The Lodger Agreement

NB this page contains some general legal information which is for guidance only and is not legal advice see - Disclaimer

If you are being paid rent for letting a room, this is a business arrangement, even if the lodger is already a friend or acquintance (unless you are simply having someone to stay for a while for expenses only). It is therefore strongly advisable to set up an Agreement, for the protection of both parties. Another reason is your insurance provider will want to see a paper Agreement if you need to make a claim because of damage resulting from the let. Yet another reason is if your lodger needed to claim housing benefit.

It is important that your Agreement is properly worded. For example, I have seen some specifically claiming to be suitable for lodger room lets in England and Wales that refer to the contract as a tenancy. This could potentially lead to problems with third parties such as your mortgage provider, your own landlord if you rent, and could even mean you being challenged in Court by a problem lodger claiming they are a tenant! However, the nature of a letting contract cannot be changed by drawing up a different form of agreement; it is the facts of the arrangement itself which will determine the contract type. For example, someone letting a self contained flat as their main home won't be a licensee even if a lodger agreement has been drawn up.

We now offer a professionally drafted, legally compliant free lodger agreement template - click here. Note the template is for England and Wales only, and should not be used where the lodger will have both their own bathroom and cooking facilities (you will need a contractual tenancy agreement). Simply type the details in the fields provided (if the fields are pre-populated, simply overkey). Print form when complete. There is a blank page for your own house rules to be added if desired.

Note: unlike other sites, you will not be asked to provide any information to use and download the form, and data you enter on the form itself is protected and will not be shared. Use of the form is entirely without obligation.

If, as a live in landlord, you spend a lot of time away from home, please read this.

I have come across situations where live in landlords have been away long term with work, only to come back to find their lodger has taken over their home and locked them out, claiming that as the landlord has moved out, they now have a full tenancy, with exclusive rights of occupation!

If there should be a dispute or disagreement, a standard legal Agreement sets out:

  • when the let started (which can be easily forgotten!)

  • whether it's open ended - simply running from month to month or week to week, or for a fixed term

  • a standard notice period of a month if the rent is paid monthly, or a week if paid weekly, is implied, however, the Agreement document will also allow for early termination by either party, if agreed
    • If the agreement runs from week to week, by law in England and Wales you must give your lodger a rent book, regardless of how the rent is actually paid. It is advisable to give them a paper copy. A legally compliant rent book, for all types of weekly let, including room lets to lodgers, can be downloaded for free here.
  • early termination is also implied by law in the event of unreasonable behaviour by either party - how early depends on the seriousness of the offence and is whatever is "reasonable" under the circumstances

  • the deposit (usually a month's rent) - not essential, but strongly advisable for protection against damage or non payment of rent - also, shows good faith on the part of the lodger and demonstrates they are at least moderately solvent and organised - incidently, with this type of let, this doesn't need to be held in a deposit protection scheme, as with deposits against whole property lets, but it's still strongly advisable to keep it in a separate account, as you will repay it to the lodger in full at the end of the let, unless they've caused considerable damage to your property or failed to pay rent.

  • the inventory - contents in the lodger's room, and elsewhere in or on the property that they will use - this doesn't need to go into minute detail - e.g. a cutlery set, a six piece dinner set, 5 piece pot and pan set, will do - it's also an idea to include photos of the room and common areas as they are before the lodger moves in

  • most importantly, a standard legal Agreement will set out the lodger's legal responsibilities (terms and conditions) such as treating the property with consideration, not inviting overnight guests without your consent

  • this can also incorporate any house rules you've agreed with your prospective lodger such as arrangements for car parking, cleaning rotas etc

  • in the event of late rent payments, an Agreement can specify an interest rate that the lodger is liable to pay.