When I mean disappearing lodger, I don’t mean one who fades away like the Cheshire Cat! I mean the tenant who just goes off and never comes back. Generally owing you rent. I had an email from a reader about this just the other day, who said, quite rightly that this is not covered in my 21 days of tips. Well you can’t cover everything!
To a certain extent what you do will depend on whether or not you have a lodger agreement, and if you do, what it says. But here are some suggestions:
Make sure that you have a lodger agreement in place (such as the Lodger Landlord agreement) which says that the lodger’s right to live in your room will end automatically if they stop living in the property. Then if you have heard nothing, you can just bundle up any stuff remaining in the room, store it, and re-let the room (we’ll talk about the proper way to deal with property left behind in another post).
But what if you don’t have an agreement, or your agreement does not say this?
If you have a contact address for your lodger (for example if he is a student, this will be his home address, or in other cases use the address of any next of kin or people who you think will be in touch with him – you should have this on your application form) write to him and ask him to contact you and let you know whether or not he intends to return. Give a time limit of say, 14 days. If you hear nothing, again, you should be safe to re-possess and re-let the room.
But what if you have no contact address?
Well, he can’t expect you to hang about forever! But wait a reasonable time before taking back the room. What is a reasonable time? Well, if the room rent is paid up, you should do nothing. You should only re-take and re-let the room if the rent is in arrears. Ideally, wait until the rent is in two months in arrears, but if you can’t afford that, I suggest you wait at least 28 days.
For example, your lodger might be justifiably annoyed if he was in hospital after an accident, came out two days after his rent ran out, only to find that you had re-let his room and thrown away all his things! In fact, in those circumstances, he could probably sue you for compensation. So be careful.