Couple sharing a room in a rented HMO

Renting a Room to a Couple


If you are renting individual rooms in a property with shared communal areas, you will probably have had enquiries from couples hoping to rent a room. Is letting to couples a good idea for your HMO property? There are a few factors to consider before you decide to let a room to a couple. 

Can You Charge Couples More Rent?

It is common to ask couples to pay more rent than tenants renting a room alone. Be careful, though, as in some rental markets with low demand, landlords will not be able to be so picky about who they let to, and if the prospective couple seems to fit all the criteria, trying to get a little extra rent out of them because they have two incomes could backfire. Remember that their rent may be more reliable, which has its own value: two tenants will usually mean two streams of income. That means it’s less likely all the income used to pay for the room will disappear at once. 

When letting individual rooms, it is often easiest to include bills in the rent, since tenants who aren’t in a joint tenancy will be less likely to want to sort out the bills themselves, and will generally lead more separate lives than joint tenants. If your rent is inclusive of bills, then be sure to take the additional utilities consumption of two people into account when calculating the rent. 

Property Size and Shared Facilities

The central consideration when thinking about letting a room to a couple is the effect an additional tenant will have. Firstly, is the room large enough, and with enough storage space, to happily accommodate two adults living together? If your property does not have a living room, then a small bedroom shared between two tenants will not be appropriate.

Secondly, think about the effect of an extra person using the communal facilities, like bathrooms, showers, laundry and kitchens. These amenities may already be at maximum capacity, and adding an extra person could tip your existing tenants over the edge in terms of the property feeling liveable. 

To be safe, it would be best to consult you existing tenants on whether they think the property could take another tenant. Although this is ultimately your decision (as long as you remain on the right side of any overcrowding regulations in your nation and local authority), failing to heed existing tenants could cause your tenant turnover to increase, adding costs and eating up your time each time you need to replace them.

Separation

One of the main benefits of renting out individual rooms, as opposed to jointly letting a whole property, is that the contracts are clean and tidy. Each tenant rents one room they are responsible for, pays their own deposit, and can leave the property without ending the tenancy for all other tenants. If you allow a couple to rent a room jointly, then you are essentially creating a mini joint tenancy. 

Like any joint tenancy, if one tenant wants to leave while another wishes to stay, this can create a complex situation. Couples can break up mid-tenancy with little warning — who tells their landlord they are thinking about ending it with their partner? If this happens and one wants to move out, then you will need to either trust the remaining tenant to pay the full rent alone, or come to an arrangement with the tenant to move out if they can’t afford to pay. 

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