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Taking a lodger

On this page you can find answers to some of the most commonly asked questions around taking a lodger.

Under occupancy

The government introduced new rules in April 2013 to calculate if you are under occupying your home. These rules may affect the level of housing benefit your household will receive. The new rules mean that housing benefit will be worked out using criteria which allows one bedroom for each of the following. This is commonly referred to as the bedroom tax, size criteria or under-occupation penalty.

  • Each adult couple or single person
  • Any other person age 16 and over
  • Two children of the same sex under the age 16
  • Two children under the age of 10, of any sex
  • A person needing a separate room because of disability
  • A carer (or carers) providing overnight care

If you have a spare room, you may want to consider taking in a lodger to help towards your rent costs.

What is a lodger?

A lodger is someone who you agree to share your home with and who is not a member of your family. You must not let the lodger put a lock on the door of their bedroom (or on any other room). You must keep the right to go into the room from time to time while still respecting your lodger’s privacy.

Do I need permission to take in a lodger?

Yes. You must get our written permission before you let a lodger move in. Most Genesis tenancy agreements allow tenants to take in a lodger, but we will need to check this before we give permission.

You must tell us if your lodger moves out.

We will not give permission for you to rent out the whole of your home as this is a breach of your tenancy.

Will Genesis help me find a lodger?

No. You will be responsible for finding a lodger and making the arrangements. Genesis will not hold any formal agreement with a lodger, your lodger will have an agreement with you.

Will Genesis help me deal with problems with a lodger?

No. You will be responsible for the conduct of your lodger. We cannot get involved with any dispute between you and your lodger. It will always be your responsibility to make sure your rent is paid and that all the conditions of your tenancy are complied with.

Will a lodger have rights and responsibilities under my tenancy agreement?

No. A lodger won’t hold any agreement with Genesis and will not receive any rights.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that lodgers will not be considered part of the household if you apply for a transfer or if we have to temporarily move you so we can carry out major repair works. Similarly, if you are currently signed to a fixed term tenancy agreement, we will not consider a lodger as part of your household when we decide whether to issue a new fixed term tenancy.

If a lodger refuses to leave the property when your tenancy has ended they won’t have any rights to the property and we will take legal action to get possession if we have to. A lodger will not receive any succession rights when you die.

Can I evict a lodger if it doesn’t work out?

Yes. You can usually evict a lodger fairly easily but you will need to give reasonable notice if you are going to do this. You should also set out in your lodger agreement the conditions you are both going to agree to. This will make it easier if things go wrong later on.

If you end your tenancy and move out you must make sure the lodger moves out too.

What can I charge?

It is up to you to decide what you want to charge your lodger, you may want to take into consideration where you live and what your property is like. To get an idea, check what other people in your area are charging – from your local paper, or on websites such as www.spareroom.co.uk.

Should I have a formal agreement?

It’s a good idea to draw up a written agreement between you and your lodger. It could include: rent payment details and how bills will be paid, and what facilities and services are available for the lodger, when you will review the payment amount, notice period for moving out and general house rules. (Guides to lodger agreements can be found in bookshops, stationers and online).

How will the income from a lodger affect my benefits?

From April 2013, lodgers will count as occupying a room under the new rules (see box above). If you are in receipt of Income Support, income based Jobseekers Allowance or income based Employment and Support Allowance, if you let out a room in your house to a lodger on a formal contractual arrangement, without providing any food, then £20 of your weekly charge for each lodger is ignored. The balance is counted as income.

If someone shares your home under an informal arrangement, any payment they make to you for living and accommodation is ignored, but a non-dependant deduction may be made from any Housing Benefit or housing costs paid.

With the introduction of Universal Credit from October 2013, the rules about income from lodgers may change. When you are told you have to claim Universal Credit, you will need to get advice about how having a lodger might affect your benefit.

Do I need to undertake any checks?

If you take in a lodger you must ensure that they have the ‘Right to Rent’ in the UK. This means that you must ask your lodger to provide you with an original document to show they have the right to be in the UK, check this document is valid whilst they are present, make and keep copies of the documents, and record the date that you made the check.

If you don’t make these checks you could be fined up to £3,000 if your lodger doesn’t have the ‘Right to Rent’.

Do I have to tell anyone else?

If you take in a lodger you must tell the housing benefit office, local authority council tax department, the tax office (HMRC) and your contents insurer.

Get in touch

If you would like to go ahead and take in a lodger get in touch with us.

When you get in touch, please have details to hand about who is currently living with you together with details of the spare room. This will help us process your request. You must wait for our permission before you take in a lodger.

Sometimes, we may need to turn down a request to take in a lodger. Where this happens, we will clearly explain our reasons.

Once we’ve looked at your request and given permission, you can get started.

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