Rules and Agreements To Consider When Renting Out A Room in Your House

Is Renting Out A Room For You?

Do you have an empty room and need some help with money? Renting out rooms in your home may be a good way to boost your income.
Do you have an empty room and need some help with money? Renting out rooms in your home may be a good way to boost your income. | Source

Things To Think About When Sharing Your Home

So if you are here because you are thinking about renting out a room in your home, I have some helpful advice for you on things to consider when sharing your home. I learned a lot about being a landlord, room-mate and friend last year when I rented out 2 rooms in my home to friends of my son.

It was an interesting year, to say the least! Since I have been used to having other people in my home for quite sometime, this was no new experience, but renting out rooms to them was. One thing I can say is that during this time I certainly learned a lot about the younger generation - their music, likes and dislikes plus a few other things I can't even begin to tell you about!

But to get to the nuts and bolts of this story, there are some things that I would have definitely done differently to avoid any confusion:

First off, I would have drafted a rental agreement with all the standard rental terms like real renters do. With that in mind I will give you some tips on renting out a room or sharing your home (from someone who has been there and done that!)

1) Like I said, make sure you draft up a regular rental agreement, in writing, with all the terms laid out, just like anyone else would. Even if it's your best friend, do it !! You don't want anyone misunderstanding what you expect of them as a renter and what they expect from you as a landlord and room-mate.

2) Have specific rules about storage - do you offer storage or does the renter also need to find a storage facility in addition to renting a room from you?

3) Have rules about the food! I can't stress this enough! If anything, let the renter have a small refrigerator in their room and add a little expense on top for the electric to run the fridge (believe me this will solve a lot of headaches)

4) Make house rules just like you do in any family - about doing dishes, taking out the trash, so on and so forth. This needs to be spelled out - otherwise YOU may end doing all of the above. ( and if need be, add an additional rental charge and have a maid come in - that solves a lot of problems!)

5) Have definite written rules about noise and what's OK and what's not OK. ( I can't begin to tell you how crazy I went listening to my walls being boom - boomed)

6) Have definite written rules about visitors, and overnighters. (It's not fun waking up to find someone in your home on the way to the bathroom at 3am in the morning -and you've never seen them before in your life)

Looking back at last year with my young room-mates, I actually have to say that I learned quite a bit about other people and making compromises. Sometimes I missed my privacy, but I was also often glad for the company, and there were also times that I thought that I had bitten off more than I could chew....

So is renting out a room or sharing your home for everyone? Certainly not- but sometimes it makes sense to do so- maybe you are in a home and you need to save some money, maybe you are lonely and you would like some companionship, maybe you just don't like living by yourself or want to help someone else get back on their feet and also help yourself at the the same time. Renting out a room can solve all of these things, but remember:

Get it on all in writing!!!

Be Careful Who You Rent A Room To

Since I have never rented out a room to someone that I didn't know, I would say be very very careful about whom you allow in your home. Do a background check if necessary, but don't let money problems push you into allowing someone you don't know come to live with you if you don't have a good feeling about it. There are tons and tons of people looking for rooms on Craigslist, and that's a good resource for finding renters, but be CAREFUL! Use wise judgement - this is someone that is going to share your patch of land, your furniture, all of the above. Seek compatible people- and you might be surprised at how much fun you actually end up having!

(And as a little side note here - this gal is finally going to have an empty house here pretty soon - I guess that will be the next thing I write about: The "Empty Nest" Syndrome!!)

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Comments 62 comments

Raven King profile image

Raven King 8 years ago from Cabin Fever

Good hub. My neighbors rented to their relatives and I think it was quite an experience for them.

Dorsi profile image

Dorsi 8 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

Thanks Raven. And yes , it can be quite an "enlightening" experience!

TetonRose profile image

TetonRose 8 years ago from Utah

Great hub and very helpful! In the past I've considered both renting a room and renting out a room. I'll be much more careful in the future about any such possibilities. Thanks for the list of things to consider before renting!


Angela Harris profile image

Angela Harris 8 years ago from Around the USA

I just went through a very similar experience. My daughter's friend rented the guest house because we were going to be gone and needed someone to watch the property. It was supposed to be temporary, but when we got back, my daughter convinced me to let him continue renting. What a mistake. And I thought that I knew this young man pretty well. If anyone is thinking about renting, especially a room in your own home, follow the above excellent advice. It will save lots of headaches, especially the part about a written contract. I would also add getting a deposit, no matter how well you think you know the person.

