Weekday lodger has left clothes and kept key

by Readers Question

10:33 AM, 31st December 2014
About 4 years ago

Weekday lodger has left clothes and kept key

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Weekday lodger has left clothes and kept key

I had a lodger who stayed Monday to Friday. She did sometimes stay the whole week without paying any extra money.

We had a verbal agreement that we would give 2 weeks notice either way. However, she went to see her family out of the country and has not paid her rent.

I don’t think she is coming back as her work contract has ended, but she has got my front door key and left her clothes here. What can I do as she is not replying to any messages I send her.

Many thanks

Julieclothes



Comments

Neil Patterson

10:41 AM, 31st December 2014
About 4 years ago

Hi Julie,

First things first I would change the lock asap.

You can't dispose of someones property without trying to return them. Do you have any addresses for work or friends or family abroad you can write to?

How long has she been away and could she come back?

Fortunately it is only 2 weeks board and not worse so you may have to just write it off as a good learning experience.

Rob Crawford

15:01 PM, 31st December 2014
About 4 years ago

Even though it seems she has disappeared you still have a lodgers agreement in place. Lodgers don't have much in the way of rights but they do have some. I would serve notice on her iaw with your lodgers agreement, and send a copy addressed to her to any other contacts you may have (employer, next of kin etc etc). In the notice state that any belongings left will be kept for two weeks only from the end of the notice period before being disposed of. Even if the notice served is only a letter posted in her room at least, in the event that she returns, you have served notice. Start advertising, wait until the end of the notice period and then pack her belongings and stow in your loft (just in case). Move on and get a new lodger!

Mandy Thomson

15:52 PM, 31st December 2014
About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Rob Crawford" at "31/12/2014 - 15:01":

Julie hasn't stated how long the lodger has been "missing" for, or how much rent arrears have built up.

Assuming it has been at least a month since rent was paid and she had contact, I would issue a one month notice. Two weeks would have been OK, but because the agreement is only verbal, it's her lodger's word against hers in the event of a legal dispute.

One month is the usual standard (outside of a fixed term agreement) and is adequate notice even if the lodger isn't at fault and the landlord has simply decided they no longer wish to rent the room. As Rob says, ensure this is in writing, served at as many addresses (both postal and online) as possible, with proof of postage for the postal addresses - EVEN THEIR HOME ADDRESS!

Rob's advice about the lodger's belongings is spot on from a legal viewpoint.

Only Julie knows what sort of person her lodger is, but if this is out of character for her, shouldn't she be given the benefit of the doubt before her possessions are disposed of?

There could have been a family crisis, and she may not have the time and ready access to her online messages, and if phone calls are going straight to voicemail, it's highly likely her mobile is unable to work in that country (this has happened to me several times when I've gone abroad for a variety of reasons!).

Jay James

21:56 PM, 1st January 2015
About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mandy Thomson" at "31/12/2014 - 15:52":

"One month is the usual standard (outside of a fixed term agreement) and is adequate notice even if the lodger isn’t at fault and the landlord has simply decided they no longer wish to rent the room. "

Hi mandy.
Are you suggesting one month is okay in a no fault eviction only if the LL does not wish to rent out the room anymore?
if yes, then what is the situation (regarding ability to evict legally) where a resident LL wishes to evict without giving a reason?

Mandy Thomson

10:38 AM, 2nd January 2015
About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Jay James (see also previous Jay James profile)" at "01/01/2015 - 21:56":

HI Jay

It's somewhat different to evicting or ending a TENANCY; in England and Wales, lodgers don't have protection from eviction under the Protection From Eviction Act 1977 (by virtue of Section 3A(2)). They do, however, have protection under the contract (the lodger agreement) that they've made with their landlord, which, like any other contract, is subject to contract law and consumer law (including protection from unfair contract terms).

Therefore, in England and Wales, a resident landlord is not obliged to get a court order to evict (provided the lodger and landlord share living accommodation - if they don't, even though they live under the same roof, the lodger may be an excluded tenant and a court order is needed to enforce eviction).

The law applies the "reasonable person's" standard - so for example, where a lodger agreement states two week's notice, but the lodger concerned is behaving aggressively to the point where the landlord is unable to have reasonable enjoyment of their home, a week's notice might be considered reasonable.

A lodger landlord can end the agreement and give a lodger notice WITHOUT HAVING TO GIVE ANY REASON AT ALL - but they must give at least the minimum amount of notice agreed (unless it's the kind of situation I've talked about above) AND the agreement isn't within a fixed term (e.g. they haven't agreed that the lodger can live there for say the next 3 months).

