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.

Get our free newsletter

Join 200,000+ landlords

  • ​Tips to increase income
  • Time-saving techniques
  • ​Powerful tools & resources

208 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • Joe

    I am not a landlord, nor an airbnb or room leaser. I don’t care what people do in their home, its their domain. What I do hate about people that lease rooms, are that attitude of making yourself money without the consideration for your neighbors. A person across our street rents out his rooms to his “guests”. He states that to make it seem like he knows them directly, yet he speaks very little English and when asked they say they rent a room from him.

    Here is the problem, if you are going to rent to another person, then you should provide them access to your garage & driveway not the street for them to park their heaps of junk on & vet the people you are renting to, we now have weed smokers who love to get high outside (legal in CO).

    • john

      Dear Joe
      Vetting tenants in this case is about useless. I understand that you don’t like people smoking pot on their porch but unfortunately for you, as you stated, it’s legal there. It’s no different than a redneck sitting on his porch drinking a beer. It seems to me, as long as these people are paying the guy what they are supposed to and respecting him/his property, that the only issue you have is an attitude problem.

      If you were a bit more humble you would understand that even if the current tenants were not potheads for some people, especially the 9.7 million young adults who rent rooms to get on their feet when they begin a career/life, a “heap of junk” might be the only car they can afford until they’re better established.

  • CHANG JIN MA

    I rent out 2 rooms in my house. My house is a second storey house and has 4 rooms upstairs.
    Do I have to get a permit for renting out 2 rooms of my house ? I am located in the city of los angeles. Zoning is R4.

    Please let me know.

    Thanks

    • Diana

      I don’t have an answer to your question, but what I am wondering is, what expectations are you legally allowed to have with a tenant of the said premises that is shared? like expectation of cleanliness of said person and the area in which they live in… Is that even legal? thanks.

      • katherine carterI live in a ver

        I live in a very nice place. It is a place were if ,you wanted to come and read a book you could do that. I love it reading what you were saying.I have and I understand . If you have not found a place by now email me. I have too no you first then anybody that’s in my business I am not going about this like that .

        • JAMESETTA DAVIS

          MY NAME IS MS.JAMESETTA DAVIS AND I BE HOMELESS FOR 6year and three Month with my son and daughter please help

          • Tiffanie

            Wow I’m a mother and I’ve been homeless before with my 2 kids but I have been blessed to get myself together if u still in need of place contact me through my email and maybe I can help u out.

          • Sally

            James sets Davis, please get up and go to social services or a homeless shelter. Then decide what you are going to be when you grow up and go be

          • Sally

            Jamesetta Davis, please get up and go to social services or a homeless shelter. Then decide what you are going to be when you grow up and go be it.

        • Tomson Chacko

          Where do you live? City and State? I am looking to relocate. But I have to be comfort by the city as well as roommates and friends.
          Thanks.

  • Sucely Lopez

    I am currently renting to a tenant he did not advise of his psoriasis problem I started noticing sand all over my home and when he made it aware that he had psoriasis he was well into two months being at my house how would you handle a situation like this. What are the laws in regards to that are they supposed to inform you or can you terminate a contract up on his problem it is a month to month and we are working with a situation he does clean the home twice a week

    • Marioruizmarilyn@gmail.com

      Renter moved out before less then she stopped payment on the money order

    • Heather

      No they do not have to disclose any medical condition unless you specifically asked about it?
      You might want to be careful about terminating lease for that reason. Illegal

  • Debra Black

    I rent a bedroom with all use of my house to my tenant. This person I have known for many, years. Well, I have found out no matter, how long you know someone until they live in your house you don’t know a thing. They have health problems that are not being addressed properly and I continue having to 911 for assistance twice a month for them. They did pay rent in March due to a hospital and now I find that they are not buying food, washing clothes, and I have become their caregiver. Their family has very little to do with them and from what I see they need to be in an assisted living facility instead of my home. Recently they fell due to medications 2 weeks later fell again broke a hip. SBI want them out there is no lease, monthly.

  • Cheri

    I rent a large converted patio which is now a nice large room for me. When i first rented this room, the landlord rented to myself and 2 other bedrooms to people, which was fine. (this was r years ago) He is now greedy and has rented out the CELLAR beneath me, plus a CELLAR under another bedroom. He has 2 non working and non functioning rv’s on his property that he now also rents out. He has one outside bathroom that 9 people share. im thinking that these ‘other’ spaces he rents out now to homeless people are NOT legal? i cant seem to find any legal info on this subject? does anyone know how i can investigate this problem and report it to the correct agency? Thanks!

    • john

      9 people and one outside restroom?
      if I was you, I would call the firemarshal, The health department, check with town hall or the city attorney about ordinances in your state/area your town probably has something against the outhouse or having that many people. its also often illegal to rent unfinished cellars and broken rvs to people, sometimes its even illegal to live in one on your own property.
      The best person to call would be the building inspector for your area though.

