Take in a lodger to make money and ease the housing crisis

Wednesday, 21st February 2018, 2:50 pm
Updated Wednesday, 21st February 2018, 2:53 pm

If just three per cent of the 19 million empty bedrooms in England’s owner-occupied properties were let out, a new city would be created, without laying a single brick.

So claims SpareRoom, reflecting on the current housing crisis that means 250,000 new houses need to be built each year to house 460,000 people.

The Government’s Rent a Room Scheme lets home owners earn £7,500 a year tax free by renting out their spare bedroom. This followed six and a half years' campaigning from SpareRoom , who add that 47 per cent of Brits with a lodger either couldn’t afford their mortgage without the extra money, or would struggle.

There’s no avoiding the fact that the UK is in the midst of a massive housing crisis. Yet homeowners are sitting on 19 million empty bedrooms in England alone.

Building the equivalent of a new city every year is no easy feat. There’s always on-going debate and drama around where new houses should be built and, with strict laws preventing building on greenbelt, it’s evident we’re running out of space.

By renting out just three per cent of England’s existing spare bedrooms in owner-occupied properties (by encouraging people to take in lodgers), we can create a city the size of Liverpool, and give 570,000 people a bedroom, without one house needing to be built.

SpareRoom has fought a six-year long battle with its Raise the Roof campaign to incentivise homeowners with spare bedrooms to rent them out to lodgers.

Through the scheme, homeowners with a spare room can now earn a tax-free income of up to £7,500 a year without ever having to fill out a tax return. From 1992 to 2016, the tax-free bracket was frozen at £4,250, but through campaigning, with support from the likes of Shelter and property TV personality Sarah Beeny, SpareRoom’s efforts managed to raise the tax free total to £7,500, matching inflation rates and making the scheme more appealing for homeowners.

And those who take advantage are seeing the benefits. But there are plenty of incentives to rent out a spare room that aren’t simply financial. 47 per cent of respondents said the company was a benefit, while 15 per cent said they felt safer having someone else in the house.

Aside from helping pay the mortgage and regular bills, 16 per cent of respondents said that having a lodger means they can also help their children or grandchildren with university or housing costs, and 23 per cent said they use the income for home improvements.

Matt Hutchinson, Communications Director at SpareRoom, said: “If we’re not building new houses, we must make better use of the ones we have. Homeowners with an unoccupied bedroom are sitting on a huge number of empty rooms. Not all of them will want to take in lodgers, but three per cent seems like an achievable target to aim for.”

To find out more about Raise The Roof and The Rent A Room scheme, please visit www.SpareRoom.co.uk/raisetheroof