My definition of a “live-in landlord” is someone who lives in their own house and rents out the individual rooms to roommates. Contrast this to a typical landlord who rents out the whole dwelling while residing in a separate dwelling.
I’ve been renting out my spare rooms for quite sometime and one of my goals that I set out was to travel long-term. It’s a goal that I set after I’ve paid my way through graduate school and my second mortgage.
I mentioned that 2014 is a year that change will happen and that change has already happened.
I’m in South Korea as I write this post and some folks may wonder how I plan to keep tabs on my roommates while I’m not living in my own house, which is an integral part of renting out your individual rooms.
Here’s some things I’m doing. I’ll update this as I get more experience being a remote “live-in landlord.”
- Check weather as if you were living in your house. I still check weather because it may still snow in which case, I’ll remind my roommates to avoid parking on the streets. Additionally, I can keep track of the utility consumption based on the temperature.
- Create a binder with all pertinent information. I left a binder of instructions for mailbox information, trash day procedures, and any other general information. My hope is to create a place where one can find common questions much like a hotel directory you may find in a hotel room. The AirBnB place I’m renting in South Korea has a binder with information with laundry machine operations, trash pick-up, and metro information.
- Have one of my neighbors be my ears and eyes. I’m fortunate that one of my neighbors is retired so that they’re home the majority of the day. Prior to my departure, I informed my neighbor on my plans to travel long term and this neighbor urged me to exchange e-mails just incase any issues arises so that I can be aware of them.
- Use online instant messaging systems. I think this is the most important thing because it allows you to be connected to your roommates and acts as a way to easily communicate. I could have given my South Korean phone number, but most folks are not familiar with dialing the +82 country code. So I didn’t want to create another barrier in the communication line. So an online messaging system like Whatsapp is an invaluable tool.
HOW DO I ENSURE THAT I’M GETTING PAID
I’m sure some folks are wondering about this – since I’m not living there policing any activity including acting as a physical authority regarding rent being due – so what’s my plan?
One of my things I needed to accomplish was to replace myself in my room. I found a replacement roommate 4 weeks advance of my departure. Because this roommate was going to be living in my basement bedroom, I had two options: move out and rent a room for a month or sleep on my couch. Although inconvenient, I went with the latter because I wouldn’t need to pay rent money to someone else and it gave me a chance to set expectations with my physical presence.
I had no concerns with my two current roommates because they had months of credibility of paying rent on time and in-full. The new roommate was the question mark. I wanted to be paid via an online payment method so that we can resolve all issues while I’m state side. When the first of March rolled around, sure enough, he paid rent on time and in-full. This gave me a comfort level that I was probably “okay” with all three roommates paying rent and not skipping out while I’m abroad.
To further add to the comfort level, my roommates wanted to take me out as a going away dinner. So we ended up getting some buffalo wings at a local establishment. It was certainly a nice gesture and shows that we all have a mutual level of respect for each other.