Find the right lodger and you’ll make a friend for life. Get the wrong one, and you could end up feeling like a stranger in your own home. There is no sure-fire route to success, but there are steps you can take to hugely improve your chances of finding the perfect lodger…
The most popular website for renting out your spare room is the aptly-named Spare Room and this is probably the best place to start. Don’t forget to email your friends and family too: they may know someone.
Photos are hugely important—not only of the bedroom but also of the kitchen, bathroom and living room. Most lodgers want to move into a place that feels like a home.
In your description, make sure you include local amenities, transport links and your facilities (including WiFi).
2. Interviewing the tenant
Maybe “interview” is too strong a word, but do take the time to get to know each person who views the room. Ask them about their job, their family and their hobbies and interests. Show them around the whole house and encourage them to ask questions too.
At the end, take all their contact details and tell them that you will let them know the outcome by a specified date. This will give you space and time to mull things over and address any potential concerns. It will also allow you to undertake a credit check if you think you’ve found the right person.
3. Tenant credit check and identity check
At the time of writing, you can obtain a tenant credit check and identity check for just £12. Visit Mudhut for more details.
You could also ask to see payslips and/or ask for an employer reference or a reference from a past landlord.
4. House rules
Image via Posterhaste
It’s probably worth putting these in writing, as they set the boundaries and could prevent future disputes. Typically, you’d include no smoking, not leaving washing up and no-go areas.
You may also want to draft an “emergency” list: stopcock, fusebox, essential contact numbers etc.
You should also obtain a Lodger Agreement, which protects both parties. This will set out the basic terms and conditions of the tenancy. If you Google “lodger agreement” you will be able to get a template for free (which you can customise).
5. Standing order and deposit
You should insist on being paid via standing order.
Typically, you should ask for one month’s rent and for the deposit (which is usually the equivalent of one month’s rent) to be paid in advance.
6. Some legal things to consider
Check to ensure you are legally able to take in a lodger:
- If you own your property, but it is mortgaged, check with your lender
- If you own your property, but it’s a leasehold property, you should check your lease
- If you rent from a landlord, check your tenancy agreement and inform your landlord
- If you're a local authority tenant, check with your local authority
Contact your contents insurance provider to ensure your tenant’s possessions are covered too. If not, can they be included, or do they need to make their own arrangements?
If you’re paying reduced council tax for single occupancy, you should inform the council, as you are likely to lose this allowance (depending on the tenant in question).
Make sure you get your gas appliances (boiler, cookers etc.) checked by a Gas Safe Registered professional.
7. Welcome them to their new home
First impressions count. Be there to welcome your new lodger and help them move in.
They will really appreciate this and it’ll set the tone for things to come. And, all being well, you could make a friend for life.
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