Some owners are taking on tenants to fill rooms, care for a pet or provide a little company; when a mansion becomes more like ‘Melrose Place’

A surprising number of luxury homeowners are taking on tenants for reasons both pecuniary and personal. Whether looking for a pet-sitter or a like-minded neighbor, owners are seeking out these arrangements to make the most of their space. These set ups can work out well, though things can get messy when these homes go on the market.

It is a situation that may be more common than it seems. The Demand Institute, a nonprofit research group run by the Conference Board and Nielsen, surveyed more than 10,000 homeowners and renters nationwide. The study, released in February, found that 5% of respondents across all markets were “doubling up”—when two or more unrelated adults live together. But that number was 7% in the most affluent housing markets, which it defined as roughly the top 10% of communities based on a number of socioeconomic measures, including median home value.

One possible reason is that luxury homeowners can be just as burdened by housing costs as the less affluent, says Louise Keely, chief research officer at the Demand Institute. Of the households in the top-tier markets that were polled, 41% said they spend 30% or more of their income on housing, which is the same percentage as in other markets.


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