Your obligations before, during and whilst housing a lodger.
A landlord has certain responsibilities when renting out private property, many of which differ depending on the type of the property. Failure to meet these obligations may result in a fine or even prosecution. If you are letting a spare room or part of your home then you will be taking on a lodger. Read on to ensure you are aware of your obligations when taking in a lodger into your home.
What is a lodger?
A lodger (also known as a “licensee”) is someone who rents out a room in the property someone else (the “licensor”) is living in for an agreed fee. Legally, a lodger is granted a licence to occupy part of a residential property. It is the preferred arrangement between parties who want to let part of a shared property, but do not want to take on the official legal responsibilities of landlord and tenant.
What responsibilities are imposed by law on someone taking in a lodger?
Before you start looking for a lodger:
- Obtain consent to get a lodger from any superior landlord, mortgage lender, lender or insurer.
- Will taking on a lodger affect your council tax? Understand that if you previously lived alone, you will likely lose the 25% single person discount on your council tax if the lodger stays over a long period of time.
- Inform your local benefits agency if you currently receive any benefits to understand the implications of taking in a lodger.
- If you will have more than 2 unrelated lodgers living with you, your property may become a House in multiple occupation(HMO) for which you might need a licence. Read our article to understand the obligations of a HMO landlord.
- Ensure the room and property are in following condition:
- They must be fit for human habitation i.e. safe and free from any health hazards;
- A Gas Safety engineer must carry out a gas safety check every 12 months;
- All furniture and upholstery you provide must meet current fire resistance requirements. Note that furniture manufactured after March 1989 will comply with these regulations and most will even have a label to prove it.
- All electrical appliances provided by you must be in safe working order.
- All fire alarms in the property must be in working order.
You might also want to consider taking home insurance from a reputable insurance provider if you have not already done so. As lodgers tend to rent furnished rooms you should also consider taking contents insurance.
You can then place an advert on a site like spareroom.co.uk to find prospective lodgers or alternatively you can read our tips. Once you find a potential lodger:
- If the property is in England, Conduct a ‘right to rent’ check on potential lodgers.
- If you are going to screen the lodger, obtain their permission before carrying out employment, credit, personal and previous accommodation reference checks. You need to follow relevant data protection standards while doing these checks.
- Do not charge the lodger any fees for referencing, drawing up an inventory or written agreement, carrying out a credit check, or other administrative tasks. This is illegal under the Tenant Fees Act 2019.
- Register with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) if you intend to collect, process, or store the personal data (name, phone number, address, etc) of your lodger on any electrical device.
- Create a Lodger Agreement detailing both you and the lodger’s rights and duties. Both of you must sign the contract. You can use a contracting platform such as Legislate to do this quickly and legally.
- If you are a secure (lifetime) or flexible council tenant or renting from your local housing association, check your tenancy agreement to see if you need to inform them of any changes to your household.
Throughout the duration of the licence:
- Fix any repairs in the property. Your Lodger Agreement should have made it clear that the lodger will be responsible for fixing or paying for any damages caused by them.
- Satisfy the property standards mentioned above, such as arranging for annual gas safety checks.
- If you are earning over £7,500 from renting out a room to the lodger, you will need to pay tax and include this in your tax return, and consider joining the government’s Rent a room scheme. Rental income less than £7,500 is tax-free.
- Abide by the terms of your Lodger Agreement.
Lodgers are excluded occupiers which means that licence can be terminated with reasonable notice and can be evicted without a court order if they refuse to leave.