Dorsi profile image

Dorsi 8 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

Good point Angela to include a deposit fee- I've heard nightmare stories of damages done to premises- even if we know the person doesn't mean they are going to leave the room/guesthouse clean without damage. I fortunately did not have that problem but have heard of others that have.

SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 8 years ago from Southern California, USA

Very good tips and thank you for sharing!

DonnaCSmith profile image

DonnaCSmith 8 years ago from Central North Carolina

I have been thinking about this, but don't know how easy I would be to live with;o) Had not even thought about noise! I love my peace and quiet.

Dorsi profile image

Dorsi 8 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

Yes Donna, our own peace and quiet is pretty priceless. Right now I have an empty nest and I have to say that I've written more in the last 2 months than I have in years- and a lot of it has to do with that peace and quiet............

dwayne 8 years ago

thanks for the info. you opened up my eyes.

nancydodds1 profile image

nancydodds1 8 years ago from Houston, Texas

Hi its very nice and good explanation about things to consider when renting out a room.

desert blondie profile image

desert blondie 8 years ago from Palm trees, swimming pools, lots of sand, lots of sunscreen

Good 'heads up' to anyone considering this prospect. Am off to read next article about Craigslist and renting=a=room!

Dorsi profile image

Dorsi 8 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

Glad to be of help to those considering renting out a room in their home! In these tough economic times we need to brainstorm creative ways to save money!

packerpack profile image

packerpack 7 years ago from India, Calcutta

I live in a rented house and when the owner told us about his reservation on the visitors, that time I really got frustrated as I always have friends coming up my place. I just can't be without friends. But then keeping myself at his position made me realise his concerns and I respect that. Hence this article comes as a good help for all who are planning to rent house or rooms.

Barbara 7 years ago

I am renting out a room in my house. I have my grandchildren 2 x a week. I feel guilty because the person renting a room does not like children. Also I added a piece of furniture to the room and he did not like it. He is only there 4 months out of the year. Tell me my options.

packerpack profile image

packerpack 7 years ago from India, Calcutta

Come on man, it is your house and you should be the one who will decide the rules of the house. Just because your tenant do not like children, you will not see them? It does not make sense to me. Sorry for being rude but for me my family stands first. How can someone especially your tenant decide whether or not you should see your family members. It is he/she who should follow your instructions and not the other way round. Had I been at your place then i would have not rented my place to such a person.

But if you think you just cannot let this tenant go away for whatever the reason be, I would suggest you to talk to him directly and solve the issue.

Dorsi profile image

Dorsi 7 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

Barbara, I'll give you my 2 cents worth on this- for what it's worth. In my book, my grandchild absolutely comes first, and when I rent rooms to people they know my values, the way I live and if they don't agree then it's not a good match as far as I'm concerned. This is my house and if you don't want to be part of how I live my life then it's not going to work. There is of course some give and take but when it comes to my family ( including my animals) you must be willing to "put up" with that part of my life. I currently rent a room to my sis-in-law and a friend from church, and we all get along for the most part because they know these things, and I also understand them. If I were you I'd think about a different "room-mate".

LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 7 years ago from London

I agree with both the above - lose the lodger!

Teresa McGurk profile image

Teresa McGurk 7 years ago from The Other Bangor

I once rented a bedsit in from a woman in Glasgow who never washed her dishes (no dishwasher, of course) and kept all her empty loo roll tubes in a cupboard in the bathroom. Fortunately, I only stayed there a few months, but it was quite uncomfortable, since it was impossible to cook in the kitchen and there was nowhere to put my toothbrush and shampoo.

LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 7 years ago from London

what on earth did she do with them all? Was she a Blue Peter freak?

Teresa McGurk profile image

Teresa McGurk 7 years ago from The Other Bangor

I was hesitant to ask. The girl across the hall from me offered to wash the dishes for a consideration on the rent, but was rather angrily rebuffed. It was a beautiful old flat, too, "up a close" as they say, with lovely wide stone steps and stained glass in some of the windows.

Bill 7 years ago

Hi Dorsi,

Interesting hub, I actually rent rooms in several properties I own and the one thing I think you should mention is you may not fit under any local Landlord and Tenant laws. This differs from region to region and in the area we are in, if the homeowner resides in the property the tenants fall under what is termed the Innkeepers Act.

The big difference with this is under the Innkeepers Act you can have tenants leave immediately if there are any problems. It's very important to confirm whether the local Landlord and Tenant laws apply to anyone if they rent rooms or if they fit under special acts like in our area!

