How To Be a Landlord in Your Own Home
Getting the Most Value From Your Spare Rooms
Renting out one or more of your spare bedrooms may seem like a crazy idea these days, but many who take the plunge and fill up an otherwise empty house find that it yields benefits beyond cutting down on their house payment. In order to capitalize on this aging tradition, make sure that you understand the rules in your particular region, vet your prospective tenants to insure the safety of your person and your home, and watch out for signs of trouble before agreeing to move someone in.
Though the practice may seem antiquated to our contemporary sensibilities, it was completely commonplace and enjoyed the height of its popularity here in the U.S. during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, according to an article in U.S. News and World Report. Follow our handy guide to keep yourself safe and on the right side of the law when you rent out a spare room or rooms.
Rules and Laws, Leases, Contracts, and Agreements
Depending on where you live, there may be a few laws and regulations governing your ability to rent out a room. Make sure that you understand whatever rules your homeowner’s association may have regarding roommates and subletting your property. There may also be city ordinances, county regulations, and state laws that dictate what rents you may charge, the nature of any agreements that you may be able to enter into, and the screening and vetting of prospective tenants.
Federal laws regarding screening of tenants and equal access to housing may come into play as well. Likewise, your homeowner’s insurance and your mortgage may come with rules and regulations regarding your ability to rent out part of your property. The SFGate website has a fantastic article with links to templates for informal and binding agreements that may work for you, depending on your situation and the laws in your area.
Finding and Vetting Prospective Tenants
These days, finding a prospective tenant to rent part of your home is comparatively easy. With Craigslist, community message boards, and other outlets for classified ads all easily and widely accessible over the Internet, finding and attracting a pool of potential tenants couldn’t possibly be much easier. The same goes for vetting your prospective tenants.
The Internet provides multiple avenues to run background checks, credit checks, and the like, most requiring a minimal fee that can be built into your rental application cost. Again, make sure that your advertising and vetting processes do not conflict with local and federal housing regulations. For best results, consider using a service such as Tenant Screening USA or one specific to your state or area.
Be a Good Landlord and a Good Roommate
Living with your prospective tenants also brings other potential conflicts into play. If you are used to living alone or only with friends and family, renting to, and living with a virtual stranger can be challenging. Make sure that you address potential issues during your interview process to ensure that common problem areas such as bathroom access, kitchen cleanliness, quiet hours, and use of common areas are addressed prior to entering into an agreement that may be difficult to dissolve legally.
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