In popular folklore, it is a sticky relationship. The landlord is prickly and suspicious. The lodger is surly and resentful. It is a purely commercial arrangement with the inevitable underlying frictions. No homeowner in their right mind would take on a lodger unless they had to. It is just too risky.
Or is that too negative a prism through which to view the landlord-lodger relationship? And what about the remote possibility of a lodger who becomes a friend?
Not every landlord has to be a Rigsby, the lech immortalised by Leonard Rossiter in the classic Seventies television sitcom Rising Damp. And not every lodger has to be as vapid as Alan, the long-haired medical student who drove Rigsby to distraction.
“The Rising Damp stereotypes are years out of date,” says Matt Hutchinson, who runs www.spareroom.co.uk, a website visited by between 700,000 and 800,000 people a month. “A lot of the landlords we deal with are more like characters in Friends: young professionals buying two-bedroom flats, then letting out the spare bedroom to a fellow young professional to help cover the mortgage.”