Taking In Lodgers- ‘Rent-A-Room’ Scheme Guide For Landlords

Taking In A Lodger

Ever considered taking in a lodger? A lodger can be a great way of generating income; many thousands of homeowners earn extra income in this way.

Interested? Let’s take a look at the details…

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The positives of taking in a lodger

  • most obviously, it’s a great way of earning extra cash, which can ultimately help you pay your mortgage and support other financial expenditures you may have
  • The Inland Revenue allow you to earn up to £7,500 per year tax-free through the rent-a-room scheme. To be valid for the scheme (tax-free policy), you need to stick to a few rules, which I’ll cover further down…
  • Your lodger has a license to occupy your premises and not a full tenancy – no interest in the property – therefore it’s a much simpler process to remove unsuitable lodgers than it is tenants You have much more control over the situation with a lodger than you do with full tenants. This is because Lodgers occupy your home on licence, and they do not have security of tenure – unlike tenants. Lodgers cannot call the place their own, therefore they have no right to stay on if you give them notice to leave.
  • If you live alone, a lodger’s presence alone can provide you with security
  • Good lodgers can become great friends; they can even become free house sitters, child and pet minders. Let’s face it, living with someone new and random could be fun; you may find yourself with a new drinking partner

The negatives of taking in a lodger

  • you could potentially end up living with a stranger. So it’s important you get someone trust worthy in. It’s always best if you can get a friend in, or a friend-of-a-friend; basically anyone that comes with a good recommendation from someone you can trust.
  • you’ll have to provide a communal area, such as a bathroom and kitchen, which means you’ll have less “private” areas.
  • you may find it more difficult to gain personal space and “alone time” around the house. So walking around in your undies or cooking naked may no longer be an option. Unless, of course, by some miracle you’re both nudists! In that case, game on.
  • Lodgers and landlords aren’t always going to agree on everything, so the odd debate here and there is more than possible.
  • Your tenant has the right to invite guests over, so you may have to play host for random guests and have unknown faces around your house.
  • If you live alone, you will lose the 25% single person discount on your council tax. There may be some exceptions, for example, if the subtenant is a full-time student.

The Rent a Room scheme

The main benefit of getting a lodger is that you can apply for the “rent a room scheme”, which as mentioned, entitles you to a tax free income of up to £4250. The Rent a Room scheme is an optional exemption scheme from renting furnished accommodation in your only or main home.

To avoid creating full tenancies (this scheme does NOT apply to “tenants” or “sub-tenants”, only lodgers) and to qualify for the rent-a-room scheme, you must meet the following requirements:

  • The room you let must be in your main residence, where you live most of the year. If you move out the lodger could become a full tenant by default.
  • The lodger must not have exclusive possession of a self-contained part of your property. Cooking facilities and bathroom etc. need to be shared with you.
  • The room you let must be for the lodger to live in, not to run a business.
  • If you are a tenant yourself you will need permission from your own landlord before you take a lodger. You will need permission in writing.
  • You will need to inform your insurers – they may want to change the cover slightly, and it’s a good idea to ask the lodger to insure their own possessions. It’s unlikely your household insurance will cover the lodger’s possessions.
  • You need to inform your mortgage lender, though it’s unlikely they will have any objections.

The advantages and disadvantages of the scheme

Although the scheme sounds like a decent deal, it might not be for you; it’s simply a matter of working out what is best for you. The principal point to bear in mind is that if you are in the Rent a Room scheme you can’t claim any expenses relating to the letting, for example, wear and tear, insurance, repairs, heating and lighting.

To work out whether you will be better off joining the scheme or declaring all of your letting income and claiming expenses on your tax return you need to compare the following:

  • how much income you are left with after your expenses
  • the amount of your receipts (rent plus any income from laundry services, meals, etc) over £7,500 or £3,750 if letting jointly per tax year
  • If you opt out of the scheme (or simply do nothing) you will pay income tax on the first amount. If you opt into the scheme you will pay tax on the second amount.
  • All UK landlords, including live in landlords, must get a Gas Safety Certificate (CP12), which must be renewed annually.
  • From 1st of Feb 2016 all landlords in England need to ensure their tenants have the “Right to rent” in England.

    In most cases it should be fairly straightforward- all you need to do is keep a copy of your tenant’s passport with your paperwork and record the date you took the copy. For more details, go to the Landlord ‘Right to rent’ guide.

‘Tenant Fees Act 2019’

This particular section is only relevant to Lodger Landlords in England.

The “Tenant Fees Act 2019” came into force on the 1st June 2019; it’s a legislation that bans and restricts letting agents and private landlords (in England only) from charging tenants & lodgers with certain fees. For example, ‘admin fees’ are no longer chargeable to the lodger, and there are now limitations on how much can be charged for late rent penalties.

The legislation stipulates that the only payments chargeable to lodgers (in connection with their licence), from the 1st of June, is as follows:

  • Rent.
  • Deposit (capped at five weeks’™ rent).
  • Holding deposit (capped at one week’s rent).
  • Payments to change the licence when requested by the lodger (capped at £50).
  • Payments associated with early termination of the licence, when requested by the lodger.
  • Payments in respect of utilities, communication services, TV licence and council tax.
  • A default fee for late payment of rent and replacement of a lost key/security device, where required under a lodger agreement.

If any fees other than what is permitted above is charged to the lodger, such as referencing fees or admin fees, then the landlord could face hefty fines for enforcing unlawful charges.

This legislation does not affect the landlords right to make claims against any damages or issues or disrepair (that don’t qualify as ‘wear or tear’) caused by the lodger. Please refer to my “Tenant Fees Act 2019” blog post for more information, including more information on the legislation, such as what fees are strictly prohibited.

Extra “rent a room scheme” notes

  • As mentioned, you’re taking a huge risk when taking in a stranger as a lodger. We all tend to be too trusting of people we don’t know – letting a complete stranger into your home is a risk.
  • It is most advisable to verify the lodger thoroughly. You should carry out credit searches and referencing on prospective lodgers, just as you would a tenant – unless you know they are genuine or they come recommended from a reliable source.
  • Legally you don’t need a formal agreement, but it is an extremely good idea to have one, as it can prevent a lot of arguments later.
  • Renting out a room may also affect your contents insurance. Most insurers will put up premiums, but it’s still important to inform them if you want to be sure that your belongings are protected. If you don’t tell them, the insurance may not be valid.
  • Taking in a lodger will most likely affect the amount of benefits you get if you’re claiming. For example, if you’re receiving housing benefit and you take in a lodger, the amount you get will almost certainly be reduced as they’ll assume your lodger is paying rent. This will be the case even if your lodger is living rent-free. If you simply don’t tell them, you may end up having to repay an overpayment, or be prosecuted for fraud.


