For those of us with a spare room or two, taking in a lodger might’ve crossed our minds as a way to utilise the space and bring in a little bit of extra cash. A lodger is essentially a person who lives with you in your home, sharing your living spaces though usually have their own room. This is under the agreement that you can still access that part of the house. If you’re unsure as to whether to take that leap and open your home to a lodger, we’ve put together a guide of things to think about beforehand.
Do I Need Permission to Take in a Lodger?
Whether you need permission and what permissions you need will ultimately depend on your own current circumstances. If you’re a tenant, for example, you will need permission from your landlord before taking in a lodger. This could be detailed out in the tenancy agreement, depending on the type of tenancy that you have. In most cases, permission is required and advised, though you can find the full details of all rental agreements and your rights to lodgers on the Citizens Advice website.
For homeowners, your right to a lodger and permissions necessary will depend on which stage you are at in the home-owning process. If you have a mortgage, you may need the lender’s permission before renting part of your home. If you’re a leaseholder or live in shared ownership properties, then you’ll also need to speak with the landlord to determine whether a lodger is allowed or not.
How Do I Make My Home Safe?
As well as safety for yourself, you also need to ensure that your home is safe for the lodger too. You’ll need to take steps to ensure safety that you may not have thought of previously, including providing furniture that complies with fire safety regulations, having gas safety checks each year by a qualified engineer and ensuring that all electrical appliances are safe to use. If you are a tenant, your landlord should be doing this anyway, but homeowners will often have to organise this themselves.
Do I Need Insurance?
If you have existing home insurance, there may be a change that lodgers aren’t included within the policy. This means that any lodgers in your home could invalidate the policy as a whole and leave you and your home without cover. To make sure that you, your home and your lodger are covered completely, you need to make sure you add specialist lodgers insurance.
Some providers may add this to your existing policy, but in some cases, you may need to switch providers to find the right policy and coverage for your new living situation. For help with this or for advice on how to apply for a quote, feel free to get in touch with our team.
Should I Do Background Checks?
Whether you do background checks on your lodger or not is entirely up to you, however, you will need to take into account privacy and gain permission from the lodger themselves. Generally speaking, you may only need references from previous accommodation and their immigration status, though employment and other personal information or checks may also be helpful.
You have a legal right to ensure that any potential lodgers are legally allowed to live in the UK, which means making and keeping any copies of documents to this effect, as well as jotting down the date that these checks were made.
Do I Need a Contract Or Written Agreement?
For legal purposes and to benefit both you and the lodger, having a written agreement to the lodging terms is advised. This should list the rights and responsibilities clearly, setting out what’s expected of both parties – this can include financial expectations. If you’re unsure where to start, you may be able to get a licence agreement from the post office, or from a legal stationer.
You could also put together an inventory of any furniture you’ve provided the lodger with as well as photographs of the space, to be checked through when they move out. This will help speed up the deposit-returning process and settle any discrepancies.
Finding a Lodger
If you’re ready and raring to go, it’s time to get started with finding a lodger that you can trust and in the best ways possible. While you need to be aware of safety when going to meet potential lodgers, particularly during the pandemic, you could find applicants in a number of different ways. This includes checking online, keeping an eye out for newspaper ads, placing an ad yourself, asking friends or neighbours if they know of anyone that might be interested or even speak to your landlord to see if they might have advice or knowledge of schemes used to find lodgers.