A simples guide

Lodger (spare room) insurance

We all like a bit of company now and again and for some, having a lodger or two is a good way of sharing the bills. But if you are one of the 2.7% of households that already has a lodger, it might be worth dusting off your home insurance cover to see whether you’re insured for paying houseguests. 

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What’s the difference between a tenant and a lodger?

The words tenant and lodger tend to be used as one and the same – but they’re not and the difference could impact on your insurance. The difference is that lodgers rent rooms in the property that you also live in. Tenants on the other hand rent rooms or a property that you own but don’t live in.

As lodgers are defined as sharing your home with you – it means that they can’t lock you out of their room and you have access to it (but remember it works both ways so might be worth putting in some boundaries to start with). Tenants differ however, they rent their room or property exclusively and have a right to privacy so you can’t just let yourself in and make yourself a cup of tea.

If you’re a live out landlord and have tenants, you also have more legal obligations and there’s usually a formal contract with notice periods. If you have tenants, you’ll need to consider landlord insurance which will cover you in the event of your rented property being damaged or if it’s deemed uninhabitable. Having a lodger is a more informal arrangement and if you decide you and your lodger just don’t get on, you can ask them to leave (nicely and giving them reasonable time to find somewhere else to live). You’ll also need to make sure your home is safe and in good condition – just because you’re happy to live in chaos doesn’t mean your lodger is.

 

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Can anyone rent out a room?

It depends on your living arrangements. If you have a tenancy agreement with a landlord, you’ll need to check what it says. If you own your home, then there’s no legal reason why you can’t rent out your spare room but you’ll need to let your mortgage and home insurance providers know. Mortgage lenders and insurers don’t like surprises and you could be in breach of your mortgage contract and you could also invalidate your home insurance policy if you don’t tell them you’ve got a lodger.

What’s the impact of a lodger on my home insurance?

Firstly, you’ll need to make sure you tell your home insurance provider. A standard home insurance policy probably won’t cover you sufficiently and there may be some exclusions such as with theft. Theft under the usual home insurance policy is compensated if there are signs of forced entry. However, if you invite a lodger, or even a friend, into your home and something goes walkabout, you might not be covered for it.

It’s also worth thinking about what might happen if your home suddenly became uninhabitable through a fire, flood damage or a storm. Have a think about whether your policy will pay for alternative accommodation for you and your lodger.

You’ll also need to be aware that in most cases contents insurance for lodgers won’t be covered by your own policy. In which case your lodger will need to organise their own or you’ll need to revise your own policy.

The bottom line is – be honest with your insurer. It’s all well and good taking in a lodger to make some extra money but if your insurance is invalidated because of it, then it could cost you an awful lot more.

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What else should I consider when taking in a lodger?

You should think about whether there are any financial implications of taking in a lodger such as if you receive benefits or with your Council Tax. It’s probably a good idea to get a reference as well from a previous landlord just to be on the safe side.

What’s also worth finding out is whether your existing policy includes liability cover. If your lodger injures themselves on your property and decides to sue you – are you covered for the legal costs?

Having a lodger can be great fun – there’s always someone to help with the washing up and chat to after a long day. But before you take the plunge and start advertising your spare room, compare the market with us today to find cover that’ll insure your peace of mind; so all that’s left to do is squabble over the TV remote.