Am I a lodger?
If you have been given permission to stay at another person’s house and pay rent but are not supplied with meals, you are most likely a lodger.
Definition of Lodger: A Lodger is a person who stays at another person’s place and pays rent but is generally not supplied meals. Lodgers are a special group of home dwellers in terms of the law. Unlike most who rent, they are not covered by the Residential Tenancy Act 1987.
A lodger does not have exclusive possession but normally shares with others. The Owner/Landlord retains control of the premises at all times.
Lodger or Tenant?
How is a tenant different from a lodger?
There are two main differences between a tenant and a lodger.
A tenant has:
• A right to ‘exclusive possession’ of the property in which they are staying; and a term of tenancy, ie the length of time they are given permission to stay in the house.
• A right of exclusive possession means the right to exclude anyone, including the landlord, from the premises.
(see clause below ‘How do I know if I have got exclusive possession?’).
A tenant generally has a higher level of security and protection because he or she is covered by the Residential Tenancies Act 1987, while boarders and lodgers are not covered by the Act. However, whilst borders and lodgers are not covered by the act they still have certain rights.
Who is a landlord?
A landlord is the person who provides the room(s) and gives permission to the lodger to live there.
If you are a lodger, your landlord keeps control and authority over the house, even if you have a key, the Landlord can come in to the house/room without giving any prior notice.
This may be the Owner or the Real Estate Agent. At Brooke Stone Properties, if we need to access the property we will provide you with as much notice as possible.
NOTE: These rules, stated by “Department of Employment and Consumer Protection” clearly refer in all instances to the Landlord being the owner or appointed agent.
Have I got exclusive possession?
Exclusive possession is defined as the right to exclude all others, including the owner or landlord, from the house or room being rented. (see tenant) This is different from exclusive ‘occupation’ or ‘use’ where you may have your ‘own’ room in which no one else can stay without your permission. (see lodger)
If your room has a lock which physically stops the landlord from entering, this does not automatically mean you have exclusive possession of the room. The ‘House Rules’ may state that the manager or landlord is allowed to come into your room without your permission.
What are my rights as a Lodger?
If you are a lodger, you have a right to:
• Expect the house to be clean and in a reasonable state of repair when you move in, including all the rooms, facilities, furniture and equipment supplied by the landlord;
• Privacy, peace and quiet and to use your room and facilities without undue interference by the landlord;
• Access to your room, toilets and bathrooms;
• Access to common areas and facilities such as the laundry and kitchen;
• Security for your room and personal
What are my responsibilities as a lodger?
• “A Lodger is responsible for their own valuables and would be wise to insure them. Neither the owner nor the landlord take any responsibility for the loss, theft or damage of any personal goods regardless of the circumstances”.
This depends on what you’ve agreed with your landlord. You could be responsible for:
• Keeping your room and common areas clean and tidy;
• Paying your rent when it is due and in the agreed way;
• Following the ‘House Rules’;
• Asking your landlord before you make any alterations in your room;
• Asking your landlord before you keep any pets;
• Letting your landlord know about any damage you or your visitors may have caused and to pay for that damage;
You are also responsible for:
• Letting your landlord know if any of the furniture, fixtures, facilities or equipment needs to be fixed;
• Making sure you don’t disturb the privacy or peace and quiet of other residents;
• Allowing your landlord to enter your room to clean it or in an emergency (and for repairs & maintenance);
• Keeping any vehicle in its allocated space.
What should I do before moving in?
You should first decide what type of accommodation best suits your needs. You should also inspect the rooms and common areas you would be using before deciding to move in.
Ask yourself these questions first:
• How much is the rent?
• Does the rent cover costs such as gas, electricity, water or telephone?
• If the rent doesn’t cover those costs, how will they be charged?
• What services will be offered by the landlord and how much extra will they cost, eg: providing linen, laundry, meals?
• If you have a special need for medical assistance or diet, will these be provided for and what will it cost you?
• How long do you want to live there?
• Will there be a restriction or penalty if you leave before the lease has expired?
• How much notice do you need to give or will you receive if you decide to leave or the landlord asks you to leave?
• Do the rules of the house suit you and your lifestyle? There may be limitations on visitors, noise, hours of entering and leaving, use of common areas, parking and gardening.
• How much do you need to pay before you can move in?
• Do you have to pay a security bond? If so, make sure you ask for a receipt which shows what the payment is for, eg: part may be for the bond and part for the rent. If you are paying for rent in advance make sure the receipt shows the rental period covered.
• Has the landlord asked you to sign a written agreement? If so, make sure you read it and that you agree with it before you sign. Help is available if you have trouble understanding anything in the agreement.
Can I be evicted?
Your landlord may ask you to leave – without any reason – at any time. (This applies to Lodgers only)
However, your landlord must give you ‘reasonable notice’ to leave the premises and take your belongings. This may have been agreed to before you moved in – check any written agreement you may have. You should be able to agree a reasonable time with your landlord, but be aware you may have to move out with short notice.
What amounts to ‘reasonable notice’ depends on the circumstances of each situation, eg: if you have broken the house rules or if you need to make arrangements to move furniture.
IMPORTANT: A landlord can evict you without any reason, if you are a boarder or lodger.
However in the LJ Hooker Joondalup Lodger Agreements it stipulates that only under certain circumstances can eviction occur – this is to protect you as a Lodger (refer to your written agreement and house rules). In certain circumstances a lodger/border could be evicted immediately.
Moving Out Requirements
Your agreement with Brooke Stone Properties requires you to provide 3 weeks notice after your lease has expired. If your lease has not expired you are liable for the rent and any costs to re-let your room.
This may have been agreed to before you moved in, check any written agreement you may have.
You should give the landlord time to do a check of your room and common areas and arrange for the return of any security bond you may have paid.
If you have a problem with your landlord, you should always first try to sort it out by discussing it with them. If this does not work, you should contact one of the agencies listed below.
In some instances, you may be able to take civil action in the Local Court. However, you should seek legal advice first. You should keep in mind that if you have failed to meet your responsibilities as a lodger, your landlord is entitled to take civil action against you.
For general advice you can call:
• Citizens’ Advice Bureau
• Ministry of Fair Trading
• Tenants’ Advice Service
NOTE: If requesting advice from one of these government organisations it is important to advise them upfront that you are a LODGER and not a tenant.
For legal advice you can call:
• Legal Aid information line
Community lawyers offer legal advice free of charge or for a fixed fee.
If you think you have been discriminated against on such grounds as your age, marital status, impairment, gender or race, you should contact the Equal Opportunity Commission.