Because a month is considered adequate time for someone to find alternate accommodation and make arrangements to move, the courts regard this as the maximum amount of notice to give where there's no fault and the parties aren't within a fixed term contract.

Shorter notice CAN of course be given, but in that case, evidence of agreement is needed, ideally in the form of a written and dated lodger agreement, signed by both parties.

In Julie's case, although her lodger has agreed to two weeks notice, there is no written agreement, and presumably no other hard evidence to prove this, so for her own protection, I've advised her to give her lodger a month.

Google "lodger's notice periods" for more detailed information.

Neil Patterson

13:24 PM, 2nd January 2015
About 4 years ago

Update from Julie via email:

my lodger has been with me for around 6 months, she is from south africa but had a jon in the north , she has been paying rent to stay monday to friday....she went back to south africa for 3 weeks and did not pay her rent stating she was not living here i told her yes but you still had your items stored in my room...we eventually came to an agreement that i would charge a reduced fee while she was away....she has also been staying some weekends and not paying any more rent.
Her contract has ended (as far as i know) at her work....she went back to south africa 3 weeks ago...her rent was due whilse she has been away....ive received no rent....i have tried to contact her on the 2 numbers i have for her...no reply...she has still got my front door key..and she has left all her clothes in the room....i have aent a text to both numbers stating she has 7 days to remove them.....still no reply...i have no forward address... she did not have a contract with me as it was a casual basis she paid me a v

Mandy Thomson

9:56 AM, 3rd January 2015
About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Neil Patterson" at "02/01/2015 - 13:24":

Hi Neil

Julie stated, "..she went back to south africa for 3 weeks and did not pay her rent stating she was not living here.." Did this conversation take place via SMS, email, social media or by post? Has Julie kept copies? If so, and she also has SOME form of documentary proof of the lodger agreeing to two weeks notice, she should serve the two weeks notice, then clear the room (which she can then let to someone else if she wants) - obviously taking proper care of the original lodger's things.

She would be best advised to give the lodger at least 14 days to collect her belongings - Spareroom have a good detailed page about this here: http://www.spareroom.co.uk/content/info-landlords/what-to-do-if-your-lodger-leaves-possessions-behind

julie davies

10:32 AM, 3rd January 2015
About 4 years ago

Hi the conversation about the lodger not living their for 3 weeks was by text message yes i still have all the text messages she sent me from the previous problems when she went to south africa and i did not know if she was coming back and she did not pay her rent..but we did sort this out eventually.
It was a verbal agreement about 2 weeks notice
As i go on holiday in 2 weeks and i still have not had any rent or reply to the messages i know i will have to change my locks.
at the moment i am leaving the key in the door so she cant just walk in and i am using the back door, i was trying to avoid the expence of changing the locks.

julie davies

10:37 AM, 3rd January 2015
About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mandy Thomson" at "31/12/2014 - 15:52":

I have had problems in the past with my lodger paying her rent...but as her contract at work has ended i do know now that she wont be coming back although she has not let me know this.
When she went to south africa ( was only supposed to be for a week) she did say when i get back i will know if my contract has been extened.
I have 2 telephone numbers for her...one for this country and the other for when she is in south africa.....i have sent several texts to both numbers and she has not replied.

Mandy Thomson

13:12 PM, 3rd January 2015
About 4 years ago

Hi Julie

Just to be on the safe side legally, as you can't readily prove your agreed notice period, I would run with the one full month's notice. As you're going on holiday in two weeks time anyway, you're presumably not going to want to move a new lodger in until you return. Change the locks for your peace of mind - if the lodger should turn up before her contract has expired (which is probably unlikely), you can say you lost your keys so had to change the lock (and as she was incommunicado...).

As a landlord, I wouldn't tolerate a tenant who defaulted on paying rent, certainly not without very good reason and informing me beforehand. You certainly don't expect rent arrears with a midweek lodger - the very fact they're with you in the first place is because they have a full time job! She sounds unreliable to say the least.

Please Julie, if you get another lodger, make sure you run a proper tenant check on them first - that way, you're very likely to get someone decent and reliable, agree house rules before they move in, and set up a proper written lodger agreement.

Where tenant/lodger checks are concerned, lodger landlords need to be aware that the Immigration Act 2014 (right of tenant or licensee to rent) affects them as well as landlords of whole properties, so checking lodger's passports is good practice. Google "Lodger is from outside EU or Switzerland" for information on this.

Best of luck and hope you have a good holiday!

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