How do I find a lodger?

The good thing is, you don’t need to pay a letting agent to find you a lodger. You can find one relatively easily and quickly by advertising your vacate room on one of the following websites:

  • Spareroom.co.uk – The UK’s busiest flat and houseshare website, by far the best place to start your search.
  • Gumtree.co.uk – Extremely popular classifieds website

Who do I need to inform that I have a lodger?

You may need to inform the following (if applicable):

  • Mortgage lender – get their permission in writing.
  • Possibly your freeholder for a leasehold property – check your lease; it’s unlikely permission will be necessary for a lodger (as opposed to a tenant), but if it is it should be in writing.
  • If you’re a private tenant, whether or not your rental agreement mentions subletting, you must get permission from your landlord which should be in writing.
  • If you rent from a housing association (although some housing association tenants have the same legal right as council tenants to take in a lodger – see below) there may be a clause in your letting agreement to the effect that taking in a lodger is not allowed, but with the current housing shortage, many housing associations will be prepared to waive this.
  • If you rent from a local authority in England or Wales, provided you have a secure tenancy (which you’re very likely to have unless you’re in temporary accommodation – check your rental agreement), you actually have the legal right under the Housing Act 1985 s 93(1)(a) to let a room in your home provided this doesn’t mean your home becomes overcrowded.
  • You home insurance provider must be informed or future claims could be refused.
  • Local Council Tax department if you get a single occupier’s discount or your council tax is paid for by benefits.
  • If you claim universal credit, you can keep the full rent without this affecting your benefit, but you should still inform the DWP and/or your local council, making it clear the new occupant is a lodger paying rent under a written lodger agreement and not a common law partner or family member.
  • If you claim means tested benefit other than universal credit, again you must inform the DWP in writing. The first £20 per week benefit is unaffected, but how the rest is affected depends on whether you provide any board for the lodger; see Lodgersite.com.

Will my pension get affected if I have a lodger?

Only if you receive pension credits, which are a means tested income supplement paid to retired people who are on a low income and didn’t pay enough into their state pension while they were working.

Do I have to pay tax on the rental income from my lodger?

If your income from renting your spare room is the rent a room scheme ceiling of £7,500 (which increased from £4,250 on 6th April 2016) or under, regardless of your overall income from other sources, you don’t need to take any action as far as HMRC is concerned, unless you already do a tax return for other reasons.

If you DO pay tax on your rental income (because it’s over £7,500), you can ask HMRC to tax you through PAYE, in which case it would be on your P60. Otherwise, if you needed to prove your rental income, in the absence of an accountant, you would need to request an SA302 – so even if you were using your rent a room exemption, you would need to do a tax return. Whether your rental income is over £7,500 or not, you can still opt out of rent a room if you need to claim a rebate on your room rental. See the Rent a Room Scheme Ready Reckoner tool on Lodgersite.com for full details for your own particular circumstances.

I already have a lodger, can I increase his/her rate?

Legally, you are entitled to raise the rent, provided you’re not within a fixed period on your rental agreement.

To get an idea of the ‘going rate’ you can look through websites like Spareroom.com to see what other live-in landlords are charging their lodgers for a similar proposition to yours.

Where can I buy a Lodger License/Agreement (contract)?

You can buy hard copy licenses from WHSmith, either through their online store or on local high street outlet. There are also plenty of other outlets online, making it easy for download.

However, I urge proceeding with caution when acquiring a contract, and to ensure it’s from a reputable supplier. A lot of contracts online, especially the “freebie templates” may contain clauses/wording which could compromise the legal status of the room let!

I feel comfortable recommending the Lodger Agreement Form Pack on Amazon (£11.15) because it’s produced by the very reputable legal firm Anthony Gold Solicitors (full disclosure: it’s an affiliate link).

Will renting my room out affect my tax credits?

Tax credits are regarded as a means tested benefit, which means that if you have a lodger you can keep the first £20 per week rental income without it affecting your benefit, but the remainder is affected unless you provide meals for the lodger, where you can keep half of the remainder.

For example, say you’re paid £90 per week rent, but you always provide a cooked breakfast for your lodger, you would make £55 per week rental income (made up of the first £20 that is disregarded, plus one half of the remaining £70, which is £35).

Can my lodger have overnight guests? If so, how often?

As far as the law is concerned, a lodger has absolutely no right to have overnight guests, unless it’s been agreed as part of the letting contract (the lodger agreement, which can be written or verbal. If verbal, it will be very hard for either party to prove their position).

However, having said that, in practice if a lodger is paying rent and behaving properly, it should be regarded as their home too, and it’s not unreasonable to expect to have your partner overnight on occasion in your own home, except if it’s a house share of any description, your house mates and pre-agreed house rules obviously must be considered and there should be give and take.

The Lodgersite.com website says that 2 nights a week is reasonable, but Spareroom.co.uk suggest the partner stays the same number of nights the lodger stays over at their place (which assumes the partner is in a position to have a regular overnight guest).

Can I have a relative “rent a room”?

When the landlord and tenant or lodger are related, if you claim housing benefit, local housing allowance or the HB or LHA element under universal credit, your claim may be affected, unless your relative is unable to afford your rent. Other benefits would only be affected if the person was married to you or living with you as a married or civil partner.

My lodger is frequently away, is he still liable to pay the full-rate?

The assumption is still that the room is let full time, unless the lodger and landlord have agreed otherwise (typically a midweek let where the landlord gets full use of the room when the lodger isn’t in occupation on weekends and holidays and the lodger doesn’t pay rent for those days).

Generally, the lodger is liable for paying full rent while he is away, unless you can get his agreement that you can use his room while he’s gone (you could let it short term to another lodger). However, make sure it’s put clearly in writing (email or even text will do, provided you get a response with his clear agreement) and you agree on dates, or at the very least get a cast iron commitment from your lodger as to a minimum notice period he will give you when he wants to return.

