Legal 101

Landlords: Your obligations when taking in a lodger.

Lorraine Dindi
September 13, 2021

Create contracts on no legal budget

Get started

Your obligations before, during and whilst housing a lodger.


A landlord has certain responsibilities when renting out private property, many of which differ depending on the type of the property. Failure to meet these obligations may result in a fine or even prosecution. Read on to ensure you are aware of your obligations when taking in a lodger into your home.

What is a lodger?

A lodger (also known as a “licensee”) is someone who rents out a room in the property someone else (the “licensor”) is living in for an agreed fee. Legally, a lodger is granted a license to occupy part of a residential property. It is the preferred arrangement between parties who want to let part of a shared property, but do not want to take on the official legal responsibilities of landlord and tenant. 

What responsibilities are imposed by law on someone taking in a lodger? 

Before you start looking for a lodger:

  • Obtain consent to get a lodger from any superior landlord, mortgagee, lender or insurer.
  • Understand that if you previously lived alone, you will likely lose the 25% single person discount on your council tax.
  • Inform your local benefits agency if you currently receive any benefits to understand the implications of taking in a lodger. 
  • If you will have more than 2 unrelated lodgers living with you, your property may become a House in multiple occupation (HMO) for which you might need a licence. Read our article to understand the obligations of a HMO landlord.
  • Ensure the room and property are in following condition: 
  1. They must be fit for human habitation i.e. safe and free from any health hazards; 
  2. A Gas Safety engineer must carry out a gas safety check every 12 months; 
  3. All furniture and upholstery you provide must meet current fire resistance requirements. Note that furniture manufactured after March 1989 will comply with these regulations and most will even have a label to prove it.
  4. All electrical appliances provided by you must be in safe working order.
  5. All fire alarms in the property must be in working order.

Create you custom lodger agreement now

Once you find a potential lodger: 

  • If the property is in England, Conduct a ‘right to rent’ check on potential lodgers. 
  • If you are going to screen the lodger, obtain their permission before carrying out employment, credit, personal and previous accommodation reference checks. You need to follow relevant data protection standards while doing these checks. 
  • Do not charge the lodger any fees for referencing, drawing up an inventory or contract, carrying out a credit check, or other administrative tasks. This is illegal under the Tenant Fees Act 2019.
  • Register with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) here if you intend to collect, process, or store the personal data (name, phone number, address, etc) of your lodger on any electrical device.
  • Create a Lodger Agreement detailing both you and the lodger’s rights and duties. Both of you must sign the contract. You can use a contracting platform such as Legislate to do this quickly and legally.
  • If you are a secure (lifetime) or flexible council tenant or renting from your local housing association, check your tenancy agreement to see if you need to inform them of any changes to your household.

Throughout the duration of the license:

  • Fix any repairs in the property. Your Lodger Agreement should have made it clear that the lodger will be responsible for fixing or paying for any damages caused by them.
  • Satisfy the property standards mentioned above, such as arranging for annual gas safety checks.
  • If you are earning over £7,500 from renting out a room to the lodger, you will need to include this in your tax return, and consider joining the government’s Rent a room scheme.
  • Abide by the terms of your Lodger Agreement.

How can Legislate help you? 

Legislate is a contracting platform where landlord and letting agencies can create easy-to-understand and legally valid Lodger and Tenancy Agreements on their own terms. You can read how to create your first Legislate agreements in our tutorial and watch a short demo. If you would like to try Legislate, please book an introductory call.

The opinions on this page are for general information purposes only and do not constitute legal advice on which you should rely.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Keep Reading

Go to Blog