Renting Out a Room in Your Home

Parent Q&A

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  • Renting a room in our house with kids

    (11 replies)

    Hi everyone! My partner and I have 2 small children, and we live in a townhome with loft. We have always toyed with the idea of renting out our loft because it is spacious, gets lots of sunlight, and overall a good, quiet space. It would be added extra income for us, of course, and we like the thought of having a boarder. Our own 4-person family would be on the 2nd floor, while the renter would have the loft, which takes up the 3rd floor. (Common areas are on the 1st floor). I wanted to go through as much consideration in my head about how this would work before adjusting our entire living space to go for this idea. Some of the questions I have:

    • Loft is open, i.e. the stairs lead up to the loft, but there is no door (it would be hard to implement a door, I think). Does this immediately rule out our idea, and if not, what considerations could we have to give everyone more privacy? Additionally, our full baths are on the second floor, which means that the renter would have to share the bath with the kids (who don't take much space with that bath anyway...)
    • I am not asking for any trade with childcare or anything, but I do want to make sure any renter is child-friendly, i.e. has to be a fit with someone who is OK with having children around. Any recommendations on how to make this clear in our initial screening? 
    • Recommended platforms to advertise? I don't want to cast this out as wide as Craigslist because I want to make sure we can screen effectively, esp. given that we are already a family and are looking more for a boarder who might be interested in a family setting vs. just having housemates.
    • Given all of these considerations, any suggestions for realistic/reasonable rental price range?

    Anything other advice/thoughts appreciated. Thank you!

    As a long-term renter, I think your place would frankly not be appealing to many people given the two huge constraints you’ve mentioned (it is not a separate room, and the noise etc. of kids).  You’d have to list it very, very cheaply, I believe.  Best of luck.  

    I haven't had any experience with this but would tecommen checking in with UC Berkeley to post for visiting scholars. Also consider looking into offering housing through a Visiting Nursing program. I don't know where to start for that option. Maybe check in with Children's hospital or Kaiser to see if they have an idea or look online for visiting nurse organizations or professional nursing societies.

    This way, you can at least have an easier stop and start date to get a feel for how a room tenant may work for you through a more short term option.

    Good luck!

    It seems like a suboptimal space to rent out given its lack of privacy, unless you knew the person beforehand or it were more of an au-pair kinda thing. I definitely wouldn't t feel comfortable posting this on Craigslist either. Maybe ask your friends? You could try to find a student or visiting scholar as well.

    For pricing, look on Craigslist for comparable spaces for rent. 

    I personally would not rent out a space that is not completely separate from my family with kids. I'm very uncomfortable with the idea that a stranger, even if screened, could have access to my kids unsupervised (at night! yikes). I love the idea of a renter but only if they have a dedicated entrance and exit with no common area. If you do decide to have a boarder please make sure you do all the necessary background checks, call your local police department to see what type of screening they recommend. Also, put locks on your kids bedroom doors and be sure you never leave them home alone (not sure of their ages), its just too much opportunity for inappropriate situations!

    Have you thought about just renting it out as an office space? With the pandemic and work from home on the rise you might have luck getting someone who only wants it to work during the day. 

    We have rented out our extra room, which is not as removed from family life as your loft, and learned a few things. We ended up having 5 total renters/roommates, all of whom were lovely except the last one, who was a nightmare and we actually asked him to leave during the pandemic, yikes!

    1) The only place we advertised was on the grad student Facebook page at UC Berkeley. We mainly found people through word of mouth or because they posted that they were looking for rooms on Craigslist or the university sites. 

    2) I think you need a door to the room. Even if it's upstairs, your renter will need to know they can close a door which means don't come in, and even lock it if they want to.

    3) You need to stress that you are a family and you will make noise and make messes and that you use the kitchen a lot. The one person we had issues with just couldn't handle our noise. And I don't think we're excessively noisy. He'd ask our son to be quiet to the point where my husband had to ask him not to talk to our son. We should have heeded a few warning signs in advance and I can't stress enough the need to talk about noise in advance. In the end, it's your house and the person moving in is a boarder, not really a roommate.

    Hope it helps.

    Hi! I would think the fact that the space is a loft (and therefore not able to be closed off for privacy) would rule out the idea right away. Think of a grownup person and the types of media they may consume, etc. At a bare minimum I would think they need the privacy of a closed door. Also, sharing a bathroom with children is a no-go, for me as well. My mother-in-law has rented out rooms in her big Berkeley house to Cal students for many many years, but they always have their own rooms and a bathroom that they might share with each other, but not with her. And no kids involved. 

    As a parent and landlord, I'd suggest an exchange student. The lack of privacy coupled with sharing a bathroom with kids? Not attractive to most renters. Maybe connect with an ESL program that helps find housing - it might be short term and different personalities, but that may be a way to go, and the cultural exchange might be good for your family. On the other side of the coin, how will having people come and go affect your kids? What about their safety, there are considerations you need to make. Personally, I would wait until your kids are school aged. Good luck!

    A room without a door is less valuable than a room with a door. You will have to consider that in setting the rent. Some possible renters will cross it off their list. Others will jump at the chance to have a nice space for lower rent. 