If you do let his room to a temporary lodger while he’s away, get that person to sign a lodger agreement that clearly sets out a time period with 1 week’s notice in case your main lodger wants to return. Also, even though this would only be a temporary lodger, it’s crucial you that you run a tenant reference on them, if only to ensure you don’t get someone who refuses to move out after the main lodger wants to return!

Note: Many of the FAQ’s have been answered by the brilliant lodger expert Mandy from Lodger Website (there’s a lot more information on lodging there, highly recommended) in the comments section below. She’s always giving sound advice and willing to help.

Any information provided is not legal advice. I will always recommend you seek legal or professional advice on any legal matters!

198 Join the Conversation...

Showing 148 - 198 comments (out of 198)
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Rebecca 30th January, 2016 @ 20:02

I claim ESA and DLA (lower rate care and mobility - not yet migrated to PIP) and am thinking of having my son move back in. Is it right that the Council will deduct a set amount for rent as he will be earning?

Or, given that I claim DLA and may migrate onto PIP, is it permissible for me to have him live with me without them charging him rent?

Obviously I would expect him to make a contribution towards the bills and furnishings - but as I have health issues I am thinking that I may rather have him live with me than get someone i don't know to sub-let the room to. However, if he has to pay full rate then he may prefer to live with friends.

Thanks for any advice you are able to offer.

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Mandy Thomson 31st January, 2016 @ 09:59

Hi Rebecca

I don’t think moving in your son or another carer WHO DOESN’T PAY YOU RENT would affect your ESA, which I’m assuming is the means tested type, (as that is a personal benefit that would only be affected if you lived with a partner) but it WILL affect your housing benefit or local housing allowance, as your son is a non dependent family member (i.e. an independent adult who will contribute toward the rent).

Where DLA is concerned, I don’t know much about this benefit, but it is complex and I would want to ensure that having someone living with you who could theoretically be seen as your carer wouldn’t affect this. I would therefore advise you to make an appointment with your local Jobcentre Plus branch for an assessment with an experienced advisor (ask them if they can assess your housing benefit at the same time).

If the DWP can’t assess your housing benefit entitlement, please ask Housing Benefit at your local authority for an assessment with your son living there, once you’re aware of how your DLA might be affected.

You will need to supply full details of your son’s income for your benefit assessments, and the hours he works.

Once you have the income assessments made, you will then be best placed to decide if your son should move in.

Your son obviously won’t be your lodger, but if for the sake of argument you DID decide to take in a rent paying lodger (as opposed to a carer who wasn’t paying you rent), this affects means tested benefit (but NOT universal credit) as we’ve previously set out on this page.

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Diane williams 4th March, 2016 @ 00:44

Hi.my mum and ex step dad have seperate .but still live in the same house owned by my ex step dad .but live seperate lives .I am 23yrs old living in a hostel which I really dnt like it's affecting my health there .my step dad offered to rent a room to me .but I am not sure if allowed ?the you

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Charlie 11th April, 2016 @ 18:06


Fascinating comment thread. A lot of insight in here.

Upon my particular situation, I have a 4 bedroom flat. I plan to rent out all 3 rooms.

Would the following be legitimate or would it be deemed as a break of the rules:

1. I have one lodger who pays me around the £7k threshold per year for the rent a room scheme (not a tenant; but a lodger). With their expenses, I can't and won't offset it against my tax.

2. I then have 2 tenants rent the other 2 rooms from me. They are contracted like tenants and they combined pay me £10k per annum. Can I offset maintenance, part of my mortgage, and expenses against these 2 tenants, keep my threshold above and allow my rent a room scheme benefit to stay in place, and therefore my tax is only based on the £10k, not £17k in total.

Would that be allowed by law, or is it really one or the other?

I'm hopeful I could combine and keep the rent a room scheme in place.

Your comments appreciated.

Thank you.

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Mandy Thomson 16th April, 2016 @ 10:12

Hi Charlie

Sorry for the delayed response. I have set out my answers to your questions below.

Firstly, the rent a room scheme is purely about tax, not the renter’s legal status, so they can be a licensee (typically just renting a room and sharing bathroom and kitchen) or a tenant (renting say, a granny flat or they might just have exclusive possession of a room – more below), the only qualifications for the rent a room scheme is that the landlord must share his/her main home with the renter(s) and the accommodation must be furnished.

You asked:

1. I have one lodger who pays me around the £7k threshold per year for the rent a room scheme (not a tenant; but a lodger). With their expenses, I can't and won't offset it against my tax.

As you know, you have the choice as to whether you use your rent a room allowance or you choose to offset it. However, this begs the question: how come you’re in a situation where you’ve run up £7,500 (or even £4,250, the allowance before 6 April) on expenses for a lodger?

2. I then have 2 tenants rent the other 2 rooms from me. They are contracted like tenants and they combined pay me £10k per annum. Can I offset maintenance, part of my mortgage, and expenses against these 2 tenants, keep my threshold above and allow my rent a room scheme benefit to stay in place, and therefore my tax is only based on the £10k, not £17k in total.

As I touched on above, the legal status doesn’t matter so long as they live in your main home. The rent a room allowance remains the same whether you have one lodger or 10; you are only entitled to the first £7,500 (or £4250 for previous tax years) against the rest of your income.

You can forego your rent a room allowance and claim expenses, but these would have to be greater than the rent a room allowance for this to be worthwhile. In other words, you would have to have had a lodger who caused a great deal of damage (for example, a fire), to the extent where you’ve had to completely redecorate and replace furniture. Please copy and paste this URL to see how this works: http://lodgersite.com/INTRO.html
You can’t claim for enhancements, only replacements, and rent a room assumes the room is already adequately furnished. As a resident landlord, you are also unable to claim against your mortgage. This is because this a residential mortgage, not a buy to let one, and is therefore not a business finance expense (in other words, you would have to pay it if you didn't have lodgers).

This has nothing to do with the rent a room tax scheme, but how come these people are “contracted as tenants” when they are only renting rooms? Do they have exclusive possession (i.e. they have locks on the doors and you can only enter with their permission, except in emergencies)? Is your mortgage provider aware of the arrangement?

