COVID-19 - how it affects renting

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Getting your lodger to leave

Note: due to the effects of COVID-19, some of the information on this page might not currently apply.

You might end up wanting to get your lodger to leave for whatever reason – you might feel more comfortable living alone, or no longer need the extra cash.

Giving notice

Ending a lodger’s stay depends on their setup. If they live in your house and share a kitchen, bathroom or living room with you or a member of your family, they’re an ‘excluded occupier’. This means you don’t have to go to court to evict them, you just have to give ‘reasonable notice’ to leave. This is usually the length of the rental payment period, so if they pay rent weekly, you’ll need to give them a week to leave. This notice doesn’t have to be in writing.

However, if your lodger lives in your house but doesn’t share any living space with you or your family, they’re likely to have basic protection and you’ll need to get a court order to evict them. You’ll need to give them a written ‘notice to quit’, and the notice period will tend to be around 4 weeks.

It’s also worth noting that if you and your lodger both agree, you can ask them to leave at any time.

Issues with a lodger

If you're experiencing issues with your lodger, try talking to them first. If that doesn't work, the next best step is to write a letter voicing your concerns and asking them to change their behaviour. Don't threaten them, and keep a copy of what you've written. If your lodger doesn't take any notice of your note, you may need to write a second, more formal letter, warning them that if things don't change, you're going to have to ask them to leave.

Once you've decided to give them notice, it's best to do so in writing and hand them the letter personally. It's also a good idea to ensure there's someone else present. If there are any disputes, you can refer to all the written documentation you've got to prove that you've done everything properly.

On most occasions, the lodger will leave on or before the date stated in the notice you've given them. However, if they do refuse to move out you might have to proceed with eviction. Before you get to this stage, try all other options, i.e. you could contact their next of kin to see if they can help, or speak to their university accommodation office if your lodger is a student.

Thankfully it’s rare things get to this stage.

Evicting your lodger

Just before the notice period expires, ask your lodger when they’ll be leaving. They might need an extra day or two after the notice period (which you might agree to), but don’t allow them too much extra (unpaid) time.

If your lodger still won’t leave, you might have to refuse them entry. One way to do this is to change the locks when they’re out and refuse to let them in. If you think they may cause trouble, try to get an independent witness or the police to be present. Don’t use force as this can lead to arrest – it’s better to stay passive and just refuse to let them in, unless it’s to pack up their belongings in police presence.  

If you find yourself in this situation, it's wise to get legal advice – but this procedure should only ever be used as a last resort.

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