If your home has extra space, including a spare bedroom, you may have considered renting it out to a tenant. Given that the space likely remains empty throughout most of the year, there’s no reason not to rent it out and make some additional money every month.
Renting a room, however, isn’t as easy as posting a room rental ad on Craigslist. In this post, we cover some important questions to ask yourself before you decide to rent a room in your house and where to start if you decide to do so.
Find Out if Renting a Room is Right for You
Before you decide to rent a room in your house, it’s a good idea to determine if it’s a right fit for you, the members of your household, and your house itself.
Some questions you may want to ask yourself before advertising a room for rent could include:
Do you have enough space for another person?
You may have an extra bedroom, but if you have a small kitchen, one bathroom, and a tiny living room, things could get congested (and people could get cranky), which means you may want to rethink your decision simply due to lack of space.
Do you live with others who should be consulted before a tenant moves in?
Perhaps you have sole ownership of your house but live with your two teenage children. Although they cannot legally prevent you from renting a room to a tenant, you may want to gain their approval in order to maintain stability in the home. If not, you may find yourself in the middle of an awkward, unprofessional situation when your unhappy teens start making snarky comments to your tenant.
Do you have places in your home you would forbid a tenant from entering?
When you rent a room, you don’t necessarily have the luxury of a separate entrance, which means you’ll have to consider how valuable your own privacy is before deciding to rent out a chunk of your home.
For instance, if you have sensitive work information on your computer and no lock on your home office door, you may want to reconsider renting until you invest in a more secure room for your valuable workstation.
Create the Proper Rental Agreement
When you live with your tenants, it can be easy to underestimate the issues that can potentially occur. After all, you’re living inside the home; what could your tenant possibly do, especially in front of you, that could negatively impact your living situation?
In truth, renting anything—a room, house, or apartment—without an agreement is not a good idea. Agreements ensure all parties understand their rights and obligations and can help ease any conflicts that may arise in the future.
For a room rental, a proper Residential Lease is essential. It will safeguard your property and make sure the tenant knows all the important details of their living arrangement, including how much rent they must pay, what part of the property they can access, and more.
In addition, there are aspects of shared living that you may want to address when renting a room, which you could add to your agreement, if it isn’t there already (with LawDepot’s Lease Agreement, this can be done by adding an additional clause). For instance, you may want to consider:
- House rules and repercussions: are there any specific rules you want to address, and what happens if a rule is not followed?
- House chores: how will things like household cleaning be divvied between you and your tenant?
- Parties: what constitutes a party as opposed to a formal gathering?
- Guests: how long can a guest stay in the home, and can guests stay overnight?
- Smoking: can tenants smoke indoors, and if not, where can they smoke outside?
- Pets: can tenants have a pet on the premises, and if so, do you want them to pay a pet deposit or fee to cover any damages the pet may potentially cause?
Without rules, a positive living situation can turn sour in a heartbeat, so it is important to address them at the start of the tenancy.
Know Your Landlord Rights and Obligations
A typical rental situation involves various landlord rights and obligations, including:
- How repairs will be handled
- When the landlord can legally enter the tenant’s space (i.e. by using a Notice to Enter)
- How pests and other problems such as late rent payments will be dealt with
For a room rental, landlord-tenant rights and obligations can blur a little.
For instance, if you are renting a room in your house to a friend, it may seem okay to knock or open their bedroom door to check if they have left for work for the day. However, your tenant has a right to privacy from their landlord, which may include impromptu or too-frequent visits.
Overall, it may be a good idea to set boundaries early on, such as which landlord-tenant interactions are acceptable or not.
Preparing to Rent a Room in Your House
Not everyone has the patience and diplomacy to live with another person, let alone a tenant, which is why you should always start by determining if you can handle a renter in your space before you decide to move forward.
After this, maintaining a positive living situation is a matter of creating the appropriate agreement, knowing and asserting your rights as a landlord, and understanding and committing to your obligations to the tenant.