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A boarding house is a house (often a family home) in which lodgers rent one or more rooms for one or more nights, and sometimes for extended periods of weeks, months, and years. The common parts of the house are maintained, and some services, such as laundry and cleaning, may be supplied. They normally provide "bed and board", that is, at least some meals as well as accommodation. A "lodging house", also known in the United States as a "rooming house", may or may not offer meals. Lodgers legally only obtain a licence to use their rooms, and not exclusive possession, so the landlord retains the right of access.[according to whom?]
Formerly boarders would typically share washing, breakfast and dining facilities; in recent years it has become common for each room to have its own washing and toilet facilities. Such boarding houses were often found in English seaside towns (for holidaymakers) and college towns (for students). It was common for there to be one or two elderly long-term residents.
Boarders can often arrange to stay bed-and-breakfast (bed and breakfast only), half-board (bed, breakfast and dinner only) or full-board (bed, breakfast, lunch and dinner). Especially for families on holiday with children, boarding (particularly on a full-board basis) was an inexpensive alternative and certainly much cheaper than staying in all but the cheapest hotels. In the United Kingdom, boarding houses were typically run by landladies, some of whom maintained draconian authority in their houses: the residents might not be allowed to remain on the premises during the daytime and could be subject to rigorous rules and regulations, stridently enforced.
Bed and breakfast accommodation (B&B), which exists in many countries in the world (e.g. the UK, the US, Canada, and Australia), is a specialized form of boarding house in which the guests or boarders normally stay only on a bed-and-breakfast basis, and where long-stay residence is rare.
However some B&B accommodation is made available on a long-term basis to UK local authorities who are legally obliged to house persons and families for whom they have no social housing available. Some such boarding houses allow large groups with low incomes to share overcrowded rooms, or otherwise exploit people with problems rendering them vulnerable, such as those with irregular immigration status. Such a boarding-house may well cease to be attractive to short-term lodgers, and the residents may remain in unsatisfactory accommodation for long periods. Much old seaside accommodation is so used, since cheap flights have reduced demand for their original seasonal holiday use.
Apart from the worldwide spread of the concept of the B&B, there are equivalents of the British boarding houses elsewhere in the world. For example, in Japan, minshuku are an almost exact equivalent although the normal arrangement would be the equivalent of the English half-board. In Hawaii, where the cost of living is high and incomes barely keep pace, it is common to take in lodgers (who are boarders in English terminology) that share the burden of the overall rent or mortgage payable.
In the Indian subcontinent boarders are also known as paying guests. Paying guests stay in a home and share a room with domestic facilities. Rates are nominal and monthly charges are usually inclusive of food, bed, table and a cupboard. The rent can go higher for a room in an upscale locality with facilities like single occupancy, air conditioning and high-speed wireless internet access.
In the United States, zoning was used by neighborhoods to limit boarding houses.
In popular culture 
See also 
- Boarding school
- Call this a home? campaign for safe rooming houses (in Australia)
- List of human habitation forms
- Room and board
- Single room occupancy
- Home portal
- Bill Bryson, Notes from a Small Island
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This phrase was quoted in Vance Packard's book "Hidden Persuaders" as an example of "some of the more dramatic cases of psychological limitation diagnosed by the depth experts, and the couch treatment applied, to give the unfortunate patients a new chance in the battle for our dollars": Old maids and boardinghouses. The diagnosis and remodeling Dr. Dichter performed on the poor, inferiority-ridden prune constitutes one of the classic achievements of motivation research.