Is my occupant a lodger or a tenant?

The topic of Lodger Vs Tenant was briefly covered in the what is a lodger? article, where it specifically explained how to prevent a tenancy (for those landlords that simply want a lodger). This article will look into diagnosing the status of your current occupant: are they a lodger or a tenant?

The legal status of your occupant will typically depend on the services you provide as a landlord and the living circumstances. For example, if someone has exclusive residence in your property, while you live somewhere else, then they will most likely be a tenant.

It’s crucial to know whether you have a lodger or a tenant because it will affect your responsibilities as a landlord, and it will also require you to deal with evictions differently.

They are most likely a tenant if…

  • If they rent the entire property and pays rent for it
  • If they have exclusive rights to certain areas of the property which you do NOT have right to access to e.g. their bedroom
  • If the landlord lives somewhere else permanently or the majority of the time

If you suspect you do have a tenant (and not a lodger), then this website will not be relevant to you.

They are most likely a lodger if…

  • The landlord has access to all areas of the property, including the occupants bedroom
  • There are shared living areas e.g. kitchen, bathroom etc.
  • Services are provided by the landlord e.g. cleaning service, clean bedsheets, provided meals etc.
  • The property is the landlords main residential home

If you’re a live-in landlord, and you wish to house share with someone else, then it is usually always best to ensure that the person you house share has a licence (i.e. is a lodger) and not a tenant.

Reasons to avoid creating a tenancy

  • It’s much more difficult to evict a tenant; you will need a court order and grounds for eviction.
  • Your tenant may have rights to exclude you from certain areas of your home.
  • You will be legally bound to make certain repairs, and failing to do so may give grounds for your tenant to seek compensation.
  • You will need permission from your mortgage lender, and they may require you to switch to a BTL policy, which might be more expensive than your current residential mortgage.

It’s important to note that the fact the occupier has signed a lodger agreement or a tenancy agreement will not determine their status, it will solely depend on the living circumstances.