Lodgers – Questions & Answers
Lodgers, Rent-a-Room Scheme, Resident Landlords – Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need to get permission from anyone before I can take in a lodger?
- If you own your property freehold, not usually but don’t forget to inform your insurers.
- If you have a mortgage you may need permission from the mortgage lender
- If you are a long leaseholder you will need to check your own lease or ask you landlord for permission
- If you are a Council Tenant or a Housing Association tenant you will probably be allowed to take in a lodger but check with your landlord first.
- If you are a private tenant this will depend upon the terms of your tenancy agreement. Consult your landlord.
Do Resident Landlords and Lodgers need to have a written agreement?
This is not strictly necessary but is always advisable. The agreement sets out the terms on which you are allowing the lodger to occupy your property and what happens if things go wrong:
- The amount of rent, how it is to be paid (standing order), when the amount can be reviewed and if necessary, increased.
- How much notice is required by either party.
- What meals and other services are to be provided
- What the Lodger and Landlord are expected to pay for.
It is advisable to use a proper agreement (House & Flat Share – Lodgers)
Do I need bother with a Lodger Application Form, references and credit checks?
No. But remember, you are taking a complete stranger into your own home with your family’s safety, welfare, possessions and identities at stake. You are taking risks if you do not carry out careful checks unless the lodger is either known to you or comes through recommendation. See the Lodger Application Form and the section on Tenant Screening
What if I want to convert my property to make it more suitable for taking in lodgers?
You will possibly need planning permission because you could create a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO)and you will need to comply with the current building regulations, especially those relating to fire safety. You may also require additional facilities such as toilets. Contact your local council planning department. Remember though: if you create a situation were the lodger has exclusive possession and use of one part of your property, including own cooking and washing facilities, you could end up with a tenancy situation. The lodger could acquire partial or full tenancy rights.
Are there any rules on what rent can be charged?
This is purely a matter for the landlord and the lodger to agree between them – a market rent will be at a level similar to other lodgings and tenancies in the area. The agreement may have provision for rent review and increases, for example annually. Some older agreements (entered into before 15 January 1989) may come under the jurisdiction of the rent tribunal where aregistered fair rent can be applied for.
What happens if we disagree and I want my lodger to leave?
Your lodger has a right to a reasonable period of notice to leave. He or she also has a right to the deposit back providing no damage is done and there’s no outstanding rent.
What happens if my lodger refuses to leave or threatens violence?
This can occur, though it’s very rare – most people will leave when you request it. Your lodger has no statutory rights as a tenant would, so once he or she has outstayed his or her welcome they are in fact a trespasser in your home. The police may assist, especially if you have been threatened in any way. You could resort to a lock-out, but in an extreme case you would apply to the county court as you would with squatters.