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Check your rights as a lodger

Mae’r cyngor hwn yn berthnasol i Cymru

You’re a lodger if you live with your landlord and you either:

  • share ‘living space’ with them - for example a kitchen, living room or bathroom
  • don’t share living space with them but share other spaces like corridors or stairs - for example if you live in your landlord's converted garage

You’ll usually have your own room - you might live somewhere else in the property instead, like in the living room.

You might live there for free or pay rent. Your rent could include things like bills, meals or cleaning.

You’re a lodger even if you live with a friend or family member - for example your parents or partner. They’re your landlord even if you don’t have an official agreement with them.

Your landlord might have given you a written agreement when you moved in, but they don’t have to.

As a lodger, you don't have many legal rights.

If you have an occupation contract, your rights are different - check your rights if you have an occupation contract.

You can check what your rights are if:

  • you need to claim benefits or get homeless help
  • your landlord enters your room
  • you paid a deposit
  • your rent increases

If you’ve been told to move out of the property, you can check your rights if you’re being evicted as a lodger.

Check what benefits you can get

You might be able to get some or all your rent paid by claiming  the housing element of Universal Credit or Housing Benefit.

If you live with close family members, you can’t claim these benefits - even if you pay rent. You can’t claim these benefits if you live with:

  • your parents, stepparents or parents-in-law
  • your children, stepchildren or children-in-law
  • your brothers or sisters
  • your half brothers or sisters
  • the partner of any of the above family members

If you live with any other family member, you might be able to claim the housing element of Universal Credit or Housing Benefit.

If you can’t claim these benefits, you might still be able to claim Universal Credit to cover other costs. Check if you can get Universal Credit.

Check if you can get Universal Credit

If you pay rent, you might be eligible for the housing element of Universal Credit - even if you live with a friend.

You’ll need to show evidence that you’re renting and paying rent - like a written agreement from your landlord.

You’ll usually get one Universal Credit payment each month to cover your living costs.

You can get the housing element of Universal Credit even if you’re already claiming Universal Credit for something else. For example if you get it because you’ve lost your job and have no income.

Check if you can get Universal Credit.

If you’re already getting the housing element of Universal Credit

If your housing situation has changed, you might be able to claim more money - for example if you move to a new place with a new amount of rent.

The maximum benefit payment you can usually get is called the ‘Local Housing Allowance rate’. It depends on things like:

  • where you live
  • your situation - for example if you have children

If your rent is more than the local housing allowance rate, you’ll have to pay the rest yourself.

Example

Aisha is claiming Universal Credit which has a housing element of £400. She moves to a new room where her rent is £450.

The local housing allowance rate for the area where Aisha lives is £425. This is £25 less than Aisha’s rent.

When she reports her new rent to Universal Credit, Aisha’s housing element will only increase to £425 - the maximum benefit allowance rate. Aisha’s rent is £450 so she’ll have to cover the remaining £25 herself.

If you have an online account, sign in to your Universal Credit account to report a change in your housing situation on GOV.UK.

You can also call the Universal Credit helpline, but this might take longer. 

Universal Credit helpline

Telephone: 0800 328 5644
Telephone (Welsh language): 0800 328 1744
Textphone: 0800 328 1344

Relay UK - if you can't hear or speak on the phone, you can type what you want to say: 18001 then 0800 328 5644

You can use Relay UK with an app or a textphone. There’s no extra charge to use it. Find out how to use Relay UK on the Relay UK website.

Video relay - if you use British Sign Language (BSL).

You can find out how to use video relay on YouTube.

Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

Calls are free from mobiles and landlines.

Check if you can get Housing Benefit

You might be able to claim Housing Benefit if you’re on a low income or you already claim certain other benefits.

Most people can’t make a new claim for Housing Benefit.

You can claim Housing Benefit if you’ve reached State Pension age. You can check your State Pension age on GOV.UK.

If you live with a partner, they also need to have reached State Pension age for you to make a claim.

Check if you can claim Housing Benefit on GOV.UK.

If you can’t make a new claim for Housing Benefit, you might be able to apply for the housing element of Universal Credit instead. Check if you can get Universal Credit.

If you’re already getting Housing Benefit

If your rent changes, you might be able to claim more money. You need to tell your local council about your new rent.

If you move to a different property, you might continue receiving Housing Benefit if either:

If you’re not sure whether you can claim Housing Benefit or continue to claim it, talk to an adviser.

Check if you can apply for homeless help

You can apply to your council for a place to live if you’re homeless or you’II become homeless within 8 weeks. For example if your friend asked you to move out and you have nowhere else to stay.

You can apply for homeless help even if you live with your family and they’ve asked you to move out.

Check if you can apply for homeless help.

Your landlord’s right to enter your room

Your landlord shouldn’t go into your room without your permission. 

Your landlord can enter your room without your permission if for example:

  • you agreed they’ll do things for you - like cleaning your room
  • they need to do repairs
  • there’s an emergency - like a leak in the room

If your landlord is harassing you

You have the right to enjoy your room peacefully no matter what type of agreement you made with your landlord.

If your landlord comes into your room and they’re not supposed to, this is harassment.

Harassment is when someone creates an atmosphere that makes you feel uncomfortable. This could be because you feel offended, intimidated or humiliated.

If you’re in danger because of your landlord

Call 999 to report them to the police.

If you don’t feel safe but it’s not an emergency, call 101.

You can put a lock on your room door to stop your landlord from entering. Make sure you won’t damage the door - you’ll need to leave it in the same condition when you move out.

If the problem is serious, you can apply for a court order against your landlord. If you do this, they might ask you to move out.

Check what you can do if someone’s harassed you in housing.

Paying a deposit

You might need to pay a deposit before you can move in - this is usually one month’s rent.

This money is used in case there’s a problem during your stay - for example if your landlord needs to pay for any damages you might cause.

You’lI usually get the money back when you move out.

Rent increases

If your agreement has an end date, you'll have a fixed-term agreement.

If you’re on a fixed-term agreement, your landlord can increase your rent only if there’s a clause that allows it. This is called the ‘rent review clause’.

If you’re not on a fixed-term agreement, your landlord can increase your rent whenever they want. 

If you don’t agree with the increase, talk to your landlord to try to reach an agreement.

If you can’t reach an agreement, your landlord might evict you.

It’s a good idea to look at how much similar rooms cost in your area. If you think you could find somewhere cheaper, you might choose to move out.

If you get benefits

You must report any changes in your rent payments. How to report a change depends on what type of benefits you’re getting.

If you get Universal Credit

If you have an online account, sign in to your Universal Credit account to report a change in your rent payment on GOV.UK.

You can also call the Universal Credit helpline, but this might take longer.

Universal Credit helpline

Telephone: 0800 328 5644
Telephone (Welsh language): 0800 328 1744
Textphone: 0800 328 1344

Relay UK - if you can't hear or speak on the phone, you can type what you want to say: 18001 then 0800 328 5644

You can use Relay UK with an app or a textphone. There’s no extra charge to use it. Find out how to use Relay UK on the Relay UK website.

If you get Housing Benefit

You need to tell your local council about your new rent.

You might not be entitled to more money even if your rent increases. 

If your current benefits payment only covers a part of your rent and you’re paying the rest yourself, it’s unlikely you’ll get more if your rent increases.

If your benefits payment already covers your full rent, you might get more money to cover the increase.

If you need help paying your rent

You can check what you can do if you’re struggling to pay your rent.

You can also get help with the cost of living.

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