This can clearly be an extremely tough and uncomfortable situation to approach, especially if your lodger is settled in. Sometimes the situation is unavoidable, though, even if there’s been no conflict and they’ve done nothing wrong, so we’ve put together these pointers to help with how to end a lodger agreement in the best way possible.
Have a chat
Firstly, if you’re experiencing issues with your lodger, the best and most straightforward thing to do is simply talk to them. Notes left on the fridge or words whispered in the hallway won’t help and rather than improving the situation will probably make things much worse. Organise a time to sit down together and have a calm chat to see if you can iron out any of the problems first.
No one wants to have strained relationships, and even if the situation ends with you working out how to terminate a lodger agreement, it’s always best if these things finish on good terms. If this doesn’t work then get it down in writing with a letter, and another more formal note if the first one doesn’t adjust behaviour. Also make sure you keep copies so both you and your lodger have a future reference point.
If the situation can’t be resolved, you will now need to move onto the next stage. So, how to evict a lodger? You will first need to serve a notice.
This will be an uncomfortable situation, no matter the scenario. But there are ways of doing this to make it feel less harsh. Leaving the letter in an envelope stuck on their door will clearly leave a sour taste, and could also give the lodger the opportunity to say they never received the notice. Making them a cup of tea and having a chat about what the letter says and explaining the situation may mean they will be more likely to leave in the timeframe you have laid out for them. If it feels appropriate, arrange a third party to be present when you hand the notice over, so you both have a witness. Also keep a record of all the paperwork you share with your lodger.
In all honesty, you can ask your lodger leave whenever you want. It’s not the same as a tenancy with an AST contract, in which case there may be a fixed period in which the tenant is secure. Check your lodger agreement (for future tenancies, take a look at our guide on what a lodger agreement should include and please remember to keep a record) and follow what’s stated there to make sure the circumstances remain fair for all parties involved. Take a look at this Landlord Lodger guide for more help with serving notice to your lodger.
In most situations, the lodger will understand, respect your decision and move out with minimal fuss, but this isn’t always the case. Even if your lodger has displayed bad behaviour, remember this may be because of a situation happening in their life. Keep an open channel of communication, and be as understanding as possible.
If it looks like they may outstay their notice, have a quick chat before the date. If they genuinely need a couple of extra days to gather themselves and get sorted then grant this, but don’t accept any further delay to the agreement. Have an honest conversation so you both understand the current situation.
If a lodger is refusing to budge, that’s when you, unfortunately, need to know how to evict them and abide by the rules in place in England. The most important thing to remember is not to use any force, this situation needs to be as passive as possible. If they refuse to leave then arrange to have the locks changed when they are out of the property and don’t allow them back in when they return. They are allowed to retrieve their belongings, but only allow them into the house to pack with a police presence.
If you’ve followed the previous steps and therefore kept things as friendly and fair as possible, hopefully this final point will come as an absolute last resort. If you need any further help as a resident landlord then this gov.uk guide can help, and if you’d like to read your rights as a lodger, this Citizens Advice page of information has everything you need to know.