6 Tips for Renting Out a Room in Your House

Written on February 23, 2015 by

Renting RoomsRenting out a room in your house is sometimes favorable to leasing the entire property.

It offers more flexibility for your own private use of the other rooms, and renting multiple rooms can often be more profitable than renting the whole house under one lease.

People who live in shared households are an increasing bunch. In 2012, some 22 million households had this arrangement, and of those, 9.7 million were young adults living in someone else’s house.

Lots of homeowners find themselves with an extra room or two on their hands that they never use.

Renting one out might be the solution to some extra cash. However, please check your state and local county laws to ensure compliance with housing, license, and fee requirements.

Here are six tips you need to know before you start marketing your room.

1. Prepare the House

If you’ve ever had kids, you probably know about baby proofing – painstakingly going through every room to ensure you took all the right safety measures to keep your little one from harm.

You need to go through your house just as thoroughly, “renter proofing it”, before you consider even showing it to strangers to ensure the safety of your belongings.

  • Put keyed deadbolts on each bedroom door (use SmartKey locks)
  • Remove self-locking door knobs to prevent lockouts
  • Put that diamond tennis bracelet in a fireproof safe. 
  • Fix anything that needs a little TLC. If you have to hit the microwave on the side to get it to start, it’s time to buy a new microwave.

You then need to decide which room or rooms you’ll rent.

You can get more money if the room has its own bathroom. You might consider renting the master bedroom and taking a smaller bedroom for yourself. A basement setup with a kitchen can be even more lucrative since it provides more privacy than a shared level.

2. Figure Out What to Charge

Look at the ads on Craigslist, or sign up for a service such as Roommates.com or EasyRoommate. This should give you a ballpark figure on what you can expect to get based on your ZIP code and type of room you’re offering.

Any money you receive is taxable income. The good news is that you now have deductions and can claim expenses – at least for the portion of the property that is being used as a rental. For example, new carpet in the renter’s bedroom is a deductible expense, but new carpet for the entire house is not.

A tax expert (or TurboTax) can help you with this.

3. Determine your Non-Negotiables

Be honest with yourself. If you can’t tolerate a smoker or a party-prone college student, say so in your ad. If you want someone who can stay for at least six months, indicate that, too. You’ll save yourself a lot of time that way.

Otherwise, you’ll be tempted to accept a smoker/pet/whatever, because you didn’t set clear boundaries for yourself.

If you live within walking distance to restaurants, have access to a pool, live near a college, allow pets or have any other perks, list them in your ad.

Don’t forget to post amazing photos. If you don’t, many people will bypass your listing.

Related: The Landlord’s Guide to Marketing with Craigslist

4. Use your Intuition, but Don’t Discriminate

Think about what you want to ask a potential renter in your initial conversation. We provide a screening checklist in The Landlord’s Guide to Tenant Screening, which will help you evaluate each candidate fairly.

Find out what each applicant’s situation is and look for holes in their story. If the applicant says he or she works or claims to be a student, ask to see proof, such as pay stubs or proof of college enrollment.

Also, make sure you not only ask for references, and contact information for previous landlords, but call them too.

Above all, make sure you provide an equal housing opportunity, and avoid discrimination (and the appearance thereof).

Related: Know What is Considered Illegal Discrimination

5. Verify with a Credit Check

If the interview and reference checks go well, run a credit check. Cozy makes it super easy and quick to check tenant credit. It’s free for landlords too.

With Cozy, you’ll get a report from Experian, and based on what the report says, you’ll be able to decide whether the candidate will make a good renter for you. The report will automatically be paid for by, and shared with the tenant, so it doesn’t cost you anything.

Related: Easy Tenant Credit Checks for Landlords

6. Use a Written Rental Agreement

Make a written lease instead of an oral arrangement. Everyone remembers a verbal agreement differently and it is tough to prove in court.

When creating a written lease, remember to specify the following attributes, in which both you and your tenant will sign to:

  • How much the rent will be
  • The date the money is due
  • Whether the renter will pay utilities, and if so, which ones or what percentage
  • How you will handle food, fridge space, laundry, common areas
  • Any other concerns you have (cleaning, parking, quiet time, etc.)

Once you start covering a good percentage of your mortgage from having a tenant in your home, you might wonder what took you so long to start doing this.