I'll watch for your empty nest hub later! Also, this is how we advertise our rooms,



Laura in Denver profile image

Laura in Denver 7 years ago from Aurora

Great idea about an agreement. Plus maybe background check.

I personally have had terrible luck with room renters not paying bills and getting stiffed for a large phone bill (advise: DO NOT SHARE PHONE).

NateSean profile image

NateSean 7 years ago from Salem, MA

Unfortunately, part of surviving the "economic" crisis meant me having to rent a room after leaving my beloved apartment.

I always said I would never go back to roommates and lo and behold here I am, falling off the wagon.

But I lucked out this time around. My roommate is an older gentleman who doesn't have a criminal record and doesn't feel the need to hover over me.

The agreement thing is definitely a plus and I always provide references when I check out a place.

Dorsi profile image

Dorsi 6 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

Update on room rentals 2/10/2010: I have 2 room mates, 1 has been here awhile and we have a great friendship. The other is a former room mate who felt good being able to come back to somewhere familiar. Another good tip for finding good room mates is to put the word out at your church, if you attend one. There are a lot of people looking for rooms to rent.

MetalGoddess 6 years ago

Great advice! But I am having trouble finding out what my rights are as a homeowner who is renting out a room. He is older and has completely destroyed his room. Within 2 months, the new carpet was ruined and he has destroyed the new bed that i bought before he moved in. I need to clean his room because its a health/fire hazard now. But I don't know how to go about it. My mistake was not writing up a rental agreement. I knew him from the dog park and he was looking for a room. He is also a retired actor. Was in some huge movies back in the early 60's so I thought he would be tidy and clean. What a big mistake. Now I am (quietly) freaking out about the mess. I told him there is no smoking in the home, but now I find out that he is smoking in his room. He has taken over the breakfast nook table with MY plates that he wants to use for himself. HELP!!!! Write me at Thank you for any advice-legal and otherwise!!! :)

Delores Harris 6 years ago

I am renting my rooms out of my house while im in Japan. I have a friend managing it for me. Does anyone know if the Landlord or agent has to give 24 hour notice to enter common areas of the property, verses just the rented bedroom??? If anyone knows the answer, would you please let me know where you got it from. So far all i see is that lanlords have to give 24 hours notice, but doesn't refer to roomers...i don't think....would someone please enlighten. unfortunately my lease doesn't even state it.

joe 6 years ago

I rent out my private guest unti to travelers off craigslist...sometimes 3 people in one month one right after the next...after I clean and sanitze of corse. I make more thatn I would make monthly and I don't have to worry about them taking over by law as far as having to evict them if they are not on best behavior. They do not get to receive mail...they can not move furniture in and they can not rent for more than 2-3 weeks so they cant use the law about being in a place for a month or more as reason to have rights to claiming hardship and that this is their "dwelling"..i get paid in cash up front before the guest comes for the duration of the stay and they know someone new will be coming to take their place right after thei last day so they can not get cozy and I also take a deposit so they can't brake anything without paying for it.

I love it.

gracenotes profile image

gracenotes 6 years ago from North Texas

I've been a landlord before for several houses, but never have had roomers in my home. There is much to consider beyond the rental agreement, and this hub will help me if I ever decide to do this.

Dorsi profile image

Dorsi 6 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

gracenotes) I have rented my home out at one time too. Having roomers is certainly different, but something I enjoy now. My room mates are like family (and some of them actually!!)

living room furniture  6 years ago

Interesting hub, I actually rent rooms in several properties I own and the one thing I think you should mention is you may not fit under any local Landlord and Tenant laws. This differs from region to region and in the area we are in, if the homeowner resides in the property the tenants fall under what is termed the Innkeepers Act.

saramartin 6 years ago

I'm unable to sell my property. Can I quit claim my property back to the lender without suffering a foreclosure?

custom essay 5 years ago

Cool! Author the best! Thank you!

Marvin 5 years ago




Dorsi profile image

Dorsi 5 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

@Marvin) Thanks for the added advice on renting rooms - sounds like you've been there and done that too! Thanks for reading.

jEM 5 years ago


Dorsi profile image

Dorsi 5 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

@jEM) I'm not sure. You need to check your local laws regarding rentals.

