To ask a friend or acquaintance to live in my house for (almost) free?

(27 Posts)
CatsWearingTutus Fri 06-Sep-13 06:28:43

We have a house up for sale that we can't rent out (seriously cannot, not allowed, not an option so lets not discuss this aspect please). It's currently sitting empty and we want to ask our friends if they or someone they know and trust would like to move in just so it doesn't sit vacant. We're thinking this might appeal to a young person wanting to save money on rent or to someone who would like to rent out their own house to get some extra money coming in.

What would be reasonable in this situation? I'm thinking we would ask them to pay for their own electric. Who should pay the council tax? And what if the house sells quickly (highly unlikely but possible). We're thinking we would offer them say £500 in compensation if the house sells within 6 months of them moving in. The house is unfurnished so this would be to reimburse them for their trouble moving their own stuff in and then having to find a new place to stay quite quickly.

Or AIBU to think this offer might even appeal? The house is in a remote area which is why we don't think it will sell quickly (has been on the market 5 months with only one viewing but lets please not discuss this aspect either). But it's in an area where we have a lot of friends and acquaintances.

I have already taken advice here and elsewhere on how to sell the house, why we can't rent it out, etc so please if anyone is kind enough to answer lets stick to the housesitting aspect in this thread?

CatsWearingTutus Fri 06-Sep-13 18:27:36

Thanks very much to all who responded, you've given me a lot to think about. For those who asked, it isn't commutable from anywhere really, as its very rural. Nearest city is two hours drive away. And the reason we can't rent it out has to do with my relocation agreement with my new job rather than anything to do with the mortgage. Any further advice is more than welcome and thanks again.

AuntySib Fri 06-Sep-13 10:01:39

Can I just say that if you do find a buyer, any occupiers will need to vacate BEFORE EXCHANGE OF CONTRACTS, so you might not have the 8-12 week window that other people have mentioned.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

specialsubject Fri 06-Sep-13 09:52:41

it's called a housesit, and there are plenty of ways to find housesitters. You can use a professional agency and pay the house sitter, or use one of the free sites such as homecarers or mindmyhouse. Sitters pay but homeowners don't.

you can set up whatever deal you want. Leaving a house empty for five months is very bad for it.

I did a short house sit (Competition is FIERCE in the UK!) and loved it, and the owner said she'd had plenty of sitters and it always worked well. But I'm honest. :-)

get references and speak to your insurers.

ParsingFancy Fri 06-Sep-13 09:33:13

I would have bitten your hand off for an offer like this at one stage of my life.

The only downside for me would have been that it's completely unfurnished - when I was travelling light enough to be flexible, I didn't own furniture. But if you were prepared to put that £500 towards very basic furnishing (fridge, oven, washing machine, bed), that would help.

And yes, I would have expected to pay all bills while I was there.

I did something a bit like this .... had tenants in house for a couple of years, then when we put it on the market they moved out. We did try to entice them to stay with the offer of discounted rent but they weren't happy with the insecurity.

All this coincided with a friend leaving her abusive husband. So she moved in at a vastly discounted rent of £200pm (market value was £550) - she lived there for 5 months, until it sold, and gave her time to think about work, and where she wanted to rent/buy subsequently. A win-win situation for us all.

I wouldn't have just let anyone do it though - you'll have to think about how to 'advertise'. You either need someone you know, or someone that comes with a very strong recommendation from someone you know.

TakingTheStairs Fri 06-Sep-13 09:11:43

I did this when I was selling my flat in 2008 in Ireland (height of the crash).
Rent was less than half the going rate on the condition that the flat was to be kept in good condition for viewings and they had to be flexible with the estate agent for viewings. It was a monthly rolling agreement so that if the flat was sold they could leave and if they charged their mind, they could leave. They payed the bills themselves and the girl that I rented it to was delighted to have a flat that gave her an opportunity to save for her own deposit at the same time.
If you can't have anyone rent for mortgage/insurance reasons then I think the house sitter paying all their own bills if very reasonable. It's a great opportunity for someone.

Harryhairypig Fri 06-Sep-13 09:10:49

They mustn't pay any "money or money's worth" to live there or they will have a tenancy. Google protection from eviction act. So only let someone you trust 100% move in or you may face problems.

catinabox Fri 06-Sep-13 09:03:52

Brilliant idea.

If it's a remote area you might find someone who wants a change of scenery for a while. I wouldn't offer £500 though. Getting to live somewhere rent free is a good enough deal. If it does sell they will have 8 -12 weeks to get packed up and find somewhere else to live.
As long as you can ensure they will pay the bills and keep the house in good condition and available for people to view, go for it.

iheartdusty Fri 06-Sep-13 08:58:34

No, don't charge rent, even a nominal £1; this is what makes it a tenancy, and you've already said you can't and won't let it out.

