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Renting out a room

People living in social housing no longer receive housing benefit for bedrooms as the government says it is not needed.

A way to cover this cash shortfall might be to rent out a spare room to a lodger. If you are thinking about doing this, you must get written permission from your landlord.

We will only give approval if you have a secure tenancy. If you are a housing association tenant you should check with your landlord about their rules.

Think carefully about taking in a lodger – particularly if it is a stranger. You will be giving up some of your privacy, and your landlord is not responsible for anything that might go wrong. If you have children you need to consider the impact on them.

The steps you should take to rent out a room are as follows:

Step one - ask for permission

Ask your landlord in writing for permission to take in a lodger.

Step two – get your house ready

Make sure your home and the room you want to rent out is clean and presentable. Decide what furniture you will put in the room and how much rent you want to charge.

Step three – find and choose a lodger

There are lots of ways to advertise your spare room. You could try putting a notice in your local shop or newspaper, or use free websites such as RoomsterEasyroommate or Spareroom.

Invite people to your home so they can see the room. You might want someone else with when you do this. Be careful about what valuables you have on show.

Make sure you set out ground rules, such as whether you allowing smoking in the house, or whether pets are allowed.

Step four – get references

Ask your new lodger to provide at least two references, and check them out. Contact everyone you have shown the room to, and let them know your decision.

Step five – get it in writing

Have a written, signed agreement between you and your lodger. If your lodger needs to claim housing benefit they will need to provide us with a copy of the agreement. You can buy a simple lodger agreement in bookshops.

The agreement should include:

  • the amount of rent and how they should pay
  • which rooms and facilities they can use
  • if they are allowed to have visitors stay over
  • services you provide
  • any share of household bills
  • how long until the rent amount is reviewed
  • general house rules
  • notice periods.