Friends and family
Although it may seem unfriendly, it is often best to avoid taking in a friend or family member as a lodger. Particularly if you have not had lodgers before (and are thus more vulnerable to being imposed upon).
Renting a room to lodgers is a business transaction. You need the money. If your friend/family lodger fails to pay, or behaves badly in some way, it will be difficult for you to be firm with them in the same way you would be with a stranger.
It may also be difficult to get rid of them if you decide you don’t want to continue the arrangement and they decide they don’t want to leave. If you have to remove them forcibly for example (see day 20), this could have dire consequences for your relationship with other family members they may be close to.
In my view, unless you are really sure that there will be no problems (and sometimes this sort of situation can work) the best advice is not to let to family or friends. If you are asked, think very, very carefully first, and don’t agree on impulse.
Local Colleges and Universities
These can be an excellent source of lodgers. Often students will prefer to rent a room in someone’s home rather than have the responsibility of renting a flat or house with friends. You may also be able to get staff and researchers looking for accommodation (even if only temporary).
For example I rented mostly to students. Some were here for just a few weeks on a course, I had a few years of regular undergraduates, and also rented for a year to a researcher. Most of them were lovely.
If you decide to rent to students it is best to get in touch with the accommodation office of your local University or college, and ask to be put on their list. You may also be able to put up a card on their notice board (that is what I did).
Be aware though that most accommodation offices will make it a condition that they inspect your property first, to make sure that it is in good condition. Ring them up or visit them to find out what their requirements are. For example if you have gas appliances, they will want to see your gas certificate.
If you are going to rent to students, have a look at the recommendations on housing in the National Union of Students web-site.
If you live near a hospital this can also be a good source of lodgers. Doctors and nurses often need accommodation, and relatives of patients may need short term modestly priced lodgings to be near patients. Find out if there is someone in charge of helping people find accommodation and ask if you can go on their list. There should at least be a notice board where you can put a card.
Large local employers
If there is a big factory, government department or other large local employer in your area, have a word with the HR Department. From time to time they may need lodgings for staff (for example staff on secondment for a limited period, or staff moving to the area wanting temporary accommodation while they look around for somewhere permanent) or visitors to the company. There may be a database you can go on, or a staff notice board where you can have a card.
Don’t forget your own employer. Once they found out that I took in lodgers, my firm asked me several times if I could put up new members of staff while they looked around for somewhere permanent.
This is becoming increasingly popular and there are several good sites, such as >> Monday to Friday (for lodgers who go home at the weekends), >> SpareRoom or >> EasyRoommate. Their websites also often have a lot of useful information on them, so are worth checking out. The internet is particularly useful for large cities such as London.
You may also want to consider Airbnb, although this is mostly for short lettings (I have a series on my Landlord Law Blog about Airbnb here).
Newspapers and magazines
Most newspapers and some magazines will have ‘accommodation wanted’ sections where people advertise for accommodation. Or, you can put an advert yourself in a local paper, or free magazine. If you are looking for a particular type of lodger, there may be a suitable magazine you can advertise in.
A very traditional, and popular, way of advertising for a lodger, is to put a postcard in the window of a local shop e.g. a post office or sweet shop. Supermarkets too will often have a place for cards. The cost of this is often far cheaper than placing an ad in a newspaper and frequently just as effective.
Your Local Housing Authority
Local Authorities are always looking for accommodation to refer people to, particularly people who have been made homeless. Bear in mind however that most of these will be on housing benefit/LHA (we look at benefit on Day 13).