Paul 5 years ago

wife walking out and leaving me everything including her bills no way but a room mate or two....the extra refridgerator is a great idea ..had not thought about the phone part...must be a way to password protect that isn't there?? so many things to consider is my living room with the only good tv still my living room once I come home....I am so used to walking in the door and turning on the news...?? scared to death of a room mate and scared to death of losing 15 years worth too...

Dorsi profile image

Dorsi 5 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

@ Paul) I'm sorry to hear that but renting out a room in your home is better than losing the home. At least until you figure out what your long term plans are. You can actually not let people use your living room - most people do but I have heard of landlords that charged $75 more for use of the common living area. Point is some people just like to hang in their bedrooms - some don't. You can also try a room-mate finder service or try Craigslist. As for me, people have begun to tell other people that I rent rooms out and the good thing is that I usually rent out a room to someone I know now, which is something I prefer.

Anne 5 years ago

Thanks for the tip about keeping the room unfurnished. I'm currently renting out an extra room and wondered about furnishing it.

The current new roomer has expressed intentions to bring over friends and so far has only brought them over when we are not home. Per our written agreement she has access to the common areas. Next time I'll be more specific on the agreement form about access to common areas with regards to guests. Does anyone have guidelines on what should be reasonable regarding having guests/friends over?

Dorsi profile image

Dorsi 5 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

@Anne) That's a tough one. I have struggled with this question also, although most of the people I rent rooms to are family/or friends. So we all kind of end up being family and including their guests as friends and family too.

Amelia Rose 5 years ago

Hi there, my friend has just split from his girlfriend, and Ive offered to loan him my guest room for the next few months, last time i did this was for my best mate and she signed an agreement for a year, so she paid a full months rent upfront and a damage deposit. when she left she got back most of her pennies minus a few for damages, but with my friend, hes only staying 2 months so what would i suggest in terms of a deposit?? I was thinking something like 1/2 months rent which is non refundable and then a damage deposit of one months rent which he would get back consdiering no damages have been made? We have already created a contract with house rules. It would cost him a total of £330 to move in then the two months rent payments of £220. Does this sound right?

Dorsi profile image

Dorsi 5 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

@Amelia) That sounds fair to me. Good luck and thanks for reading!

Margie 5 years ago

I am in desperate need of your legal advice. I have allowed a single male to rent a small completely furnished room in my mobile home. He was not able to come with first, last and deposit to move in so, we made an agreement and he paid me $16.66 a day from October 18th to October 31st and also paid a 250.00 deposit. The first day he was here he was smoking pot and told me he a medical card for it and was going to smoke it wherever it wanted to. I told he should have discussed this before he moved in as I have neighbors that get nauseated when they smell it and I did not want to jeopardize my relationship with them. Then in a cocky attitude he tells me “ It sounds like discrimination.” I told him it was a matter of respect and consideration that it should have discussed this with me. He has been here at my home for 13 days of which he has had his girlfriend stay 6 day also. The 4th day I told him she was not welcome to stay 3 days a week as I was renting to one person and not to 2 persons. I told him she was not welcome and he still went against my living arrangements. I told him his rent was up on October 31st and it was not working out and he should vacate. He now tells me he is not going to move and will live here for 30 days rent free. My question is on November 1st (today) may I change the locks on the doors and bag all of his personal belongings and put them outside for him. He brought her in to live here 3 more days the following weekend. By living here I mean she is taking showers and doing laundry. Question (2) May I call the police and have her escorted out of my house as I have told him she is not welcome as she does not rent here? Question (3) Legally what should I do? Do I have to file a 3 day notice or file for an eviction? Question (4) May I charge to disinfect his room for the skunk smell? Question (5) May I use his security deposit for his rent past Oct.31st. Any help will be of great value. Respectfully, Margie

Dorsi profile image

Dorsi 5 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

@Margie) I am so sorry to hear of your problems.The best place to ask these questions is here at Registration is free and you will be able to ask all these things and also read about other similar situations. Best of luck with this unfortunate situation that you have found yourself in.

porfirio 5 years ago

Hi thank you for all the comments I hope to have good luck on my move

Dorsi profile image

Dorsi 5 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

@Thanks for reading porfirio and yes, good luck on your move!

Franci 5 years ago

I rented a beautifully furnished room in a $600,000 to $675,000 neighborhood. The young man uses it as if it is a bachelor pad, with food in it, guests in it and attached bathroom filthy. He keeps garlic and special vinegars in there on the gorgous wood furniture. Finally, I told him to clean. He said no, and gave me short notice. He is from a cast system culture and has too much pride. Good riddance to him at month's end. If he is still here, I'm changing the lock.