    • June

      Yes you should report to someone but you will probably get evicted because of it.

  • Callie

    I rent out 3 bedrooms along with the use of common areas (kitchen, living room, bathroom, uitility, and garage). I live in the back bedroom which is adjacent to my studio where I teach piano. There are French doors separating my studio and the common areas and rented bedrooms which are at the other end of house. I very rarely go into the common areas, since I have a second home elsewhere (lucky tenants!). The tenants know I teach and are fine with it. Problem is one of the tenants, who found the other two roommates, is suddenly demanding that I don’t go into the common areas unless I give her 24 hrs notice!! She has lived there for years and we’ve been friends, but she’s changed and is acting very possessive of the house. What do I do?

    • Heather

      Politely tell her No. it is your house that you occupy also. And common grounds are just that. If she has a problem find a new place to live.

      That would give me cause for concern. Like doing something illegal or something you would not approve of. And ultimately your property, your responsibility.

      • Mike

        If I just want to rent out a bedroom am I required to make my living room common grounds to be shared? I would understand the kitchen being common grounds due to sharing a fridge and microwave etc. but I reside mostly in the living room watching tv and enjoy that space.

        • Donna Peebles

          No ,yet make that clear in the interview that stipulation.I rent a room and be has his use of a tv and cable that i provide in his room and told him that when i am not here he is welcome to watch the tv in living room but not in my reclyner(#1) but in the other reclyner.he works 2 jobs and doesn’t take advantage of it when he is here

  • Mark

    I’m still new to being a landlord but if I’m reading this right you do not have to get permission. Your lease to these three tenants state that they are renting a room not the house. If it’s not listed in their lease that those room are exclusive use it’s open for you to use. Remind her that she rents A room not the house. They can’t keep you from common rooms.

  • Bettyr

    I just thanking about rent out a room. Things is tight But I don’t need no problems.

  • Tanya

    I need a new place as sion as possible.
    Where I’m at now, I was not given a rental contract. I have asked for receipts for my monthly rent payments. Wanted cash only as payment.
    I have medical conditions that I told the landlord about before I moved in.
    The couple I rent from are terrible. Always playing their music so loud that my bed shakes. Well everything does. I was told if I don’t like their way of living-loud music at all hours, being upset because I’ll get woken up by them sometime 3-4 times late night and early morning. And very loud about it.
    I get yelled at (I’m a 44 year old female) for things I never do.
    I was told that I am to stay in my room (10X10′). That it’s their house and I’m not to come of my room while their home.

  • Cynthia

    I live in Virginia and thinking of renting rooms in my house. My first suggestion is to check with your local zoning department to make sure you can legally rent out rooms. In my area you can only have a total of three non-related adults per home. Also, check with the fire marshall to make sure your home is in compliance. Better safe than sorry.

  • Frankie Rohrer

    I have a question, here is my situation. I own a double wide on 30 acres in a rural area. No neighbors in site of the house. I have WI-fi , no cable or central heat. The heat is propane and Air is a window unit. I either want to rent out a room , or a roommate. The renter would have access to the kitchen and their on bathroom. So can anyone let me know if this set up would be adaquate. Also, I am on the road a lot.

  • R Brodeur

    Do you need permission from your city or town to do this? ( rent rooms out at $700. a month.)
    If the person renting there passes away,Does the landlord have the right to keep their property or does the grandson of the person who passed (who also rents there and as the landlords boyfriend get the personal items of the disceased.)
    Im the closest relative to my mother(her oldest) son.Shouldnt Iget my Mother’s personal things? They are refusing to give them to me.They don’t get to own her things do they? Ray

    • Heather

      No they do not. If there is no will. Possessions automatically go to their children .

      Call the cops. Have them come over when they are home and explain the law to them. If further issues after that. May have to get a lawyer or file a lawsuit

  • Daniel

    I’m in oxford NC, I wanted to rent out a room in my home if so what are the local laws applicable and so I need to pay tax for the money I receive toward rent?
    Please explain
    Thanks

  • VICKY BLYSTONE

    the person i m going to be renting to is a friend. he has fully finished room and his own bedroom. and a small dog.
    he is gay and i have known he has brought men to stay when he was renting another home out.but, he is willing to help me with some of the repairs that need done to the house. however, he said he cannot pay anymore than 400.00 a month and cannot put down first or last months rent. so what should i charge and about the deposits.

  • Elaine Anderson

    11 months ago I moved into a friends house that he has been renovating. I had difficulty with my landlord and was evicted over money owed from a few years previously that he had let slide when I hit a rough spot and was all at once demanding in full. So I moved from an apartment, giving up some furniture, etc, to one small room with a tiny closet.
    At first it was ok, but it rapidly became a nightmare. The homeowner expected me to clean the entire house, or do things on his whim, or face threats of being kicked out. I lost one job due to the late hours he and his friends keep, I am fighting a flea infestation from his dog, and have a scar over my eye from my phone he threw at me in a rage. I thought he was a friend, but he’s a drug addict.

