Should You Have Friends Renting a Room From You?

by Mike on March 22, 2010

in Roommates

The economics of renting out a spare bedroom makes sense from this post. But who should you get to move in?  It’s natural to think that our friends or acquaintances will make the best roommates.  But before you solicit your friends or co-worker to be your new roommate, stop and think about it for a minute.  Renting out a room in your house is really very different from splitting expenses in an apartment.  If you are renting a room out of your primary residence, you are profiting from the rental income and building equity in the house.  It’s almost like running a business, and there are often some downfalls of doing business with friends and family.

If your friend is renting a bedroom from you and things do not work out, for whatever reason, it may cause some tension in the friendship and put stress on other friendships that you have in common. This is not a good scenario for you.  You could potentially lose a friend by trying to reduce your monthly expenses.  Now, if you had a stranger as a roommate, you could simply ask the person to move out.  Nothing is lost there.  The question you have to ask yourself is this: Is your friendship worth more than the cost of your monthly expenses?  No doubt, you know the answer to that.

Also, when you have friends renting from you, they may think it’s okay to do whatever they please without asking because, after all, the two of you are friends.  This may irritate you, especially if it is done on a consistent basis.  I found that when I rented out my spare rooms to strangers, they were all super respectful.  They would go about their daily lives, but they would always ask if they could do this, or what I thought about that.  So, I would rather rent to strangers, even though the sound of renting to “strangers” sounds completely crazy.  When I say strangers, I do not mean some creepy guy sitting next you, but rather someone (whom I have met and thoroughly screened) that is looking for a place to live and can pay the rent every month.  I also want to share some other benefits of living with a stranger.

 

BENEFITS OF HAVING ROOMS THAT YOU MET ONLINE

There are some hidden benefits of having a roommate that you just met through online classifieds.  For one thing, having someone move in that you met online may improve your social skills and expand your social horizons.  Always being around your same friends or acquaintances can make a person too comfortable.  You may stop making an effort to meet new people outside your usual group or become shy around new people.  Rooming with a stranger can help you break out of your comfort zone and force you to get along with people outside your limited (and limiting) group of friends and co-workers, which could be an invaluable life skill in itself.

The apprehension of renting to a stranger is probably no greater than not knowing your college roommate your freshman year.  Freshman year in college is the first time that many people room together with strangers.  Do you think colleges do a background check on each person that they are pairing you up with? NO.  My freshman year of college, I was roomed with another “first year” student.  This so-called “first year” student was a junior year (by number of credits) transfer student, and he happened to be 21 years old; hmmm. I wonder how I got my alcohol.  If my university wanted to crack down on underage drinking, you would think they would at least check the age difference between potential roommates, especially for incoming freshman.  By the way, I am still friends with my roommate from my freshman year in college, and despite the age difference we have always gotten along well.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

I am not advocating asking the next stranger you to meet move in with you, nor am I against renting a bedroom to your friends or acquaintances.  I am not denying that there are some benefits to living with friends.  What I am saying is, if you’re thinking about renting out a room and cannot find anyone to move in because you’re limiting yourself to your group of friends or acquaintances, think about placing an online advertisement.

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