Author Topic: Ever rented out a room?  (Read 5046 times)


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Ever rented out a room?
« on: February 13, 2014, 10:25:36 PM »
So I own a wildly extravagant three bedroom, one bath home; or rather, I own one half and the bank owns the other half.  And by extravagant I mean that it is 1,200 SF, was built in the 1920s, and could use some renovations. Still, it feels excessively opulent to me considering living conditions worldwide.

One of the bedrooms is essentially empty and only ever used for out of town guests. Within one mile there is a community college and a law school. Within 5 miles there is a state university and another community college. The neighborhood is extremely pedestrian and biker friendly, with lots of coffee shops, groceries, pubs, and restaurants nearby.

Last June my little brother graduated from college and needed a place to crash for two months which translated into eight months. While I am a hardcore introvert and prefer to be alone, I found that living with him was not terrible, and at times it was pleasant. Brother crashed for free, but now that he has found work out of town and moved out, I am contemplating renting the guest room for ~500/month (going price according to Craigslist postings in the area).

That extra $$ could be put towards the mortgage or investing. It sounds appealing, but the downsides concern me. Has anyone experimented with this plan, and if so, how did it work out for you?


  • Magnum Stache
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Re: Ever rented out a room?
« Reply #1 on: February 13, 2014, 10:54:17 PM »
We just ended up rente4r experiment and while it can definitely work, it helps if you know quite a bit about the other person - especially if you are an introvert.

Little things like they happen to use such as massive amount of personal care products that your entire house smells toxic and you have a hard time breathing from all the artificial chemical crap.

Or, they are extremely extroverted and re-energize by talking, (and are crap listeners so you have the same conversations over and over and over...and they don't understand the fact that not everyone is like them.

Or they have always had someone taking care of them so don't know how to do the most basic things by themselves.

And then there is sharing things like a kitchen - I provided dinner for our renter and he was on his own for breakfast and lunch. I can't imagine him mucking around in my kitchen - he did try once when we were out of town, but couldn't figure out how to turn on the gas burners. said they scared him.

I probably wouldn't have written so much, but you mentioning your a hardcore introvert. I actually didn't realize I was an introvert at all until I had someone come live in my house.  Now I would totally do it again - with someone I knew fairly well.


  • Senior Mustachian
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Re: Ever rented out a room?
« Reply #2 on: February 13, 2014, 11:12:00 PM »
Two things that contributed greatly to reaching my goals were a company car and roommates.

I loved having roomies. When I lived near UCLA, I posted on the grad student's housing board. (Yeah, 3x5 cards on bulletin board days.) I interviewed candidates just like I was conducting a job interview. Many years later, I am still close with several past roomies. I used CL only once but got a 5-year roommate that way. Other times it was word of mouth or just a friend who needed a place to land for a while.

Interview, ask lots of questions and what-if scenarios, check references, trust your gut. Also, look at the condition of their car and their current/past addresses. (Thank you, google!) Pay attention to the details/cues. Check references. Use a lease. Spell out all expenses. For utilities, one thing I learned was to say, utilities included up to x amount. Anything over that, you pay.

Sharing a bathroom could be tougher. I only had to do it once and it was easier because I owned the place and it was a short-term help out a friend thing. In this situation, I think it's crucial to find someone who shares your level of cleanliness. A work schedule that's slightly different than yours is also helpful so you're not fighting for the same slice of shower time.

Depending on where you live, you might look for a commuter roommate. Someone who lives somewhere else on weekends and crashes at your place three or four nights during the week. Best of all worlds.

I can't emphasize this enough: trust your gut!

One last thing, I always priced my roommate rentals at the high end of the going rate. I found it gave me a better quality of applicant and it made me less concerned about small nickel-and-dime expenses.


  • Pencil Stache
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Re: Ever rented out a room?
« Reply #3 on: February 14, 2014, 07:38:24 AM »
We've just started renting our extra bedroom out.  Our renter is my husbands roommate from college, so he was kind of a known quantity- we knew he was quiet, easy going, amicable but unobtrusive.  We knew his personality would work as far as not making our house a hell for us. 

The only awkward part for having a friend as a roommate was it was a little uncomfortable establishing the landlord-renter relationship.  We made him sign a lease, I made him use an energy saving power strip for the tv in his room, we had to draw boundaries on how often he can have his , um, "special guest" over, etc. 

My husband and I are both very introverted, but I've been pleasantly surprised so far by this roommate experiment.  It's even been kind of nice having someone else around. So far so good.  If you can find the right person it might not be as bad as you fear.


  • Stubble
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Re: Ever rented out a room?
« Reply #4 on: February 14, 2014, 07:58:10 AM »
I rent out my extra room, but generally only to people I know and like.

It's a great arrangement for everyone; half my mortgage is paid by someone else, they get a relatively nice place for pretty cheap, and I choose people who don't conflict too much with my own hardcore introversion (my hardcore INFJ-ness, no less).


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Re: Ever rented out a room?
« Reply #5 on: February 14, 2014, 09:47:11 AM »
With the amount of money at stake, I would say, it is definitely worth doing.  It's a bit like cutting your own hair -- it might be more of a learning experience than an outright victory at first, but it has a *huge* lifetime earnings potential.

I have both lived with roommates and rented rooms in other people's houses.  I am an introvert as well.  A couple thoughts:

1 - Quite possible you can find someone who works a schedule very different from yours.  For example, maybe you'll find someone who works a 3-11 shift.  That'll mean that the roommate (possibly) can hear you when you get ready for work in the morning, but falls right back asleep, and you (possibly) can hear your roommate when s/he comes home at night but you fall right back asleep as well.  But it's mostly like alternating who lives in the apartment.

