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How accommodating are you? Confused.com’s pros and cons of getting a lodger

an empty white room with wood floorTips on finding out whether a landlord’s life is right for you 

With everyone currently feeling the pinch, many homeowners are clearing their spare room and advertising for a lodger to help pay the mortgage. But how do you know if becoming a landlord’s right for you? Confused.com looks at the pros and cons of getting a lodger.  

The Pros

Money, money, money 

The main benefit for anyone looking to rent out a spare room is money. It’ll help to cover the cost of your mortgage and you’ll have an extra person to split those household utility bills with – you can finally afford to put the heating on for that little bit longer!

Another tip to increase savings and reduce outgoings is to see if you find a cheaper mortgage.

Earn more with the Rent-a-Room scheme 

The Government has a rent-a-room scheme, which means if you get a lodger you won’t be taxed on up to £4,250 of the rent income. Learn more about the scheme in Beat Your Mortgage Woes by Becoming a Landlord in the Rent-a-Room Boom!

Find a friend 

If your social life’s a little on the quiet side or you want someone to discuss last night’s EastEnders with, advertise for a lodger. Not only will it help you out financially, but you could make a new friend.

Part-time lodgers 

If a full-time lodger is too big a first step, start off with a part-time one instead. Some prospective lodgers are looking for weekday lettings only and then returning to their own home on the weekend. You may earn less money but at least you’ll have the place to yourself on weekends.

Short-term lodgers 

Another option is to find a short-term tenant. Students or contractors are often looking for temporary accommodation, so tapping into this market means you won’t have too long to wait if it turns out a landlord’s life isn’t for you.

An extra pair of hands 

If you’re great at cooking but find it hard to plug in that vacuum cleaner, then getting a lodger could prove a great addition. An extra pair of hands to share the duties means you’ll have more time to do the things you really enjoy.

Safety 

If you live alone you may feel safer with someone else in the house. Also, it means there’ll be someone home to deter burglars when you head off on holiday.

The Cons

Adapting your lifestyle

OK, so extra money, company and security may be welcome additions, but there are cons to taking in a lodger – primarily to do with the impact it will have on your lifestyle.

Freedom 

You possibly won’t be able to cook when you want, bathe or shower when it suits, watch your favourite telly show if the lodger’s already watching something in the communal living space, and you’ll definitely need to rethink whether it’s ok to continue walking around the place in your underpants.

You don’t get on 

This is the biggest potential problem with taking on a lodger, so try and get a feel for prospective housemates first to see if you’re compatible. Ask what their hobbies are and find out what you have in common. If they like playing the drums or if they’re a chain smoker and you’ve just quit, you might prefer to keep looking.

Even if you go through a thorough interview process, you still won’t really know what the person will be like to live with. One way to safeguard against ending up with a nightmare tenant is to offer a short, probationary contract to being with. This could be good for both of you, after all, they may not find you easy to live with!

You or your landlord has a partner

This may not prove to be a problem at all, but if you’ve rented a room to just one person but they have a partner who’s around all the time, it’ll be like living with two extra people. There’ll be more washing up, a longer queue for the bathroom and they’ll be using more than their share of household utilities. Make sure you ask about this before accepting a lodger.

Likewise, if you live with your partner and/or have a family living in the house, think of the impact a lodger will have on these relationships.

Finally…

Having a lodger may affect your home insurance. It’s possible to get a discount if the amount of hours someone is in the house increases, or premiums may go up if you decide to include the tenant’s valuables under your cover. Alternatively, you may want to leave it up to them to sort out their own contents insurance.

If you’re receiving benefits from the government, the additional income from a lodger could affect the money you receive. While you’d need to confirm this with the specific body, the general rule is that if you’re receiving means tested benefits then this additional income would affect you, whereas if you’re on contribution-based benefits, you may not lose out.