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Ben 3rd May, 2016 @ 10:25

I have a lodger on a weekly rate. I am wondering how I should calculate the revenue for the tax year. We do not have fixed payment dates. She pays when I ask her, which is about every six weeks or so. By way of example, if I receive income on 8 April 2016 in respect of the previous six weeks, is that income in the 15-16 tax year or the 16-17 tax year? Does anyone know the answer to this?

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Mandy Thomson 3rd May, 2016 @ 10:31

Hi Ben

That would be in respect of 15/16 tax year just passed. However, you can add it to 16/17 tax year instead if you wish, as long as you keep accurate records.

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Londongirl 20th May, 2016 @ 10:09

I read other Landlord sites - I have come across lodgersite.com, rentergirl.blogspot.co.uk and a couple of BTL Landlord blogs, even spareroom.com so very helpful info, as well as Tessa Shepperson's Legal blurb. They are all (I feel) incredibly leaning towards the lodger and making it amenable for the lodger to the point of almost half your house is the lodgers. Lodgersite even suggesting putting a TV/DVD in the lodgers room!! What is it now a bleeding Hotel/B&B/Inn!!

There is a suggestion for House Rules but then a ridiculing of them if there is too much detail eg a five minute shower or asking the lodger to use a table mat. (I don't write that kinda stuff but long to!) They promote sharing the living room and that there is no way around the aggravating issue of overnight guests. Insisting that the calibre of lodger will not be very good if these things aren't offered. They promote House Sharing. Hmm. Its that FRIENDS TV sitcom shit again. The way I see it is if the Lodger is going to pay precisely half of all the bills, half the upkeep of the property, half every god dam thing then thats House Sharing. But in my mind the Lodger is renting a part of the house ie the Spare Room. The Lodger is sharing the kitchen and bathroom. Why should this translate to Entire House Sharing with half of the benefits without half the Costs is beyond me...(totally baffled)

Now several years have passed and I have had several lodgers. THIS I NOW KNOW. I, the Live in Landlady, do NOT want to share my living room, and I do NOT feel safe with UNKNOWN overnight guests, and I do NOT want to have a movie night with my lodgers, and I do NOT want to hang out with them for five minutes. (I have shared cake in the kitchen!) I do NOT want to be your friend. I do NOT want your companionship. So my ads are clear and straight forward reflecting all this. The result is I have applicants who literally say to me. "This is exactly what I was looking for!" "I don't want to be obliged to socialise", "I don't want to eat together", I don't want my flatmates girlfriend here every night","I just want to be in my room, put my head down and study without social pressures."

I have a market: Parents love me! I have my niche and those who come here - it ticks their boxes. So sod all those who say I must share my living room and allow boyfriends to overnight. No No No you absolutely do not have to!

If you don't like my ad, then please do me a favour and click on another page. If you don't like and you don't follow my House Rules then please close the door behind you and step (leave). I haven't had any voids. I haven't had any major issues that mean my Rooms are on a black list and no one wants to live here. So I do think some of the stuff 'rentergirl' and 'lodgersite' refer are not to be taken as concrete.

Do your own thing, set your own rules - always of course within the Law. If they need a shag (and its never just a shag, its dinner [my gas/electric], breakfast [my gas/electric] a shower [my heating] and a shit [my toilet paper]) from their partner more than once a week then they can find a room together elsewhere.

None of my lodgers have ever had a TV in their rooms, not one. They watch Netflix and catch up. BOOM. Things have changed.

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Mandy Thomson 21st May, 2016 @ 19:00


I did write Lodgersite with the intention of making life easier for lodgers, but I also wrote it for the benefit of resident landlords (after twice being a resident landlord and once being a lodger myself, as well as being a landlord letting whole properties for 5 ½ years).

When you are a landlord, any kind of landlord (even if you only let your small box room on occasion), you are running a business, your lodger or tenant is your customer, and to some extent it is your job to take care of their needs, within reason (often going beyond the minimum the law obliges) – in short, to a certain extent, you work for that person, and to the same extent, you are accountable to them.

That is not to say I advocate putting up with a bad lodger (or tenant for that matter, though that is beyond the scope of this subject). If you read my site more closely, you will see that I’ve provided detailed information on minimising the risk of getting a bad lodger in the first place, and evicting one as swiftly and painlessly as possible if you do get one.

There is a world of difference between making an extra effort to make a good lodger feel welcome, and letting a bad one walk all over you!

You are correct and right about knowing what you can and can’t live with, and being clear with the lodger about these things before they move in – forcing yourself to tolerate something you’re not really happy about isn’t doing the lodger nor yourself any favours.

However, I wouldn’t describe the four pages I wrote (in “Interview Questions” and “House Rules”) as not detailed; in fact if anything I’d say they were extremely detailed, even over the top, as I’ve attempted to include just about anything and everything that could be an issue between most landlords and lodgers. However, there is a difference between DETAILED and PROSCRIPTIVE, beyond semantics – and you know it.

From what you’ve said, your rules DO come across as too proscriptive. Detailed and clear rules ensure both parties know what to expect and if stuck to ensure a more peaceful co-existence between the two, but overly proscriptive rules strip lodgers of their right to a normal home life, and ensure they’re stepping on eggshells. A lodger is paying rent, mostly for the room, but yes, also for a share of the rest of the property too (unless they have an apartment in that house with separate cooking, toilet and washing facilities) – in short, unless they’re a midweek or short term lodger, they’re paying rent for a home. In return for that, the landlord has to sacrifice some space and privacy – you can’t expect the lodger to pay rent and never to have to share with them or interact with them!

Everyone is different and every house share is different – some want to interact, even socialise, others want their space – provided both parties actually WANT the same (as opposed to the other party FORCING it on them), this is fine. However, your post is angry, aggressive, defensive and downright offensive, and your attitude to your lodgers is coming across that way too – you say the most interaction you’ve ever had, or wanted to have, was 5 minutes in the kitchen eating cake.

While no lodger landlord should set out to be great friends, you do need to have a friendly business cum flatmate relationship. And as for your remark about the lodgers’ partners and their use of your toilet paper…. BTW, an electric shower that’s not a power shower costs around 30p per day to run; “luxury” toilet paper brands cost around 50p per roll (‘basic” around 30p). The real cost here is your lost pride in conceding some of your House Rules and losing some of your space.

You are absolutely right about unknown partners – which again, I’ve made clear in Lodgersite – I’ve suggested that no one’s partner should be staying overnight until the other housemate has met them and feels comfortable.