    Roommate situations are generally not rent controlled and getting rid of a problem renter is easier than when renting an apartment. But there are no guarantees. Also, discrimination is generally legal in roommate situations, where the kitchen or bathroom or entry are shared. 

    In the listing, describe your family and the shared kitchen/bath situations. This helps with finding child-friendly people. 

    Are you sure that you are looking for a boarder? That means you are providing all meals. I think you are looking for a housemate. 

    Price is largely dependent on location. But I think it would be under $1,000/month. 

    It used to be all rentals went on craigslist, but that changed due to scams. I think you will just have to try different ones. 

    Google interview questions and interview carefully. Make sure you have a long and detailed lease. I suggest a list of cleanup necessary upon move-out. When a tenant moves out of an apartment, the whole place has to be clean. But you can't expect a roommate to clean the kitchen and bathrooms by themselves. when others have and will use them. 

    Don't ask them to babysit. Too many complications. 

    Hi. I am a single mom of a 10-year-old. We had housemates living with us in our 2 bed/1 bath home until she was about 6. I posted on craigslist at that time and mostly worked well for me. Most stayed a year or longer and we're still good friends with some of them. Two of them were teachers or nannies so they were used to and enjoyed being around kids. Another was a mother of grown kids and also had worked with kids. The one who stayed the longest was actually a guy who had very little experience with kids. But it worked out fine and he and my daughter got along well. With some of them I had arrangements of lower rent in exchange for a few hours of babysitting a week too. I think if you are up front with people and let them meet your kids during the interview, most people who are not comfortable living with kids will just screen themselves out/not apply. I didn't worry about the security issue with my daughter mainly because she slept in the room with me at night and also the ones who did child care were already working with kids. But if I were to have a renter now, I might do a background check. I think a lease is a good idea too. 

    I think the door issue would be tough though, mostly for sound issues. Another thing is you should clarify your policy on overnight guests up front. I don't think sharing a bathroom is a dealbreaker, especially with young kids, but it will mean you'll get lower rent than if the renter got her own bathroom. I don't know what current rates are now. 

    I would try to find renters via your networks although I didn't find anyone that way personally. Posting at colleges would be good too although I found it hard to figure out how to do that. I know there are also websites like Furnished Finder for traveling nurses. 

    Good luck!

    Other points to consider include guest/overnight guest policy and vaccinations. 

     As a previous renter, I would not do this because it would be hard to find the right fit due to a lack of privacy. Second as a parent, I would be concerned with the number of creeps that are out there. You might rent to someone wonderful, but what if they have creepy partners or creepy friends? Do you really want your kids around them? 

  • Renting out rooms to students

    (2 replies)

    I am an empty nester with a beautiful 5 bedroom home in Hercules. I've never rented before, but would like to rent to students from UC Berkeley, Contra Costa College and Diablo Valley Colleges. My worst nightmare is getting a problem tenant that I can't get to leave. Seems like tenants have more rights than homeowners. Are there any resources out there that can guide me? Help me get tenants, create a rental agreement, determine the correct rent etc. Any insight into this area appreciated.

    Have a formal application that explicitly lists if they have pets. There are some FEHA/ADA tricks renters use that they hide they have a dog until the last minute then drop a “support animal” Medical Letter. I’m a dog lover who recently had to put their chihuahua down after their roommates pit bull attacked it. Also research them online to find pics of them and their animals first. Trust your gut on the people. There seems to be a lot of renters out there from the bigger cities who know how to work the medical excuse system.

    California has a law that protects an owner who rents to one lodger. The owner has many more rights in terms of selection and removal than in a traditional landlord-tenant relationship. You may want to begin with the local junior college, as there are few U.C. students this semester, and many, many vacancies closer to campus.  Also check out the Nolo landlord book, and use their forms for a rental agreement.

  • Renting out a room or rooms in my house

    (5 replies)

    I'm considering renting out rooms in my house. My biggest fear is getting stuck with a problem tenant. What if they don't pay? What if I can't evict? I'm not sure, but I think tenants have more rights than landlords. Just don't want to take on a headache. Have never done this before. Any advice appreciated.

    [Moderator Note] Here is past advice from parents about renting out a room in your home:

    While it's true that landlords may have difficulty evicting tenants in Berkeley, the city policies are different for renting rooms inside your house. When renters share your living space, you are legally allowed to ask tenants--problem ones or otherwise--to leave. This information is available on the City of Berkeley web site.

    Without a city, we really can't help you. Some cities have great renter protections, some very little.

    Renting out a room in your house doesn’t fall under the regulations of the RSB (Rent Stabilization Board) in Berkeley. Not sure what city you are in; Oakland and SF both have their own rent control regulations. If you’re in Berkeley, the tenant in your house does not have either rent control or eviction protections. 

