Documents and record keeping
Although not yet as bad as tenancies, there can still be quite a lot of paperwork involved in renting out a room. It is possible to do things just on a handshake, but this is not really recommended.
This is probably a good place to list all the paperwork which could be involved, up to the time when your lodger moves in. It is a good idea to keep all of these (or as many as you have) together, perhaps in a folder or drawer in your desk.
- Insurance policy (discussed on day 3)
- Gas safety inspection certificate, if you have any gas appliances (discussed on day 5)
- Receipts and other documentation (e.g. instruction booklets, warranty documents etc) relating to the furniture and items in your lodgers room
- Any PAT certificates for electrical appliances (see day 6)
- HMO license documentation if you need to get an HMO license (see day 7) (this will not apply to the majority of lodger landlords)
- Advertising paperwork, copies of adverts etc
- Any notes taken from your initial conversation with your lodger (see day 10)
- Interview notes and the form completed at the interview (day 11)
- All references and reference reports obtained
- Any other notes, memoranda of discussions prior to accepting the lodger (may be important if you ever have a disagreement about what was discussed at this stage)
- The lodger agreement,(day 15) together with any ‘house rules’ (day 14), both signed and dated (by the lodger – he should have copies signed by you)
- Any inventory used (day 16), signed and dated, together with signed copies of any photos used
- A signed standing order form (note that if rent is paid in cash, you should give a rent book)
- A letter of authority to the Housing Benefit office for lodger on benefit/local housing allowance (see day 13)
That is quite a wedge of paperwork!
Note that you will find helpful reference letters, a lodger application form, checklists and (if you get the plus pack) a lodger agreement form in our >> New Lodger pack.
Future paperwork could include:
- Insurance renewal paperwork
- Next years (and subsequent years) gas safety certificates
- Any letters and notes from and to your lodger relating to his lodgings
- A note of any agreements, for example if you reach agreement for an increased rent
Rent Records: You should also keep a record of all the rent paid, with a record of the date it was paid. Otherwise, if you lodger misses a few weeks, it might be difficult to work out exactly how much he owes you.
It is also a good idea to get into the practice of keeping a note of any ‘significant events’. For example, if your lodger behaves badly, even if you decide to put up with it for that once, keep a note of what happens and the dates, just in case you want to refer to them later.
How long should you keep paperwork?
The lawyers answer, is for a minimum period of six years after your lodger moves out. The reason for this is that the ‘limitation period’ for most legal claims is six years from the time the contact ended. You will also need to keep paperwork for tax purposes, and this should also be for six years.
My advice would be to keep everything for as long as possible. Then you will not be inconvenienced by not having it if you need it.