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In previous posts, I’ve mentioned I’ve used roommates.com to advertise my spare bedroom.  It’s the advertising medium I first used to get started in this gig.  So, I thought I should write a post how to use roommates.com for people starting out.

Before I begin, I just want to let everyone know I’m not receiving any kind of compensation for writing this guide from roommates.com.  This is written at my own free will.  Roommates.com is a good stepping stone for homeowners looking to rent out a room because you can look at potential roommates profile and go from there.

So, Let’s get started with roommates.com

Create an account

Creating a roommates.com profile is completely free.  For anyone that’s comfortable making purchases online, this step should be straight-forward.  I’ve included a screen capture of the membership creation screen.  If you’re a homeowner, obviously, you’re going to select, “I have a PLACE available.”

Account Setup Screen

Create a Profile

After you created your account.  You’re going to the profile screen.  The profile screen is divided into these sections: basics, residence, area, household, roommate preference, and comments.

In the basic, you describe your bedroom for rent, ie rent price, term, utilities, and other amenities.  The residence section is used to describe your dwelling, for instance, house, townhouse, or apartment.

The area is the cross road or approximate location where your dwelling is.  This gives an idea where you live so that potential roommates can judge their commuting distance/time.

The household describes who currently lives in your dwelling, whether it be you by yourself or you and another roommate.

In the preferred roommate section, you’re going to use selection boxes to describe your preferred roommate.   It’s kind of generic for instance for cleanliness level has three choices, clean, average, and a bit messy.   So it’s not very descriptive at all.

Lastly, this brings us to the comments section.  This section is open ended, meaning there are no selection boxes or drop down fields.  You type what you want prospective roommates want to read.

Although, creating a profile is free, there are instances where you have to pay for their subscription and these instances are:

  • When you want to view a message from a potential roommate.
  • When you want to view their additional comments in their personal profile.

Picture Time

I’ve always included pictures because everyone likes pictures than having a generic profile without any pictures.  Besides, pictures also make your profile unique, thus making it stand out amongst the other profiles.

Make it Viewable

After you’ve setup your profile, you’re going to want to make sure it’s viewable as shown in the follow picture.

Make Sure your Profile is Viewable

This is done in the status box of your profile setup.  You don’t want to make the mistake of setting up a profile and not having it viewable by prospective roommates, leaving you wondering why you haven’t received any messages.

New Roommate Matches

After your profile has gone live, you’re going to get e-mails from roommates.com with the subject “You Have a New Match!” or “You Have new Matches!” This could mean two things.

  1. There is a new profile or profiles that fits your preferred roommates description.

Or

  1. An existing roommates.com profile that already fit your match, slightly tweaked their existing profile, thus generating an e-mail stating that there is a new match.  Although, technically, this is really not a new profile, it’s just a flaw in roommates.com system.

The following is a screen shot of an automated e-mail from roommates.com describing a new roommate match based upon your profile.

Roommates.com E-mail indicating you have a New Roommate Match

As you can see, it’s a short description of their entire profile.  To view their entire profile you have to login.  You can view their entire profile for free except, their “comments” section at the way bottom of the screen.  You have to pay for a subscription to view it.

Another note about the Comments

A prospective roommate may or may not have taken the time to fill their comments section.  The way you can tell if they did or not is shown by what is written in the field.  If it says “Upgrade to view “ in orange colored font like in the follow pictures, then the roommate wrote something in the field.

Text indicating to upgrade to View comments

Comments N/A meaning that no comments were added by the roommate

However, if the comment fields say “N/A” in grey text, the roommate has not filled in any additional information.  This is worth noting because if you wanted to pay and browse roommate profiles to read their comment section, it may not be worth it if they decided not to write anything at all.

New Mail E-mails

Besides receiving e-mails alerting you that you have new roommate matches, alternatively, you can receive an e-mail from roommates.com with the subject line “You New Mail!” which again means two things.

  1. You legitimately have new mail from a prospective roommate
  2. You have an e-mail from a scammer.

In the former case, when you login into your roommates.com profile you’ll see a pop-up window stating “You have New Mail!!”  This is most likely a legitimate e-mail from a prospective roommate waiting for you in your message center.  However, you can’t read this e-mail unless you pay for a roommates.com subscription.

