If you have a spare room, you may wish to consider taking in a lodger or subtenant to help towards your rent costs. Before you do this, make sure to read through the FAQs on this page so you know what to do and what not to do.
What the difference?
- Lodger - A person who rents a room from a tenant and shares all the facilities of the property but doesn't have exclusive possession of any part of the property. They will have a license rather than their own tenancy agreement.
- Subtenant - A person who has exclusive rights to part of the property and has the same legal status to that of a tenant.
Do I need permission to take in a lodger?
Whether a resident can take in a lodger or not, or requires our permission to do so, will depend on the type of tenancy agreement or lease they hold:
- Secure tenants have the right to take in a lodger and do not need our permission for this, but should inform your housing officer of the name of the lodger
- Assured tenants have the right to take in a lodger but should check their tenancy agreement to see whether they require our prior written consent, which we will not unreasonably withhold
- Assured-shorthold tenants should check their tenancy agreement to see whether they have the right to take in a lodger with our prior written consent
- Leaseholders can generally take in a lodger provided that they maintain the other covenants of their lease
- Residents that live in short-term accommodation (normally up to two years), where the service is part of an incremental recovery pathway, where it is to meet specific needs (for example Learning Disability or Mental Health) or on a licence agreement are not allowed to take in a lodger.
If you take in a lodger without permission from your housing officer (where applicable), you may be in breach of your tenancy agreement and committing tenancy fraud.
Will you help me find a lodger?
No. You will be responsible for finding a lodger and making the arrangements. We will not hold any formal agreement with a lodger, your lodger will have an agreement with you only.
How will the income from a lodger affect my benefits?
Lodgers count as occupying a room. If you are in receipt of means-tested benefits and 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 and won’t affect your benefits. Any more is considered income. Housing benefit will regularly ask you for bank statements as proof of income, so ensure to evidence any rent you receive from a lodger. If the lodger pays in cash, issue them with a receipt and keep copies, or if the payment is made into your account, make sure it is marked as “rent from a lodger”.
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.
If you are in receipt of Universal Credit, lodgers do not count as occupying a room, and you will still be subject to the bedroom tax. Any rent that you receive will be ignored, but again you must evidence any rent.
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. We will ask you to provide us with copies of these documents.
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’.
Should I have a formal agreement with my lodger?
We ask you to draw up a written agreement between you and your lodger. It should include the following:
- Rent payment details
- How bills will be paid
- What facilities and services are available
- When you will review the payment amount
- Notice period for moving out
- General house rules
Guides to lodger agreements can be found online.
What can I charge my lodger?
You cannot charge your lodger more rent than you pay us. If there are associated costs, these cannot be included as part of the rent.
You will be required to confirm the amount you intend to charge before we grant you permission.
Will you help me deal with problems with a lodger or sub-tenant?
No. You will be responsible for the conduct of your lodger. We can't 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.
Can I evict a lodger if it doesn't work out?
Yes. You can usually evict a lodger 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.
Do I need permission to take in a sub-tenant?
Secure and assured tenants have the right to sub-let part of their property, but must first obtain our consent, which we will not unreasonably withhold. Requests for permission to sub-let should be made in writing and sent to your housing officer. You can find their email address through your online Account.
Assured shorthold tenants are usually not permitted to sub-let any part of their property. If the tenancy states otherwise requests for permission to sub-let should be made in writing.
Residents that live in short-term accommodation (normally up to two years), accommodation that is part of an incremental recovery pathway, accommodation that is let to meet specific needs (for example Learning Disability or Mental Health) or have a licence agreement are not allowed sublet the property.
Individual leases may contain clauses on sub-letting. Where there is discretion under the terms of the lease, we will not unreasonably withhold consent. Whilst we have no obligation to do so, we may in special circumstances be prepared to consider permission to sub-let, even where the lease prohibits sub-letting. We reserve the right to charge an administration fee to process the request where this is allowed under the terms of the lease.
Whether you are a homeowner or a tenant, if you sublet part of your property without our permission you may be in breach of your lease/tenancy agreement and committing tenancy fraud.
Who do I need to tell outside of NHG?
If you take in a lodger or sub-tenant you must tell your:
- Housing benefit office
- Local authority council tax department
- Tax office (HMRC)
- Contents insurer
Where can I get further advise?
It’s a good idea to get independent advice before taking in a lodger or sub-tenant. Your local Citizens Advice Bureau or local Law Centre can advise you about your legal position. There are also some good, free guides available.