Renting Out A Spare Room For Money

Cambridgeport room for sublet, July 1 - Aug 31st,

This is not my house, but you get the idea.

Have you ever thought about renting out a room in your house? We have thought about it and we currently do rent out a room in our home.

We have had 3 total roommates since we bought our house 4 years ago. The first two didn’t end up working out (we were helping out people who needed a place to live), and the third is my sister who has worked out very well. We’ve never had more than one roommate at one time also (and the second roommate only lasted a couple of days anyways).

When we bought our house 4 years ago, we never even thought that we would rent any of the rooms.

We didn’t buy the house thinking that we could only buy it if we rented out additional rooms also (I know of some people who have done this). We kind of just fell into renting out a spare room in our house. Every time that we have had a roommate, it’s because we were asked if they could rent a room.

We have four bedrooms in our house and we only use one. So when my sister needed a place to live, we of course invited her to live with us. It’s been working out greatly. She’s been living with us since May of 2012 and pays around $325 per month. She is hardly home so we haven’t really noticed an increase in any of our bills also. For us, this is definitely a win, and it’s a win for her also. I’m sure she loves living with us! 🙂

Before now, I haven’t lived with my sister since I was very young, so seeing her more often is definitely a change and can be fun. Even though we do fight, my friends still occasionally tell me that they are jealous of our sister relationship.

Now, I will say that besides my sister, I do not think that we will ever rent out a room in our home again. Don’t get me wrong though, my sister has been great to have. However, I would just prefer not to because I don’t think anyone else would be a good fit, especially since in a couple of years we see ourselves having children.

Before you add a roommate:

  1. Make sure you really want one. This is key! Not everyone is meant to live with people who are not their significant other or their family.
  2. Lay out the ground rules. Who buys toilet paper? How many people are allowed over? Can there be parties? What about cleaning? Do you share household duties? Can they change the thermostat? Trust me, these all seem like little things, but they definitely need to be talked about. No one wants to feel like they are getting walked on, regardless if you are the one renting the room or you are the renter.
  3. Make sure there is value. Maybe it’s not always about money, and you actually just want to help someone out.  If you are just looking to add additional cash flow, make sure that there is actually cash flow there. If this person uses a crazy amount of electricity, water and so on, then you might not actually be making any money in the end if you are not calculating everything in.
  4. If you are doing this just to help someone out, make sure that you think about everything and really think about whether or not you want to ruin this relationship that you have with this person. Living with people who you know does not always end up the best.

Have you ever thought about renting out a room in your home? Why or why not?



Renting Out A Spare Room For Money — 22 Comments

  1. I hear a lot of people renting out rooms but with me having a family I just can’t see myself doing it. I have three kids and a wife and letting a stranger stay with us is not an option. Maybe if I where single or just my wifey and me I would consider it. Having your sister renting must be great. You get to chill with her and shes not there much.

  2. Whenever I do buy a home, I plan on getting a roommate and renting out a room. My biggest challenge prior to actually living with them is figuring out how much to charge. I want to be reasonable but I don’t have an easy resource that tells you what rent goes for in that area with the specific ammeneties you offer. Though the house will be affordable roommate or not, extra income to pay off debt is a definite benefit and I want to make sure it’s of value.

    • It is hard to determine what is a fair rate. You really need to think about what would make it worth it to you!

  3. Being that our house only has 2 bedrooms and 1 bathroom, we don’t really have that option. Even if we did I’m not sure I would do it. If we had a separate space with a separate entrance door then I’d have no problem renting it out, but I wouldn’t want to share my living room and kitchen with someone outside of my family.

    • It’s easier for us since we have a finished basement and 4 bedrooms and TONS of extra space. However, the kitchen aspect was a problem with our previous renters.

  4. Sounds like a good way to make come extra income. Out of curiosity, why did you choose a 4-bedroom home for just two people? And why is it that you’re potentially thinking of moving? Is it to downgrade?

    • We bought it because our house was a really good deal. The woman was getting a divorce and needed to sell it quick, so we jumped on it.

      And we’re thinking of moving because we bought this house when we were 20, so it’s not exactly our dream home. It is nice, but I would like something a little nicer with a bigger yard. 🙂

  5. The biggest downside I can perceive for us renting out a room is having to share the kitchen, and I think it would be a pretty rare person who would not want use of the kitchen! I’d be more interested in buying a multi-unit home and living one of the units.

    That said, we are considering adding a roommate around the time that my husband moves out, but after he leaves it will be a bit of a more normal roommate situation with 2 “single” people living together and sharing equally. And it’s not our house so that roommate would be on the lease.

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  10. I’m totally for renting out a spare room. I’m a renter currently with an underused 2nd room and have contemplated renting it out, but I believe our current lease prohibits us from doing so. (Note: Our two-bedroom is small and the same price of many 1 bedrooms in the area so we opted for the spare room since the price was the same)

    Curious though… I’ve heard of some folks just charging a flat rate for a renter with all bills paid. So long as the lease indicates that the tenant will clean up after herself, doesn’t have the window a/c running while she’s out, and isn’t hoarding shared things (toilet paper, plateware, papertowels, ect), would you feel that’s a flat rent rate is way of working out some of the kinks?

    • With my sister, a flat rate seems to work best. However, if you think that the person will take advantage of a flat rate, definitely split the bills.

  11. Although I don’t have a room to rent out, I’ve thought so many times about buying a rental property or getting an apartment where I could lease out rooms. It seems like a good way to make some side cash. But like you say in here – you’ve got to be very careful and skeptical of who you rent to. You might just get a surprise you don’t want.

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