personal finance

Intergenerational living – how to find a younger tenant

If you’re thinking about renting a room in your house to a younger tenant, how do you go about finding the right one? There are many options. In some cases, rent is exchanged for practical help or companionship by the lodger. In those instances, the match tends to be overseen by the charity or agency, although some commercial organisations also provide that reassurance.

You can also try websites offering rooms for rent. Your income may be higher but you will have to select and check your lodger yourself. One of the most successful options is to find someone through personal recommendation or through a local network. Here are three schemes that could help you find the right tenants. 

Homeshare UK

Homeshare UK is the biggest national scheme and is part of the charity Shared Lives Plus. There are 18 schemes in Homeshare UK operated by various charities or housing groups. It is part of a global network which operates in countries including Australia, the USA, Canada, Spain, France and Switzerland.

The scheme matches older people with a spare room with a younger person who needs affordable accommodation and can offer ten hours of help a week to the host.

No rent changes hands but both parties pay a monthly fee to the scheme, on average £200 for the sharer and £120 for the older person, to cover its administration and checks which are ongoing throughout the time the matched couple live together.

The tasks carried out by the homesharer will vary widely according to need but will never include personal care. They can range from cooking, cleaning, shopping and gardening to companionship, taking the older person to appointments or socialising, going out to restaurants or to visiting National Trust properties. The expectation is that the sharer will spend a minimum number of nights in the property, which provides a reassuring presence.

The benefits of intergenerational house shares

A three-year, £2 million pilot programme, developed by Lloyds Bank and the Big Lottery Fund, and bringing together partners such as Age UK and the Social Care Institute for Excellence, has just trialled eight such Homeshare schemes.

Intergenerational homesharing can reduce loneliness and isolation, and improve well-being.

It concluded that intergenerational homesharing can reduce loneliness and isolation, improve well-being and address the lack of affordable housing options. It recognised there were challenges including becoming used to sharing space, solving conflicts that might arise between the parties and the escalation of the householders’ care needs when more support might be required.

The potential of the scheme is that it could change the face of housing and social care in the UK by allowing older people to live independently at home for longer. It could also be an answer to bed blocking, when a patient cannot return home from hospital because they will be alone. There are cases where the older patient doesn’t need personal care while they convalesce but the knowledge that someone will be there.

Carefully matched and monitored

The scheme is based on trust and friendship, but both the home and needs of the older person and the character and abilities of the younger homesharer are carefully vetted. This continues regularly throughout the homeshare. Homes can vary in size and location and include council homes and flats.

There are currently almost 400 matches in progress. The age of householders tends to be from 80 to 95 and they often come to Homeshare after a crisis such as a fall. The aim is to encourage younger householders, say in their seventies, to join the scheme which may eventually delay their need to move to a care home.

The 18 schemes include several in London, the south east and the north, to south-west England, Edinburgh, Norfolk and the Isle of Wight. 

To find out more, visit Homeshare UK or call 0151 227 3499.


In the UK, RoomForTea operates only in London, where half of the 3.3 million homes have a spare room. It is not a charity but it does offer rooms at below market cost to young people and rigorously checks the lodger, the accommodation offered by the older host and the requirements of each party.

Milena Bottero, 28, set up RoomForTea five years ago when she came to London as an unpaid intern and couldn’t find anywhere affordable to live. Her service has taken off as high rents are making it difficult for young people  to base themselves in the capital. In 2014, 130,000 people aged 21-40 left London for this reason.

The RoomForTea operation is an adaptation of a model used by language schools, in which hosts provide bed and board for visiting students from overseas.

Bed, board and more independence

However RoomForTea, which also has a branch in Toronto, Canada, allows for greater independence so hosts are not expected to provide meals. Occasionally, a match is made where a lodger provides a number of weekly hours of support but this is not the norm. These arrangements usually run for about a year whereas paying guests, particularly those visiting London for a limited time, may need lodgings for only three months.

The most popular areas for matches are in Islington, Hackney, Lambeth and Wandsworth, where the average rent in a RoomForTea match is £550-600. Each month, the  lodger pays the rent plus ten per cent to HomeForTea which passes on the rent less five per cent to the host, who is always guaranteed their rent. Lodgers must provide a character reference from an academic or professional source.

Although RoomForTea deals with hosts of any age, many are older and 75 per cent are single females, who can stipulate the gender of their lodger. The lodger should feel free to share the kitchen, living room and garden, and the rent includes bills and broadband.

To find out more, visit RoomForTea or call 020 3239 4913.

Home Help Companions

Home Help Companions is nationwide agency places full-time carers, but is finding a big demand for part-time, live-in companions who offer 25 hours a week help – not personal care – in return for free accommodation and board.

The agency first establishes that the householder doesn’t need personal care and then gathers a lot of information about them. They are matched with someone on whom the agency will have gathered around ten documents, including a number of references and a DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check which provides a copy of any criminal record the person may have. Those who are smart, neat and ‘switched on’ are sought, such as a trainee accountant and a dental nurse who were both recently placed with older householders.

Help around the house

The companion may provide half an hour before work and a couple of hours in the evening including cooking, washing up and hanging up the washing. At weekends, they may do some cleaning or take the host to the hairdresser, a gallery or to appointments. The specifics of each match will be closely monitored.

This arrangement is hard to set up outside large cities, says director Julia Arnold. She says that householders who live near a hospital may be able to attract working nurses as part time companions.

Although no rent changes hands, the service may help a householder stay in their home for longer and is cheaper than paying a full time carer along with agency costs.

To find out more, visit Home Help Companions or call 01403 711639.

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