When people talk about the relationship between a tenant and landlord, the connotations aren’t usually the most positive. Many people have had poor experiences with landlords for one reason or another. And there’s certainly a lot of frustration from the other end, too. Tenants often damage property, break leases, or fail to pay rent on time. So when someone suggests that you rent out a room in your home and bring in a tenant as your roommate, it’s totally natural to feel a bit skeptical.
6 Tips to Managing the Relationship Well
When you first consider living with one of your tenants, the idea may seem odd. A landlord-tenant relationship is already strange to begin with. Turning it into a landlord-roommate situation makes things even weirder. But plenty of landlords make it work. Some even find that it’s more profitable and rewarding than renting out a property they don’t live in. However, if you want it to work for you as well, you have to manage this dual relationship well.
Here are a few tips for doing so:
- Recognize the Challenges
There’s a big difference between living by yourself and living with another person. There’s an even bigger difference between living with a friend and living with a random roommate/tenant. Before going down this road, you need to recognize some of the tangible challenges you’re going to deal with.
Privacy is one issue. You might not feel comfortable walking around with a towel on after hopping out of the shower. Tossing your wallet and keys on the counter when you get home from work may require a second thought. Little things like this, which aren’t issues when you live by yourself, potentially become challenges when you live with someone else.
- Find the Right Person
The most delicate issue in this entire equation is finding the right tenant. You want to find someone that you like and feel comfortable around, but you also don’t want to break laws regarding discrimination.
“Under the law, a home seller or landlord cannot establish discriminatory terms or conditions in the purchase or rental; deny that housing is available, or advertise that the property is available only to persons of a certain race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin,” the National Association of Realtors explains.
Many people turn to friends, since they’re fun to live with. However, you need to realize that it’s rarely a good idea to mix business with pleasure. If things don’t end up going well, your relationship could become strained. It’s best to find someone that you aren’t friends with, but who appears to be responsible and safe according to your due diligence.
- Create the Right Setup
Some homes are set up in a manner that’s conducive to renting, while others aren’t. For example, if you have a back bedroom with a separate entryway and private bathroom, this is ideal. But if you only have one entryway, a shared bathroom, and communal areas that are open to everyone, then privacy becomes a problem.
Prior to renting out a room to a tenant, take some time to create the right setup. This might look like adding a door somewhere or installing a second refrigerator in the kitchen. Small things that provide personal space are always good ideas.
- Lay Down the Ground Rules
Before ever signing a lease agreement with a tenant, be sure that you sit down and have a frank discussion with the individual. In this conversation, you need to lay down the ground rules. This should include both small things and big things. For example, you have the right to tell your tenant that they can’t have people sleeping over at your house. If it bothers you, include it in the ground rules.
Once you’ve agreed on the ground rules, get everything in writing and have both parties sign the lease agreement. Present your tenant with a copy and keep one for yourself. If any issues ever arise, always bring it back to the established ground rules.
- Speak Your Mind
You might be the sort of person who likes to lay low and avoid rocking the boat, but there’s no room for passivity when you’re a landlord. As soon as your tenant/roommate does something that breaks the terms of the lease agreement or annoys you, speak up.
Speaking up doesn’t have to be rude, but it should be firm. The longer you let something slide, the harder it’ll be to confront the issue and correct it. And the last thing you want is for small issues to fester over and become massive problems.
- Protect Yourself
Security is a real thing when you live with someone you don’t know that well. While you want your tenant to feel comfortable on your property, it’s imperative that you do everything within your power to protect yourself from physical and financial threats.
“Even with the right tenant screening methods in place, you still have to be aware of your surroundings,” we’ve mentioned in a previous post. “It’s a smart idea to set up personal security strategies to protect yourself. This includes putting a deadbolt lock on your bedroom door, only giving the tenant a key to their personal entry door, keeping valuables locked away in a safe, and even setting up security cameras.”
Let Green Residential Help
Being a landlord and living with your tenant(s) is a unique situation. But just because you’re on the same property as your tenants, doesn’t mean you have the time or resources to handle all of the menial responsibilities that come with managing a rental property. As always, there’s tremendous value in hiring a property manager.
At Green Residential, property management is what we do. We’ve been in business in the Houston area for more than 30 years and work hard to provide our clients with service that’s responsive, trustworthy, and cost-effective. If you’re interested in working with us, or learning more about our array of property management services, please feel free to contact us at your earliest convenience.