So, you’ve decided that renting out your spare room is the right move for you? Great! But while our checklist will help you make sure you’ve covered all of the various legal and practical matters this involves, how are you actually going to find a lodger with whom you’ll be comfortable sharing your home?
Follow these steps to answer the question, “How do I find a lodger?”
Step 1: Create a profile of your ideal lodger
The main purpose of creating a profile of the kind of lodger you’re looking for is so that you can identify places (real or virtual) where this type of person ‘is’ so that you can advertise your room for rent there. It will also help you with the wording or your advert.
Think about these questions to refine your lodger profile:
- Does their age or gender matter? This isn’t discrimination: it’s your home, so you can decide who you’re comfortable having live in it.
- Would you be happy having a colleague as a lodger? This might be convenient for travel to work, but it could lead to awkwardness.
- Decide your attitude to having a friend or a friend of a friend as a lodger. Living with someone you know could be great fun, and brings an inbuilt recommendation about their honesty with it, but it could also ruin a good friendship by seeing too much of each other.
- What rental period will you accept? Are you looking for a lodger who will be there for the long-term, or would you prefer someone who’s just looking for somewhere to live for a few months, such as a language student doing a short course? Would you prefer a midweek-only lodger so you can have your home to yourself at weekends? Each of these options provides a different balance of rental income with giving you some time to yourself, should you want that.
- Does their schedule matter? Decide whether it would be a problem or not if they work nightshifts, go out late or – equally – want to go to bed early on a regular basis.
- What type of person is likely to want to live in your home? Being realistic about your property’s pros and cons will greatly increase the chances of success. A young professional couple may not be interested in a small room with dated furniture and décor, but a student might snap it up so long as the price is right. Access to public transport will also impact who is likely to rent your room.
Step 2: Decide how to word your advert
Some facts are obviously fixed about the room you have available to let – your address, and the size of the room are what they are. But it’s worth thinking carefully about what your ‘target market’ is looking for in choosing the key facts you present in your advert. For example, how many minutes’ walk it is to the nearest bus stop or railway station, which transport zone you’re in if you live in a big city, broadband and cable availability, usage of gadgets like a high-end coffee machine in your kitchen, whether you have a garage to store a bike, or the available outside space will all attract certain lodger profiles more than others, help you stand out from the alternatives, and achieve the rent you want.
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Step 3: Advertise your room to let
Being clear about who you’re looking for will help you to decide the best place or places to advertise your room to let. Here are some popular options:
Top 5 ways to find a lodger
1. Dedicated flatshare portals
Websites and apps like SpareRoom.co.uk and RoomBuddies.co.uk, or the specialist portal MondaytoFriday.com, are a great way to match people seeking a room to rent with live-in landlords like you who are looking for a lodger.
Most of these portals have useful filters which allow you to search for particularl demographics or types of lets sought.
Some of these sites charge, whilst others offer a basic service for free.
2. Social media
Post your room to let on Facebook, Twitter or other social media that you use regularly, and ask your friends to share. Although the number of potential lodgers that this can reach is much lower than via the flatshare sites, finding a lodger this way has the advantage that they come pre-recommended through you network.
3. Other online options
The property section of Gumtree carries adverts for rooms to let and rooms sought throughout the UK. While the appearance of the dedicated portals has meant this is no longer as popular a way to find a lodger as it once was, it may give you access to a different demographic than the ones they attract.
4. English language schools
There’s always a high demand for rooms to rent in towns and cities like Brighton, Oxford, Cambridge, Manchester, Bristol, Cardiff or Edinburgh which are popular destinations for students coming to the UK to learn English. Many ESOL (English as a Second or Other Language) schools keep registers of local people who offer rooms to rent to this type of student or can tell you which online portals they direct their students to when they’re looking for accommodation.
Language students may be keen to have breakfast and/or dinner provided by their live-in landlord, and if you’re happy to spend time chatting to them over dinner so that they can practise and develop their new skills, you can usually charge accordingly.
5. Community noticeboards
The key here is to think about where the sort of person you’re looking for spends their spare time. For example, if you enjoy a healthy lifestyle, you could advertise at your local gym or canoe club.
Noticeboards in supermarkets, places of worship, community centres or adult education centres can also be useful when you’re looking for a lodger, particularly if the ideal housemate you identified in Step 1 is less likely to reach for a smartphone when searching for a room to rent.
I had seemingly normal conditions of living in a house with a lodger who was a full time university student. However it is shocking to see how many providers do not provide cover for this situation. HomeProtect came to the rescue. - Review Centre Thursday, 21 September 2017
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Made my life so easy when taking in lodgers and revising the policy. Highly recommended. Very competitive pricing too. Review Centre, 6 July 2016
Really good service, allowed me to have a lodger in my house without paying a fortune. Review Centre, 8 July 2016
HomeProtect include many of the add ons as standard, making them a very comprehensive insurer. Being underwritten by AXA is also reassuring. Trustpilot, 29 August 2017