Lodger agreement

Licence to rent a room
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Use this lodger agreement to rent a room in your home to one or more people. This agreement creates a licence to use the property, with far fewer legal requirements for the landlord than a lease or a tenancy.
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About this lodger agreement

This document grants permission to one or more people to occupy a room in your home under the terms agreed.

There is no requirement to have a formal written legal agreement with your lodger, but having one clarifies what the lodger can expect in the arrangement, and provides a reference point should any dispute occur in the future.

Whether you’re renting a room to a friend for a month or two or wanting a long term lodger, there are practical and legal advantages of having the rental terms in writing.

We recommend granting a licence on a short-term basis (less than 12 months) and renewing it when it expires.

The law in this document

In legal terminology, this document is called "a licence to occupy" and gives a lodger permission to live in a property without creating a tenancy. And this situation is not covered by the residential tenancies law.

When to use this licence

This lodger agreement would most commonly be used in the following circumstances:

  • If you want to rent out a spare bedroom (to a stranger, a friend, or a couple).
  • If you need a part time accommodation because of the nature of your job or any other reason.
  • if you are a student who owns the property and has a spare room and want to rent it out to other students.
  • You can sub-let a room if you rent under a tenancy agreement (subject to your agreement allowing sub-letting) and subject to someone on the original agreement still living at the address.

The document is not suitable if:

  • The lodger will run a business from the property.
  • The lodger will occupy the whole property and the landlord lives elsewhere.

Features and contents

It includes:

  • Sensible, practical provisions to protect the landlord’s interests
  • Full description of the property and the services that the lodger should expect to receive
  • All likely provisions for restrictions on what the lodger may do in the property
  • Rent provisions: how much rent is and the rent payments over the rent period
  • Deposit and return of deposit
  • Inventory
  • It is suitable for any type of property: flats or houses
  • It can be used to let more than one room in the same property and you can reuse it for subsequent lodgers.

Useful tips

  • Taking a deposit (a bond) can be done but we advise that if you can avoid doing so, you should. A court may see a deposit as pointing toward this arrangement being a tenancy.
  • Work into your agreement the right for you to enter the room rented to your lodger at any time. Although this needs to be done discretely, avoiding giving the lodger exclusive occupation of the property helps identify your arrangement as a licence rather than a tenancy.
  • Living with a lodger can be less pleasant once you’ve given him or her notice. Consider a short term. The expectation of a short arrangement will make giving notice easier (e.g. you can mention that you don’t plan to renew, rather than that you want your lodger to leave)

What is a lodger agreement?

In simple terms, it is a licence to occupy a room in a property which means you have the landlord’s consent to be at his property. If you rent a room in your landlord’s home then you are a “lodger” and the terms and conditions of your arrangement with the landlord can be written down in a lodger agreement.

What rights do lodgers have?

A lodger’s rights are primarily based on the agreement with the landlord. But a lodger does not have the same rights as a tenant. While the lodger has a right to live in the room and use the utilities of the property, these are limited to an extent. These rights and limitations are:

  • The lodger has a right to occupy the room but the lodger does not have exclusive possession of the property, this means that the landlord can enter the lodger’s room without prior notice or permission. The lodger may not also be allowed to lock the door.
  • The lodger may have rights to access, paths and driveways but this right may be restricted by no right to enter the garage, living room etc. Due to this reason, a lodger is an excluded occupier.
  • The landlord is responsible for the maintenance of the property but the landlord is not obliged to replace or repair any damage to the property which occurs during the rent period.

Why should I include an inventory in the lodger agreement?

An inventory is a complete list of all the items on the property. The inventory is checked before lodger moves in and then again at the end when the lodger is moving out. The purpose of this is to ensure that all items are in the same condition as they were when the lodger moved in. If they are not, the landlord will make the lodger liable for the cost of repair. So it is good to include an inventory in the lodger agreement.

What is the difference between a tenant and a lodger?

The main difference between a tenant and lodger is that the tenant lives in a property without the landlord whereas the lodger rents the property from the landlord but the property is also the landlord’s home. A tenant is also protected under the residential tenancy law. If you need a document which protects you under the law as a tenant then you can use our residential tenancy agreement.

Some other differences are:

  • If you are a lodger then your landlord is not required to protect your deposit under the tenancy deposit scheme. But if you are a tenant, the landlord must make sure that the deposit is protected.
  • Under a tenancy, the landlord gives exclusive possession of the room or the whole property to the tenant.
  • A landlord must provide a rent book to the tenant under a tenancy but there is no such requirement for the lodger
  • A lodger can be evicted without giving any notice or the landlord may give reasonable notice (mostly one month’s notice) but in case of a tenant, the landlord must follow the notice period requirements in law.

How do you terminate a lodger agreement?

It is best practice to include a fixed term period and how much notice period is in case of early termination to avoid disputes. As per the agreement, the lodger must leave when the rental period expires unless the landlord and lodger have agreed to renew the licence.

If the landlord wants the lodger to leave before the rental period ends then he should give reasonable notice to the lodger. If the lodger leaves the landlord’s home before the fixed term ends without the landlord’s consent then the lodger may be liable to pay the rent for the entire rental period.

Can my landlord evict me?

If your rental period has ended and the landlord has given you a reasonable notice to leave but you still choose to stay at the property then the landlord can change the locks while you are outside so you cannot re-enter. While the landlord does not have to but he can opt to get a possession order from the court to evict you. However, if the landlord uses force or threatens you in any way of physical harm then he may be committing a criminal offence.
In case of any dispute, all claims must be brought to Small Claims Court as the Residential Tenancies Board will not facilitate the lodger’s complaints.

Do I qualify for rent a room relief?

If you rent a room in your home then you may get tax relief under the rent a room scheme however, certain conditions need to be met. You will qualify for the relief if:

  • The income from renting out the room does not exceed the exemption limit.
  • The room must be rented for a minimum continuous letting period.
  • The room must be a “qualifying residence”.

Similar terms for a lodger agreement:

You can search for this document by using the following terms as well:

  • Rent a room agreement
  • Licensee agreement
  • Licence to occupy agreement
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Recent reviews
Margaret McCormack
15 January 2022
Document was comprehensive and easy to edit to suit my circumstances. Whole process was easy.
Michael Moloney
03 September 2021
It was exactly what I required
David Johnston
14 July 2020
The pre-prepared template was very well structured and easy to follow and edit as necessary. It cut down on a lot of the work on my end and I could take comfort knowing that it complied with up-to-date legislation. The purchase process was also very straightforward and it's great value for money.
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