Lodgers and sub-letting

The difference between sub-letting and taking in a lodger

To sub-let means that someone (a sub-tenant) pays you rent but lives separately from the rest of your household. A lodger is someone who pays you rent, eats a meal with you and shares your home.

There are legal differences between a lodger and a sub-tenant so we advise that you get independent legal advice before you rent out a room in your home.

Can council tenants sub-let a room or take in a lodger?

If you are a council tenant, you can sub-let or take in lodgers as long as it does not make your home overcrowded. You must also get permission.

You can't take in a lodger or sub-let if you live in sheltered accommodation or you are an introductory tenant.

Whether you have a lodger or a sub-tenant, you must continue to live in your home and it must be your principle (main) residence. If you don't, you will lose your secure tenancy and we will take action to repossess your home.

It is a criminal offence to illegally sub-let your home so we may prosecute you. If you are found guilty you could be:

  • Imprisoned for up to two years
  • Fined up to £50,000
  • Ordered by the court to give us any profit that you made from renting out your home.

Applying for permission to sub-let or take in a lodger

To apply for permission, you must send your housing compliance officer:

  • The name, age and sex of the person(s)
  • Their previous address
  • Details of any meals or other services that you will provide
  • The rent or lodging charges that the person will pay.

Your housing compliance officer will contact you to discuss your request. The officer will then do an assessment and will write to you to tell you whether or not you have permission.

We will not give permission if the person has been involved in nuisance, harassing or anti-social behaviour.

Points to remember

  • You are responsible for the behaviour of your sub-tenants and lodgers. If they cause a nuisance or harass your neighbours you will be breaking your tenancy conditions and you may lose your home.
  • If you apply for a transfer, your lodger or sub-tenant will not be considered as part of your household. If you move out, they must move out at the same time.
  • It is your responsibility to declare any income you receive from lodgers or sub-tenants for tax and benefit purposes.