New Mail Notification in your Mail Center

In the latter case, roomamtes.com does a good job of preventing you from reading scam e-mail from purported roommates by deleting before it reaches your message center.   If you do get an e-mail from roommates.com with the subject line “You have New Mail!” , but you don’t get the “New Mail Pop-Up when you login to your roommates.com profile, in all likely hood, the mail was a scam e-mail and roommates.com deleted it.  UPDATE: If you receive a new message notification and see that the new message has been flagged as “suppressed by the Fraud department,” it’s because the message was most likely from a scammer and roommate.com has flagged it as such.   Previously, roommates.com would just delete the e-mail leaving you with an empty inbox despite receiving the new message notification pop-up window.  I like this better as it’s an improvement in a step to eliminate scammers.

Suppressed message from Fraud department on roommates.com

I’ve had this occur to me on several different occasions and I want to point out this disagreement why there isn’t a message in your message center when you received an e-mail saying “You Have New Mail!”

In either case, you should login in to your roomamtes.com profile and you’ll be notified with a pop-up window as shown below.

Paying for a Subscription

I generally don’t pay for the subscription until I get a new message in my mail center.  I don’t see the value of being able to read prospective roommates comment section or sending messages.  If a prospective roommate is interested in my room for rent, they’ll contact me.  In that case, I’ll get the new message notification and then pay for the 60 day subscription.

There have been times where I’ve found a roommate early on in the 60-month subscription service, thus not utilizing the entire 60 days.  That’s ok by me because the rental income from one month can more than pay for the $29.99 roommate subscription fee.

The alternative to paying for a roommate subscription service is using craigslist.  I’ll go over how I use craigslist and how to write up an awesome craiglist advertisement in another post.

In the meantime, create a roommates.com profile and see if you get any message from prospective roommates.

Creative Commons License photo credit: smith_cl9

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I’m in the process of finding a new roommate right now.  One of my roommates is moving out at the end of the month because he landed a new job in another state.  Mean while, my other roommate is out to sea for the entire month.  So it’s interesting finding a new roommate that okay moving into a place without meeting everyone in the household.  I’ll see how the search turns out.

Update: both of my rooms are currently occupied.

{ 4 comments }
  • Leslie February 20, 2011, 11:12 am

    Thank you Mike for doing all this hard work for us newbies. I need the income but not sure how to get started. I also have offers from a carpenter with low rent. My house too is falling apart outside. I can upkeep the inside. It is a tough choice to determine the higher need…money or repair. Thanks again.

    Reply
    • Mike February 20, 2011, 1:14 pm

      Thanks for the comment. I’m not sure what you mean by offers from a carpenter with low rent. It sounds like you’ve already made the decision you want roommates based on your need for extra income, but your house is falling apart. My suggestion is to ensure that you have a working/livable place, ie ensure the plumbing and heating is working. Once you have a livable place, you may want to try and place an online advertisement on craiglist or roommates.com If that’s a big jump for you, try posting on an internal bulletin board at work. Roommates will have no problem paying rent if they have a livable place, I usually ask my roommates how they like living in my townhouse after a week or so of living in my townhouse. If they are happy at that point, it usually works out well.

      Reply
  • Ricks October 8, 2012, 1:10 am

    For anyone who has this question in the future:

    My father took in someone like this and it taught me a few major disadvantages to housing people in exchange for work.

    The man who was staying in the room (we’ll call him Tod) was a carpenter as well.

    Tod did A LOT of work for us in the first few weeks, but we gradually realized that his definition of $400 worth of work and ours were completely different. My father would mention everything that needed to be done around the house and my first theory was that Tod may have been overwhelmed by the length of the list, so we started a written list of items that had to be done at the end of every week.

    Tons of screaming matches later, we realized that there was no way that he was going to do as much as we wanted him to do and then it took us quite some time to get him to move out. He was doing 15-20 minutes of work a week and he believed that it was worth room and board. He was unemployed and worked side jobs as a musician.

    If you want work done, one thing you need to consider is their hobbies. Do they watch a lot of TV? If so, they won’t work, they’ll watch TV. Tod had 1,000’s of DVDs and would watch them over and over and over again. This is how he spent all of his time.

    I don’t know how to evict people. That is a major fear of mine in my own house… but more on the topic, I really don’t suggest exchanging room and board for services. It has great potential to end badly because it’s a term that is not clearly enough defined (how much work?) and cannot be negotiated. If they’re not paying rent, they’re not paying rent. If they’re not working enough to justify rent… it’s much harder to define.

    Reply
  • Brenda February 21, 2016, 2:58 pm

    Hello, this is the O’Dells!! We are trying to rent out our two bedrooms, inside our house, we are looking for respectful and cleanliness people, we are renting our rooms out for 450.00 with a 80.00 nonrefundable deposit. You can reach us at xxx-xxx-xxxx or xxx-xxx-xxxx Kevin and Brenda O’Dell

    Reply

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