal than other forms of renting and you may well get to know them better than a live-out landlord.
It is still very important to understand your rights and make sure that the agreement between you is clear. If things go wrong when you are renting as a lodger, this can be stressful, as you are sharing your home with your landlord and have fewer rights than a tenant.
Your rights as a lodger
1. Status of the rental agreement
You should try make sure you have a written rental agreement so that you can refer to this for the terms of your agreement.
This agreement may be called a licence agreement, a tenancy or lodger’s agreement. It does not matter what is called, but rather the character of the agreement. For example, if an agreement is labelled a tenancy, but you live with your landlord, you will still be a lodger rather than a tenant.
2. Excluded occupier vs occupier with basic protection
If you live with your landlord, you will likely not be a tenant. However, there are different levels of protection depending on the lodging arrangement.
The most common lodging arrangement includes sharing common areas with your landlord. That could include a living room, kitchen or bathroom. In this case, you will be considered ‘an excluded occupier’.
If you live with your landlord in the same building, but have a separate flat, you will be an occupier with basic protection. This also applies to other occupiers such as students in halls of residence and property guardians.
3. Permission to enter your space
If you are a lodger, your landlord will not need your permission to enter your room. Unlike when you are a tenant, you do not have ‘exclusive possession’ of the rented space.
4. Notice and the end of your agreement
When you are an excluded occupier, you do not have the right to a court order before you are evicted. In practice, that means it is easier for your landlord to evict you than it is for tenants or occupiers with basic protection.
The notice you need to be given depends on the agreement between you and your landlord. If you have a written agreement there will often be a clause about the amount of notice that your landlord needs to give you and what form this must be given in. If this agreement is for a fixed period, then there may be a ‘break’ clause for either party to give notice before the end of fixed term. Your landlord should comply with the notice provisions of the agreement before they seek to evict you.
If there is no provision for the notice, then your landlord just needs to give you ‘reasonable notice’. There are no specific period that must be given or method. 28 days’ is often considered sufficient, but depending on the circumstances, longer or shorter may be reasonable. In practice, this is hard to enforce by lodgers, as by the time a case comes to court, a period considered reasonable will have likely passed.
If this notice is given and a reasonable period has passed when you have not left, then your landlord has the right to peaceably evict you. This includes changing the locks to the property. Your landlord must not threaten you with violence, destroy your belongings or physically remove you from the property. If your landlord does remove your belongings from the property, they should make sure they make arrangements with you to safely return these.
5. Deposit protection
Unlike in a tenancy, your landlord does not need to place any deposit that you pay into a deposit protection scheme. Your landlord is still only entitled to take reasonable deductions from your deposit and you can take them to the court if they do not. However, this likely be a small claim with no legal aid available. If you are paying a deposit, you should make sure that the amount paid, how quickly it will be returned when you leave, and the circumstances for deduction are included in your rental agreement.
Top tips for prospective lodgers
- Understand when you will be considered an excluded occupier/ lodger, rather than assured shorthold tenant.
- Obtain a written agreement if possible and make sure you understand the notice, rent and deposit provisions.
- If your landlord asks you to leave, try to reach an amicable agreement about when you will leave. They may be willing to give you some more time to move out.