Our last few tips have looked a problem lodger situations, but of course this is not the norm. Most lodgers get on very well with their landlord. However all good things have to end, and sooner or later the day will come when your lodger leaves.
There are many reasons. Most of my lodgers, for example, were students who were only ever going to stay for a limited time. Perhaps your lodger is moving elsewhere for his job, or has decided to rent a flat or even buy his own place.
You should try to make your lodger’s departure as pleasant as possible, if only because he will then be more likely to recommend you to other people.
Here is a list of the things you need to deal with.
If you have taken a deposit
You will need to check the condition of your lodger’s room against the inventory (inventories are discussed on day 16), this should be done shortly before they go. It is best if you do this with your lodger present and both go through the inventory together.
Hopefully the room will be in a spotless condition and you will be able to refund the deposit there and then. Otherwise proceed as follows:
- If you know how much it will cost to deal with the damage (for example if it is a broken desk lamp which you know you can replace for £15) you can simply deduct this from the deposit and pay the balance
- If you do not know the replacement cost or the cost of repair work, say them you cannot refund the deposit immediately. Get contact details and say that you will contact him once you know. Make sure you do this promptly. It the delay is going to be longer than a week, give him a ring and let them know the reason for the delay.
- Once you know the cost, either send him the balance or arrange for him to call round for it, if your lodger prefers to be paid in cash.
- If there are rent arrears, you deduct this from the deposit after any damage has been deducted first.
Fair wear and tear – this is an important rule about deductions from deposits. When considering deductions, you should not expect a property (ie for a tenancy) or a room (ie for a lodger let) to be in the same pristine condition it was in when the lodger moved in. This is particularly the case if your lodger been there for a long time. So long as the rooms is in a reasonable condition for the amont of time your lodger has been living in it, that is all you can expect.
This means that you will not normally be entitled to charge for cleaning or redecoration. Unless your lodger has been smoking in his room in breach of his lodger agreement (see day 15), and the décor and furnishings have been damaged by the smoke.
I had a visitors book and got my lodgers to write in it on their last day. They were always happy to do this (and always had a good look through the other entries), which means that I now have something to remember them by. You do forget, and I think this is a nice thing to do.
If your lodger gets a lot of post, suggest they arrange for a postal redirect. If you don’t mind re-directing their post for them, don’t forget to get their forwarding address!
However you will not want to act as an unpaid mail forwarding service forever. Make it clear that you will only do this for a couple of months, and that post received after this will be sent back marked ‘return to sender’.
On the day that they leave
If they still owe you any rent, make sure you get a payment from them before they go. Otherwise it may be difficult.
Make sure their room is checked properly before they go. I once had a Japanese student leave £20 in travellers cheques in the bin. If you find it now, this will save having to forward it on to them.
If your lodger is hard up or on a low income, in most cases you will not get paid, and it is best to accept this and move on.
However if you want to pursue it, be aware that the only way you can force someone to pay if they refuse to pay voluntarily, is by getting a County Court Judgement (CCJ) in the Small Claims Court (there is a money claims online service). You will need to have the new address for service of the court papers, so it is a important to get a forwarding address from your lodger before he goes.
After your lodger has gone
You have your room back! Lodgers are nice, but sometimes it is also nice to have your privacy back. However if you need the money, you will have to start the whole process of getting a new lodger to take his place.
If you are the one moving out
Be aware that your lodger will only have lodger status (discussed on day 1) if you are living in the property with him and sharing living accommodation. If you move out permanently, for example to go and work in another town, your ‘lodger’ will become a tenant.
As you will no longer be a resident landlord, the tenancy your lodger will acquire will be an assured shorthold tenancy. The change will happen at the time when you move out. You should therefore get your lodger to sign up a proper AST agreement when you go. You can find out more, and get tenancy agreements, from our Landlord Law service.
If you are selling your property, you should get your lodger to move out, at least by the time you are ready to exchange contracts, as your purchasers may not want to sign if he is still living there.
Note – please see also this >> later post on dealing with possessions left behind