I am aware that many people prefer to stream TV and movies now – I do it myself, and didn’t have a TV when I rented. However, streaming TV and movies over 6 months can cost much more than a basic TV/DVD player – you would need an unlimited broadband subscription – not cheap; or pay additional “fines” for use over your limit – again, not cheap. My suggestion of supplying the TV/DVD player was because it makes good BUSINESS SENSE (happy lodger = happy landlord, and it means lodger will want to use the lounge less, if at all).

For the record, Lodgersite has been read by many leading landlords, including Mary Latham and Mark Alexander, and they approve of my approach.

Where I myself am concerned, I spend a lot of my time passionately trying to defend landlords from more and more anti landlord politics, legislation, taxation, anti landlord propaganda, scapegoating, hatred and absolute misconception about decent landlords and the PRS. However, after having read your little rant, I can absolutely see why so many people are anti landlord.

Mandy Thomson
Landlord, author and developer of Lodgersite.com

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Londongirl 22nd May, 2016 @ 11:24

I agree with some of your points and suggestions. SOME. I am under no obligation to concur completely. We just do things differently.

Our lodgers are never ever going to be flatmates.

We only take student Lodgers. They go home to their parents after 8 to 9 months. We had one professional who I realised didnt work in our family set up as he wanted to have dinner, hang with us go out with us and we couldnt talk privately as he was always around!

I try real hard to forget about the negatives but here are a few episodes in about 20 years.

The girl who slit her wrists because she couldn't cope with her uni studies. If there wasn't a paramedic in the house I dread to think what could have happened!

The girl who never got out of bed because she was permanently stoned. Her room stank of marijuana!

The girl who regularly stole items from us including the valuable wedgewood China teapot I had inherited from my grandmother. No I didn’t report her to the police.

The girl who I thought was having vigorous sex in her room but whose head was being battered against the wall by her coke head boyfriend! My son home from a 14 hour shift as a paramedic had to drag him off and throw him out! I had to comfort a hysterical girl while i was silently hysterical! (the double bed was switched to single immediately)

The girl who had to go home after four weeks she was so painfully homesick.

The girl who was nearly raped after getting into an situation she couldn’t handle, in fact I am pretty sure she was. Her parents begged us to keep it quiet and took her home.

The girl who didn't have a bath for weeks. Same girl who never washed her clothes including underwear for six weeks. I had to tell her - she had no idea how to even begin to use a washing machine!

The girl who let four strange lads into our living room to watch a match on our TV an they trashed the room! Beer cans fag butts everywhere.

The many girls who had no qualms using and eating our food without permission! Good wine included! Never replaced.

The girl who chanted loudly for hours at night. Buddhist I think. My husband the most quiet man ever, screamed at her to "fucking shut up". She obliged.

The girl who had four long baths a day.

The girl who slept all day and prowled all night.

The girl who had a different guy over every night!

The anorexia girl who I finally had to ask her parents to come and collect in case she died in my house!

The many times I have gone to A&E to sit with or collect a silly drunk girl.

The parents we have lied to and said "lovely girl no trouble"

The girl I have to tutor privately with no charge to get through her resit exams after a year partying!

The many dissertations i have proof read, edited and rewritten.Those for lodgers who had shocking English!

The girls my paramedic son has had to checked their pulse as they lay semi comatosed at the front door.

The girl whose "brother" came to visit and stole two of my sons trainers from the shoe rack in the Hall.

The girl who couldn't understand why she couldn't float around my house just in knickers and bra! And the one who was in the kitchen naked! Dont ask!!

The girl who said she was deeply insulted not to sit with us at a private dinner party in our home! We told her several times!

The girl whose ex boyfriend threw a brick in our window!

The many ex boyfriends my husband has had to threaten to call the police on if they didn't piss off!

The day the police came looking for a girl we thought had gone home, no she had disappeared! That's an extremely long and very sad story, she ran away from an impending forced marriage.

The mother from up north, who came for one night, then subsequently every week end! Only stopped coming when my husband said she had to pay as we were not a Free Hote!

The girl who just couldn't understand why her two parents from overseas couldn't stay in her room with her for three weeks!

The girl who made a pass at my 15 year old daughter! Lol.

This happened to my friends: came home on day early from a washout camping trip. Tiptoeing quietly so as not to disturb their lodger who they figured was asleep, entered their bedroom. Lodger and her boyfriend shagging in the Homeowner bed!!

Another came home every day from work (for about a week) at 6pm, lodger having a deep long bath - Homeowner had to pee in a jam jar. Threaten to charge her only then the afternoon baths stopped.

My house is large, each room is large in fact the two largest rooms have lodgers. In addition to bed, wardrobe desk etc, they have a sofa and coffee table and a silient Caldura mini fridge, so they are able to entertain comfortably. One brought her piano as the rented room was so large. We have unlimited Broadband. The Kitchen/Dinner is Huge. There is bottomless filter coffee. We are a third cheaper than the rest of the street. (I check regularly!)

I would rather spell it out than have such ###! It is exhausting. We could just leave the rooms empty as there is no mortgage. Now theres a thought.

Many thank us for saying exactly what we want, because it matches their own requirements.

There have been some lovely girls like the Russian whose parents took our entire family to lunch at the Savoy as a thank you.

Now to share that home made lemon cake.

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Sarah 9th June, 2016 @ 19:24

Hi Mandy,

I'm renting a 4 bed and have 3 sub-tenants (with permission from the landlord). DWP is counting the rent paid by the others as my own income even though I have to pay the landlord the money they send to me. Have you any idea how I might resolve this without having to give up the house. Even with the £20 disregard, I'm still with nothing to live off and with nothing to pay my share of the rent. I would otherwise be in ESA support group.

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Mandy Thomson 10th June, 2016 @ 05:21


If and when you go onto universal credit, you will be able to keep all the income from the rooms you rent without it affecting your benefit.

However, while you're on ESA, you can double the amount of room rent you're allowed to keep by providing some meals for your lodgers (perhaps you could provide breakfast). See http://www.lodgersite.com/Who_To_Inform.html#benefit

As you're on ESA and renting a property, I take it you're claiming local housing allowance (housing benefit), though I realise you're likely to be entitled to much less than you pay toward the rent on your house.

