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Normally, when you are renting out rooms in your house, you want to be there to keep tabs on your renters, but there will be situations where you will be away for the weekend.  In my case, there were several instances where I went away on work travel or vacation for several weeks.

First Time Away

I went on work travel for three plus weeks about two months after my very first roommates moved in.  As you would suspect, I was kind of nervous leaving my roommate by himself.  What could go wrong? — Pissed off neighbors because of a raging party, coming back to a messy house.  Sure, these thoughts were on my mind, but I had confidence that my roommate’s personality did not reflect those behaviors.  It turns out after my three week work trip, my worst thoughts were merely just that — thoughts.  My place was not messy nor were my neighbors pissed off.  Nothing was out of the ordinary.  Before I left for my work trip, I told my roommate to get the mail and take out the trash when it got full.  All of which was he did.

The Longest Time Away

The second time away was my longest time away from my roommate renters. I went on vacation to Europe for six weeks.  Yes, I finagled 6 weeks off from work, but that is another story.  In addition, to this absence being my longest, it was also the first time I was away while I had two roommates living in townhouse.  One of my roommates was still living here when I had to be away my first time.  So, I trusted this person more than the other roommate and told him “you’re in charge, make sure to take out the garbage and check the mail.”  After I returned from my six week vacation, nothing eventful happened — I came back to my townhouse as I left it.  In fact, there were some benefits to having roommates while I was on vacation.  During the six weeks I was in Europe, I packed light.  So when I did buy souvenirs and gifts, I didn’t want to lug them around with me for the duration of my trip.  When I accumulated a worthwhile amount of stuff, I mailed them back to my townhouse to have my roommates accept the packages.

What Eased My Concerns About Being Away While Renting Out My Room?

One of the most important things I did was, set the expectations before my roommate moved in. When I show my place to my potential roommates, I told them that I travel for work and go on vacations and  I need a responsible roommate while I am gone.

I also told them what was expected of them when I am away, which consisted of taking out the garbage, checking the mail, and not pissing off the neighbors.  So far, this has worked for me.  I have traveled for work or vacation for a week several times a year and I am completely fine with leaving my roommate renters alone.

During the roommate searching process, I look for personality traits such as easy to talk with, respectful to other people, how well they get along with other people.  I know these may not seem obvious, but it is the most common characteristics that I have noticed among my roommates that I left alone and lived with.  You may tend to think that being responsible correlates to their line of work, for example a pre-med student will be responsible because he is a scholarly student studying to be the doctor.  From my experience this is not necessarily always true.  I had a roommate that was nuclear mechanic in the Navy. Yes, a nuclear mechanic.  He was great guy, really to get along with, but he was really forgetful. I can’t remember the number of times he locked himself out or forgot his keys.  So I had to leave work and let him in.  The point being is that a responsible person does not always correlate to what they do for work.

Lastly, I don’t call everyday or send e-mails to my roommate renters on a daily basis while I am away on vacation or travel.  I rarely communicate with them while I am away.  However, I do leave my contact information if they need to reach me.  So, if I did not hear from them, I assume everything is fine.  Calling or e-mailing on a daily basis is entirely a personal preference and it’s entirely up to you.  It’s just my personality not to micro manage everything that someone does.  This is what I do and how I feel about leaving roommate renters alone in my townhouse.  If you have specific questions or thoughts please feel free to leave a comment.

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