A new test is to be added to the qualifying criteria for rent-a-room relief from April 2019.
The test will require that the individual or individuals in receipt of income (the home owner) will need to share occupancy of the residence in question with the individual whose occupation of the furnished accommodation is generating the receipts (the lodger).
In their notes advising this change HMRC says:
Rent-a-room relief provides Income Tax relief for those letting out furnished accommodation. It was introduced in 1992 to encourage individuals to make spare capacity in their homes available for rent. The government intended this to increase the quantity and variety of low-cost rented accommodation, giving more choice to tenants and making it easier for people to move around the country for work.
Rent-a-room relief presently gives relief from Income Tax for up to £7,500 of income to individuals who let furnished accommodation in their only or main residence.
In the last 25 years the housing market has changed significantly. The private rented sector has more than doubled in size, and the emergence and growth of online platforms in particular, have made it easier than ever for those with spare accommodation to access a global network of potential occupants.
The objective of this clause is to ensure that rent-a-room relief is better targeted to achieve its objective of incentivising individuals with spare accommodation (that might otherwise go unused) to share their homes.