    • Leigh

      I hope things are better now. I rent out rooms and it does get tense. You should not have a scar from being hit. I hope you made a police report.

  • Sem

    Hello
    Is it legal rent out room in renting apartments without any registration like llc?
    What can happens if police will know I rent out room for cash?
    Thanks.
    Sem, Brooklyn, NY

  • Susan

    I’m in a home share with rental agreement til May 2018. Homeowner/roommate decided it was okay to enter the 2 rooms I rent from her whenever she wants to, without notice. I routinely come home to outside door on my side being open/unlocked and she goes through my closets. When I asked her why, she said ‘I assumed since we’re roommates, it’s a non- issue’. She also thinks since it’s her house, she can enter any time she wants. I told her that’s not true and it’s an invasion of privacy and a form of harrassment. I feel quite violated at this point. Now she wants me to leave because she doesn’t feel she should have to respect my boundaries. is that reason for eviction?

    • MT

      Hello Susan,

      If your lease is up, she does not have to renew or extend. At the end of the day, it is her property and if she no longer wants to rent she does not have to. I suggest you start looking before she takes legal measure. If I were in your situation I would feel uncomfortable even being there much longer. What if she has taken some of your things?

  • Madel Lopez

    I live in Daly City California, moved 3 months ago, 3 Beddroom house, we pay $3,500 ,our lease is for 4 people. Mom passed away, and I talked to the landlady and told her I wanted to rent the empty bedroom , but she says NO I DONT WANT YOU TO SUBLEASE. What can I do?
    Thanks

  • CHERYL VACA

    I have been on the other end of this as a tenant of many homeowners. The latest trend the last several years is allowing homeowners access to remote viewing to watch in on tenants using a camera-like cell phone device which they can view into any area and make live comments through the ceiling. This is illegal but is a rampage in Dallas and of no concern to police. It has happened in homes, hotels, and apartments. It is a clear violation of privacy and an insult to the dignity of human life. I would like to see someone write an article about rental privacy rights and moreover have this kind of access completely turned off.

    • Laura Agadoni

      Hi Cheryl,
      You are correct. This is illegal and a terrible practice. Landlords can put surveillance cameras on the exterior of the property but certainly not indoors, which is a clear violation of a tenant’s privacy. I’ll look into this and see what I can find out. Thank you for bringing this to everyone’s attention!

  • Mary Harrington

    I agreed to renting a room to a friend of a friend but unfortunately I did not make a written agreement. Really did not anticipate having to ask to have lights turned off at night or to put her trash out in the bin rather than placing it in the basement. Is it too late to put a written agreement in place?

    • MT

      Hi Mary,

      I know confronting the situation can be uncomfortable but speak up. Don’t let tenants control your home. Put a written agreement in place or else give a 30 days notice if he/she does not want to comply.

  • Judith Pecho

    Have a house that has been unoccupied and has declined considerably. Maybe squatters and realtor negligence. Have a couple who have experience w renovation upgrading and need a place to live soon. What would you suggest is wise under the circumstances. They can pay lower rent and half utilities and I pay them for their work.
    They would hx ave over 800 sf, own bathroom, bedroom partial kitchen w many cupboards, stainless steel sink except for cook top and refrig and microwave and would need refrig and cook top. Would do background check. $1£ on Equifax seems I read in your site.
    once work done the rent. Had met him when he unloading moving truck. His boss a difficult know it all controlling man and afraid he will insert himself in this.

  • Jeannette p

    I am thinking about rooming my home out how do I get started?

  • Hanna

    I have 3 people that are renting 2 rooms in my house with full privilege they pay me 600.00 monthly should I be asking for more.

    • MT

      Yes, that is nothing. Some people charge 600 for one room, one person. Look on craigslist around your city and see what they are charging. However, since you already agreed to that rent pay, changing it now can be difficult.

  • Tally Miller

    I would like you to define the difference in Renting a Room and or
    Renting the whole house. Please and Thank you.

  • Darlene Christian

    Hi,
    I have been renting a room to a man for about 15 months. We only had a verbal agreement. Twice recently he’s been late in the rent. He’s gotten very lazy not wanting to share in vacuuming the common areas nor do any yard work at all. Is is typical to expect help with the yard work such as mowing?

    • Laura Agadoni

      Hi Darlene,
      I don’t think there is necessarily a typical arrangement when you rent out a room. If you have specific things you expect, it’s best to put that in writing that you both sign. If you are on a month-to-month arrangement with your tenant, you can write up a rental agreement before the next month. Or you can have a discussion with your tenant about what you expect. Think about whether you are willing to lose your renter over the lawn, however. Good luck!

Join the Discussion

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available. Be short, sweet and to the point.