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Letting out part of your home

There are a number of considerations that home owners will need to consider if they are letting out part of their home. The following points cover some of the more obscure situations that can arise:

I’m a tenant. Can I sublet part of the property or take in lodgers?

If you are a secure council tenant, you have the right to take in a lodger, but cannot sublet part without the council’s written permission, you cannot sublet the whole of a secure tenancy. If you are a private tenant, you should check the terms of your tenancy. If there has been nothing agreed to the contrary, the tenant would be free to sublet. However, in practice most private tenancies prohibit subletting: because there is something in the written tenancy agreement to this effect (either absolutely or without the owner’s permission) and/or because assured (including assured shorthold) periodic tenancies have this prohibition implied. But a tenant can of course ask his or her landlord for permission anyway. A tenant who has sublet in defiance of these prohibitions cannot use this as justification for denying his own tenant or licensee her rights, for example by evicting her illegally. Also, these restrictions only apply where the intended arrangement is for the tenant to “part with possession” of some of the property: if, for example, you were informally having a friend to stay, or taking in a lodger who you would be providing services to, you would probably not be giving exclusive use of any of the accommodation. Again, if any of these types of tenancies comes to an end, so generally will the sub-tenancy.

Will my home insurance cover be affected if I let part of my home?

It is very likely that insurance premiums will be increased by allowing someone to share the home, because of factors such as accidental damage. It is extremely advisable to check for both contents cover and building cover; and if existing arrangements will not provide cover if part of the property is let, to arrange to extend the cover.

Do I need planning permission or other consent from the local council?

You would not need planning permission simply for letting rooms, so long as the property remains primarily your home: but there could be a planning consideration if you were to use it mainly to earn money from letting accommodation.

What facilities should be provided?

You are free to decide most of these things with the person you let to, subject to the basic requirements of general housing law: you should provide access to kitchen, washing and toilet facilities (but these can be either the ones that you use or separate).

Does there have to be an agreement in writing?

Not unless the let is a tenancy for a fixed term of more than 3 years. But it is advisable to have one anyway, as this will make it easier to sort out any disagreements which may arise later. Even if there is nothing in writing, both parties must still do whatever they agreed to, except where this conflicts with their overriding legal rights and responsibilities.