6 Things You Need to Know Before Taking in a Lodger

So the metropolitan cost of living is making you sad. You need some extra cash, but you’re mildly perturbed by the idea of a sugar daddy. At least one that you have to touch, physically. For these very reasons, taking on a lodger has been a way forward for record numbers of London residents in recent years. Just think: it’s not only a quick and easy way of easing that wallet strain, but you might also gain a very special friend, for bike rides and such! If you’re thinking about it, here are the first steps you need to take.

1. Make sure you’re allowed. 

If you’re a long leaseholder, consult the terms of your lease; if you’re renting the property, you’ll need to ask your landlord for permission, and if you have a mortgage on the property, tell your lender. Taking in a lodger will affect your Council Tax ‘Single Person Occupancy’ status, so if you’ve been on your lonesome thus far, you’ll also need to notify the council.

2. Decide the terms and conditions in advance, and get it in writing. 

This is called a lodger agreement. You know when you’re six episodes of Judge Judy in and a defendant with a fantastically offensive haircut is banging on about he never agreed to pay Jamie-Lynn any rent: Jamie-Lynn is saying hey ya’ll he most definitely damn diggidy did and Judge Judy is shouting BALONEY at the pair of them, and you – the seasoned viewer at home – you know Jamie-Lynn is probably telling the truth, but she won’t see a penny because a verbal agreement means diddly squat in the eyes of law. Don’t be like Jamie-Lynn. You won’t even have Queen of Everything Judge Judy to settle it—you’ll have Judge Rinder, who quite frankly isn’t worth anyone’s time. Set out the cost of deposit (normally equivalent to a month’s rent), the cost of rent, when it’s due how it needs to be paid. Make it clear how much notice is needed for either party to terminate the agreement and what you’ll both be paying for (e.g. bills). 

3. An Inventory Agreement for their room is also a good shout.

That way you have grounds to keep their deposit if they decide to break everything for a laugh. Don’t be a dick. Set a fair rent for what you’re offering. Sure, we all want to make a fast buck, and sure, greedy London landlords are so ubiquitous now that it’s almost a given. But don’t be one of them. Empathise with your fellow humans; be realistic.

4. Be in the know about declaring your payments.

The Rent a Room Scheme allows you to receive up to £4,250 a year free from tax for letting out a furnished room in your home. The lodger can rent any amount of space in your home, but it doesn’t apply for unfurnished rooms, nor if you separate areas into different flats. Check the government website for full terms and conditions, but the gist is thus: if you exceed the limit or rent out an unfurnished room, the payments are to be declared as income to HM Revenue & Customs and will be taxed in the usual way.

5. Make sure your place is safe

It needn’t be repeated that Judge Rinder is worth no one’s time, and if your lodger electrocutes his or herself on a dodgy plug then you’ll find yourself on the wrong side of the screen, my friend. Plus self-interest aside, I guess, it’s just not that cool to electrocute people. So ensure all safety basics are under control: gas and electrical fittings, appliances, fire prevention etc.

6. Choose the right lodger.

It can be a damn pain to evict someone, and even if they’re not full on smelling-your-pants-weird, it won’t be a happy life if you just don’t really mesh. A lukewarm relationship isn’t enough for someone you’re around all the time. That’s why we exist: at Ideal Flatmate, we get to know you, and then we find you matches tailored to you. We’ve got a ton of rooms for rent in London and all around the UK along with – you got it – plenty of people who are looking for the same thing, so it’s never been easier to find your perfect housemate.