By Claire West

With only about 500 days until the start of the 2012 Olympic Games, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is reminding anyone thinking of renting out a spare room to visitors to check the Rent a Room Scheme first.

Under the scheme, you can receive up to £4,250 a year tax-free if you rent out a furnished room in a residential property.

You can take advantage of the scheme if you let furnished accommodation - a room or an entire floor of your home - to a lodger who pays to live in your home, sometimes with meals provided, and who occasionally shares the family rooms.

In addition, you can use the Rent a Room scheme if your home is rented; you don’t have to be the owner.

The scheme does not apply, however, if your home is converted into separate flats that you rent out, if you let unfurnished rooms in your home, or if you let your whole home. In these cases you need to declare the rental income to HMRC and pay tax in the normal way.

Full details of the scheme can be found at:

In the run-up to the Games HMRC will conduct free advice sessions around the country on renting out property.

The next session is on 17 June at St John’s Church, Broadway, Stratford, London. The event runs for around three hours, starting at 10am.

Places for all of the seminars need to be booked in advance on 0845 603 2691 (open from 08:30 to 17:00, Monday to Friday) or at People can also find out where their nearest seminars are by ringing the booking line.