     You can check for police regulations with the rent board or,  better yet, Berkeley property owners association. I believe that as long as you are staying in your home and sharing common areas like the kitchen with your renters that you have many more rights than someone who is renting an entire unit.  However some or all of these rights may disappear if you leave the house to live somewhere else for any period of time. If prop 10 passes however a lot of the regulations that put a break on punitive rent control laws will be an open question. My advice is to rent to friends of friends and vote no on prop 10

    I currently rent out rooms in my home in Berkeley.  My advice to you would be to call the rent board, tell them that you are CONSIDERING purchasing a property in Berkeley, and that you would be renting out one of the rooms in your home to off set the cost of purchasing a home.  Do not give them an address. Do not give them an address. Do not give them an address. Do not give them an address.  Ask them exactly what you asked BPN.  They will give you the general information. Depending on who answers the phone that day, you’re going to get a different answer. My advice to you is that once you decide to rent, that you call back with your address and get any exemptions that you will have, your property status, in writing from them.   I would also go to the free lawyers at the Library and ask them their advice and their experience. My experience has been horrific some of the time and great other times. Do your research on who you rent to.  Perhaps even hire a service  that will check criminal databases,  sexual offender databases, and the like.   My experience has been that the best tenants/housemates are strangers and the worst tenants are family members and friends. Good luck.    

  • Renting out a room in our house short term

    (2 replies)

    My family and I are considering renting out a private room/bathroom at our house. For those of you who do something similar, what percentage of the time are you booked and where do you post your listing at?  I'm not sure what percent of rental income is taxable, but I'm wondering if it's easy or hard to make some profit on this. Any insight would be much appreciated.

    Not sure where you live and I was also considering doing the same. Ideas I'm considering: traveling RN's (there're websites for that), nursing students, grad students. There are also visiting Cal professors but I haven't checked into how to specifically advertise for them. I was also advised to consider Airbnb. Apparently the Bay Area is a very popular destination. Good luck. 

    Air bnb works great if you find the right price point and are willing to do the work of answering queries and cleaning and prepping the room. I got tired of that since I have a full time job already. Now I rent out to people for a few months at a time. You do have to report it on your taxes but can deduct quite a bit of stuff too. Consult your tax preparer on that. 

  • I'm a recently single mom of a 4-year-old. I live in a 3-bedroom house in Oakland that I now must cover the mortgage for alone. I would like to rent a room out but I'm nervous about advertising on Craigslist or someplace similar because I have a child and I would really like to be strategic about where to advertise the room for rent.  Obviously, I would like to increase my chances of finding someone great or at least stable, reliable, and kid friendly. I would also love any ideas about how to screen candidates. I was thinking perhaps a graduate student would be ideal but I don't know how to target that audience. Thanks very much!

    CalRentals is a housing service for which the owner /landlord pays a small fee for a listing ($25?). You can post pictures. It is great. It's listing are only open to students, faculty, and U.C. personnel. looking for housing.  I get all my tenants through this service. You can list your requirements (graduate student, employee, etc.), and also look for comparable rentals to set your price, which will vary depending upon the distance from campus, transportation access, amenities, etc.

    Well, you could try the classifieds here on BPN.  Also, another social website that I've seen used to advertise rentals is Nextdoor.  It's not as wild, wild west as either Craigslist or Facebook.

    Hi Mama C - try this url where Cal students and I think visiting faculty look for places to rent.  This is where you can register your property. There is a fee $25 for 30 days. good luck. You won't have any problem getting renters if your prices are reasonable. 



    I work at Cal and can put an add up for graduate students (they would all be scientists since thats the area I work in). Message me if you are interested.


    Hi! I am also a single mom w a seven year old and I rent out two rooms in my home. I advertised on Craigslist and BPN and I didn't do this but I think you can also list on a server at Mills College. I would request that the person write me an email describing themselves, work, interests and why they are looking for a room. I also asked about past experience with children. If I liked all those written responses then I would set up a phone call to chat some more. If I still had a good feeling then I would invite them over for dinner. If I still thought it was a good fit, then I called their references, one professional, two personal (I highly recommend not skipping this step!). If I still felt it was a good fit and they did too, then I would proceed with a housemate agreement form (I found one online) that clearly states that the first month is a trial period during which either if us could terminate the agreement with no notice. After one month a thirty day notice agreement would ensue. I LOVE co housing and wish you the best of luck. Intuition and strong references are key! 

    Try CalRentals (the UCB off-campus website). You may also look into SabbaticalHomes. That way you could targt academic visitors who will stay for about a semester or two. If you rent it out furnished, you can charge more.

  • Cost to Rent a Room in Kensington?

    (1 reply)

    We own a house in Kensington. One of our friends needed a short-term place to stay and it seemed to work out so we told him that he could stay. We didn't plan on having a housemate and had no idea how much to charge in rent so we asked for a fairly minimal amount and for help around the house. Now we're starting to feel a little taken advantage of. He's a really great housemate. He's quiet, clean, and really nonobtrusive. He helps around the house some but not as much as we had in mind when we made the original arrangment. He pays a small flat amount each month and doesn't contribute to utilities, cable, cleaning, etc.