I stopped working for the DWP well before universal credit came in, but is it possible to get your benefit transferred onto it before it comes to your area?

I hope this helps!

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Mandy Thomson 10th June, 2016 @ 08:50


Further to this, if you decide to provide meals, don't forget to write to your lodgers, then attach the letter or email to your lodger agreement as proof for the DWP.

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Jackie Anscomb-Moon 6th August, 2016 @ 13:31

I work part-time but earn over the tax allowance so I pay income tax. My husband is retired and collects his state pension only. We have no other income. My husband would like to rent out our spare room under the rent a room scheme. We jointly own the property. Would the £7500 tax allowance still apply as I already pay tax and my husband would be doing the work for renting out? Not sure how this works or what we have to do as far as Hmrc are concerned. Can anybody help please?

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Mandy Thomson 6th August, 2016 @ 16:05

@Jackie - if there are two live in landlords, the rent a room tax allowance is simply divided between you so you are each entitled to half = £3750 each before you pay tax on the rental income. The rent a room scheme allowance applies regardless of how much you make from other income sources.

See http://lodgersite.com/INTRO.html for further information and to assess your eligibility for rent a room.

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Jackie Anscomb-Moon 6th August, 2016 @ 20:39

Thank you Mandy -still a little hazy on the detail. I understand that the tax allowance is divided between us so if t h e total income from the rental was eg £5000 does that mean that we would each pay tax on £1250 or is the total income classed as £2500 each and then neither of us pays tax? Sorry if I'm being a bit dense!!!

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Mandy Thomson 6th August, 2016 @ 21:08

Hi Jackie

If the rent for the year was only £5000, this is well under the £7500 rent a room scheme ceiling, so you would not have to pay any tax on this or even declare it (assuming you do a tax return for other income).

Again, just to clarify your position, as there are two landlords, HMRC would see you both as receiving half each of the rent, that is, £2050 each which would be well under your divided allowance of £3750 each.

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Londongirl 7th August, 2016 @ 10:50


This is a very good site on lodgers and landlords https://www.lodgerguide.co.uk/

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Jackie Anscomb-Moon 9th August, 2016 @ 17:51

Thank you both very much - now I understand. 😀

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Mila 6th October, 2016 @ 21:16

Hi Everyone,

Can someone advice me on the matter below?
I'm living in landlord and had two lodgers(couple)staying in the spare room.
Before they moved in we agreed (verbally)that I require 3 weeks deposit and 3 weeks notice. They gave me a notice on 4th September (due to their family issues they wanted to go abroad to see their family) and on 8th of September they decided to leave the room. I wrote them an email on 7th September explaining everything. I explained that the notice period expires on 25th September. I explained that I will try to find someone within their notice period and will try to return some of their deposit if find someone before their notice expires (I really wanted to help them). Unfortunately I wasn't able to find anyone and I informed them that I cannot refund them some part of their deposit.
Now they are harassing me and planning to take me to the Court.
I strongly believe I have the right to keep some deposit as they moved out on 4th day after serving me verbal notice.
Can someone advices me on this more?
Thanks in advance

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Mandy Thomson 7th October, 2016 @ 05:51

Hi Mila

You are well within your rights to keep a portion of the deposit to cover your rent for the rest of the notice period. However, as you agreed this verbally your issue is PROVING this. Do you have any form of written communication from around the time the lodger agreement began - text messages, FaceBook conversations, emails, anything? If you can find a text message, there is plenty of software that will allow you to upload it to your computer.

Also, I don't know how much money we're talking about here, but does it exceed the court fee (which works on a sliding scale by amount) for taking a small claim (check the MCOL site). If the fee is around the same, or even greater, your ex lodgers may well decide it's just not worth it. Many people threaten court action without carrying it out.

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Tracy 18th October, 2016 @ 12:58

I work part time and claim nothing. Currently looking for more work, no longer claiming child tax credits as no longer eligible. Meanwhile I am struggling to pay bills and mortgage. My son is 18 and also looking for work. I'm scared of losing everything. I know of a homeless couple who have asked me if I'd rent them a room. This would help me but how would they be able to pay me?? I believe they get job seekers allowance, and just staying where they can. They have stayed here many a time as always happy to help. However I can no longer afford to do this :-( So now I need more information please so we can all help each other out

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Mandy Thomson 18th October, 2016 @ 17:27

Hi Tracey

If the couple are on JSA, there should be no reason that they can't get housing benefit (local housing allowance) to pay your room rent. However, be clear on house rules before they move in, run landlord references against each of them (this isn't just about their financial position), and do right to rent check. See lodgersite.com.

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Charlie 5th December, 2016 @ 13:31

This may seem like a dumb question, but I'm just after some clarity as every website I've seen says the same thing. We can apparently now earn £7,500 a year by renting out a room to a lodger.
Is that still the case if you work full time? So, I already pay income tax on my salary, through work. If I take in a lodger, do I need to pay tax on the monthly rent because I already earn way above the £7.5k threshold? (I know about the rent-a-room scheme, just after clarity on whether this £7.5k limit is aside from work related earnings).

The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 5th December, 2016 @ 13:41

Your question has already been addressed, under the "Do I have to pay tax on the rental income from my lodger?" section.

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Gill 7th December, 2016 @ 14:41

In response to Mila

I had a similar problem with a guy who paid his deposit on the Thursday & was due to move in between 3pm & 5pm on the Saturday. At around 8pm he phoned me to say due to family illness he would no longer be moving in as he needed to be nearer the ill relative (who lived about 10mins away from me.....but that's by the by) He asked for his deposit back then the connection was lost.The following day I text him telling him that as the deposit secured the room & a month's non returnable rent , which I obviously would not receive, was required in advance he was not entitled to it. In the following 2 or 3 weeks I had various texts saying. ' we need to sort this out' even offered to send his boss who apparently lives near me , to pick it up. ...as if I'd hand over the money to a complete stranger. About 3 weeks later,strolling around Berling Christmas markets i felt my phone vibrate seeing it was a local number I answered it in case there was an emergency back home. A woman spoke to me as if I was a child telling me I owed him this money & should return it immediately or he'd take legal action. I explained why he wouldn't be getting back at which point she said in that case you'll be hearing from his solicitors & hung up on me. My friend with me having overheard my side said I was correct. However on my return home I received a phone call from my solicitor about another matter so I asked her. She said that I was definitely in the right, that he had no leg to stand on especially as I still had a copy of my advert. She said that in actual fact he owed me money as I could take him to court for the loss of rent on that room until I re let it as I could potentially have let it to someone else between receiving his deposit & the date he was due to move in..... I didn't go down that routethough & funnily enough I never heard from him again!. My solicitor did say 'I hpe he does see a solicitor because they'd just laugh at him'

So , sorry long story , but stick to your guns! You're definitely in the right. Sadly I am now trying to chase a different lodger for approx £500 unpaid rent.

