Tips For Renting a Room in Your House

By
Real Estate Agent with RE/MAX Executive Realty 91362

What to Know About Renting a Room in Your House

Are you considering renting a room in your home? Renting out a room in your new house will certainly help with the mortgage repayments. Getting the right tenant and having a positive experience for both of you is equally important, though.

In fact, if you have children and you are bringing a stranger into your house, you should make certain you do a criminal background check before agreeing. There could be quite a few people who inquire to rent a room. It will make sense to vet them properly.

You are technically becoming a landlord, so you will also have many responsibilities that you will need to meet.

Laws governing tenants vary from place to place, and whether this works or not will partially depend on the size and layout of your house. If you have a spare room with an ensuite bathroom, this will make a good rental proposition, compared to sharing a bathroom with others.

You may have a small studio or in-law, another ideal set up, especially if the tenant can do some microwaving and meal preparation.

Watch Out For Discrimination

There are very strong anti-discrimination laws in every state, so if you advertise, you must be mindful of these laws governing color, race, religion, ethnicity, gender, and disability. Renting a room is really no different than when someone rents an apartment or a house.

Sometimes it is better to get a tenant from a private recommendation rather than advertising. You will be sharing the space, and if you are a single female living alone, you may prefer a female tenant.

If you are a vegetarian, you will prefer to have someone who doesn't eat meat. You would be able to get around these issues by stating that you are selecting a roommate, allowing you more freedom to choose.

As the owner of the house, you need to follow the same principles you would if you were renting the entire house.

Understand The Right to Privacy

Once you have rented a room out to the tenant, they have a right to privacy, meaning you can't enter their room without permission. As a landlord, you must always keep this in mind no matter how tempting it may be to "check up on" your tenant.

Getting a Deposit When You Rent a Room in Your House

Take a security deposit from the person you are renting to. This covers you if they suddenly disappear, and one month's rent in advance is the amount usually requested. The deposit must be returned when the tenant moves out again.

What Are The Tenants Financial Qualifications?

While doing a background check for someone who will be sharing a home with you is vital, so is checking up on their finances. It is a must to do a check of the tenant's credit scores and their employment. Lenders check credit scores when someone is buying a home. Doing so when renting your property is no different.

The tenant should be Maintaining their credit score throughout the time of renting a room from you.

If they have long-term aspirations of becoming a first-time home buyer it will be even more critical for them to make sure their finances are in order. As a landlord, you may want to point this out to them as well. The more positive reinforcement the better.

Getting references from the owners in other places they have lived is crucial as well. You really need to know who you are renting to and if they will be paying their rent promptly.

If they have nothing to hide they should be eager to provide you with their previous renting history.

How Does The Tenant Pay The Rent?

Once you have chosen your tenant and conducted the screening process, issue the tenant with a deposit book for your chosen account or a card, so they can deposit directly into the account either weekly or monthly, without anyone handling the funds or being forced to discuss the money.

Obviously, the due date for the rent will be clarified in the written agreement signed by the tenant before moving in.

Preparing The Room For The Tenant

The room must be livable. It should have a window that opens, a closet, a bed, and at least a chair and a table. If you have a TV in the room, make sure that it is mounted on a wall bracket. If the bathroom for the tenant adjoins the bedroom, make sure that everything is spotlessly clean.

When the tenant arrives, orientate them to the rest of your house so that they know how to get out if there is a fire. Show them the laundry and washing machine, and designate a day for them to do their washing.

Have a supply of linen available just for them. Also, introduce them to pets and children, and explain to the children the importance of respecting others' privacy.

They won't want to wake up on Sunday morning with the kids sitting on the end of their bed, so it is your job to enforce the boundaries.

Have an Overnight Guest Policy

Unless they are in a separate adjoining studio apartment, ban overnight guests, it only causes extra problems. Having another person in your house will be a drain on your resources, especially if it is a different guest a couple of times a week.

This is not family-friendly, and if they want to entertain at home, they should get their own place.

Establish a Few House Rules

  • No smoking indoors. You hopefully have a smoke alarm.
  • Parking is not available.
  • Use of pool, negotiable?
  • No pets inside the house.
  • They use their own cell phone, not your house phone.
  • Explain the rubbish and recycling collection for your city or town.

Assess The Ongoing Rent a Room Agreement

After the first six months, sit down with your family and talk about whether renting out the room is working for everyone. Some families embrace the change and love having a tenant, while others find it tricky, often depending on personalities.

Talk to your tenant to see if it is working for them and if you find that it isn't working; it is probably best to stop it.

Tenants and Languages

If you happen to rent to someone whose native language is not English, make sure they understand the rules you have covered with them. It is much easier to misunderstand when dealing with someone who has a different main language.

The fewer misunderstandings, the better.

Terminating The Tenancy

Once you decide to terminate the tenancy, it is time for the tenant to move out. Sometimes the tenant won't move out when they should. Ask them why they are not moving out, and try to resolve the situation.

Sometimes remaining in the area is the reason, and if they put up some posts, they will get something nearby. Suggest they go to the local real estate tenancy office.

Final Thoughts on Renting a Room

If you are renting a room in your house, it can work, but you have to be amazingly flexible and expect the unexpected. There are many benefits, and some are:

  • Reducing financial stress
  • Use landlord studio software to track your expenses and make great savings.
  • Making new friends that you would otherwise not have met.

Once your tenant settles in, everything should run smoothly. If a plan is put in place, it will benefit both parties. Hopefully, you have found this guide for renting a room in your home to be beneficial.

Posted by

Bill Gassett is a thirty-two year veteran to the real estate industry. He enjoys providing helpful information to buyers, sellers and fellow real estate agents to make sound decisions. His work has been featured on RIS Media, National Association of Realtors, Inman News, Placester, RESAAS, Credit Sesame and others.

Comments (4)

Bob Crane
Woodland Management Service / Woodland Real Estate, EXP - Stevens Point, WI
Forestland Experts! 715-204-9671

Hi Bill,  Thank you for sharing this information on renting a room in your home.  Important things to keep in mind. 

Feb 01, 2021 06:00 PM
Bill Gassett

Thanks Bob. I appreciate the comps. Renting a room has some important considerations for sure.

Feb 02, 2021 06:05 AM
Joe Jackson
Keller Williams Capital Partners Realty - Columbus, OH
Clintonville and Central Ohio Real Estate Expert

Great tips! Thanks for sharing!

Feb 02, 2021 05:29 AM
Bill Gassett
RE/MAX Executive Realty - Hopkinton, MA
Metrowest Massachusetts Real Estate

Thanks Joe.

Feb 02, 2021 06:05 AM
Steven Nickens
Wailea Realty - Wailea, HI
R(S)GRI ABR, Maui Real Estate Hawaii

Bill, on Maui renting a room is big business. Great tips to condsider to keep it legal.

Feb 21, 2021 06:46 PM