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Rent a Room

I bought my very first house recently. Snag is, the mortgage is a bit of a stretch, and the house is really too big for just me as it’s got three bedrooms. Also, most of the other people on the estate are young families so for a single young chap it’s a bit boring sometimes. So I thought I’d take in a lodger – for a bit of company, and to help pay the mortgage. Anyway, I put an ad in and had quite a few replies. The one I liked best was a very charming girl from the Czech Republic who’s come over here to be a nanny. My Dad says I must be careful however as tenants can get rights in my house and I could have trouble getting her out – something about a “sitting tenant”. I reckon he’s just old fashioned. What do you think?

Your Dad’s wrong but he’s also right. As this young lady will share essential living accommodation with you, the law won’t class her as a tenant – but as a lodger. The Rent Acts and all the rules and regulations that attach to them don’t apply to lodgers. This means your lodger can’t acquire security of tenure, which means that she does not automatically have a right to carry on living there indefinitely. I would suggest that you also get in touch with your mortgage company prior to agreeing to take in a lodger as you may find that there are terms and conditions prohibiting tenant or lodger occupation of the property without prior consent.

If you want more information, have a look at the information on the excellent website https://www.gov.uk/rent-room-inyour-home. This gives you all the information you’ll need to know and there are many useful tips and hints.

As a side point, it is worth noting that there is currently a government scheme in place known as ‘the rent a room scheme’. This lets you earn up to a threshold of £4,250 per year tax free from letting out furnished accommodation in your home. See the above link for more information.

But I guess your Dad is reading between the lines a bit. Might this attractive young Czech lady become a little more than a lodger? I expect your Dad has heard of various cases where people living together have ended up claiming property and money off the other when they split up, and everything gets nasty. When this happens, the law has to try and work out what the parties intended when they started living together – did the one who owns the house intend it for a joint home? Were any promises made between them? Did the non-owning partner suffer to their detriment, for example by putting money into the property? Each case is different from the next, but generally speaking, the closer and longer the relationship, the greater the risk to the property owner.

My suggestion is that you should discuss this matter with a solicitor to ascertain your rights based on the individual circumstances. In the meantime, if those long evenings on your own
get too boring, why not buy a good DVD? I can recommend “Rising Damp” – a series from the BBC in the days when we had good comedy on the telly. And you’ll learn all about Rigsby and his passion for his lodger, the delightful Miss Jones. It might just put you off.

Nick Thompson – Residential Conveyancing Solicitor
AMS Solicitors, Fulwood, Preston.
www.amssolicitors.co.uk

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