Taking in a Lodger

Read our blog on taking in a lodger. We discuss the advantages, disadvantages and rules you need to know before renting out a room

The advantages, disadvantages and rules of taking in a lodger

By far the biggest growth area in flatshare is people taking in lodgers – over half the listings on www.SpareRoom.co.uk are now from homeowners looking to rent out a room.

Whether you need help with your mortgage payments, have debts to pay off or just fancy a bit of company, taking in a lodger can be a highly effective (and extremely flexible) solution.

If you haven’t done this before then you’re bound to have plenty of questions so here are the main ones we get asked on a regular basis.

Who can take in a lodger?

Most homeowners and council tenants can take in a lodger, as can some private tenants. You’ll need to check first to make sure it’s ok.

Homeowners – check with your mortgage lender Council tenants – check with your local council’s housing office Private tenants – check your rental agreement or ask your landlord

Is it risky?

Letting a stranger into your home comes with a certain degree of risk but there are steps you can take to minimise this:

  • Take your time finding a lodger – don’t just take the first person who comes along 
  • Get something in writing – a contract is essential so you’re both covered 
  • Make sure you’re clear about any rules – the more you discuss in advance the less you’ll be unclear about 
  • Take a deposit – this is standard practice and will safeguard against any unpaid rent or damages

How much can I earn?

This depends entirely on where you live. The average double room in London goes for £120 per week; the UK average is £91. Have a look on www.SpareRoom.co.uk to see what other people are charging in your area

Will I have to pay tax?

The government’s Rent a Room Scheme allows you to earn up to £4,250 a year from renting out your spare room. This means that, as long as you don’t earn more than this, you don’t have to declare anything or notify the taxman. If you want to claim expenses against letting the room or earn more you’ll need to fill in a tax return.

What if I don’t like it?

The best thing about taking in a lodger (other than the money) is that it’s extremely flexible. You can take someone in for an initial short period (say 3 months) and only renew if you both agree. Alternatively you could take someone in for 6 months then have a break after they leave. Some live in landlords (especially in big cities or near major centres of employment such as airports or hospitals) rent out their room from Monday to Friday to commuters who travel a long way to work but go home at the weekends. This can be a great way of keeping a little privacy.

Top tips

  1. Take your time to find the right person

  2. Agree terms before they move in

  3. Always have a contract

  4. Take advantage of the Rent a Room Scheme

  5. Take a deposit at the beginning of the tenancy

More information

For more on taking in a lodger go to http://www.SpareRoom.co.uk/lodger where you can download a free guide.