Last week, I talked about the one big sign that you shouldn’t do the Rent a Room scheme. If you’ve decided that the scheme is for you, I’m about to share my top tips, from my own personal experience, for making the Rent a Room scheme work for both landlord and lodger.
1. Do the Paperwork Properly
For the Rent a Room scheme, you don’t have an Assured Shorthold Tenancy, but rather a lodger agreement, downloadable online. This is more of a civil-type agreement, and maintains the property as your own home, with the lodger staying as a paying guest.Many people don’t like rules and think they are being free and easy by not setting up a formal lodger agreement. Actually, setting up an agreement properly from day 1 lets your lodger know what’s offered and expected and will actually make them feel more secure as they’re not constantly having to guess.
2. Be Clear about Deposits
My insider tip is to put a clause in your lodger agreement specifying that the deposit can’t be used in lieu of rent at any time, and specifying when and how you will return the deposit, minus any legitimate deductions (mine is within 5 working days of the end of the tenancy by BACS transfer). Also bring your potential lodger’s attention to this clause before they move in. This prevents any confusion or an unpleasant situation, as some tenants worry about not getting their deposit back, and will withhold their last month’s rent as a result.
3. Put Yourself in Their Room!
Or their shoes, or however you want to put it! Gone are the days of shoddy rented accommodation with falling-apart furniture and knackered mattresses. Get rid of your spare-bedroom, second-best stuff. Make your spare room appealing to sorted, responsible people by putting in tasteful, good quality furniture, replacing the mattress and giving the walls a fresh coat of paint. You could also consider supplying a good quality duvet, pillows, and bedlinen.
4. Talk About Guests Before They Move In
This is one I learned on the job, as it were. At first I assumed that I’d be fine with my lodger having any number of guests to stay in the flat at any time. After all, it would be fun, right? This was until, on one hot August night when I couldn’t sleep, I was unable to use the living room as there were 5 people occupying the sofa and floors. From then on I simply made a rule that both of us could have guests only if they would fit in our bedrooms, and that we would both discuss visitors in advance to stop the place becoming overcrowded.
5. Go With Your Gut.
Obviously, there are many things to consider before taking in a lodger under the Rent a Room scheme, but these are the main five, gleaned from my own personal experience. The last thing I would add is to very much trust your gut feeling when choosing a tenant – obviously do the usual references and checks, but ultimately you have to feel *right* about the person you could potentially live with for a number of years. Keep these things in mind and you’re unlikely to go wrong with the Rent a Room scheme.