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I found this thread about a homeowner looking for some advice about being a “live-in landlord” because they’re thinking about taking in a friend of a friend who’s taking classes at a nearby school.  In nearly all the responses to the original poster, issues of privacy were the number one concern not to take in this friend of a friend.  I don’t know how much experience these people had or how much of it attributes to the group think mentality.  Here’s my take on the privacy issue when you rent out a room.

Yes, you will loose privacy.  How much depends on how you’re home is setup.  A person renting out a room in their apartment like condo will loose more privacy than say a mansion owner renting out their rooms.  In the latter case, since you’re in more confined quarters, you’ll most likely notice the other person more while the former case a mansion with more space for people, you’ll probably have infrequent encounters on a daily basis and be unlikely notice the other person.  These are two extreme cases of how the setup of home can affect a homeowner’s privacy.  I would imagine most of the live-in landlords fit in between the two extremes with some privacy compromised as result of a roommate.  So, it really depends on how big your home is how you’re home is setup with regards to which room the roommate will occupy.

SIDE NOTE:, if you’re wondering, “why in the world are mansion owners renting out rooms?”  There’s an article here to prove that mansion owners are in a bit of bind themselves.

 

AWKWARDNESS

A few of the responses mentioned the feeling of awkwardness with a roommate, meaning you’re home won’t feel like your anymore with a roommate.  I can attest that this is true, but only for the first several weeks.  I clearly remember when I had my first roommate move in, I was contemplating whether this was the right move because I was going to be sharing a space with a person I found on the internet.  I don’t know what made me push myself to get over this awkward feeling, but after the first few weeks, I fell back into my routine and the awkward feeling subsided.  The way you feel, will be the somewhat the way you’re roommate will feel, if you take the initiative to reach and break the ice, the awkwardness will subside faster.

In short, yes, the commenters are correct in that there is an awkward feeling.  One way to avoid this is to have friends or friends of friends rent your spare room.  I highly don’t recommend having a business arrangement as when things turn sour, it can lead to arguments and lost friends.  In the case of renting out to friends of friends and an argument does arise, your mutual friends will be stuck in the middle – not a pretty situation.

 

DEALING WITH ISSUES

Some of the commenters have suggested a trial period ranging from several weeks to a month.  This is good idea.  I never tried this myself nor have I ever asked someone to move out.  On paper, a trial period is a good idea, but here’s some things to keep in mind.

  1. Transaction costs of time – Finding a roommate and arranging meet up times to show your place is a hassle.  Throw in a few annoying e-mails from scammers and you’re adding extra aggravation to the entire process.
  2. The perfect roommate is hard to find – My definition of the perfect roommate is someone that pays rent in full, on-time, and lives somewhere else.  This roommate will provide no loss of privacy and ensures a secondary income for you.  However, the living somewhere else is probably not going to happen.  So, you’re going to have to live with compromise.

I feel the privacy isn’t the issue that most newbie “live-in landlords” should be worried about.  With the anticipation of having a roommate move in, the loss of privacy won’t come as shocker.  The awkward feeling of living with a roommate in your house is the bigger hurdle to climb.  I know this tied into the privacy issue, but if you can get over the awkward feeling and developing a routine that works with your new found roommate, you’ve paved the way to living with future roommates.  So that’s my take on the privacy issue.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Portland Afoot

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