The cost of everything is rising, but the cost of housing is particularly troubling for many. Having a roof over your head and a place to sleep is crucial to your ability to function in society, but rents have been consistently rising over the last few years. As a result, people are seeking creative housing solutions—and one of those solutions is, apparently, “hot-bedding.”
What is hot-bedding?
Hot-bedding is when you literally rent a bed—not an apartment, or even a whole room to yourself, just a bed. Sometimes it’s even just a side of the bed, shared with someone else, but in either case, you only get to use the bed for a specified period of time, and then you have to be up and out so the next person can take their sleep shift in it. It’s a similar concept to “hot-desking” in offices or “hot-racking” in the military, where it’s sometimes used on ships where space is at a premium.
It’s easy to see why people might think this is a good idea, especially perpetually broke students. Having a place to sleep at night that costs a lot less than a full apartment provides a subsistence-level form of survival so you can keep going to your job, if you have one, while staying out of the weather. Costs for hot-bedding depend on the rent or other housing costs incurred by the owner of the bed, of course, but skew much cheaper than renting a room or private apartment—one woman in Australia charges $160 per week for one side of her bed (which she also occupies), while a student reported paying $225 per month for the right to sleep in a bed overnight, with a truck driver sleeping in it during the daytime.
Bad idea, right?
On the one hand, if you can’t afford to rent your own place and you have no options for co-housing or living with family, hot-bedding at least gets you off the street. And if you’re struggling to pay your rent, mortgage, or other bills, hot-bedding can bring in some much-needed cash. On the other hand, there are plenty of reasons this is a bad idea:
- Health and hygiene. First and foremost, renting your bed to or from a stranger is very different from renting a bed to or from a stranger. This is the bed you sleep in, and unless you take steps to ensure that your hot-bedding partner is scrupulous about their personal hygiene, you may find out the hard way how gross some people can be. Also, hot-bedding in regular shifts often means there’s no time window for cleaning and upkeep, which means the sheets don’t get changed or washed as often as they should, and carpet and other aspects of the room aren’t cleaned properly—because there’s always someone sleeping in there. This can exacerbate allergies and contribute to illnesses.
- Safety and security. Renting space to or from a stranger is always a bit of a risk, but it’s a little different when the stranger is in your personal space as opposed to their own. If you’re the one renting out your bed, you’ll need to consider taking steps to protect your privacy and your possessions. If you’re the one renting a bedspace, you’ll be occupying not just someone else’s house, but their most private space within it, which can be stressful. Another consideration is the psychological impact. People need some portion of solitude and privacy for basic mental health. Hot-bedding when someone else is sharing the bed often means you won’t have a moment when you’re truly alone all day. The student hot-bedding during the day, for example, notes that she is “… so stressed all the time, and very anxious. To not have even a peaceful place to lay my head and relax while I study feels terrible.”
- Legal issues. If you’re the bed-owner, you might be breaking the law or other regulations by hot-bedding. Renting out a whole room in your home requires that you comply with a varying list of legal requirements determined by your local government, homeowners association, or zoning office, and renting out a bed for a few hours a day is a grey area that could easily violate all of those regulations. And if you’re renting the room or apartment yourself, you may be legally prevented from sub-renting any part of the space, depending on your lease. The person renting the bed probably lacks the normal protections tenants receive, leaving them little recourse if the terms of the arrangement suddenly change.
Desperate times call for desperate measures, but time-sharing a bed is both kind of gross and kind of dangerous. If you truly have no other option, it’s maybe better than sleeping in your car or on the street—but just barely.