Guest post from Lisa Joy of Eclectic
A few years ago, we moved from a tiny condo into a split-level home. We loved our new floor plan and knew we could expand to fill it — but we didn’t have to. We had an extra bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen downstairs; and since we didn’t want to waste that space, finding a renter seemed like the logical thing to do.
For the record, you don’t need an extra kitchen to have a renter. My parents, who are entering the empty-nest stage, have invited a local college girl to live in a spare bedroom upstairs. They have also remodeled part of their walk-out basement to be a small apartment.
Having a renter in your home can expand your family’s relationships while increasing your monthly income. Also, income earned from a renter has the added benefits of often being tax-free (you’ll want to research this as you do your taxes), and requires no continual work hours.
If you live in a home with a little extra space, or if you could consolidate to make that space, having a renter may be a good option for you as well. Here are a few things to think about if this is a path you would like to pursue:
Find the Right Fit
A renter can be a nightmare if it’s not a good fit for your family, but a good fit can be a huge blessing. We are just about to welcome our third renter into our home. All three have been single, Christian women who have just completed their undergrad degree.
To find them, we advertised through two local colleges. We make it clear that we are a small Christian family with young children. We will only accept females who are willing to keep quiet hours and respect our property.
We ask each prospective renter for three references, and we do a background check. We also ask them to come visit our home and share a meal with us, so that they can see the place and so that we can get a feel for their personality.
Set Clear Boundaries
I’m a private, introverted person, and having a renter only works because we have clear boundaries. Both we and our renters sign a lease agreement before they move in.
The lease agreement includes specification of what space belongs to whom. Some space belongs to us, and the renter is not allowed to enter without invitation.
Some space belongs to our renter, and we are not allowed to enter except in case of emergency. Some space is shared.
Because we have a split-level home, the entire upstairs is our private space, so I can wear my pajamas around without having to worry. Not like I would, you know, but just in case!
We ask our renters to get a post office box, so we’re not sharing a mailbox. We also specify where our renter should park their car.
If you share a kitchen or bathroom, you can specify things like which cupboard or fridge/freezer shelf belongs to your renters. You can specify when your renter does laundry. We also make rules about the number of guests allowed, and ask our renters to get permission for overnight guests.
Our lease agreement includes basics like a security deposit to cover any damages, and a deadline when rent is due each month. And because we have small children, we set quiet hours from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m.
Clear boundaries upfront protect both you and your renter, and help you find someone with a quiet lifestyle who will respect your privacy.
Enjoy A Mutual Blessing
I remember being a single woman just out of college, and it was challenging. Finding housing that is both affordable and safe can be difficult. Adjusting to a new area can be lonely.
Many single women welcome the opportunity to live with a family. In some cases, you may find that you are not just a landlord, but a friend.
A renter can also be a blessing to YOU. We hire our renter not only for baby-sitting, but also for getting mail and watering plants when we are out of town.
We occasionally invite our renter up for a meal and last winter we visited together when we were snowed in. Our children consider them almost like adopted aunts.
I had some initial misgivings, and of course there’s been a little inconvenience, but ultimately having a renter has been so worth it. I’m grateful for the opportunity to increase our monthly income, and to reach out at the same time.
Lisa Joy is a disciple of Christ, living in the Shenandoah Valley with her husband, son, and daughter, teaching part-time, fostering, homemaking, and blogging a little around the edges at Eclectic.