What’s Else?

Do you have experience with renting part of your home? What advice do you have?

Let me know in the comments below.

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242 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • KATHRYN TINALL

    What do I do if I have vacated the place that I was renting from there was no lease only a verbal agreement and when I moved out the owner of the house change the locks and refuses to give me any of my belongings I have called the police to do a civil standby but the owner refuses to answer the door and the police tell me I need to take it to civil court this is the last thing I want to do because I’m in the middle of trying to find another place to live along with my four-year-old child and having none of our belongings do you have any advice to help me on how to get my stuff back when this person’s basically stolen everything and now trying to Blackmail Me by blasting me on social media with lies is my only option taking it to court?

    • Karl

      Hello Kathryn, there must be more to the story, why would you vacate the place and not take your belonging with you? Did you move out without a 60days notice? Do you owe the landlord rent arrears ?
      If you moved out and took the keys with you the homeowner would have to change the locks.
      You will have a set number of days to pick up your stuff (usually 10 days), after that your stuff will be disposed.

    • James Gautier

      Why did you vacate the place if you did not have a new place to move in too? Especially with a four-year-old child.

  • Treleney Brown

    If I have a 4 bdrm Home and want to rent out all of the bedrooms, is there a limitation to how many tenants you can rent to in a home I’m in Tn but also have a property in Georgia.

    • Summer

      My experience in NJ has been not so good. So renting a room can be a huge headache if you rent to a scumbag. Evicting a scumbag while he or she’s still living in your house can be very stressful for you and the whole family. So bs kgtound check, credit report and at least two references from last landlords might be one way to partially protect you from getting a piece of no good into your house. Drug test if you are renting a room only should be a great idea too.

    • Kristin

      TN law is that no more than three unrelated adults can occupy the same household.

  • Adelina

    Hi Laura, We’ve decided to rent a room because of financial reasons. This is one of the scariest thing I’ve ever have to do. People are trying to change my mind by telling me that a “renter “ can go as far as taking your home away or living in without paying for as long as they want. Is that true?

  • Steve

    Hi, I know this is about renting a room. I’ve just moved into a property currently renting out a room, that happens to be managed by a agent. I’ve been living here for a week now I have no room in the fridge I managed after to find myself. a little shelf at thethat can hold a box of eggs milk and little bits. To discover some 1 else has jammed grapes in my shelf the little space I have because there’s was full lol. No chance of me. buying any frozen food that’s out the window. And the washing machine has been broken for 6 days now so can’t even wash my work clothes. I pay 600 months in south London. I’m clean very tidy. Are landlords allowed this to happen?. Shouldn’t they get a bigger fridge and freezer. And fix the machine immediately ?

  • Meags

    I have live in this house with the owner since Sept of last year. I pay $800 a month. I was told I need to get a storage or put my things in garage or attack in the 3rd room bc he wants to rent. He told me to ask my friends first. When I asked what rent would be for that room he said $600. I of course asked, does mine go to that since now I will be sharing a bathroom. He said no. I’m a little confused on that. Don’t feel that’s necessarily correct. Well aware I have a dog, but he does as well and goes out of town every other weekend to hunt and I take care of his dog. No lease , no deposit. What should I do?

  • Denis Clarisa cervantes

    Hello here corresponds.
    I would like to rent a single room, could you hice me information or please.
    I don’t have pets, don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t use drugs. I am a person who works at home.

  • Tess

    Hi,
    I need to know if we need to get a license for renting the rooms to individual instead of family rental home. It’s a three bedrooms and two bath ,The house is located in Houston, Texas. Any info. would be appreciated. Thanks

  • Bri

    I’m on a limited income & an empty nester, I have the rooms to rent, but I also have children, grandchildren that visit. I’m afraid to have someone I don’t know around them. Also concerned about getting a person in here who won’t meet their commitment. Any suggestions to allay my fears?

  • Kelley

    Have a LARGE bedroom and 3/4 bath to rent in Stillwater, MN. Price negotiable if willing to help with lawn/snow care.

  • liz

    I rent a house and my mom passed away she lived with me. Since her passing I am struggling to pay the rent. Can I rent out a room and if so, are there any taxes issues that will arise from it? The rent I would collect would be to pay my rent as well to the homeowner.

  • Destiny

    I am a new landlord

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