As a landlord in the UK, you may find yourself in a situation where you need to evict a lodger who is renting a room in your property.
While lodgers do not have the same legal protections as tenants, there is still a process that must be followed to lawfully evict them. This blog post will provide an overview of the steps involved in evicting a lodger in accordance with UK laws.
Is it an Excluded Tenancy?
The first thing to determine is whether the lodger is an excluded occupier or not.
An excluded occupier is someone who shares living accommodation with their landlord. This means they live in the same property as the landlord and share facilities like a kitchen or bathroom.
If the lodger has an excluded tenancy, the landlord can evict them without having to go through the formal eviction process: The lodger agreement doesn’t grant the lodger exclusive possession of the property so the landlord can terminate the agreement at any time by giving “reasonable” notice. Typically, this would be around 28 days.
However, if the lodger occupies a self-contained unit in the property, such as a separate flat with its own kitchen and bathroom, they are likely to have more protections and cannot be considered an excluded occupier. In this case, a formal eviction process must be followed.
It’s also worth noting that the term excluded occupier isn’t used in Scotland and the guidelines for lodger evictions are slightly different outside of England and Wales.
Giving Notice to a Lodger
To formally evict a lodger who is not an excluded occupier, the landlord must serve them proper notice to leave in writing. The notice period required depends on the terms of the lodger agreement:
- If the lodger has a fixed term agreement, notice does not have to be given until the end of the fixed term.
- If the lodger pays rent weekly, they must be given at least 28 days notice.
- With a periodic or rolling agreement, where rent is paid monthly, at least 28 days notice should also be given.
If your lodger is an excluded occupier, you should still give them as much notice as possible, unless it’s a truly untenable living situation. While it is not strictly legally necessary, it means they are more likely to leave in the time requested and may prevent your cohabiting relationship from deteriorating in the meantime.
The written notice should state that the landlord wishes the lodger to leave and the date by which they must vacate. It is advisable to give longer notice periods if possible, such as 3 months, as this shows the court you have made reasonable efforts to resolve the situation if legal action is required at a later stage.
Especially if you have a good relationship with the lodger, it’s also advisable to make reasonable accommodations for them if possible – for example, letting them stay until the end of a university term if they are a student.
Make sure notice is served correctly by handing it directly to the lodger or posting it by recorded delivery. Keep copies as proof of proper notice being given to create a paper trail should you need one.
How to Evict a Lodger in the UK
In the case of an excluded tenancy, if a lodger has not left by the date you specified, you can change the locks while they are out to prevent them from re-entering the property.
You should do this without giving warning, as the lodger may try to stay in the property. To maintain your legal position, you must not let them into the property again after taking this step. Belongings can be handed to them from the front step or exchanged at another location. You may not use excessive force to remove a lodger from your home, as this may leave you liable for court action.
If you are concerned that your lodger may be angry or violent upon finding themselves locked out, you can request help from a private enforcement service to keep matters under control and remind everyone of their rights. You could alternatively request police presence, although they may have less knowledge of property law than those who regularly help with evictions.
Returning a Lodger’s Belongings
Once the lodger has moved out, either voluntarily or by eviction, the landlord is responsible for dealing with any belongings left behind appropriately. The lodger’s possessions should be carefully packed up and stored safely for a reasonable period of time.
The landlord must allow the lodger to collect their belongings or make arrangements for the items to be collected on their behalf. It is advisable to agree a specific timeframe, such as 28 days, and get written acknowledgement from the lodger that items will be disposed of after that if not collected.
Any personal documents, family photos or valuable items should be returned promptly to the lodger. Disposing of someone else’s property without permission could result in legal action being taken against the landlord.
Using a Possession Order to Evict a Lodger
As a last resort, obtaining a possession order through the small claims court procedure allows the landlord to legally evict a lodger who refuses to vacate. Here are some key steps in this process:
- The landlord must complete Form N5B to apply for a possession order and submit it to the court along with the lodger agreement and other relevant evidence.
- The court will schedule a hearing to review the claim which both parties must attend. The judge can order immediate repossession of the property if the landlord’s claim is successful.
- A court bailiff or enforcement officer can then be instructed to physically remove the lodger if they do not comply with the possession order. Reasonable force can be used by the bailiff if necessary.
- The landlord is responsible for paying the fees charged by the bailiff to carry out the eviction and storing any possessions left behind by the lodger.
While applying for a possession order can be time-consuming, it allows the landlord to legally reclaim their property if a lodger refuses to move out after being given formal notice. Having proper documents and following protocol is key.
Evicting a lodger in England and Wales must be handled carefully to ensure the law is followed. If the lodger shares living facilities, they may be considered an excluded occupier with fewer rights and easier eviction. Otherwise, proper notice must be served based on the lodger agreement and court action pursued if they do not leave voluntarily.
With clear documentation, diligent record-keeping, and patience, landlords can ensure the eviction process is handled lawfully. Seeking early legal advice is recommended when faced with a difficult lodger who is reluctant to vacate. Understanding the required procedures will help make the process smoother for all parties.
Able Investigations are enforcement agents and experts in following the legal process for evictions. If you need support with evicting a difficult lodger, assistance with the court process, or other landlord advice, contact us today to find out how we can make your eviction journey smoother.