If you have more space than you have cash, renting a room in your house can be a good way to make ends meet.
Should you get a Roommate to Help Make Extra Money?
If you’re a homeowner with extra space in your place and you don’t mind a roommate digging around in your fridge late at night, renting a room in your house can be a super way to raise some cash. Renting a room can also help to cover the costs of home ownership such as maintenance and utilities. Sounds fantastic, right? Just follow these tips to keep your roommate situation safe and satisfying.
Marketing Your Room for Rent
Craigslist offers free classifieds that allow you to make custom postings for roommates, as do many newspaper websites. For clues on how to price your rental, visit the Craigslist.com site for your metro area and select “rooms/shared housing” from the menu. You can use existing postings to figure out how to price and market your rental. Take note of how landlords use photos and details to market their rooms for rent.
Finding a Good Roommate to Rent a Room in Your House
Think about the kind of person with whom you’d like to share your home and write ads that reflect your lifestyle and requirements. If you’re a vegetarian household, be clear about that. If you dislike noise after 9 p.m., be clear about that also. You should specify what percentage of the utilities the person will pay in addition to rent and how you plan to manage food sharing and preparation.
Be meticulous in identifying how household responsibilities will be split and all charges that are associated with the room rental such as a weekly cleaning fee, pool service, Internet access or other general household expenses. Be sure to articulate your house rules with regard to guests visiting and spending the night. If you’re not careful, you can end up with two roommates for the price of one.
Background & Credit Checks
Never, ever rent a room without first doing background research. Before you invite someone to live with you, be sure to order criminal, sex offender and credit checks. There are affordable and simple online services that are designed for landlords – some as low as $25 or $50. As a part of the application process, you can ask the tenant to pay a non-refundable credit check fee to cover the cost. This will deter tenants with bad credit problems or criminal histories from pursuing your rental. If someone isn’t able to pay for a credit check, swallow the cost or tack it on to their rent.
Interviewing Roommates Prior to Renting a Room in Your House
Take some time to identify what is important to you from a lifestyle perspective before interviewing prospective roommates. Whether you are a quiet, contemplative person who spends a lot of time at home or a very social, active person who likes to have friends over, you should ask questions that identify a good fit for you:
- Do you wear headphones when you listen to music?
- How much time do you spend at home?
- Do you have lots of friends or do you tend to keep to yourself?
- Do you like to entertain friends at your home?
Make a list of questions and details that are important to you, then take the time to learn whether or not your potential tenant is really a good fit. This exercise may also reveal that you really don’t want a roommate. If you’re very sensitive and particular, it could be that you’re better off finding a different way to bring in extra cash.
Crafting a Lease
Before renting a room in your house, or even marketing your property, determine the type of lease that best suits your situation. If you don’t mind the ebb and flow of new tenants, a month-to-month lease or shorter period lease (such as three or six months) can be a good way to start. Since you have to share common space with the tenant, you will want to carefully consider the type of commitment that you’re willing to make – just in case the tenant turns out to be less than wonderful.
It is never wise to rent a room without a lease. Though it seems easier, it can be difficult to remove a problematic tenant or to recoup rent costs if you do not have some legal documentation to support your arrangement. Make the effort upfront to protect yourself and your property from ill-intentioned renters.
You can Make Money Renting a Room in Your House
If you can tolerate a roommate situation and are clear about your household rules along with the financial responsibilities of the tenant, you can definitely make some money renting a room in your house. However, before committing to a roommate, ask yourself if you’re willing to do the work to ensure that your tenant is a safe bet who will honor a lease agreement. If not, you should consider alternative ways of enhancing your income.