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If you’re just starting out in this venture, chances are, you’ll have concerns such as: Should I trust this person as my roommate? Should I lock up my personal/sensitive items.  What will my neighbors think? To tell you the truth, I had all concerns when I first started out.  Even today, I still have concerns.  It’s just something we as “live-in landlords” have to deal with to earn that rental income every month.

Besides saying “just deal with it” because it’s just the nature of the territory, I thought I offer some insight on this matter.


Background Checks

This is probably the number one issue “live-in landlords” are concerned with.

When you’re meeting a potential roommate, you’ll want to probe around and get a feel for why a potential roommate wants to move in, their employment history, and so on.  However, keep the conversation casual, you don’t want to come off like an interrogation officer at a border crossing.  Talk about other topics to bring up topics related to renting a room.  From this conversation you’ll get a feel whether you like this person or not.

There’s no 100 % guaranteed way to screen a roommate.  Even an employer, hiring a person outside the organization is taking a risk.  You never know if that new employee is going to pan out despite an in-person interview.  I do my due diligence by asking for references and for an updated resume.  A lot of times, it does come down to a “gut instinct” which isn’t necessarily the best.



I wrote a post about roommates and home insurance awhile back.  Even though I received the green light, I still worry that one of my roommates might do something stupid, like failing to extinguish their cigarette and causing a fire.

The important thing about insurance is to call you insurance company and let them know that you’re taking on a roommate.  In most cases, they’ll allow one roommate or boarder to live in your residence.  However, your roommates’ personal belongings will not be covered under your homeowner’s policy, they’ll need to purchase their own renters policy.  This should be made clear to your roommate prior to he or she moving in.



Most individual homes are zoned as a single-family residence.  Don’t let this stop you from renting out a room.  My townhouse is zoned as such and I’ve been in the business for several years.  I didn’t exactly get the green light from my association, but I did get an “okay” from an indirect source.

Before I got started, I called a few realtors who were selling other units in my complex.  I called up those realtors as a prospective buyer pretending to be on a tight budget interested in buying property in a specified complex.  I proposed the question about whether renting out a room be tolerated and wouldn’t subject myself to scrutiny.  The realtor confirmed that my intentions wouldn’t raise concerns with the association.

The proverbial saying “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” may prove to be more detrimental.  For those that are in a similar situation, it’s best not to directly ask your association, but indirectly asking a realtor to get an idea may be the best way to go.


Identity Theft

I never had anything stolen from me(knock on wood).  That doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen.  I’ve been contemplating either getting a safety deposit or a safe.  I’m leaning towards the former because a yearly rental for a smaller sized box is only going to run me about $35 per year – a good value for securing all my valuable documents.

I mentioned earlier I do have concerns, but most of the time these concerns only happen when a new roommate moves in.  I’m probably more careful of my personal belongings then and tend to relax once I get comfortable with the new roommate.



There are probably more concerns that people have such as rental agreements, who does the cleaning.  I even get e-mails about questions on how to split the paper towels, dish soap, and other household necessities.  I consider these to be minor issues compared to the aforementioned issues.  Having a firm footing on these four issues will serve you better in the long run.

{ 1 comment }
  • kathryn February 28, 2013, 8:45 pm

    I like them to call boarders, instead of roommates. This means they are living in my home,I make the rules, and they are here at my convenience.
    They are charged a certain amount, and it does not depend on how much the utilities or rent/mortgage of the property is.
    For example, if I was paying $1000 month( all inclusive) for my 3 bedroom property, and I was renting out 2 bedrooms..I would charge $500 month each (if market demand allowed it) That means I basically live rent free. 🙂
    I would include all cleaning supplies, toilet paper, paper towels in their rent.They would just need to supply their own toiletries such as shampoo etc. Tenants clean up after themselves, but you basically do the cleaning. ..such as sweeping/mopping floors.
    I would also have a lock on my bedroom. You never know who their guests are.You can also put a lock on their bedroom (make sure you retain a key), so your guests have no access to their room.


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