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Rent and deposits if you let your home

The amount of rent you can ask your lodger or tenant to pay normally depends on what private landlords charge for similar rooms or properties in your area. In addition, you can ask your tenant to pay a deposit.

How much rent can I charge?

Check local papers and shop windows to get an idea of how much landlords in your area charge.

If you are taking in a lodger, you will probably get more income if you offer to provide services (such as meals or laundry) as part of the arrangement.

Can I ask for a deposit?

In many areas, landlords ask for a month's rent as a deposit (in case the tenant causes damage to the property) and a month's rent in advance. The deposit must be returned to the lodger or tenant at the end of their tenancy, provided they have not broken or damaged anything.

Before your tenant moves in, it's best to draw up an inventory of everything in the property and the condition it's in, and ask the tenant to check and sign it. It will then be easier to tell whether your tenant should get their whole deposit back when they move out. Find out more about deposits and inventories.

How do I keep track of the rent?

Make sure you keep a written record of all the rent your lodger or subtenant pays. You can do this by using a rent book (download an example rent book) or by keeping bank statements showing the payments made. If the rent is paid weekly, you have to provide a rent book. If your tenant pays their rent by cash or cheque, make sure you always give them a receipt.

What happens if my tenant doesn't pay their rent?

There is a risk that your tenant could fall behind with the rent. If this happens, you will still have to pay the mortgage and may have to go to court to evict them and/or get the money back. This can be expensive, and isn't always successful. Get advice from Citizens Advice if you're in this situation.

Scotland map Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.
This content applies to Scotland only.
Get advice if you're in England

The important points

  • Check local papers and shop windows to get an idea of how much landlords in your area charge.
  • Before your tenant moves in, it's best to draw up an inventory of everything in the property and the condition it's in, and ask the tenant to check and sign it.
  • Make sure you keep a written record of all the rent your lodger or subtenant pays.
  • There is a risk that your tenant could fall behind with the rent. If this happens, you will still have to pay the mortgage.

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