Sunday, 21 November 2010

Be my guest

Even if we were desperate for money, Jenny and I would be very reluctant to take in a lodger. We could so easily end up with the lodger from hell, taking advantage every which way and driving us nuts.

But the number of people taking in lodgers to make ends meet is rising dramatically in the current economic downturn.

More than 200,000 British households now have a lodger - that's a rise of 15 per cent in three years and a level not seen since the sixties. The typical lodger-landlords are middle-class thirty-something couples.

Some of them have had their fingers burnt though. They've had lodgers who keep stinking food in the fridge, cook meals at all hours of the night, take umpteen showers a day and monopolise the washing machine. Then when they ask the lodger to leave, they dig their heels in and refuse to go.

Jenny and I simply wouldn't want to take that risk. Because however carefully you try to vet someone and predict how reliable and well-behaved they're going to be, you can always be fooled by someone who knows how to fake it and present themselves as the ideal lodger.

It's simply not worth the possibility that our cosy and comfortable domestic routine would be hit for six for someone who couldn't care less about our wishes or our well-being.

In my twenties I shared a few places with other people and sometimes it was a nightmare. They would invite all their friends round for wild parties, never do any housework, play loud music at any hour and leave food to fester and rot. I would have to move out rapidly and with a huge sigh of relief.

If all lodgers respected their landlords and behaved with sensitivity and courtesy, the idea of taking them in would be more appealing. Unfortunately too many lodgers turn out to be a law unto themselves.

PS: Okay, be honest, am I just mean and selfish and uncharitable?

PPS: Jenny points out that even if lodgers are a pain in the arse, they may be paying the landlord's mortgage. In which case complaints ring a bit hollow....


  1. The longer I live alone the less I want to share my space. Am I greedy?

  2. It is easy to speak from a position of privilege, Nick but when one is desperate (as I was when my kids were teenagers) one has no further options.
    And I had lodgers who are still friends today along with the rank ones.
    One just keeps their fingers crossed that all will be well.
    I hope I don't have to do it again but if I need to keep the wolf from the door I will.

  3. Grannymar - Well, maybe, but then again you have to WANT to take in a lodger. If you do it unwillingly it's likely to end in tears.

    www - A position of privilege I admit, we've been extremely lucky over the years. When I first met Jenny she herself was lodging in a friend's house and very grateful for it. Of course if you're in dire economic straits it's a practical option and you just have to give it a go. Great that some of your ex-lodgers are still friends.

  4. I've heard of a couple of horrific stories from friends about lodgers, OK only two but it's been enough to put me off for ever. Both were single women, interestingly, and what they went through seems to me to be emotional abuse as much as anything else. In one case the lodger was a man, in the other a woman.

  5. Ah I think that's the case with any flatmate or even a friend, you don't know people until you travel or live with them. I've thought about taking in a student once or twice but I'm a little too far from the nearest campus. Then I've only just got rid of my 25 year lodger, she moved out this weekend hahaha.

  6. Jenny - Which only goes to show that however charming and likeable a person appears on first sight, you may discover a less attractive side once they're settled in your home.

    Baino - True, travelling or living with someone can reveal disturbing traits that weren't previously apparent. Good to know you've finally seen the back of your horrific lodger, lol.

  7. I was always worried and wary when I shared accommodation but I did my share and kept my room tidy, paid my part for food, phone, lodging and electric on time and only had wild parties out of the house...

    I think I made a mistake yesterday. I thought you asked about the brain coral when in fact, you asked the whereabouts of the mirror. Sorry.

    When my mother died, her sister rented a truck and took most of what was in the flat. Now that my aunt is history, I would venture to guess that it has been sold or is in the hands of one of my rarely seen cousins.

    Being a minimalist by nature, there are very few possessions I would haggle over but seeing the behavior of others about such things, I've determined to leave a listing of where anything I own should go once I exit this earth. That should save my executor time and trouble from unwelcome relatives.

  8. yeah nick, you are mean and uncharitable.....

    or you like your space to be your own.
    theres no charity in having a lodger if you make money off the deal.

  9. e - Sounds like you were the ideal lodger, conscientious and reliable.

    That listing's a good idea. As you say, it might save time and trouble and a lot of unpleasant arguments.

    Kylie - Mean and uncharitable, eek. *hangs head in shame* Indeed, not much charity involved if they're paying off the mortgage for you.

  10. It's a great idea and could help someone manage a mortgage payment. And yet, I hope I never have to take that option. When I stop sharing my home with the lodgers I call my sons, I will be more than ready for my privacy.

  11. Secret Agent - I'm sure that after all those years of sharing your house with the kids, however much you love them you'll be glad of some privacy for a change.

  12. I agree with you, Nick.

    My parents had tenants (same as lodgers? I can't remember) for a couple or more decades and the early ones were all fine but the last two were appalling. After that they didn't want any more and I certainly wouldn't want any.

  13. Val - This is the problem, you just can't predict with any certainty which lodgers are going to be fine and which are going to be dreadful.

    (Tenants generally have a formal tenancy agreement while lodgers are a more casual arrangement)

  14. I'd never do this, especially because I have kids. You never know when your lodger's going into a molester.

  15. Liz - That's an important consideration. You can't be too careful when kids are involved.

  16. I wouldn't want to do it either. The lodger could even be a murderer -- there is simply no way to know what you are getting because candidates always show their best face.

  17. Heart - Indeed, I'm sure there are cases where the lodger DID turn out to be a murderer. Mind you, the landlord could turn out to be a murderer as well.