    While we're fine having him live with us, we would also be fine if he didn't. We'd be happy to have that room back for our own use. We'd miss him but it would be okay. I'm starting to resent his presence as he's paying less than 1/10 of the monthly cost of the mortgage and monthly expenses. When we asked him to pitch in for utilities he didn't want to pay the percentage that we wanted and started arguing about how much more electricity that we use than he does (he's correct). But after paying below-market rent and no utilities for more than a year, I'm really upset that he wouldn't just do the right thing and pay what we asked. I'm annoyed about the pushback when we've been overly generous and accommodating for a long time.

    How much would do you think is fair to pay to rent a room in a nice house in Kensington with a shared bathroom and offstreet parking? I'd like a reality check before I decide what to do next. The current arrangement isn't working for me and I'm starting to be resentful towards him. He has a good job and definitely has the ability to pay more than he currently is.

    Thanks for your feedback.

    I feel your pain, Mama_Bear. I'd check going rates on a site like Airbnb or to figure out what a fair market price is, e.g., furnished/unfurnished, etc. 

    But it does sound like it's time to tell your friend to move on. It sounds like you may not have a formal rental agreement with him that states terms. So I'd suggest presenting him with an agreement, "getting things down on paper," which is a grown-up thing to do. Include the price that you think is fair, including a fair portion of utilities and household items that he may not be contributing to regularly, like toilet paper, butter, etc. If he doesn't like the terms, let him know it's time for him to find a new place, because you're taking the space back for your family to use.

    You should let him know formally, i.e., in writing that he needs to move out within a certain time frame, as recommended by local landlord-tenant laws, because that's what the situation is when he's stayed in your home past one month. 

    You have a wonderful spirit towards the situation, but it's hard to live with that kind of mild-but-growing resentment in your life, let alone your home and family den. He's sapping positive energy away from your family by not being a full contributor. It's time for him to grow up or launch/kick rocks.

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Airbnb Rental Potential

Jan-Feb 2015

We're thinking of building an addition on our house and if we have the space we're considering building an in-law unit or studio apartment with it's own entrance. We'd like to use it for guests but when we don't have guests rent it on Airbnb. We're imagining it will be about 300-350 sq ft, have a private bathroom and a kitchenette with a small counter and sink, mini fridge but no stove or oven. We can provide a coffee maker, microwave or other small appliances. It would have it's own entrance and possibly a parking spot. We're in North Oakland and close to public transit and freeways.

My question is, if you have an Airbnb rental what has been your experience? How many days a month are you able to fill the unit? If you have a similar type of rental, what would you say the going rate is? Or if you are a Airbnb renter either here or when you travel, what is important to you in a rental? Thanks for any ideas or input you can give.

From the traveler perspective: A coffee maker, some good coffee, and milk, is key. Second priority is a nice hot shower with good pressure. Third is a moderately soft mattress and pillows with layered warmth. My body temperature changes during the night so I prefer to be able to add or subtract a blanket rather than having the room be too warm. If it is too warm, I open the window, wasting heat. A microwave would be nice, but if there is no frig., no need to heat up anything. If you provide a microwave, a tray with paper plates, cups, plastic ware, would be most appreciated. If providing breakfast, my best experience recently was the host showing me where eggs, cheese, etc. were in their kitchen and asking if I minded making my own omlette. That made me feel more comfortable than sitting there at the table while they made it for me. cocosar

I am a frequent airbnb renter, especially when I go overseas. I can tell you that the most important thing for me is a stove and fridge in the apartments I rent. That allows me to have breakfast and dinner at the place, making the rental worthwhile. Alternatively, renting a room in a house with bathroom and kitchen access would also be okay. While you can't beat the privacy of an apartment, I would never book anything without a fully equipped kitchen(ette). That means at a minimum: a two stove burner (I can do without an oven or microwave), 1 small pot with a lid, 1 large pot with a lid, a strainer, plates, cereal bowls, flatware, 1 large bowl for fixing salads and a sink to wash dishes in. (detergent, sponge, towel). Please get a toaster or better, a large toaster oven as a bonus (Target $65)! People from overseas will prefer places in San Francisco or Berkeley to North Oakland. I hope you are in walking distance from BART or a very good bus connection. These are the things that matter. You should research apartments on airbnb in our area right now and offer yours at a lower price to be desirable. Make sure to include a $40 cleaning fee, because you really don't want to do all the cleaning in between visitors. That gets to be too much. The rental price goes up with the number of people you can accommodate. So think of a futon-style sofa that converts into a bed in addition to a queen or king-size bed. You also want to furnish a table with as many chairs as the place holds visitors - so people can eat. This could even be the living room table in front of your sofa sleeper. This year I stayed at a perfect small studio apartment with a tiny separate bathroom in London (close to Liverpool station!) that had a sofa sleeper with an L-shaped seating arrangement (one of them turned into a sleeper). Across was the full kitchen, Both kitchen and living room were separated from the bed with a long curtain across the room that could be pulled all the way or retreat all the way back. Across from the bed was the door to the tiny bathroom with sink, toilet and shower. Worked perfectly and I got it for $100 per night (not 100 Euro). Grocery store within walking distance is also important. Incredible deal, saved us a ton of money in meals! That place is booked almost every day of the year. I booked it almost a year in advance. If you want to create a good investment, give the travelers what they need. Be as practical as you can be. airbnb fan