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Dan 10th January, 2017 @ 18:45

I am looking to potentially let a room out in my own property that i reside in. My main issue being tax, i already fall into the 40% income tax bracket so will the extra income from the lodger affect my income tax code? Will i have to give 40% of my lodger income to the HMRC through my own self assesment? My potential lodger is a contractor who can claim his accomodation charges back with reciepts so i would have to provide him/her with an accomodation receipt. Would i have to specify my address on the receipt or could i just write a generic statement on a bit of paper saying rent is paid in full for each calendar month?

Many thanks

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Simon Pambin 11th January, 2017 @ 13:57

Hi Dan,

As long as you're genuinely renting out part of your own home to a lodger (i.e. someone who shares your facilities) then, as long as the income is below the limit, it won't affect your tax at all. You don't even have to fill in a tax return.

Why would you be worried about putting your address on the receipt?

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Pete 24th January, 2017 @ 14:20


I live with my girlfriend. I own the house and she pays me a fixed "rent" each month (significantly below the market rate for a room in the area but more than I need to cover her share of utility bills etc). Can I claim the Rent a Room allowance on that income?

Many thanks

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anon 4th February, 2017 @ 14:50

in reply to Pete:

The tax exemption is automatic if you earn less than the threshold. This means you don’t need to do anything.

You must complete a tax return if you earn more than the threshold.(This threshold is halved if you share the income with your partner or someone else. )
From 6 April 2016, threshold is £7,500.
For the 2015 to 2016 tax year, the threshold was £4,250.

more info at:

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Short term lodger 19th February, 2017 @ 20:14

I am temporarily leasing the landlord's room in a property while the landlord is away. There are 2 other lodgers in this property.

At the same time that I'm due out of the room one of these other lodgers will be going overseas on holiday and she suggested that I could stay in her room while she's away and pay her a portion of her rent (effectively subletting the room).

The landlord doesn't like the idea and has come back with a 'solution' whereby I would continue leasing the landlords room, the other lodger would continue to pay rent while she's on holiday and the landlord would stay in the lodgers room (this way the landlord gets double rent).

Is the landlord allowed to do this without giving at least a significant discount on rent to the lodger or with the lodgers permission?

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londongirl 19th February, 2017 @ 20:45

None of my Lodgers can enter into sub-letting arrangements of their rooms whilst they are away. Never heard of such a thing. It's my house I decide what to do with each room.

You are lucky the landlord is accommodating you and letting you stay on awhile longer. What other arrangements the landlord enters into with other lodgers and how he utilises the other rooms is actually nothing to do with you.

If he chooses to sleep on his sofa and leave the room empty that too would be up to him.

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Short term lodger 19th February, 2017 @ 20:54

Hi London girl,

Thanks for your response though you haven't actually addressed my question.

Of course the lodger cannot sublet the room without the landlords permission and this has not been done. The lodger and I merely discussed the idea and since the landlord has met me and approved me to stay in the property initially we thought they would agree. Obviously they did not agree and they have the right to reject the proposal.

My question was out of curiosity and wanting to know these rights as I'm not from the UK. What I want to know is whether the landlord is legally allowed to demand rent for a room (while the lodger is away) and then use that same room for her own purposes contrary to the wishes of the lodger. It seems to me that if the landlord wants to use the room for her own purposes then she cannot expect the lodger to continue paying rent for that period.

The landlord theoretically choosing to instead stay on the couch is a completely different situation that doesn't not raise the same issue I'm wondering about.

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londongirl 20th February, 2017 @ 09:15

Landlords do not Demand rent. It is an exchange of goods. The actual rights as a Lodger with a Live In Landlord are minimum compared to a Tenant. Do not confuse the two.

Unless the Lodger removes every item from the room prior to their short holiday, they are obliged to pay for the room. However, they do not have Exclusive occupancy. So they could return and find the landlord has moved their belongings into another room in the property, temporary or permanently - all perfectly legit.

What you are asking is it Legal to sublet and charge rent for a room whilst the Lodger is away briefly on vacation. Most would never do this as it is seems morally incorrect. But because of the blurb "the lodger does not have Exclusive Occupancy" it certainly is possible.

The double charge is an ethical issue more than a legal issue. Asking around the only time I have known anything near this has been when a lodger when back to Australia for a month and the LIL sublet her room to a pretty desperate relative of the Lodger, and yes charged for use of the room. The sub person left and the original lodger returned to the same room.

Back in the 70s when student lodgers went back to their parent's houses in the summer hols, they would leave some belongings with the landlord and pay (I know because i did this) a retaining fee of half the usual rent, to secure the property for return. However, the Landlord would rent the room out to summer tourists or similar.

I would surmise that it is not ethically appropriate. Yet, whatever happens, it is the LIL who makes the decision and not the lodger.

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londongirl 20th February, 2017 @ 09:23

And I cannot understand your use of the term "double rent". Two rooms = two rents. The landlord is renting you a room, what ever room, you pay rent. Other room, other lodger pays rent. Occupied or not if there is an agreement you pay rent.

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Joybell 6th March, 2017 @ 06:39

I took in a lodger with a baby over two years ago and she is now a growing toddler. Can I reasonably charge more for dual occupancy of a room, to allow for the additional water usage / heating and general wear and tear
on my property ?

