If you are thinking of taking in a lodger there are several things you need to consider before you go ahead.
What is a lodger?
A lodger is someone who rents a room in your home without having sole use of the property. A lodger does not have to be a stranger, they can be a friend, work colleague or a family member. It is important that you don’t let your lodger have sole use of your property as this will be considered to be “subletting” which will break the terms of your Tenancy Agreement, and you could lose your home as a result. If you are unsure about what you can do, please call Customer Services on 0300 500 6262 for more information.
Do I need permission to have a lodger?
Yes, you need to get written permission from Aldwyck before you take in a lodger. You can write to us, or you can contact Customer Services to request a form. If you have a Starter Tenancy (you are in the first 12 months of your tenancy with Aldwyck) you do not have a formal right to take in a lodger. However, we will give consideration to your request if having a lodger may help you to keep your home by giving you some extra income.
Please remember that it will be your responsibility to make sure that your lodger complies with the terms of your tenancy agreement (e.g. in respect of antisocial behaviour or any other term of your tenancy). If they don’t you could risk losing your own tenancy.
What will I need to provide for the lodger?
As a minimum you will need to provide a furnished room plus use of communal areas and facilities (such as the bathroom and kitchen).
Lodgers can have extra services included in their agreement (such as laundry, cleaning or meals) but you don’t have to do this.
What can I charge?
This will depend on where you live and what your property is like. To get an idea, check what other people in your area are charging – from your local paper, or on websites such as www.spareroom.co.uk.
Can I evict a lodger if it doesn’t work out?
Yes. You can usually evict a lodger fairly easily but you will need to give “reasonable notice” if you are going to do this. You should also set out in your Lodger Agreement the conditions you are both going to agree to. This will make it easier if things go wrong later on.
Although you can get rid of a lodger if you find things don’t work out, it is better to deal with any problem areas before you start.
We have provided a checklist below to provide you with further information and things to consider. We recommend that you also take independent legal advice before deciding on whether to take in a lodger, even if this person is a friend or relative.
Aldwyck do not provide legal advice and we will not be able to help you if you have any problems with your lodger, such as non-payment of rent or if you want them to move out. This will be your responsibility.
Checklist for lodgers
Get some independent legal advice so you fully understand how taking in a lodger will affect you.
Ask permission from Aldwyck before you start looking for a lodger. Put your request in writing to us – either in an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or a letter addressed to: Aldwyck Housing Group, FREEPOST ANG7714, LU5 5BR. You will need to wait until you receive permission in writing from us before you go ahead with taking in a lodger.
Check with your insurance provider that you will still be covered. You don’t need to insure your lodger’s possessions but you need to make sure you are still covered if your lodger damages your belongings or any part of your property which is your responsibility.
Inform your local benefits agency if you receive benefits. Your benefits may be affected by taking in a lodger, so find out in advance what the changes might be.
If you are currently getting a reduction on your Council Tax for single occupancy (ie you are the only person living in your property) you will need to inform the Council Tax department at your local council. The amount of Council Tax you need to pay will go up, but you can look at passing this amount on to your lodger by including it in their rent.
Get the room ready and make sure you have all the furniture you need.
Decide in advance what the terms and conditions will be – for example, be clear about what bills are included in the rent you are charging and what else your lodger will have to pay for separately. Think about things such as:
- which areas of your home the lodger can have access to, including the garden
- whether you are going to let them use your washing machine, freezer or other appliances
- parking, if your lodger has a car
- whether your lodger can have overnight visitors
- what time you expect music to be turned off.
All of these things should be put into your written agreement.
Set up a Lodger Agreement in advance so that you and your lodger both know what you are agreeing to. Even if you already know the person it is important so you both know what to expect. This doesn’t need to be complicated but should set out the basic terms and conditions such as the rent will be and when it will be reviewed, what happens if your lodger doesn’t pay the rent, what notice period there will if your lodger wants to give up the room. You can find standard agreements on the internet.
Set the rent
Check local rents so that you can see that the amount you are asking will not put people off.
Advertise your room. You can do this by putting up a notice in a local shop, using social networking sites or advertising on websites such as www.spareroom.co.uk. Friends and relatives may also be looking or know of people who are looking for a room to rent.
You may want to consider having a friend or relative with you when you are showing prospective lodgers around. If this is not possible, think about arranging for someone to call you while the viewing is taking place, to check that everything is okay. Keep valuables out of sight and make sure you ask lots of questions if you are concerned about the person who is viewing.
Choosing a lodger
Don’t feel that you have to accept the first person who responds. You need to think about whether your lifestyles will be compatible, will they fit in with your family, do they have pets, are you happy for them to be in your house when you are out? You could ask to see references to check their background.
When you have chosen your lodger, get them to set up a standing order for the rent. This means that you don’t have to ask your lodger each week for their money and also provides a record of all money your lodger has paid to you. This will be useful if there are any disputes about rent in the future.
Check with the Tax Office if the amount of rent you will be getting from your lodger is exempt from tax. You can visit www.hmrc.go.uk to find the current rent a room exemption limit.