Things important to me in renting a hotel room or airbnb:
No smoking
No air fresheners
No bbq
Fragrance-free cleaning agents and laundry detergent
A window that can be safely left open all night. For instance, if you have a sliding window, provide a stick of proper length to put in the track so the window can only be opened a few minutes.
Quiet Anon

I strongly suggest you do not do this. It's bad for neighborhoods and will make you a much less pleasant neighbor. You will start to tolerate your temporary renters solely on the basis of their paying the fee and being minimally law-abiding. Neighborhoods feel less friendly when you know that people are visiting only for a few days, and are eyeing the locals as possible photography subjects and 'local color' to discuss when they return home.

You will be tempted to evade taxes by not declaring your income as a rental owner- you must declare this income after two weeks of rentals per year. My acquaintance who was caught by the IRS after evading years of rental income from their separate AirBnB unit had to fork over tens of thousands in penalties and back taxes.

Finally, renting isn't sharing, it isn't legal in most Bay Area cities, and it's giving credence to a hypocritical myth that Sharing economy companies are interested in more than their own profits. It's a Community not a Business Opportunity.

I'm an airbnb host (2 spaces in my home for about 5 years) and also use it when I travel. Since I'm not renting out a separate unit, my guests use my kitchen, where they are welcome to use all cooking supplies. For shorter-term guests- a few days- I provide coffee and tea, while longer-term guests buy their own.

When I travel, what's important to me is a clean, private room with good light, and a firm mattress with a selection of covers (I happen to get hot at night, other people get cold). I also need a desk or work table, and really really appreciate a big, comfy, well-lit reading chair.

Hope this helps. My experience from both sides of airbnb has been 99.9% positive and I really enjoy being part of it. My neighbors know I'm doing it and are perfectly fine with it- my guests are considerate and we totally blend in with our quiet neighborhood. anon

I work for a short-term vacation rental management company, so while I'm really interested in hearing what other people say, I thought I should add my two cents. First off, the market swings pretty drastically between summer and winter. The homes we manage were booked solid from June to mid-October, and then during winter we have to lower prices by 35% or more to get them filled, and still have a week or two empty in between bookings. So, to talk numbers, let's see, for a studio in-law unit in the summer (in picturesque locations in the east bay) you can expect about $3000/m and in the winter down to $800ish /m. Spring seems to be more people traveling for work, week-long stays, pretty consistent but not crazy back-to-back like the summer. That's what we've found. I hate to be the first one to respond! But I love numbers. I've also been an airbnb guest, and rented out my own home quite often, and I can say that the main thing people want is spotlessness and kindness. And easy access to delicious. Anything with few stairs will be popular, too. (We manage other people's airbnb listings while they are out of town, or sometimes while they are in-town and just don't want to deal with it because it's another job.) You can do it! It's fun. Rose

We rent out the bottom floor of our house on airbnb. It is a private 2 bedroom apartment with its own kitchen, bath and entrance. We have had a great experience in the year+ we've been doing it. We don't try super hard to fill our place all the time, because we like to use that space and our house is a bit cramped without it. We generally rent about a week per month on average, but could do much more if we tried a little harder. It gets pretty busy from about March through the summer, and then of course all holidays. It does slow down in January and February. We rent ours for between 225-300 a night, depending on the time of year, plus a $75 cleaning fee. I would guess yours might go for $80-120/night, but I would look around at other listings that sound similar to what you're thinking. We've never had any issue with tenants. We mostly get families, grandparents, work travelers, all very respectful people so far! As a bonus, it's so great to have a separate space for your own guests! anon

can't remember if the OP was a renter or an owner, but if a renter, be aware that its' almost sure to be against your lease and is grounds for eviction. My upstairs neighbor is an Airbnb host and it is very uncomfortable for us all to have strangers with the key to our house and share our yard, garbage cans, etc.

Whether or not you're a renter, I'd be honest and open with your neighbors and let them know what you're doing and what they should do if they have a problem with your guests. I don't want to be the person to tell the landlord and get my neighbor evicted, but she had some VERY LOUD guests recently and was totally deaf to our complaints (blasting Stevie Wonder at 2 am as loud as possible, etc). be a good neighbor

Overnight guest policy for renters

Dec 2014

I am just wondering what policies/rules people who rent out a room in their house have for renters having overnight guests. Do you allow them? IF so, do you have a maximum number of nights a week? Do you require the renter lets you know in advance (even a few hours) if someone is staying over? Anything else? Just wondering

I have been renting out several rooms in my home for decades, and evolved an ''Overnight Guest Policy'' over time. It seems unrealistic to never allow overnight guests when I have had renters who have stayed for years, yet with 5 of us living in the home, we don't want a line of 10 for the bathroom(s) in the mornings, should everyone end up with a guest. The reality is, and I state this in the initial interview, that overnight guests are allowed but in a very limited fashion. I am upfront in telling prospective tenants that if they are in steady relationships or have situations warranting regular overnight guests, my home is not a good match for them. My rental is based one person for one room.

