Renting Out a Room in Your House: Preliminary Considerations

Some things you need to know before renting out that extra room in your house to a roomer.

If you have an empty room in your house that no one is using, you may have considered renting it out to someone to generate some extra cash and help pay off some monthly bills. You can’t always look solely at the money you can make, however. You have to look at several other factors, such as the strain that having a new, strange person in your house may create. Here are some preliminary items you need to take care of before accepting a renter into your home.

History With Past Landlords

While some landlords go through the full trouble of performing a credit check for each tenant, I find that the only check that matters as far as credit is the history the potential tenant has with his or her landlords. Some people won’t pay any bills except their rent, so that is what you really want to get a verdict on. Will they drop a good check off in your mailbox or under your door every first of the month?

There are a couple of ways to get this information. For one, there are landlord/tenant checks that can be performed using information provided by the potential tenant. With these checks you will be able to see if this potential tenant has a history of being evicted from a house or apartment. If yes, you may want to decline and move onto the next candidate. If they would go so far as to neglect their rent bill to the point of eviction, they probably don’t care about anything really. They might just be looking for the next sucker to give them a place to live for a few months before going to the next prospect.

Criminal Record

Doing a background check is especially important if you may have children living in the same house as the new tenant. (Actually, it is best not to have a roomer regardless of their criminal background if you have children in the house! Don’t subject kids to that risk!) If you see a long list of offenses for this potential tenant, you know that it is probably not a great idea to give them a place in your home. If you see one or two offenses that are non-violent, and that don’t involve theft, you may decide to give them a chance. A thorough criminal record check is dire when looking to rent a room in your house to a stranger-it’s not as if this person would be living somewhere else; they would be living with you.

Why They’re Moving In a Room

When showing a person the room for rent, it is best to get an idea of why they are looking to move into a room in the first place. Are they in college? Are they getting out of a bad relationship? Are they being kicked out of their mother’s house? In the latter two cases, you might not want to get involved in the drama that could ensue from having an old relationship come back to haunt the tenant. It’s pretty much always a safe bet to rent to a college student who is looking for a temporary place to stay.

Renting a room might give your income a boost, but it may also be more trouble than that couple of extra dollars is worth. Do your research, thoroughly, before allowing someone you don’t know to live in your home.


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Published in: Homeowners


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