Rising Damp…

My lodger has been with me for six months!!

The first one didn’t make it to three months – met someone and moved in with her.

The current one moved in at the beginning of March, just a week or so before Covid-19 struck. And here’s an odd fact – we met for a coffee at the local Costa before he came to view the rooms, and when we met, we shook hands. He was the last person I shook hands with.

We’ve been social-distancing inside the house pretty much from the beginning. He lives in the attic, only venturing downstairs to cook and to use the washing machine. We’ve organised things so that we avoid each other – if I’m already in the kitchen he’ll just go back upstairs and come down again later, if he’s already in the kitchen I’ll wait until he’s finished. He does his washing at the weekend, I do mine on a Monday.

For a while he was working from home, while I was still going out to work – so basically he spent more time here then I did!

Anyway, six months in, and time for an inspection, just to keep an eye on things. Gave 24 hours’ notice, and popped up to see how things were. Now, an inspection isn’t to check on how tidy or dusty things are – I’m only interested in stuff that might need fixing. Anything not working, or damp patches on the wall, that sort of thing.

In fact, there were a couple of damp patches. I don’t think there’s actual damp (no smell of dampness, and no sign of mould) – but there’s a bit of staining. So, bought some stain seal, got some paint, and set to work.

It needed to be on a day and at a time when we were both around – I wouldn’t have been comfortable going into his rooms if he wasn’t around, and I suspect he wouldn’t have wanted me to either. Which is fair enough.

As he works ‘normal’ Monday to Friday hours, and I work shifts, that took a bit of organising. In the end, Friday afternoon was a good time to start. I finished work at 1:30 that day, and he finishes early on a Friday. Perfect. And on Saturday I finished at 3:30 and he was off all day, so that was excellent timing for the second coat.

I only became a landlord because I needed to leave no stone unturned when it came to earning money after my husband left. But there are responsibilities. After all, someone is paying to live in my home, and to make it their home. I want them to be comfortable and happy, and that includes making sure that it’s a pleasant place to live. And in turn that means keeping up with the repairs and maintenance.

So – painting done. And I’ve noted a possible leak around the shower screen, although as he’s only noticed it once, we’ve both agreed not to worry about it until it maybe happens again.

And if he’s still with me in six months’ time, I’ll be doing another inspection.

Is it a bit weird sharing my home with someone else? Well yes – but only a bit. In some ways it’s quite nice to know that there’s someone else in the house. Even though he’s up in the attic and doesn’t spend any time downstairs, I’m not coming home to an empty house. There’s movement, there are sounds. It’s quite comforting.

And really, after six months, I’m used to it.

During lockdown I did get a little concerned. He was working from home, so apart from cooking the occasional meal and doing his washing once a week, he just stayed in his rooms all the time. I realised one day that I hadn’t heard or seen anything of him for three days – was he OK? Had the self-isolation driven him mad up there in the attic? Was I living in my very own Bronte novel?

(Reader, he was fine.)

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