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karina kapur 10th May, 2017 @ 10:27

Hi Dear, Sir/Madam, If You Want Rent House/Room/Aparment, Please Go To This Link

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Roxanne Cook 19th May, 2017 @ 22:03

Hi I've been separated from my husband for 12 years and live apart I have a spare room in my housing association property which I have a short fall in my housing benefit but get full council tax due to incapable mentally
I'm disabled and get full mobility and middle care and esa support also I have had 2 strokes and have lived on my own for 12 years my husband whom is on pension credits and is renting privately has to move out due to his landlord property is up for sale can I rent him my spare room as a lodger for £10 a week and he get his own meals I won't supply any of that is there anything I should be aware of as we are and still married on paper but long term separated so have not and never will be a couple or living as a couple ever he gets housing benefit where he lives now but it would help me as I have to pay for the spare room and he needs to rent asap my housing association has already said I can get a lodger will the fact we are still married penalise me , but we are not in a relationship and have not been for 12 years but have a child together who is in long term foster care . We have totally different independent lives but never bothered getting divorced we just separated permanently and he's now a pensioner can you give me advice on how to proceed please .

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kay 1st June, 2017 @ 15:27

Can you answer a query please. If the landlord pays all the bills and is entitled to the 'Winter fuel payment of £200' and she is the sole occupier of the property. What would happen if she had a lodger who was over pensionable age. Would she have a reduced fuel payment, effectively having to halve it with the lodger, therefore being worse off by having an older person as a lodger?

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Andy 7th March, 2018 @ 09:08

I own my property and my wife and I are looking to rent out a room to my brother in law for a six month period whilst he looks elsewhere for a permanent property.
He would be claiming housing benefit as currently unemployed.
Is this possible ???

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Mandy Thomson 8th March, 2018 @ 09:01

@Andy while you can claim housing benefit if you're related to your LIVE OUT landlord (most likely after an inquiry into the circumstances) you CAN'T claim HB if you're renting from a family member you live with.

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Terry 28th October, 2018 @ 14:38

Can I ask your advice please?
I am renting out a room in my house (I'm a live in landlord) and the rent I earn comes to £4,500 in a tax year, therefore I believe I am entitled to receive this as tax free as part of the rent a room scheme.
The problem I have is that I have to file a self assessment tax return for other reasons.
I have indicated on the form that I want to claim rent a room relief and input the amount of rent, but when the tax is calculated it is showing that I owe tax. I know it is tax on the rent because if I remove the rent then the tax I owe is showing as zero.
I'm feeling like I should just not disclose anything but obviously want to fill the form correctly .
It may well be that I'm misunderstanding something, or I have to claim the tax back separately.
Your opinion would be appreciated.

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Mandy Thomson 28th October, 2018 @ 16:14


You don't need to declare your income from renting your room as it is below the rent a room threshold. You would only need to declare it if you'd made a loss and wanted to claim a tax refund.

See https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/rent-a-room-for-traders-hs223-self-assessment-helpsheet/hs223-rent-a-room-scheme-2017--2

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Chris S 11th December, 2018 @ 00:05

Im intending to use the Rent a Room Scheme to let out a house I have inherited.

the first thought was just let it at a commercial rent but that would involve paying 40% tax on the extra income and leave me liable to capital gains tax (tax on any increase in the value of the house between when i inherited it and when i sell it in the future).

Thinking around this i would probably be sensible registering myself at the house so I can use the Rent a Room scheme. Some people I know want to rent it but cant manage a commercial rent for the whole place so I think it makes sense to charge them the £ 7,500 a year which i'd get tax free. It would help them out plus this way I'd be exempt from capital gains tax for any increase in property value.

The HMRC site says that charging tenants for extra services or a share of household bills above the £ 7.5 k level would be taxable - however it say nothing at all about the tenants (lodgers) electing to pay their own bills directly to providers. Are there any thoughts on this as it seems a loophole - e.g they pay me the rent but they pay their own utility bills and they pay their own council tax...

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Simon Pambin 11th December, 2018 @ 11:38

You do appreciate that, in order to qualify, you'll have to live in the house yourself?

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Mandy Thomson 12th December, 2018 @ 10:33

@Chris S "Thinking around this i would probably be sensible registering myself at the house so I can use the Rent a Room scheme" as Simon Pambin says you would need to live there yourself. However, it only has to be your MAIN home, not your only home.

There is no hard and fast legal definition of a person's place of residence, but you would need to genuinely spend some of your time, including maintaining a bedroom and spending nights there regularly.

If you are only pretending to live in the property, you leave yourself open to legal challenges from any rogue lodger you need to evict. A lodger who shares living accommodation with the landlord is exempt from the Protection From Eviction Act meaning the landlord doesn't need a court order.

If the lodgers pay bills separately this is not rental income - you are only taxed against the rental income you receive. However, most lodgers will expect bills to be included in the rent.

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jason 6th November, 2019 @ 18:05

Hi, I am a resident landlord sharing the house with my wife and daughter, we have two lodgers, I charge my daughter rent does this make her another lodger or does she remain part of the family household, thanks

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Mandy Thomson 6th November, 2019 @ 18:28

Hi Jason

It depends on what perspective you're looking at. If you're thinking in terms of possibly requiring a HMO licence (as you already have 2 other lodgers) I believe they might look at whether your daughter interacts much with your household - for example, does she share most meals with you and watch TV with you. Also, by "rent" are you just charging her expenses (utilities etc) or is it a market rent?

For tax purposes, the rental income from your daughter (whether it's a market rent or not) would be added to the rental income from the other lodgers and your income tax liability would not be affected by the fact that she's related to you. Likewise council tax.

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Matt 12th August, 2020 @ 12:45

Hi, Could you please advise if it's legal for a lodger to be sleeping in my utility room, the floor space is only 1.80 x 1.20 metres, I have been told that unless the lodger is staying in a "bedroom" then it makes my house insurance void should there be any sort of accident (fire etc).

Many thanks.

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Catherine 9th November, 2021 @ 22:09

If I had a fixed term contract with the lodger for 9mths, with no break clause. If they wish to exit the contract earlier, what is a reasonable amount to charge for compensation?


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Pen 2nd December, 2021 @ 11:51

I am on universal credit and receive pips daily living component.
Will having a lodger affect my rent element of universal credit?
I’ve been told it will not affect my universal credit single person standard allowance but what about the housing rental element?

I’ve seen this in .GOV site (COPY & PASTED)

——— Your payment will not be reduced if you’re any of the following:

getting the care component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) at the middle or highest rate
getting the daily living component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

Does this mean none of my Universal Credit is affected or does it effect the rental element even when receiving PIPS?
I’m getting the idea I can earn money from a lodger without it affecting my rental element or will it be deducted?

















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