Living with your landlord

I've been meaning to write about this for absolutely ages, but my time since leaving London seems to have flown by.

This probably applies mainly to those moving to London or another big city for work, as it tends to be in more expensive places that you might rent a room rather than a flat or house.

There were definite pros and cons to living in a house where the homeowner was one of the occupants, so I thought I share a bit of that list in case you're considering options for a move of your own.

My situation

To quickly summarise my own situation, I was working in London and rented a downstairs bedroom in a house not far from the tube station, for about 18 months. It was handy for my commute, in a family area and was a homely, quiet house. I lived with the homeowner, who was older and had begun renting out the rooms when her own children grew up and left home, and two other renters.

I was the only person living downstairs, and the only person who used the downstairs shower room. There was the homeowner and one renter upstairs, and another person had a sort of studio set-up on the very top floor. There was a shared kitchen with a table, then a private family room the homeowner used for herself and her own family when they visited.

My room was spacious, with lots of storage space and a big window facing out to the road at the front of the house.

I went through a very bad time with my mental health whilst living in that house, but this post will be about the factual pros and cons I discovered about the specific situation of having a live-in landlord.


It's in their interests to fix problems quickly
If they live in the house too, they're likely to move much more quickly when there's problems like faulty heating or damage in the property.

They're likely to be more picky about who lives in the house
My landlord took the time to have a good chat with people, because she knew she would be living with them. That meant I was fortunate enough to live with quiet, respectful, friendly people throughout my time there.

It felt very homely, because it was someone's permanent, long term home
The house had been a family home, and the landlord started to rent out the rooms once her own family moved out to start families of their own. That meant it had character and personality, and did feel like a family home, which really suited me.


There's a hierarchy in the household
However well you get on with your landlord and the other people in your house, there's the relationship of landlord/tenant at play. Their decision will always be the final decision and their way is the way things run. I also found myself steering clear of the kitchen when the landlord was using it alone or with family, as I was hyper-aware it was their house, even though I was paying to live there.

I felt I had to ask permission/seek approval for a lot of things (visitors etc)
I definitely tiptoed around quite a lot, and there were certain things that made me feel like I was still living with parents or grandparents. In my particular household, I had to ask advance permission if anyone was staying over, and guests were only seemingly allowed about a night a week, and not very often over the course of a month. The reasoning was I paid for the room for one person. Because it was the landlord's home, their rules and decisions were final, even if they seemed slightly unfair or dated. It meant whenever friends were coming down for the weekend I had to run it by someone to get permission granted, rather than just letting my housemates know out of general politeness.

Rules that apply to you don't necessarily apply to them or their visitors
I was very conscious of being respectful and quiet if and when I did have people over, or even when I was in my room alone. However, when the landlord's family were visiting there were children running and screaming around the house whilst I tried to work, loud conversations next to my room when I was trying to get to sleep etc. This didn't happen too often, but each time it did it reinforced that idea of there being a hierarchy.


Hopefully those are some helpful things to consider. Every situation and every landlord will be unique, but there are definite advantages and disadvantages to this particular set up. Think carefully about what's important to you, meet whoever you'll be living with and spend some time having a good chat to them, and make sure you establish any rules and boundaries from the word go.

The main piece of advice I'd give to myself, looking back, is to speak my mind a little more. It may be their home, but you're paying to live there - often a substantial amount, if you're in London. Be respectful, but also make sure you're not spending your days tiptoeing and feeling like you shouldn't even be there; you're paying to be there and have every right to feel safe, happy and comfortable.

Sophie x


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