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Unusual rental ad sparks debate over 'lodgers'

spareroom lodgers

An advert on has sparked a debate about the unusual nature of ‘lodgers’ versus ‘tenants’ after a family in London advertised for someone to look after their children for three hours a day, pay £400 rent a month but only live there during the weekdays.

The unusual arrangement takes advantage of the grey area between lodgers with no fixed rights and a tenant with an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST).

Home owners are allowed to take in lodgers and not pay tax on the rent of up to £7,000 a year, but the lodger can be ejected with a month or even a week’s notice depending on the agreement drawn up between the two parties.

Most of the other legislation covering the private rented sector also does not apply, so a property does not need any of the mandatory safety certificates and their deposit does not need to be protected.


Sean Hooker (pictured), Head of Redress at the PRS, says: “It is a lodger’s arrangement and therefore the rules are as negotiated between the parties.

“If the landlord sets out the conditions and the lodger agrees to those conditions, there is nothing illegal about that.

“You have no additional rights as a lodger – all you are doing is renting a room out on whatever basis the parties agreed and they can do that.”

It is also not unusual for the ‘landlord’ involved to charge a lower rent in return for services such as looking after children (in this most recent case) or older relatives, which is also not illegal.

Nick Hurley, head of employment at legal firm Charles Russell Speechlys, told The Telegraph that it would not be illegal for the family to charge subsidised rent in exchange for childcare employment.

“It wouldn’t be illegal. There are lots of arrangements where people get subsidised or free housing in return for their employment," she said.

Sex for rent

But it is this sort of arrangement that has enabled some home owners to ask for sexual services in return for no or reduced rent.

A Surrey landlord was jailed in 2021 after being prosecuted for posting ‘sex for rent’ ads, the first such case of its kind to come to court.

The Government recently concluded a consultation on sex for rent but it was decided that legislation around online adverts and prostitution already covered such arrangements.


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