Rent a Room

When I first decided to take in a lodger, I’d sort of thought I would prefer to have a woman lodging with me. Then I realised that men probably make up a larger proportion of people looking for lodgings, so it would be silly to reduce my chances of finding one by limiting myself to women only. I decided that what I really wanted more than anything else was a decent human being.

And in fact, once I started to do some research into the subject, I discovered that I’d accidentally made the right decision!! You see, when someone enquires about becoming a lodger with you, you have the right to vet them. You can ask for references, you can search for them on Facebook, you can check their credit-worthiness and whether they really do work where they say they work. You can exercise due diligence. They are coming to live in your home, so you can be very picky indeed.

However – you can’t exercise the same caution when it comes to any girlfriend or boyfriend that they may have. And of course, if they are making their home with you, you can’t really ban them from having friends round. And to put it bluntly, you’re more likely to get grief from a woman’s boyfriend than from a man’s girlfriend.

It’s coming up two months since my lodger moved in.

I’d put all of my details on, and I’d had a few enquiries. My lodger made contact in July. We met for coffee (never invite them to the house before you’ve met them!). We arranged for him to come and view the rooms a couple of days later. He was happy with the set up, and happy with the price. It’s quite a big house, so basically he has a floor, I have a floor, and we share a floor.

I gave him all the paperwork to look at and asked for a one month deposit to secure the rooms. He paid the deposit promptly, we arranged a moving day, and all was good.

On moving day, he arrived at the time agreed. There was a bit of an issue at this point – the rental money hadn’t arrived in my account, although he’d told me he’d set up a standing order for it. He looked extremely embarrassed and puzzled as to why it hadn’t happened and rang his bank there and then. It turned out we’d both forgotten that this was the Sunday of Bank Holiday weekend, and so nothing was going to happen until the Tuesday…

I could have refused to let him move in – but, well, I was happy that he had indeed set up the Standing Order.

The money arrived on the Tuesday.

And so we settled down to life as landlord and lodger. I’ve not been a landlord before, and he’s not been a lodger before, so there’s been a bit of adjustment needed. But he’s quiet, polite, respectful and helpful – and normal, which is really all you want from a lodger.

He always lets me know if he’s going to have visitors round, I hardly hear him when he comes in late or goes out early, he knocks before he comes into the living room, and if the kitchen bin needs emptying or the cat’s water bowl is empty, he deals with it.

And he likes the cat, which is a relief. He doesn’t mind her going up to the attic, and she spends some of her time asleep on his bed – he knows he can throw her out anytime, but he’s happy for her to be there. And the cat certainly doesn’t mind!!

To begin with we were both a little wary around each other, but we’re shaking down and getting used to each other now. We’re getting into something of a routine.

And also, it’s really nice to have someone else in the house. I wasn’t sure how I would feel about that – I’m used to being on my own (even when we were together, my husband worked away a lot). But I hear him moving about upstairs, and it’s quite nice to just know that there’s someone else around.

So – it’s all very civilised. And financially it’s very useful.

Getting a lodger was one of the first major decisions I made after my husband left. And it’s worked out well. I can earn up to £7,500pa tax free through the government’s ‘Rent a Room’ Scheme – why wouldn’t I want to do that!!

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8 Comments Add yours

  1. gosforthgirl says:

    Hi- I`ve been having lodgers( or as I call them ` guests` for about 7 years now either from Spare Room or from a theatre booking site. Apart from very few disasters, they have been lovely and it has worked out well.

    My gut feeling is invaluable so if I don`t like someone they don`t move in. Period. I don`t ask for references but look for other clues as to how they communicate in emails and in person.

    I go on the ` have you got wifi`?comment I once got. My son asked me why I hadn’t chosen anyone one time and I showed him the email. He initially didn’t understand my resistance.

    I explained that anyone wanting to meet me has to read the advert with all the information and start a conversation. We are in fact gong to be living alongside each other and have to trust each other.