That being said, an ''occasional'' overnight guest is permitted. Occasional is defined as no more than one weekend per month (i.e. 2-3 nights). That means that if someone has no guest for half or most of the year, then it is fine to have a guest come and stay a week. This has worked for my students who might have a Mom or Dad come, or a sibling, or an out of town g/boyfriend, for a few days once a year.

I ask that I be asked prior to the guest's arrival, and that in courtesy to the other renters, they be told of the guest once I have given the ok. There is a slight additional overnight charge of $15 per night per guest. This is because, as I explain to my tenants, a guest generally uses a shower, water in the bathroom, and often a cooking project occurs, hence a cost to my utilities. I also explain that the cost is meant to be a bit discouraging to inviting guests (therefore my tenants don't go to a party and announce ''hey I live in a big house come on over and spend the night''). I also give tenants a chance to earn guest credits by plant and animal care during my travels. Again the reality is that they all step up to do these things, and still almost never have guests, and are all very content living here.

I truly do not want any regular overnight guests, just the occasional one. Between my initial screening, frankness and honesty, and the policy, the overnight guest issue has worked out well in our house. And the tenants who don't ever have guests appreciate that they know exactly who lives here and who and how many people can be seen in the hallways in the mornings.

My rental business is based on the premise that I am the landlady and homeowner and the renters are tenants. We are not ''roommates'' or equals, even though we share the house.So as when recently, a tenant of several years asks me if her niece who is visiting in town can sleep on the floor of her room for 3 days, I can enthusiastically and without qualm say yes! Clear on Guest Policy

Hello Landlord: I researched this about a year ago by googling ''California law tenant overnight guests'' or something like that. I'd recommend that you do a search like that--and Nolo press has some good online answers to questions like this. My recollection is that the landlord can limit the number of nights, but that this needs to be done in the rental lease. If you haven't already established the limits, you should check with a rental attorney--or you could try calling your local rent control board if you have one. I'm harkening back to my memory of a year ago, but I believe that you cannot completely ban overnight guests. That's not considered reasonable--nor should it be--unless this is a lodger situation in your own home where you have young children. In the latter, you might be able to stipulate single occupancy.

I believe that you can limit the number of nights to one per week, not to be consecutive, without the landlord's written prior consent. It's important to establish the occupancy number and limits to overnights because, unfortunately, some unscrupulous tenants try to use this as a backdoor to bringing in another renter without increasing the rent. Of course, I think that domestic partnership and marriage trump the landlord's desire for single occupancy--rightfully so. Again, there's a big difference between renting a room in your home to a lodger (you own the home) and sharing a rental with someone else. I hope this helps. I would research the situation carefully--proceed with caution. We had a lodger living with my 78 year old mother who stopped paying rent, snuck her boyfriend in three nights a week, and sweetly offered (out of character) to pay for utilities. My researched showed that paying for utilities is one way to establish tenancy for an additional person. Long story short, we served a three day pay or quit notice and ended up paying this individual $1,200 (plus waived $800) just to get her out of my mother's home within 24 hours. Sigh. Live and learn. I wish I had had a good lease to start with--if you don't have one, write one up! Good luck... Learned the hard way

I don't require the renters inform me ahead of time as long as the amount of time does not exceed 7 days. And I have it written into the lease, like this: Limits on Use and Occupancy The Premises may be used as a private residence only for Tenants (name of tenants) and their children (names of children). Occupancy by guests for more than 7 days within a month is prohibited without Landlord's prior written consent and will be considered a breach of this Agreement. Landlord

I've rented out an extra bedroom and bath in my house for years. I always treat my renters as roommates. They are free to do everything I and my husband do in the house including entertaining and having overnight guests. We respect them, and they respect us. There are no hard and fast rules. If they have someone stay over in their room, I don't feel the need to be notified at all. If they have a friend sleep on the couch, I ask that they text me since I am usually the first up and I don't want to barge in on someone and wake them up. If they are having someone visit from out of town, they let us know ahead, and we do the same for them. As long as there is mutual respect and good communication there shouldn't be a problem. If you feel they are taking advantage, and say their significant other seems to have moved in, then it's time sit down and talk about it with them, and mutually decide on some boundaries that you are both comfortable with, or ask them to move out. - good roommate

We've hosted longterm guests and renters in our guest bedroom. In writing in advance of their arrival, to manage joint expectations, we alert them that up to 2 overnight guests are welcome for up to 2 overnights. These guests must sleep in the renter's own bedroom and use only the renter's bathroom. For longer stays we ask them to ask for special permission well in advance. If they will entertain any guests in the house at any time we ask that they alert us as soon as they know...for the sake of common courtesy...and we do the same for them. Unexpected visits are also acceptable, and welcome...both ways. If our renter/long term guest plans to host their guests in the common rooms, we ask that they let us know in advance, and, they understand that they must share this space with us, unless asking for special permission in advance. Hospitable with boundaries

