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We have a fear that renting out a room will almost guarantee a trashed house.  After several years of renting out rooms, I can tell you first hand that you house will not get trashed.  However, it will certainly exhibit more wear and tear faster than if you were living by yourself.

Stuff breaks around the house.  It’s what a house is reliable for, an endless supply of maintenance.  It might come as no surprise that houses with more roommates needs to be cared for a bit more than say if you didn’t have roommates.

The Stuff that Broke While Renting Out Rooms

  • Toilet Seat – This is what broke recently that prompted this post.  A trip to the hardware store and 10 minutes should fix this problem.
  • Dryer Belt – Happened right before a work trip.  I was able to fix this myself after buying a replacement part.
  • Hot Water Heat – probably my biggest ticket item that broken during my ranks of a homeowner.   I can’t say for sure if renting out my spare rooms contributed to the premature wear on the water heater, but the new hot water heater has a better warranty.  The biggest difference is the number of sacrificial anodes a water heater has.  Typically, a 5-year warranty heater has one and a 10-year heater has two.
  • Garbage disposal – This rusted out probably due to the high iron content in my water and not from renting out my rooms.  This was a pretty easy fix and cheap fix as a new garbage disposal ran about $70.

Playing Mr Fix It
I fix promptly when things are broken. Traditional landlords are generally indifferent about their response time to maintenance issues because the maintenance items don’t directly affect well-being.  That’s one of the advantage of renting from a “live-in landlord” – things will get fixed sooner because it directly affects the landlord too.   One should make it a point to

However, if I don’t know of the broken things, I won’t be able to fix them.  The case and point is with the toilet seat.  I don’t know how long it was broken for, but neither of my two roommates perked up about the issue.  I only noticed it when I using the upstairs bathroom, which I never do since I tend to use the half bath.

Upcoming Maintenance Items

  • Window Replacement – Probably my biggest expense in terms of upkeep.  I’m dropping about $2,000 to replace the windows in each bedroom.  This is a decent chunk of change, but it needs to be done.  The windows are exhibiting fading and condensation meaning its loosing its insulation.
  • Carpet Replacement – The upstairs carpet was installed brand new when I first moved in June of 2005.  These are definitely showing wear and the roommate definitely attributed to it.  I figure in the next two or three years, it’s time to replace the carpet.  After I replace them, I’m thinking of instituting a no shoes policy to help prolong the life.
  • Repainting the Walls – Same thing here.  The walls were all freshly painted when I first moved in.  I did most of the work myself as a do-it-yourselfer.  With marks on the white walls from roommates moving in and out, a fresh coat of paint is definitely needed.

Stairway carpeting, clearly this shows a lot of wear

Wall showing marks from the previous roommates

Hallway carpeting showing wear from a different angle

Hallway Carpeting showing wear

  • Gail April 22, 2013, 10:37 pm

    I have used the no shoe policy in my home and it really does help the life of carpet. Do have a question for you. I rent my room for out of state visitors, travelers, military etc. and created a great detailed ad on craigslist. One day I just happened to pick an ad out of hundreds, and lo and behold, someone had used my entire ad for their own, changing only the size of their room and rates be their own. Is there anything I can do? My ad was soooo detailed and it was used.

    • Mike April 23, 2013, 5:05 am

      @Gail, I wouldn’t worry too much about someone using your entire advertisement, there’s really nothing you can do about it. Also imitation is a form of flattery, so you must be impressing someone.


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