I’ve been in this business since 2006, the year after I bought my current residence. When I first moved in, I put some work into it – new carpet, fresh paint, and some minor upgrades.
Six years later, how do you think all that new carpeting and paint held up to the test of roommates?
If you guessed that the walls and carpet are showing some wear, you guessed right. At this rate, I should be replacing the carpet in the next year or two.
But the carpet didn’t last six years because of luck. I’ve actually had to implement some rules to prolong the lifespan on the carpet and walls.
I don’t like to micro manage my roommates, but I’ve implemented some rules because I wanted to keep my house cleaner. Based on my experience, if you make the argument that if a (reasonable) rule is implemented because you want to keep your house cleaner, roommates will be more apt to follow that rule than against it.
My theory is that everyone likes to live in a clean place. If you think about it, when we book into a hotel room, we want to stay in clean hotel rooms versus dirty ones. If you can make an argument that the rule will keep such and such cleaner, your roommates will more likely oblige by the rule.
For those newbie “live-in landlords” here are some thoughts to prolong your house or the contents inside them and some rules you can impose on your roommates.
- Carpet and Floor – Have a rule in place to remove shoes before entering the house. This is kind of annoying, but it’s a huge step in keeping the house clean and preventing a lot of wear on carpet and wood floors. I enforce this rule during the winter months only when the North East gets dumped on with snow. With snow-covered roads, plow trucks dump a liberal amount of sand and salted on the roads. As you can imagine if shoes are worn throughout the house during the winter months, all that grimy salt and sand will be tracked inside the house.
- Walls – My walls aren’t too bad, there’s no major dings or knockouts. My biggest saving grace was that I was around to assist and watch the majority of the move-ins and move-outs. By helping move the bigger furniture, you can assure large furniture being moved in or out won’t dent your walls or scratch any flooring.
- Appliances – With roommates, your appliances are going to get more use. Appliances include but not limited to: toaster oven, microwaves, refrigerators, and other devices found in the kitchen. The best way to keep appliances in good working order is enforce a rule to clean them after every use. Now for large items such as the refrigerator or oven range, I would include these items in your cleaning checklist to ensure they don’t get passed over.
- Furniture – Avoiding any wear on couches and coffee tables is a tough one. You’ve have people over your furniture is going to get used. If you’re roommates or their friends have people over, your furniture gets used. Unless you restrict all visitors, it’s nearly impossible to avoid wear on your furniture. If possible, I suggest not having nice furniture until you’re done with having roommates. Another suggestion is to keep one piece of furniture as off limits to your roommates. They might be respectful of this because it is your couch just like any other possession in your house. I’m pretty liberal about what my roommates can use. If they want to borrow a DVD(don’t have that many), they are more than welcome to.
If you have any other items that are subject to wear from renting out a room, I’d love to hear about them.