What is the difference between a tenant and a lodger? Both words seem to mean the same, so when is one preferred over the other, or is it a case of different terms to name the same thing?

  • 1
    The five main differences between a lodger and a tenant: lodgerlandlord.co.uk/2010/03/09/…
    – user66974
    Commented May 10, 2015 at 20:50
  • The link provided by @Josh61 says it all. Should we keep the question?
    – Centaurus
    Commented May 10, 2015 at 20:57
  • You can remove it if you want, thanks again for the link
    – w.b
    Commented May 10, 2015 at 20:59
  • In the US a "tenant" would exclusively occupy an entire apartment or rented home, while a "lodger" would occupy a room, with some shared space with the landlord, and possibly shared meals, etc. (But note that "tenant" may be used to describe, eg, a farmer who rents land, or a business which occupies a rented building. "Lodger", on the other hand, is exclusively used to describe someone occupying a dwelling.)
    – Hot Licks
    Commented May 11, 2015 at 0:06

1 Answer 1


You got a good answer for BrE. In my experience, lodger is rarely used in AmE (I have never heard it used, and rarely seen it in print.) People renting a room in another's home are usually called roomers or roommates. People renting a hotel room, motel room, vacation cabin, condo, (or even a "lodge" e.g. a ski lodge) for a short vacation are usually called "guests".

  • My experience is that AmE can use the words the same way the British article cited above explains it. My wife's elderly aunt has lodgers in California, and calls them just that. Commented May 10, 2015 at 23:01
  • +1, Brian. In AmE "lodger" can certainly be used, and would be understood, too. For the most part. But in the U.S., "tenant" is the term normally used for someone who rents domestic accommodations on a, more or less, permanent basis.
    – user98990
    Commented May 10, 2015 at 23:29
  • Noted and agreed. I certainly didn't mean to say that lodger is never used, or that is is incorrect; just that I never hear it. Checking ngram viewer, I can't seem to get it to show both AmE and BrE on same graph though. This one books.google.com/ngrams/… shows it gradually dwindling in AmE until c. 2000, then rising. I guess I haven't been paying attention lately! Commented May 11, 2015 at 8:27
  • My comment was meant to indicate full and unmitigated agreement, Brian. :-)
    – user98990
    Commented May 11, 2015 at 21:01
  • In AmE, boarder is often used for this sense of lodger; and boarding house. This type of living arrangement is much, much less common now, but my grandmother took in boarders. The Air BnB of the 1920s? Commented May 12, 2015 at 6:24

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