Hi- I rent out a couple of spaces in my home (shorter term rentals usually, such as to visiting scholars) and have never found a need to set a policy on overnight guests. It just hasn't been a problem in the 6 years I've been renting- people have always been considerate and reasonable in their guests' stays. In cases where a tenant has a visitor from elsewhere who stays for several days, I ask for an extra $10./night, and that also has never been a problem. But, I may be different than you in that I enjoy the extra life in the house that visitors bring, and it sounds like you may not feel the same. anon

Overnight guest rules run the gamut. In some situations, people have different guests every night. In others, no guests are ever allowed. In some cases, there is a charge. I have never heard of anyone asking for advance notice, but if you want that, ask for it. I prefer a middle ground in which the lease or rental agreement specifies 50 nights a year and no more than 7 nights in any two week period. You can limit it to once a week or twice a week if you want. If I am getting along with my roommate and I like the guest, I let it slide if the overnights are more frequent. If I don't like what is going on or I feel a lack of respect, I would insist on the letter of the law. Anon

You will need to check your local City in order to find out what if any restrictions you are allowed to request. Generally speaking the law says if someone stays longer than 30 days they become a tenant so that is probably the only the stipulation you need to add to protect yourself against. That said, please remember that when you rent out your property it is the home of the renter. If you have properly vetted them and have a deposit then there is no reason to be overly concerned about guests. Asking that someone who is paying you money and a deposit for a home to call you when they have a guest is pretty ridiculous in my eyes and I would think you would have a tough time finding a renter to agree to that. Additionally if include provisions regarding quiet use and not disturbing neighbors this would should cover any other related issues. Treat your renter as you would want to be treated

Advice for renting out room

Sept 2014

I would like to know if anyone has any advice that they learned regarding renting out a room in their house. I am referring to the kind of thing that you never thought about beforehand, but then by renting out the room you learned ''the hard way''. I'm sure that there are a few things that I haven't considered, and it would help me if I could benefit from the experiences of others. I have to rent out a room again this fall, and it is in the home in which I live.

Here's the thing I learned last year, the hard way: bad smell is not easy to get rid of, once it has penetrated the walls, ceiling and floor. Last year I rented to a nice, clean cut young man from a different country. Never in my wildest dreams did it occur to me that he had such an incredibly bad, noxious body odor that it would create fumes which would gag me all winter long. Perhaps it is because he ate boiled ham every day, and few fresh fruits. He cooked all of his vegetables. Or, it might have been that he had some physiological problem, but he refused to see a doctor. In the thick of winter when he was keeping his window closed, I insisted that he get rid of the mattress in his room which just smelled like a dead person. The stench came out from underneath his closed door, and into my home. I couldn't deal with it.

He did get rid of that mattress, and bought a new one. By summer, I asked him to move out. Now, even though the room has been empty since July, and I have wiped down the walls and had the carpet professionally cleaned, it still smells like BO if you keep the window closed. My next move is to Fabreze the ceiling (it's one of those popcorn ceilings). I honestly have no idea what else to do other than perform an exorcism of some kind, or pull up the carpet, but it is only a two year old carpet and quite beautiful.

My lesson? If anyone ever smells that bad again, I will ask them to move out right away, and not wait a year. If anyone has any advice for me, it will be SOOOO appreciated! Learns the hard way

Try Biokleen's Bac Out!! Biokleen - Bac-Out Stain & Odor Eliminator - 32 oz. Get it on inexpensively on Amazon and spray everything. Takes out puke smell, cleans cloth diapers, etc etc. I've used it on wood floors, tile, carpet, cloth, even leather car seats. It works!! The sweet smell of success

I had the same thing happen--twice! The odor was so repulsive and it permeated from the room into other areas of my home. The first time I ejected the ''occupant'' readily and it took months to mediate the odor. The next time it took longer to remove the offending occupant and even longer to mediate the smell. I don't have the popcorn ceiling or the carpet but hardwood and smooth wallpaper. I also had a plastic mattress cover which saved the bed. I used carpet deodorizing powder in the hallway, mopped with anti-biotic cleaner in the room and washed the walls with it. Your fabrese idea might work for the ceiling if you mist it lightly with a garden sprayer. You could also use a dilute quaternary disinfectant spray--or bleach diluted with water. Charcoal or baking soda might help absorb. You may need to toss the mattress again or seal it in a plastic cover after some time outdoors in the sun. A new carpet and padding will help immensely I suspect. I was appalled that these people could smell so bad and be unaware of their own odor. One had a sweating disorder due to ADHD and the other just had bad hygiene and perhaps used the floor as a urinal. I will never rent a room again! Love my odor free house

If you are renting out a room in your home, you are in a great situation because there is no rent control and no eviction control. If you set up a month-to-month rental, you can get rid of someone with a 30 day notice. You just have to be brave enough to do it. On the other hand, if you are renting out a separate apartment, it can be hard to get rid of people even if they are criminals. They could have the stench of rotting food leaking out from under the door of their apartment and the landlord could do nothing. Sometimes rent control stinks in a rather literal way.

