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Here’s a reader question I received a week or so ago:

I am somewhat considering this undertaking. By my first question, you may immediately say it is not for me.   However, I like the thought of paying off student loans.   Is there ever an arrangement where you can rent out a room with kitchen privileges, etc. but not access to your entire house? If so, what is that term?

If not, I would still consider it, but only in an ideal scenario.   I live in a double gated community in Arizona.   It is a very nice place. Swimming pools, gym, etc.   I have a full bath in the room that I would considering renting.

Ideally, I would love someone that works nights and weekends. 😉

Also, I don’t know what to charge. I don’t’ think anyone here rents out rooms. I am not sure I can even do it with the HOA rules yet.   Many rent out their entire homes.   Also, our eviction rules, etc. the same as if you rent out your entire home?


Thank you and thank you for your website.


Here’s my response:

When you rent out a room you can set your own terms. You can set you guest policy, you can include access to your laundry and dryer(this is a huge selling point because of the convenience). In short, be realistic about setting expectations. Tell them that this is your first time renting out a room and you’re a little apprehensive.

You can set a trial period with a roommate or look for a roommate that’s

looking to rent for 3 months so you know it’s a fixed time line. There’s plenty of roommates that are looking for either 3 month or 6 month terms. A lot of apartments have yearly leases, which make it unattractive for the short-term renter. On my last search, there were several people looking to stay 3-months, but I like to find roommates looking for at least 6 months.

As far as the HOA, if it’s a short term renter say 3 months, you probably don’t need to say anything to them, but the best way to indirectly and ask is to find a similar unit FOR SALE in your community and call that real estate agent and ask the real estate agent.

I think everyone’s ideal roommate is someone that pays rent on-time, in-full and lives somewhere else. Believe it or not, I had one roommate like that. He was in the military and went out to sea a month at a time.

I was pretty much either forced either to take on student loans or rent out my spare room. So the decision was easy for me.  It’s not an easy choice for everyone.

Does anyone have advice to overcome the apprehension about renting out their spare room for the first time?

  • Pacifica127 October 27, 2014, 11:08 am

    Hi there,
    I can only relate my own experience. For a year and a half I rented out my downstairs to a variety of tenants while I tried to sell my home. I was renting out rooms with use of the upstairs kitchen and laundry room. They also had a kitchen area with coffee maker , frig, and microwave downstairs as well. I had a constant turn over of tenants. I work from home. Several tenants actually were upset that I worked at home and they had to get up and go to the office. I have every sort of experience. We began to give the applicants nicknames for their bizarre requests and incompatible lifestyle choices. One prospect actually told me my stainless steel side by side LG refrigerator wasn’t big enough for her organic goat milk consumption. I had every expectation outlined in my rental agreement. I will forward my agreement to you if you would like. My rental agreement evolved over time as problems arose – as is evident in the clause regarding fire arms and explosives. This arrangement worked well for two 20 something males. Every other female we tried to rent to had a problem with the arrangement. My best advise is to only rent to applicants you do not mind sharing your space with. Maybe even someone you can see yourself socializing with. Young professional men seemed to have the least problems with accepting the terms of an arrangement they agreed to. I have to say I was actually shocked by the attitude of my tenants. We were cordial, helpful, and generous. They felt they were living in a dictatorial environment even when every expectation was explained in advance.

    Best of Luck, Susan

  • Dee October 27, 2014, 6:59 pm

    Would love to see your rental agreement. Mine had definitely evolved since the kitchen garbage hoarding roommate, lol. Eek! Firearms!

  • Josh October 28, 2014, 10:02 am

    My advice would be to really take your time and find the right fit for a roommate. When I began renting out my spare room, I interviewed A LOT of people before I found someone who was a good fit. You do have to consider the hours someone keeps, an expected level of cleanliness, space and boundary issues, etc. I also recommend finding someone who you can legitimately be friends with. It makes things easier.
    Taking my time and finding a good fit has paid off for me to the tune of 18 months of passive income with really no extra effort on my part.

  • Sean October 29, 2014, 11:48 pm

    Firearms and dirty dishes?! I have you all beat… how about a renter who was a moonlight massage therapist and would have his “clients” over and then use the shower (utilities are included) to have them clean up. He then gave them a bottled water out of my stock… He was gone within a week of my confronting him.

    • Mike October 30, 2014, 11:03 pm

      Sean, your story is interesting! But it does not help a newbie get in the renting out room mentality.

  • Vanessa December 14, 2014, 2:40 am

    Thanks so much for this invaluable information, I have a few questions :
    how do you calculate the amount of rent to be charged,
    is there any licensing involved in order to rent rooms,
    do you have any suggestions for creating a rental agreement.

    • Mike December 14, 2014, 6:05 am

      Vanessa, For rent price, I would look at craigslist and browse rooms for rent as if you were looking for a room to rent yourself. This will give you an idea of what your competition is setting their rent price at. If you feel you have more to offer than your competition, then you can ask for a little more money in terms of rent. If you set your rent price too high, you might not get any interest. There is no licenses needed to rent out a room if you’re renting out 1 or two rooms. Any more, you might need a license because you’re operating a full-blown business. I have a rental agreement available at guidetorentingoutrooms.com


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