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LondonlawyerJ
LondonlawyerJ, Advocate
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 803
Experience:  Solicitor with over 15 years experience.
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My local council's housing services has turned my lodger into

Customer Question

My local council's housing services has turned my lodger into my tenant as she lives in annex accommodation at bottom of my garden which is independent, but the utilities are not independent to the accommodation. My lodger became pregnant, unemployed and I have had difficulties evicting her, but now have a court order.
My question is can the council just change the type of tenure even though we the parties had both signed the Lodger's Agreement. Is there any case law about this?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  LondonlawyerJ replied 1 year ago.
Hello, I am a lawyer with 20 years experience. I will try to help you with this.
The question of whether someone is a tenant or a lodger is question of law. Someone is a tenant not a lodger if they have exclusive possession of accommodation for a term at a rent. The council do not have the power to decide this. A court could decide she was a tenant not a lodger but not the council in any circumstances that I can see.
If she had exclusive possession of the annexe it may well be that you did grant a tenancy even though you both signed a lodger agreement.
The leading case on this is a very old one Street v Mountford https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Street_v_Mountford
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Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hi,

This has been very helpful. I do believe that I created a tenancy without realising it was due to exclusive possession. However, my lodger agreed to this because she had failed to provide me with her documentation before moving and I agreed that she could come on a lodging basis and I would check out her documents subsequently. I then discovered that she had provided me with fraudulent payslips and had been in a previous tenancy and left rent arrears, and also she had a high court sheriff serve her a distress warrant for another reason. Not sure if this was a landlord or some other debtor. Either way, this is not someone who I wanted to be my tenant, and under the basis of the lodging I had planned not to renew the agreement with her.

However, as the council determined it was a tenancy she was able to remain and embroil me in a protracted eviction process, and I just wanted to know if they had the right to do that by law. I believe that the tenure should have proceeded as a lodging and I should have been able to evict her on the basis of the lodging agreement that was signed between us.

Thank you

Expert:  LondonlawyerJ replied 1 year ago.
How did the council do this?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

They wrote it in the decision letter to the lodger when she approached as homeless. They said she is my tenant and not my lodger, and that she should not leave the accommodation unless they say so, otherwise intentionally homeless, and must get a court order and bailiff warrant.

It also seems to me that the council are acting illegally by telling the tenant to await a bailiff warrant. A bailiff warrant should be necessary if the person fails to leave of their own volition. They are essentially encouraging people to break the law as set out by the judge. I do feel there is a legal challenge here.

Expert:  LondonlawyerJ replied 1 year ago.
It is simply the local authority's opinion. it has no force in a dispute between you and your lodger/tenant. I am afraid the advice to lodger/tenant from the council is the standard advice around the country.