Question: What’s worse than not being about to afford your mortgage payment?
Answer: Not being able to afford your mortgage payment with a strange freeloader living in your house.
Many cash strapped homeowners are now thinking about renting a room in their homes in order to help make the bills. In theory, and on paper, this idea sounds awesome! You get an extra $400 or $500 in your pocket every month, per empty room, without having to lift a finger past signing the rental agreement. But in practice, the process of renting a room to a complete stranger, or even to a friend or family member, can turn out to be more than you bargained for.
Overnight House Guests
One major problem that many homeowners who take in roomers have is overnight guests, such as girlfriends and boyfriends. Most landlords who are renting out a room in their house will even make it clear in a lease that no one except the roomer is allowed to stay overnight in the house. This is because overnight guests create an additional strain on the resources of the house. That includes additional hot water being used for showers and cooking gas or electricity being used if the guest decides to wake up and go make a meal in the middle of the night.
Chances are, you made a flat rate monthly deal with your roomer that included water, gas, electric, cable, phone, Internet, and other utilities, but that flat rate did not include paying for an additional overnight guest’s use of those amenities.
You’ll Feel Like You’re Scolding a Child
Are you a parent turned empty nester? If so, do you remember how hard it was to get your kids to do something you asked, such as take out their garbage, turn down their music, or stop leaving their dirty plates on the counter? The eye rolls, the sighs, the slamming doors? Well, get ready to experience that scenario all over again when renting a room out in your previously serene home.
When you take in a roomer they will be sharing your living space, and that includes the kitchen and bathroom. So if you are unfortunate enough to have a messy roomer who seems to lack home training, you are going to find yourself right back in that uncomfortable role of “naggy parent.”
When They Stop Paying Their Rent On Time… or At All
Without a doubt, the worst case scenario of renting a room is when the roomer stops paying you rent. It’s a very difficult bind to find yourself in because not only do you have to harass the roomer about paying his rent, you are also obligated by law to give him written notice and allow him to stay for at least 15-30 more days (even if the roomer has not paid you rent for the month) before you can kick him out on his rear end. After that 15 or 30 days is up, your roomer could decide that he or she still isn’t budging!
In the case that the roomer does not want to leave, you have to go through a lengthy eviction process that could take a month or two to complete. So you could be stuck living in your own house with a lazy, hostile, freeloading person, who isn’t paying you rent by the way, for an additional month or more. Doesn’t sound like such a great deal anymore, huh?
So when you are thinking about renting a room in your home to someone, follow these guidelines:
1) Include every rule you can think of in the lease, and make sure you go over it with the roomer before he or she moves in (no verbal leases),
2) Get a large deposit down, preferably for two or three months,
3) Do a credit check to find out if they already have evictions or payment problems,
4) Talk to the prospective roomer’s previous landlord if possible,
5) Be firm with the roomer and do not act like their friend. More than likely, if you befriend them they will think that they can take advantage of you on the business side of things.