Brief lodger question

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  • Brief lodger question

    Hi all,

    Great website BTW!

    I have a quick query. If a lodger chooses to move out early (after being given 1 months notice) and then retains the key to the landlord's house is that a breach of the landlords civil rights?

    Would the lodger be able to claim they had a right to the key and entry of the property until the notice period ran out (one week later)?

    My understanding was that the landlord had a right to have his/her property (i.e. the keys) returned at the point of permanent departure from the property by the lodger with his/her belongings? (even in an AST, let alone an excluded licence?)

    Please could someone point me to the right articles in law relating to this?

    Thank you very much.

  • #2
    Have you moved out or not?

    Have you paid rent for the whole period up till your notice ends?

    Have you left some stuff in the room?
    I offer no guarantee that anything I say is correct. wysiwyg


    • #3
      Re jta's questions

      Dear jta,

      Thank you for your kind response asking for clarity.

      Interesting that you automatically assumed I am the lodger. I am not.

      The parties were referred to in the third person deliberately.

      The lodger has moved out.

      The lodger has paid up to the end of the notice period.

      The lodger has moved out 9 days early and taken all his/her belongings.

      The landlord lives at the property and has made it clear that he/she feels unsafe and that the keys need to be returned or the locks will be changed and the lodger will be charged (7 days given to return keys).

      I hope this is what you needed, please let me know if I haven't answered fully enough.

      Thank you again.


      • #4
        Thank you for your kind response asking for clarity.

        Interesting that you automatically assumed I am the lodger. I am not.

        Thank you again.

        That puts a different light on it.

        Simplest answer, change the locks on front and back doors, if they are uPVC types it should only cost a tenner.

        PS. Charge the ex-lodger out of his deposit if you still have it.
        Last edited by jta; 02-10-2011, 14:21 PM. Reason: PS
        I offer no guarantee that anything I say is correct. wysiwyg


        • #5
          IMHO, if the lodger has paid rent up until (say) 11th October then he/she is entitled to use the room until 11th October. In order to do that, I would have thought they had a right to hold keys until 11th October. I would be suing for breach of contract if I was forced to pay for a room that I was prevented from using.

          Is there some backstory behind your fear of the lodger having keys? That may put a different light on the situation.


          • #6
            The landlord lives at the property and has made it clear that he/she feels unsafe
            @Snorkerz. I think that says everything.
            I offer no guarantee that anything I say is correct. wysiwyg


            • #7
              Originally posted by jta View Post
              @Snorkerz. I think that says everything.
              Yes, but why unsafe now - landlord presumably felt fine with the same person holding a key for the duration of the stay? Landlord presumably felt fine giving one months notice, expecting T to be there until 11/10 (and accepting one months rent) - if there were physical threats or whatever, she could have given days or hours.


              • #8
                Further information

                Thank you to both jta and Snorkers for your kind input.

                I have indeed been a little remiss in my submissions deliberately to not colour the perspective of the answers given.

                a) the reason the tenant was asked to leave was that the party assaulted someone else in the house (not the landlord)

                b) the lodger has left the premises and taken their belongings (they chose to leave early, they knew their notice date, the landlord did not have to refund the difference).

                Now my understanding of that is they have chosen to vacate.

                Once they have done so, surely them retaining keys is a risk to everyone else who lives there?

                I mean if you know everyone's schedule you could waltz right up to the door with the key in the middle of the day and move everyone's stuff out couldn't you?

                This is common sense. The law is not always based on common sense, so I was looking for information on the articles or aspects of law that would support this position.

                I can't find anything relating to excluded licences in law. I am finding it difficult to search for in law as a scenario.

                I suppose it would be a breach of the interference with goods act 1977, because the key was being retained, when the lodger no longer had a need for it?

                The fundamental question is did the lodger still have a right to the key even though they had left earlier, notified that they would leave earlier and understood that was their choice? Because of the fact that they had paid up to the end of the period?

                My common (or perhaps as I like to call it uncommon!) sense tells me that the person in question put the landlord in fear, they chose to leave, they took all their belongings, they were aggrieved (at being asked to leave), for them to be allowed to retain a key under these circumstances, would surely undermine the principle that is held in excluded licences?

                Which is that the landlord must take priority since it is his/her home and that he/she must feel safe?

                Sorry for the long post, it's a dilly of a pickle, I am seeking the law to support the "common" sense.

                Thank you for all your help.


                • #9
                  That does make it a bit clearer. You could have evicted at very short notice, why did you decide to give a full months notice (and accept a months rent?)


                  • #10
                    OP, surely you can just change the locks and make sure you get the keys back if you take a lodger in again?

                    The above represents my own opinion, derived from personal knowledge and should not be relied upon as definitive or accurate advice. It is offered free of charge and may contain errors or omissions or be an inaccurate opinion of the law. I accept no liability for any loss or damage suffered as a result of relying on the above.


                    • #11
                      The lodger was asked (verbally) to leave directly after the "incident".

                      The lodger then did not leave for about 6 months and just avoided everyone.

                      The landlord then gave formal notice (in form of an email) and gave just under two months space.

                      The excuses given by the lodger were that they couldn't find somewhere, it was too near the beginning of term, it was too near Xmas etc.

                      The (formal) notice given by the landlord was actually just under 2 months, because of all these excuses I suppose.

                      My understanding is that the lodger was not generally violent, it was that the person in question had a temper and during a disagreement with someone else in the house hit them (not in a GBH fashion but more like single push), however in my view assault is still assault.