I think you are describing a house-sitter.

Normally, the house-sitter is only in for a short time and doesn't pay their own bills, but there are no legal requirements for this to be the case. I suggest you say you will give 2 weeks' notice and will help them move/ store their belongings if necessary, rather than compensate them for having free accommodation brought to an end.

QuacksForDoughnuts Fri 06-Sep-13 08:46:19

See if you can get a student or pair of them - mature or postgraduate rather than young hellraiser types, although they wouldn't want to live somewhere remote anyway <strike>much as anyone living in a uni town might like them to</strike> -as that would get around the council tax issue.

raisah Fri 06-Sep-13 08:35:20

Its a good deal as they will potentially be saving £700 (if in the SE England) a month in rent so they should pay for all of the utility bills. They will be getting a good deal living rent free so they should pay for what they use. They should nit be compensated for early departure, it should be explained to the tenants asap that they may need to move out fast.

Consider having a contract drawn up with terms & conditiins clearly stated & charge them a nominal rent of £1 per month so you are legalky protected. This arrangement is better suited to a student as they need accommodation from Oct to June but can easily move if required.

Rewindtimeplease Fri 06-Sep-13 08:12:11

I work in insurance.

You must update them to the change in situation if you go ahead with this.

Floggingmolly Fri 06-Sep-13 08:09:38

Just being nosy really, but you'd be happy for someone to live rent free in your house in order for them to make money renting out their own house; yet the house is actually legally yours to sell? How does that work?

YoniMitchell Fri 06-Sep-13 08:06:00

I know there are agencies in London who find tenants for exactly this kind of thing (for the reasons you state, security, basic maintenance etc) so certainly not unreasonable. Might be worth seeing if a similar agency exists close to you/the property to help?

utopian99 Fri 06-Sep-13 08:05:49

mindmaps I love the idea of defiantly talking to someone! grin

You can ask your mortgage lender for consent to let which they normally give, plus a small admin fee, and you need to tell insurers. Although not charging rent, if anyone is living there with your permission who isn't a relative it counts as the same scenario in terms of risk for the lender and insurers, so should anything happen they wouldn't pay out.. If you want to protect yourself honestly I'd get anyone you agree to live there to sign an assured shorthold tenancy agreement but set the rent at £1, that way you're covered.

KoalaFace Fri 06-Sep-13 08:03:34

I know tons of people who are trying to save up money for deposits and they would love this! All professionals in their 20's and 30's. If the house is in Manchester I can even direct some your way.

I think someone in that position would bite your hand off. If they give up a current rental home I think the £500 compensation is a good idea if it sells within 6 months as it gives them some security after leaving their rental. But I wouldn't offer it to someone who would just be leaving their rent free parent's house for example.

gazzalw Fri 06-Sep-13 07:58:56

Someone I know did something similar once and it was beneficial to everyone - the 'tenants' saved loads of money, the house and cats looked after and all was well....

diddl Fri 06-Sep-13 07:56:01

Even if they didn't pay rent, if they were living there & paying the bills, how is that not a tenant?

Or can you have a "tenant" as long as you don't take rent?

Mindmaps Fri 06-Sep-13 06:55:32

Should defiantly speak to somone but they should pay all utilities if you maintain insurances etc . I would also get legal advice e incase you inadvertently create some sort of tenancy you can't get out of

Isthisoneleft Fri 06-Sep-13 06:55:23

As the old saying goes "there is no harm in asking".

It may well appeal to someone.

Only question is re insurance, if you aren't allowed to rent it out, and the property burnt down would your building insurance pay out or would it be null and void.

CatsWearingTutus Fri 06-Sep-13 06:44:15

Thanks for the replies so far. We have already lowered the price, and the problem with it sitting vacant is insurance, vandals, damage goes unnoticed, etc. it is a ten hour drive away from us. Gotta go to work now but will come back this evening to reply, thanks again.

diddl Fri 06-Sep-13 06:38:16

Is 5 months that long?

What's the problem with it sitting vacant?

Can't see it appealing tbh, and surely more trouble than it's worth?

mamapants Fri 06-Sep-13 06:37:55

I think its a very generous offer. I think under the circumstances housesitter should pay all bills including council tax.

runawaysimba Fri 06-Sep-13 06:36:36

I think that sounds like a brilliant deal for your potential tenant. I don't think I'd say anything about the £500 for moving out soon, though. If it comes to it and the house sells the week after they move in, then that's a lovely gesture on your part. If it sells after they've been there for months, they've already saved heaps.

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