The UK government´s rent a room scheme means that you can earn up to £4250 per year, tax free.  But would you rent a room in your own home?  Here are our top tips if you would.

  1. Know your Property rights – If you are an owner-occupier you can rent a room in your house without complying with all the rules and regulations imposed on landlords who are letting a self-contained property.  For full details see https://www.gov.uk/rent-room-in-your-home.
  2. Agree the rental basics – Even if you are renting a room to a close friend or relative it is a good idea to agree some basic ground rules.  Issues such as bills, cleaning, noise, visitors, shared facilities, access and notice to quit should all be discussed in advance so that there are no misunderstandings later on.
  3. Keep a record of property condition and expenses– Even if you don´t feel the need for a formal contract it is a good idea to put your agreement in writing so that memories can be refreshed in the case of a disagreement.  If you don´t plan on making an inventory at least keep a record of time dated photos which show the condition and contents of the property so that any losses or damages can be established.  Also keep a record of bills and payments so that there is less likelihood for arguments about money.
  4. Get a rental deposit – Again, even with close friends a deposit will give you piece of mind in the case of damage or default on rent.  It is reasonable to expect your rent a month in advance, but you are free to come to any arrangement which suits you.
  5. Include and exclude from rent – when you agree the rent make sure that you are clear about what is included and excluded.   Are bills split?  If so, is all bills or such as insurance and council tax or just utilities.  A fixed price to include everything can mean fewer disagreements about money, but if you include services such as cleaning and cooking be careful they meet your lodger´s expectations.
  6. Boundaries – Chances are that if you have already agreed to share with someone, they will have a lot in common with you, but people often have different ideas about boundaries and acceptable behaviour.  Make it clear that your lodger´s boyfriend cannot use your bathroom if that is important to you.  Locks on internal doors can help preserve privacy and avoid misunderstandings.  If you need to share a bathroom and like your privacy agree a rota.
  7. Share the work load – Unless you are very much in tune with your lodger it is a good idea to be clear about how household tasks are divided.  This is probably one of the greatest causes of friction.  Cleaning, shopping, cooking, gardening and DIY all need to be done.  But bear in mind that as the owner occupier it is your responsibility to ensure that minimum standards are maintained.
  8. Renting to a stranger – if you are obliged to rent to someone you don´t know very well there are a number of things to consider.  As well as agreeing the points above you should go back to basics.  Is the person a night owl or morning person?  Are they quiet or extrovert?  Do they smoke or have pets?  Consider asking for references if possible, including from their employer and previous landlord.
  9. Set a notice period – the good news about renting out a room in your home is that it is easier to evict them in the case of a disagreement.  You are only required by law to be reasonable.  This can mean as little as a week if they pay weekly.  Agreeing  notice period in advance is a good idea.  This allows your lodger to have a back-up plan if it is clear you expect them to leave quickly if things don´t work out, or they don´t pay.
  10. Tenant-Friendly Rooms – if you are renting out a specific room or area it is a good idea to take some basic precautions for both yourself and your tenant.  A mattress cover is a good idea, as is washable covers for any furniture provided.  A room painted white or in a neutral colour will also allow for easy touch-ups lockable storage for valuable will avoid any misunderstandings.  A smoke alarm is also a good idea. 
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Dawn Blake

Dawn Blake

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