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Rent Free London Apartment With Thames Views Offered In Exchange For 'Grandma Sitting' Duties

Couple swamped with over 200 enquiries.

01/10/2016 16:08 | Updated 01 October 2016

Londoners have been offered the chance to live rent free in a spacious apartment overlooking the Thames - but there’s a catch.

The room comes with “grandma-sitting” duties. 

Ross Elder, 40 and his partner Sofi, 32, are advertising the unusual South Bank rental arrangement involving Elder’s 93-year-old grandmother, Margaret, on SpareRoom. The room is available from October 9. 

Ross ElderSpareRoom
A couple are offering free rent at this London apartment in exchange for 'grandma sitting' duties

The deal sees the couple offer free accommodation including bills - worth, they claim, over £1,500 a month - at a “spectacular 2000sqft three bedroom three bath apartment with a huge balcony boasting stunning river views along the Thames”, in exchange for “roughly” 30 hours of “grandma sitting per week”. 

The new flatmate also has to commit to sleeping at the apartment from 10pm to 8am two days a week to help Margaret in the event she needs assistance during the night. The couple intend to care for Margaret most of the time and will employ a carer two days a week. 

Margaret, who suffers from dementia and memory loss, is due to move to the apartment, near the Globe Theatre, later this month from a care home in Staffordshire.

So-called grandma-sitting duties involving Margaret include cooking, helping her to get dressed, showered and spending time with her doing during morning and night shifts.

Ross ElderSpareRoom
Ross Elder with his mother Margaret

The advert reads: “We really want everyone in the house to be able to do the things they are passionate about; study, music, star gazing, work, go out, get seriously fit or whatever it is, but also be willing to be around to find those 30 hours to help with Margaret at times schedules and needs allow.”

The person the couple are seeking should be, according to the advert: “A caring soul, someone fun, patient, a bit cheeky but with a big heart. Caring experience (either personal or professional) is desirable but not essential. Someone musical (or with lots of musical friends!) would be great but again not essential.”

Elder said he decided to move his grandmother, who he described as a huge crossword and puzzles fan, from the home because he became “struck by a sense of loneliness in her”.

He told the BBC: “I want to spend more time with Margaret. We have a lot of fun and we really enjoy her company.

“She’s had a really busy and active life but two years ago she had a stroke and when we realised she couldn’t live independently any more we had to move her into a care home.

“They do a great job there but I just became struck by a sense of loneliness in her.

“The staff don’t have time to spend one-on-one with every resident and she’s not the type who would just join a group activity.

“I felt I wanted to do something more and so we decided to look at moving her in with us.”

Ross ElderSpareRoom
The lounge of the 2000sqft apartment which has stunning river views along the Thames

Elder explained in the advert that he and his wife lived in a warehouse in Shoreditch but because it was “totally unsuitable for grandma” they let it out and instead rented the South Bank flat. 

Since the advert was posted this week, the couple said they had been “overwhelmed” by more than 200 enquiries about the offer.

In an update posted on Friday, the couple wrote: “Thank you to all those who have contacted to wish us well or share their own stories of caring for a loved one - it helps a lot - we are really nervous about the responsibility we are about to take on and want to try our best to get it right. 

“This includes those of you who have kindly offered to come and sing/play music to my Nan! You are awesome and we will be baking lots just for you!!!”

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