If you have a spare furnished room in your home, or if you manage a bed and breakfast, you may be eligible to participate in the Rent-a-Room scheme. Since 6th April, the scheme allows a resident landlord to earn up to £7,500 (an increase from £4,250) tax-free annually for letting out space in his or her home. However, the scheme does not apply to the following accommodations:
- A home that has been converted into separate flats
- A room that is used as an office or for any type of business (however, the scheme does apply if the lodger works in the home in the evenings or on weekends, or is a student who is provided with study facilities)
- An entire home, rather than just a part of it
Also, you cannot use the scheme if you let your UK home while you live abroad. Over the course of the year, if you earn less than £7,500 from letting out a furnished space to a lodger, the tax exemption is automatic and there is no additional paperwork that you would need to complete. However, if you earn more than £7,500 from letting, you must complete a tax return and state that you are opting into the scheme.
Since the rate increase was announced in the Summer Budget 2015, almost a quarter of a million homeowners have advertised for lodgers. Clearly letting a spare room—whether it is for a weekend or several months—could be quite beneficial financially. However, before you begin letting that spare room, there are several things to keep in mind:
- Inspect your home insurance policy to ensure that you are covered if you take in a lodger.
- Contact your mortgage lender to notify them that you are considering letting a spare room.
- Review the tenant’s rights and responsibilities along with your safety responsibilities.
- Draft an application for potential tenants. This could include such items as: references from at least two previous landlords, employment details and basic personal information. In addition, the application should explain that your contents insurance policy does not protect tenants’ personal items.