                      Why would the shorter notice have been possible? In the licence agreement it states one month.

                      Is there some lodger law that is more relevant?


                      • #12
                        AFAIK, this was not a 'licence', your lodgers are merely 'excluded occupiers'. Their only protection is the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 which simply requires you to give 'reasonable notice'.

                        In the case of an assault, I can see zero as being reasonable.

                        I am still having difficulty with the concept of you being so scared of the lodger when you allowed him to stay in the property for so long - not just a month but 6 months.

                        You may find the website to be a useful source of information. This page also gives a brief rundown of lodger eviction:


                        • #13
                          Thanks again Snorkers.

                          As I mentioned earlier, I put things in the third person deliberately, I can only tell you what I know, since I'm not the involved party (though the reason I ask is I also am a live in landlord and this situation with an acquaintance worried me, as it could easily have happened to me!).

                          My understanding (again this may not be right as I only have my view), is that the landlord and two lodgers (all female) was trying to be lenient in regards to all the sob story excuses of not finding anywhere.

                          The issue of personal/property safety only came up when the offending lodger had left the premises and then still had keys and knew the movements of everyone.

                          Which as I see it, was a concern regarding theft, rather than they might enter to commit violence.

                          Thank you again for all the information. I will have a look at the websites. The agreement signed does state it is an excluded licence.

                          Actually having evaluated that the landlord is allowed entry into the rooms to close windows and empty bins as well as provides some breakfast items; seems to me it is in fact a non-excluded licence, again only my view. (source Shelter website).


                          • #14
                            Whether the lodger was granted exclusive possession of her room or not, the licence or tenancy would be excluded if she shared accommodation with the LL (i.e. shared bathroom or kitchen etc).

                            It's not at all plausible that the LL was living in fear for six months after a minor incident during which one woman pushed another woman, and did nothing about it for six months (and if the incident wasn't minor, then why did the victim not report it to the police?)

                            If, when the lodger vacated, she had paid rent for a further nine days, I don't think LL has much to complain of till those nine days are up and the keys still haven't been returned. Certainly there is no 'breach of civil rights'.

                            The sensible thing to do with any lodger who you don't entirely trust is to change the locks after they go, even if they return the keys (as who's to know whether the lodger has had another set cut).

                            If you find yourself with a lodger who is dishonest or violent etc, then it is quite reasonable to give a minimal length of notice before evicting. It's the LL's own fault if they do not act, listen to sob stories, and simply put up with the situation for months.


                            • #15
                              Update: small claim for deposit deduction

                              Thank you very much to all for the helpful responses.

                              For Westminster:

                              The victim did report it, she cancelled the police call out as she didn't want to "cause trouble" and the lodger who did it had agreed to move out ASAP (which she then didn’t do).
                              The LL was not living in fear, however the landlord was away a great deal in those 6 months for family reasons, which have ended. So didn’t really experience the tension, though she did hear about it from others.

                              I’ve tried to stay reasonably impartial however I would venture an opinion to say it is probably different to have someone living in your house quietly avoiding everyone and having their things there (which is what I was privy to having been round there and getting that story from the other lodgers at the time). Compared to having them move out, with all their stuff and still have your key and know everyone's schedule and to be able to simply to walk in and damage/steal property or start a fight (especially bearing in mind part of the reason the lodger was holding onto the key was because they had not had their security deposit back yet).

                              The lodger had damaged a mattress cover (washed & dried it, contrary to instructions, which meant it was destroyed) and has admitted this damage and this was taken from the deposit.
                              When the landlord was able (returned from being with family) the landlord checked the room to find the mattress was stained. The cost of a new mattress was deducted and the rest of the deposit returned (within 31 days as outlined by the landlord).

                              The lodger claims that in the time they had left anyone could have damaged it and that they did not know about the damage. The lodger has in the email exchange stated how the staining was caused and how it could have been cleaned with upholstery cleaner.

                              Anyhow the lodger has now lodged a small claim.
                              Are emails admissible in the county court? Can the lodger not just lie and say the landlord has just made up the email with that information in it?

                              The landlord had not received post of this claim until the decision was given.
                              The landlord asked the judgement be put aside and supplied with the request a skeleton defence (including the excerpt from the email where the lodger says how the staining happened & how to clean it).
                              The judgement was put aside.
                              The landlord was then asked to submit a defence within 14 days.

                              The landlord filed an acknowledgement of service and requested disclosure (by letter and email) from the lodger.
                              The lodger kept calling the court and wrote in to complain that the defence had not been filed and that judgement should be given.
                              The lodger did not provide disclosure, acknowledging the email; by emailing to say the letter had not been received.
                              Does this show that the request was received even if only from email reply date and therefore the lodger has failed to provide disclosure to date? Should the lodger provide disclosure?.

                              The landlord attended court to submit a motion to comply & an application to extend time to serve for a defence.
                              The landlord found out from the person at the front desk; that the defence should have been filed and an acknowledgement was not enough (a record of the name/date/time of court staff that told the landlord that the acknowledgement was received and what the new defence submission date would be was kept by the landlord).
                              The landlord submitted the motion & extension with the details of what had happened asking that the motion to comply be granted in order to meet CPR 31, in absentia.

                              The DJ has asked for a hearing for the application to extend & motion to comply, instead.
                              Please could someone explain why this was made a hearing instead of being granted in absentia?
                              What might be discussed at this hearing? What should either party be bringing to this hearing?
                              What are the relevant points please?

                              Thank you in advance.


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