Taking in a lodger can be a great way to get more income from your property and put an empty room to good use. In the best case scenario, you’ll find a reliable and responsible lodger with whom you’ll hit it off from the start, and in other cases, you might find yourself left with an unrecognisable room and thousands in damages to deal with, not to mention the possibility of lodgers skipping on their rent.
However, when done properly, taking in a lodger should go smoothly without any complications. Here are a few simple tips to ensure that you get the most out of the whole experience.
Calculate the Rent
Knowing how much you’ll charge for rent may seem straightforward at first, but there are a few things you’ll have to consider before you set your price. You have to consider things like where in the country or the city you’re located, the general condition of the home, and the amenities offered.
You should calculate whether the cost for things like electricity, council tax, water and gas charges will be included in the rent or not. You should also be aware that taking in a lodger will make you ineligible for single occupancy tax breaks, so you should account for this as well.
Understand Rent-a-Room Benefits
However, while you won’t have access to single occupancy tax breaks, you’ll still be able to earn up to £7,500 completely tax free per year thanks to the government’s rent-a-room scheme. However, you have to make sure that the room is fully furnished and note that there are no expenses that can be offset against the tax. If you earn £7,500 or less, it’ll automatically get deducted, but for anything more, you’ll have to complete a tax form.
How to Find a Great Lodger
This is where things get tricky. However, thanks to the internet, finding a great lodger is easier than ever. There are tons of services that allow landlords to advertise their rooms and find suitable lodgers. Services like Monday to Friday allow landlords to find lodgers specifically for Monday to Friday arrangements. These are often professionals living in the country looking for a place in or near the city to stay during the work week. The above-mentioned service will also facilitate the screening process allowing you to reduce risks.
You could also decide to go for a more traditional approach and advertise through print for instance, though it won’t be as safe and efficient as using a site made specifically for this purpose. You could place postcards in nearby shops or even pay for an ad in your local newspaper. Colleges and universities are also great places to post your listing if you’re ready to do the footwork.
Work on an Application Form
An application form will help you get more information on the lodger and make sure that they’re suitable and trustworthy. But you don’t necessarily have to go into full detail about their life; all you’ll need is their current and previous address as well as information on their current employer at the very least. You should also make sure that you get some identity documents too, such as a driver’s licence and/or passport. And don’t forget to ask for references as well. You should get at least two references from either previous employers or landlords.
Another important detail that you should add is a signed permission to check on the applicant’s credit history. Credit history will often give you a much clearer picture on a prospective lodger then any type of reference. Many websites will allow you to perform a credit check in exchange for a small fee. This will give you the added peace of mind that the tenant you’re letting in is in good standing with their creditors, and lowers the risk that they’ll default on their payment.
It’s also essential that you have a clear contract laying out the conditions of the agreement if you want to avoid chances for conflict and misunderstandings in the future. This will include things like whether pets are allowed or not in the property and whether they’re allowed guests, and how often if so. You should also draw up a cleaning rota and work out more delicate issues like food sharing for instance. Another thing you’ll have to draw out is how much access the lodger will have to other parts of the property if you want to protect your privacy and personal space.
Finding a great lodger is possible if you do your homework and go through the proper channels. Always make sure that you follow the few simple tips in this article if you don’t want to end up with a lodger from hell on your hands.