Although you may personally like your lodger, the main reason they are in your house is to earn you some money. In the majority of cases therefore (not always but mostly) it is best to keep a bit of reserve, at least for a few months, until you know then better.
Remember that at some stage you may have to take a stand about something – putting up the rent for example or asking them not to do something, or even asking them to leave. If you have been too friendly it may make it difficult for you to do these things.
Even after you have known them for a while, always keep in mind that they are your lodger and you are their landlord, and do not do anything which may make this business relationship more difficult. The best attitude is to be friendly but reserved and to keep your personal life separate.
Privacy issues and entering the lodger’s room
When someone is renting a room from you, they will expect some privacy. However, it is your house, and you need to be sure, for example, that there are no repairs which need to be done, and that your room is being used appropriately. Also, as discussed on day 1, it is important that you retain the right to go into the room from time to time, to prevent the possibility of a tenancy arising.
The best way to do this is by providing some sort of service. If you provide cleaning, going into the room will never be a problem. However, if your lodger does his own cleaning, it is a good idea to provide another service which will allow you to go in from time to time, such as providing clean sheets and towels. You can either actually make their bed, or you can just leave the clean sheets on the bed and have an arrangement where they leave the dirty sheets somewhere, for example in your laundry basket.
Ideally, you should enter the room once a week, or at least once a fortnight. Although you must not pry among your lodger’s personal possessions or indeed touch anything belonging to them, you should check visually that the room is in good condition (for example that the electrical sockets are not being overloaded), and that generally the room is being used in a responsible and proper manner.
You will probably go in from time to time when they are not there, particularly if you are doing the cleaning. You should be quite open about this, and provided you are not prying or being too intrusive, your lodger should accept this. If though, your lodger asks you not to go into the room at all, you should make it clear that this is your home and you will need to check its condition from time to time.
If they insist on complete privacy, particularly if they put a lock on the door and refuse to let you have a key, you should ask them to leave.
Putting up the rent
After your lodger has been with you for a while, you will probably want to put up the rent, for example, because your own bills have gone up.
Having someone else living in the house will inevitably result in some increase in your utility bills – as (assuming your lodger’s room was unoccupied before) there will be extra heating and electricity being used. Hopefully, you should have taken this into account when setting your rent (discussed on day 13).
However, if your utility bills have gone up dramatically, for example, if your lodger has the heat on full all day, then if your rent is an inclusive one, you will need to consider increasing the rent fairly soon. There is not much point in having a lodger if he is costing you money. If your lodger is unhappy about the rent increase, show him the bills before and after he moved in to prove your point.
With a long term lodger, it should be understood that you will increase the rent periodically in line with the cost of living, and most people will accept this.
However, if your lodger refuses to pay the higher rent, then (assuming the increase is a reasonable one) you should consider asking him to leave so you can find someone else. Either someone who is prepared to pay a proper rent, or someone who won’t run up your bills so much.
As regards the procedure for putting up the rent, have a look at your lodger agreement first to see if this says anything about it. If it is silent, then talk to your lodger and agree a new rent with them. Then confirm this in writing, making sure you keep a copy of your letter.
If you do not want to discuss it with your lodger or if he is unwilling to talk about it, just give him a letter, with a copy, explaining about the rent increase, and ask him to sign and date one copy and return it to you, to confirm his agreement.
Alternatively, you can ask your lodger to sign a new lodger agreement, giving the new rent, for a new fixed period.