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Ask Jo C. Your Own Question

Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 69258
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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My son is living in a house belonging to us while at university.

Customer Question

My son is living in a house belonging to us while at university. A friend of his is asking if he can come and stay with him in term time and share expenses. Can you foresee any legal difficulties?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.

Thank you for your question. My name is Jo and I will try to help with this.

Is there any particular issue you foresee?

Legal difficulties in relation to what?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

We do not intend to formalise a rental agreement however he is prepared to pay towards accommodation and expenses.

We were thinking about any problems with accidents etc presumerably we will have to contact our insurers maybe council.


Does the fact that he is contributing towards costs make him more than a guest? What if they fell out- could he demand to keep staying on?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.

Well, it depends what you mean by contributing.

If this is a normal residential mortgage then you are perfectly entitled to take in a lodger. There's no issue with that. Personally I would tell the mortgage company that you do have a lodger but you don't have to. Its different if you are renting the whole house out and not living there yourself.

You will need to tell the council he is there if your son is getting a reduction for single occupancy for council tax. He will probably lose that.

You will also need to tell the house insurance company

If he is just making a house keeping contribution then he is a guest. If he is paying rent then he is a lodger.

Of course, if he is making regular payments to your son or to you he will probably say that is rent not housekeeping but either way really, from the point of view of eviction, I would suggest you treat him as a lodger not a guest to protect yourself. Its easy enough to evict lodgers should you need to.

Hope this helps. Please let me know if you need more information.

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

We own the property so no mortgage thankfully.

My son is exempt from council tax as he is a student but I don't know if this would change with a lodger.

Would I need to draw up some kind of guidelines not a contract as such presumably?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Only if the lodger is working.

No, you don't need to do anything at all. You can let him move in on a verbal agreement.

I suppose that if you are the landlord and not your son though, a periodic contract naming them both as tenants would protect him but it doesn't really protect you.

If you are the landlord rather than your son, and there is no AST in place, then the presumption would be that they are on periodic tenancy agreements rather than lodgers but that would just mean you had to give two months notice and get a possession order to evict them.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

As my son is staying in a home owned by the family we don't regard him as a tenant so perhaps keeping the idea of a lodger is best for his friend too. So we will say he can move in on a verbal agreement but if there is a problem we can get him to move out with 2 months notice?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
No, its not that simple.

If you don't sign a clear contract then the law will presume certain tenancies.

Regardless of whether he is your son or not, unless he lives in a house with you paying rent for one room and sharing amenities with you, he on a periodic not a lodger. This other person will be in a similar position almost certainly.

You can move him in a verbal agreement. If he does refuse to go then the law will presume he is on a periodich which will mean you will need to serve a S21 notice giving him two months notice.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Ok so I need to work out a contract. Do you have any suggestions for what I should include? Do I need to get it signed and witnessed? Are there any examples of these available?


Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Well, its a matter for you.

Contracts dont really protect the landlord. They protect the tenant.

If you want to time them in for 6 or 12 months then get them to sign an AST but be aware that you are also tied into it for that long and they can be awful to escape.

If you prefer flexibility then go for a periodic but if you do nothing at all then the law will just presume its a periodic tenancy agreement so its pointless activity.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

So I need to look into periodic Agreements. Can you recommend any examples of these and what to say?

Are these legally binding

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.

If you talk to Sue at ABC Properties on 07595752223 then she will probably manage this for you at a small fee.

Alternatively you can try the landlord packs that you can buy in WH Smiths which are OK but in my opinion don't add much.

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