Question: I am a single mother, my son has now gone to university and I am alone at home. I would like to earn some money to help with my mortgage by taking in a tenant. I am a little nervous as I have never done anything like this before. Where do I start?
Answer: As you still live in your house you will actually have a lodger rather than a tenant and so a tenancy agreement is unnecessary, although you could have a simple licence drawn up if you prefer to have something in writing.
Obtain references for your lodger. Alternatively, find a lodger who is known to someone you trust or who can at least vouch for them.
Contact your lender to ensure it is acceptable to them for you to have a lodger. It may be necessary for your lodger to sign an occupiers consent form so he or she cannot try to claim any interest in your property should you default on your mortgage and your lender take action to repossess it. You will not be able to claim single person discount in respect of your council tax if you have a lodger.
There is a scheme which allows you to earn up to a threshold of £4,250 per year tax free from letting out furnished accommodation in your home. If you earn less than the threshold you do not need to do anything, but if you earn more then you must declare the income from your lodger on your tax return. Notify your buildings and contents insurers that you now have a lodger.
Finally, in the unlikely event that your lodger does any work to your property which may add value, such as putting in a new kitchen for you, he or she could try to claim an interest — but this is really more applicable to a cohabitee than a lodger.
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These answers can only be a very brief commentary on the issues raised and should not be relied on as legal advice. No liability is accepted for such reliance. If you have similar issues, you should obtain advice from a solicitor.