    The following week I got an A4 email from an Italian stranger who gave me enough information to accept his booking. He is still a friend of the family.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I think gut feeling can get you a long way. I like to meet them for coffee – you can tell a lot about a person over a coffee!! But I also check them out on Facebook etc too…


  2. anglosvizzera says:

    Glad to hear it’s all working out well. My son’s recently moved into a house as a lodger (finally!) and seems to be getting on fine. I remember my first time as a lodger when I started uni at age 26.

    I hadn’t been a lodger before, although had lived in shared places as a student radiographer some years previously. My landlady at the lodgings was divorced with 2 boys, and had only ever had students in their late teens, usually straight from school, so although her ‘rules’ were that I was only allowed to use the kitchen at certain times, no overnight guests and no use of her living room, after a while she warmed to me. I was married at the time, so I was permitted to have my husband to stay for the odd weekend and she also invited me in to her living room to watch TV with her as she realised that we did get on pretty well after a few weeks and she had someone to chat to.

    On the other hand, I had a friend a few years later who was in her late 20s who became a landlady and had similarly strict rules (actually even more strict!) for her lodgers and never relaxed them at all. I don’t suppose it was a very happy time for her lodgers, who were not even able to use the kitchen to cook a meal, but could warm up stuff in the microwave if necessary. Very odd.

    A few years after my lodging experience, I’d split up with my first husband and had bought a house with my second. As he was a student and I was pregnant, we had mentioned to the vendor that we would probably have a student to rent a room.

    Shortly after we moved in, a neighbour, who was moving away, contacted us to ask if ‘her student’ could move in to make things easier. We met the young lady, who seemed ok, so she moved in for the rest of her academic year. We were quite flexible about the use of the kitchen/diner but she didn’t seem to want to join us in the living room much. We allowed her boyfriend to stay once or twice – I remember once coming home from work and as there was no sign of life or lights on, was going to hoover her room, as we’d arranged – opened the door only to see a large ‘lump’ in the bed. Obviously her boyfriend had arrived early! One bonus was that her dad was a potato farmer in Suffolk, so she often supplied us with sacks of spuds.

    After she moved out, we were more careful to select a suitable student who we felt more akin with. The next one was ‘Lilian the Chilean’ on account of her dad coming from Chile and where she’d lived as a child. She was a lovely art student who offered to babysit our baby daughter, which was a great help to us on the odd occasion we went out as a couple. She used to help me dye my hair too – so quite handy to have around. I expect she could’ve given me Spanish lessons if I’d asked.

    The last one we had was an architecture student, ‘Becca from Buxton’, who was also lovely. Her dad used to bring large containers of Buxton Water that they were able to fill up free at home from the spring.

    I guess the key is to have fairly ‘strict’ rules to begin with that you can adjust rather than the other way round. Some people can’t bear to share their home with ‘strangers’ but I’ve always found it a great way to make more friends!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree, it takes a bit of adjustment! He has a kettle, a microwave, a mini fridge and a sink in his sitting room, so can do cups of tea, keep his beer cold, and do cook/chill meals etc, but if he wants to do ‘real’ cooking he uses the main kitchen. He seems to cook ‘properly’ about 5 times a week, which is fine with me. Also, because I work shifts we’re not often needing to both cook at the same time – I think it could get awkward if we were both needing to use the kitchen at the same time every night.


  3. SisterStay says:

    It’s good to be choosy, especially with house guests. You can never do too much background research. I personally wold have gone for a female lodger but I’m glad your male turned out to be a success.


    1. He empties the kitchen bin if it’s full!! I told my Mum, and her immediate reaction, without taking a breath, was ‘Why the hell did his marriage break up then??’

      Liked by 1 person

  4. SisterStay says:

    It’s good to be choosy, especially with house guests. You can never do too much background research. I personally would have gone for a female lodger but I’m glad your male turned out to be a success.


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