Dorsi profile image

Dorsi 5 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

@Franci) I am sorry about your bad experience. Maybe you should rent the room out unfurnished?

rochelle 5 years ago

how is this supposed to help me with guidelines again.

Dorsi profile image

Dorsi 5 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

@rochelle) If you have trouble with setting guidelines and setting boundaries, maybe you need to do a written contract with your room-mate. Maybe look at it everyday and remember that is how you want to live. I have trouble setting boundaries sometimes too so I understand. It takes time and practice.

Ernest johns 5 years ago

Paid my first month rent for the apartment that we are looking forward to live $1,350.00+$450.00 for deposit total of $1,800, I was issued a receipt for my deposit receipt no. 680928 by Maria the manager of St. Francis Apartment at 455 eastmoor avenue, daly city, Ca 94015 for apt# 320 but was return to me yesterday by the owner of the apartment. What could I do?

withheld 4 years ago

What about protection for an honest, decent human being renting a room with a crooked landlord ? Any protection from that?

Dorsi profile image

Dorsi 4 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

@Ernest)You mean they returned the whole amount to you? Please clarify.

@withheld) Yes there usually is - depending on where you live. Google tenant help/laws/ for your state and city. I hope there are some laws in place for where you live regarding rentals.

joselito r pabuaya 4 years ago

so.... i ask u i have the ryt to debate the owner of this house was rented ...... coz of a little problm.... of rented so ill take late to pay in few days lets say 2 or 3 days to talk him/her to give me a chance to settle in a long days to payed....? so however i have the ryt to say the owner of this house rentd to her or him... meaning the owner of the house.... so i ask to u how many allowance the owner to give them ....... so i have a ryt? to stay or we talk both sides....kasi ng may ari alis na kayo jan..... dahil late me in few days ..but actully i have two mons deposit to the owner,,,, so what will me do?

imat98 4 years ago

Serious question, is/should a person who is on parole (not probation) be allowed to rent a room out in his house?

tennisknight profile image

tennisknight 4 years ago

Another serious question: If I rent out a room to someone I just met, what data should I get from them, in case I come home one day and they've disappeared with my belongings?

Dorsi profile image

Dorsi 4 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

@joselito r pabuaya) You need to check the laws out for your locality and Country where you are renting.

@imat98) That would be up to the owner of the house, and should take into consideration the other renters. An owner should care about the people he places together, IMHO.

@tennisknight) You can pay for background checks. I always rent to people I know.

DS 4 years ago

If you read 'The bedsit blog', you will understand why now even having a cup of tea or a sandwich whenever I feel like it is a luxury to me.

From experience, I would NEVER be a private landlord, I couldn't handle the hassle, saying that, some landlords gave Rachman a good name.

Dorsi profile image

Dorsi 4 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

Thanks for reading DS.

Gina 4 years ago

I've tried Craigslist - what a scam. The people contacting me are bogus and had one guy who I did a background check on and seemed great until I showed him my home - he said he definitely wanted it and I sent him the rental agreement. He emailed me the next day that he thought he could get out of his current lease but the leasing agent told him that he needed to pay three months to get out. He told me he understood if I needed to continue looking, but that he felt a connection with me, and hoped he could stay in touch. Loser!!!. is just a site used for "hookups", Easy roommates - well the people looking for rooms want to pay the bare minimum. They whould have property managers out there who help find roommates. They do all the background and leg work. I'd be happy to pay the fee.

Susie Smith 3 years ago

I live with my elderly mom 83 who acts about 50 and we have a friend who we know has problems she's 37, lost her kids to her parents, and has no where to go.. So we set an agreement with her to pay 300 a month and she moved in. This was a week ago and she has only spent two nights here . This is a small town and we live in a nice quiet neighborhood and its been a different man every morning bringing her home. And believe me our neighbors watch everything and I don't particurely want my mom to be exposed to this kind of behavior. But what do I do she's 37 and I'm not her mother?

Dorsi profile image

Dorsi 3 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

Susie, just my 2 cents but as long as those men are not coming in the house, or present a threat to you (as in knowing where you live) and she keeps her part of the bargain in cleaning up, rent, etc., I would leave it alone because that is her personal business. It's hard sometimes not to let feelings get in the way, and if you feel that it is not good for your mom, then ask her to find another place to live but I would give her notice so she has time to find another place to live.

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