2 - Think in advance of whether any particular food smells are going to drive you bananas.  Probably my worst feature (as a renter of a room in someone else's house) is that I microwave semi-smelly vegetables, like broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, carrots.  Nothing a little fresh air can't cure, but still something that might be annoying. 

Offer something that has a natural ending.  "I'm renting out a room in my house till the end of May" is going to be something that can't really go very wrong. 

Once you are able to get your extra room rented, then even if there is a day where you are both at home all day, it wouldn't be out of the question for you to go blow $8 bucks reading your book at the Starbucks instead of on the couch.  Still a net savings of $492, right?

Incidentally, be clear that you are just renting out the room, not renting out half your house.  In other words, common areas are yours and access to the laundry room and the kitchen is only fine with the understanding that the person leaves it as they found it.  Your renter can't bring others into your house when s/he wants to hang out with friends.     

Keep the rent amount in proportion to what you are actually renting out (should be somewhat cheaper than people looking for a roommate, who would share all bills, chores and common areas), and you might find yourself with a good mustachian roommate.                                                                               


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Re: Ever rented out a room?
« Reply #6 on: February 14, 2014, 07:30:09 PM »
Thank you, Team ‘Stache! Such thoughtful and thought provoking responses; I really appreciate everyone’s input.

LibraTraci - funny, I had drafted a CL posting a few days ago, just to chew on it for a bit, and said that the room was only available for a semester. I’m a bit of a contingency planner, so this was my built in safety valve in case it turned out horribly.

swick - "they are extremely extroverted and re-energize by talking” <<SHIVERS>>…that would be brutal!

Haven’t decided yet, but your responses were very insightful and helpful.


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Re: Ever rented out a room?
« Reply #7 on: February 14, 2014, 07:57:11 PM »
*shrug* rented out an extra room in my <800sq ft house for 6 years during grad school.  Had some interesting people, but never a huge problem; we always more-or-less kept to ourselves.  Aside from the guy who kept smoking in the bedroom when the rental agreement said NO SMOKING, it was never a big deal.  Definitely trust your gut.  Starting with a contingency plan/short term renter isn't a bad idea. 

Although I did it for years and didn't mind it, I'm also absolutely loving having an entire house to myself now where I can shut and lock the front door and don't have to worry about anyone and can leave the dishes in the sink as LONG AS I WANT! Muahaha.  Lot of that has to do with graduating and getting a pay raise; I decided one of my 'splurges' to myself would be no renters unless it was a friend who wanted to move in. 


  • Stubble
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Re: Ever rented out a room?
« Reply #8 on: February 14, 2014, 11:56:58 PM »
But with renting I wasn’t sure how picky one could be as a landlord. Aren’t there anti-discrimination laws that need to be followed? If, for example, you interview a potential candidate who is obviously bat sh*$ crazy or an extrovert, and they happen to ALSO be an ethnic minority or transgender or gay or physically impaired or…etc…can they accuse you of discrimination with any legal ramifications? To be clear, it is the batsh*$ crazy/extrovert status that would rule someone out, not any of the other attributes.
I am not a lawyer, but it depends on your state.  Federal law generally exempts owner-occupied single family homes from discriminating (but not from stating a discriminatory preference)  State/local law is stricter in many places.   


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Re: Ever rented out a room?
« Reply #9 on: February 15, 2014, 06:22:33 AM »
We are having this same discussion now. I am often overwhelmed by what I also believe is an overly extravagant home- 2 of us live in a 4-bedroom, 1500 sq. foot split level house. I rarely use the bottom floor except for laundry. To be fair, we bought the house as a rental investment, and are just living in it until it's suitably renovated.

We've been throwing around the roommate idea for awhile, though we're not all that keen. What we ended up deciding was to sign up for a homestay program. We live in a university town that is popular for international students. Often while they get a feel for the language, the language schools put them up in a family home. They pay $700/4 weeks, but you do have to get them to/from school and provide 3 meals a day (box lunch). We do that for ourselves anyway, so that's no big deal. We have 2 bedrooms available, so the potential is that we could bring in $1,400/4 wks at busy times of year.

This is attractive to us because we enjoy spending time with people from other countries, and from what we have seen from other families who have done the same is that they are really valuable experiences for both the student and family. It's also attractive because we are expecting; I don't like the idea of having a long-term tenant, but for the short term we can work around the due date, and it won't be the end of the world to have someone around for a short time who may enjoy babies.

We'll see how it works out- they said there are many more students in summer than this time of year. I'm looking forward to it though, and it could be another option for those who live in towns with similar programs.


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Re: Ever rented out a room?
« Reply #10 on: February 16, 2014, 08:58:18 PM »
The homestay program sounds like a great fit for you, parkette. Post later and let us know how it worked out for you.

Best wishes for you and the bebe.


  • Handlebar Stache
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Re: Ever rented out a room?
« Reply #11 on: February 16, 2014, 09:13:08 PM »
Get in touch with the law school and ask if they maintain a list of off-campus housing.  Your ideal roommate would be a mid-20's or older law student (not one who went directly from undergrad to law school) and who is paying their own way.

That's the person who will never be home because they'll take the demands of law school seriously and likely be in the law library for 70 to 80 hours a week.  During exam periods or if your roomie makes law review, you will never see him/ her.