We currently have a situation where many people are unable to pay their rent due to lost jobs, and many people, particularly young people, are unable to afford anywhere to live.
Surely one answer to this is to allow tenants to take in a lodger?
It could help families to pay their rent and make available at a stroke a vast amount of affordable accommodation for single people.
The main reason why, in rented property, lodgers are rarely allowed is the HMO legislation.
Other problems are mortgage and insurance conditions – but these can be overcome. The main problem is the HMO one.
If, say, a family of four takes in a lodger, this will immediately make the property a licensable HMO, and the landlord could be prosecuted if he does not get a license. If he does apply for a license he will probably be ordered to do a lot of expensive works by the council as a condition of granting the license.
No landlord is going to want that.
But the HMO regulations were not really designed for a ‘one lodger’ situation, particularly if the lodger is sharing with a family. They are just obstructing the more efficient use of property.
If there any way the law can be changed to permit genuine lodgers?
At the moment property owners are allowed to take in two lodgers before this is deemed to be an HMO. They are even encouraged to do so by the ‘rent a room’ tax scheme.
People renting their home are denied this. It is one of the big differences between homeowners and tenants.
Surely there must be some way this can be changed to permit genuine lodger situations? For example, maybe the Housing Act 2004 (which contains the main definitions of an HMO) could be amended to provide for tenants to take in one lodger where this does not create overcrowding?
If the tenancy agreement prohibits subletting, as virtually all do, then landlords could be expected to agree to reasonable requests (in the same way that landlords are now expected to agree to home businesses) subject to suitable conditions and provided it did not create overcrowding.
Some final thoughts
I have a form for my Landlord Law members (also available here) which amends a tenancy agreement to permit subletting along with various clauses to protect the landlord (eg checking and referencing, requiring the tenant to give the lodger an approved lodger agreement, etc).
However sadly at the moment, there are very few circumstances (really only where there is a sole tenant – as two occupiers cannot be an HMO) under which landlords are able to use it.
Maybe the tenant’s organisations should agitate for the law to be changed to permit tenants to take in a lodger in suitable circumstances?