I can understand that you want a better idea of problem that may arise so that you can figure out how to handle things before they come up. You can actually put things in the rental agreement about water use, noise, guests, damage, etc. But it is hard to imagine that you could put something in there that specifies that your tenant is not allowed to have body odor. And I would be surprised if that problem comes up very often. So, you are just going to have to learn to deal with odd problems if they arise.

I suggest that you put together a very detailed ad and screen people carefully. That will help you get good people into the room. Good Luck! Anon

I have had roommates and have rented out rooms for a number of years, and the honest truth is that no matter how much you prepare, there is always something that can go wrong. The biggest way to be happy with a renter is to accept that they will not be perfect and learn which battles are worth fighting and which are not. Once you figure out what are non-negotiable issues for you, you will be in a much better position to find a compatible renter.

Personally, I have been happiest when the renter was treated more like a member of the household than as just a person who pays me for a place to sleep. That type of relationship requires flexibility from both sides, but also allows for a more amicable approach to solving any discrepancies.

As the home owner, you are able to lay out the rules in advance and then find a renter that is okay with them. Don't miss out on the details. Other than paying rent, what other ways do you expect them to contribute (chores)? Are there consequences if they miss a chore? Do those consequences also apply to you? How will you split/share foods or things like TP? How do you prefer to resolve conflict? For the most part, is the last one that has been the biggest source of issues for me. Incompatible styles tends to lead to resentment and an unhappy living situation. Anon

Renting out room - include utilities?

July 2014

I've been renting out a room in my house for a few years. I've always just included the utilities as well as paper goods like toilet paper in the rent, but I was just curious how other people handle this. I guess I figure my child and I probably use more than the renter when it comes to water and do more laundry. I feel like it's been fine up to now, but I'm just thinking what to do if I get someone who uses a lot of water (since they aren't paying for it). Just curious

It would be cumbersome if even possible to try to charge a tenant for a % of water use- how would you calculate it?

I rent out a couple of spaces in my house and just figure utility costs into the price of the rooms. Sometimes I get a renter who uses a lot of heat, but that's balanced by those who don't. I do have rules about water use, and expect everybody to adhere to them.

As far as stuff like toilet paper goes, you the householder are the provider. It would be pretty petty to make an issue of TP use!

Since you sound worried, I wonder if you're charging enough rent. Take a look at market rates for your location. anon

When there are several persons sharing the utilities on a master meter, one fair way to divide the expense is the ''per capita method''; e.g. three people, each pays one-third. Since you are renting a room for a set price you need to calculate the per capita cost, and figure that into the room rent. You need to screen potential renters to rule out those who take extra-long showers in your interviews; if they have excess usage your rental agreement or month-to-month lease (you do have one, don't you?), can specify surcharges, or rebates for low usage. If you have a just one water line, you can hear the water running, so you will be aware of the usage. Lynn

I would definitely add a charge for water. This is going to be necessary, now with all of our rationing. I myself am quite the water hound (garden, taking my baths) and I would not want anyone resenting my water use. I want to pay my own water bill, so that I know what I am doing, and it is worth it for me. I don't want to annoy anyone. Hopefully you can figure out a way to make it fair for everyone.

Since you are two people, and the renter is one, it does seem reasonable to split the bill three ways. However, children tend to have more laundry than adults, so maybe you can split it four ways and have your renter pay one fourth of the bill? Love that H2O

Renting a room to Japanese speaker in exchange for childcare

July 2014

I am just about finished with renovations to my home to make the room on the first floor rentable. It has a separate entrance and now has a full bath and I can still get to the garage without going thru that space. The reason I've been doing this is that my 6 yr old son is half Japanese and is an immersion program but doesn't hear Japanese in the house since his dad moved out. I know how hard it is to raise a child to be bilingual and I'd like to give my son every opportunity especially since he is still young.

My idea has been to find a renter who speaks Japanese who would spend time with my son and speak In Japanese. I would want someone who could babysit early mornings (just by being in the house) so I could go to an early morning exercise class. I would also like to encourage a few activities that would get them to talk and interact.

Given that this is not just a regular rental I thought that I would reach out to the BPN community and see if people have advice on how to find the right renter, how to set up the situation and expectations correctly and then also suggestions on what (else) I can do to raise my son to be bilingual. Thank you for the advice!!

Your situation is a bit tricky, since it is equally a job and a rental. You are equally an employer and a landlord. It may be best to advertise as a ''job'' with housing benefits, rather than a rental with work requirements. That way you can screen for your requirements for language skills, security, and child friendliness. Other options would be posting a flyer in a Japanese church or social club, or just asking around among friends and acquaintances. If you are in Berkeley, Cal Housing has a housing service where you can post your ad, with your requirements. Lynn

I would contact the Center for Japanese Studies at UC Berkeley Center for Japanese Studies 2223 Fulton Street, 5th Floor Berkeley, CA 94720 Phone # 510 642 3156 cjs [at] bilingual

Here are my recommendations: Since your child is only 6, and you are planning on having him babysat by someone you don't know, make sure you use a girl. Get a female Japanese renter. This is not to cast any shadow on the Japanese community, but I would recommend hiring a female babysitter in any community. (To prevent sexual molestation) Do all of the usual interviewing and checking of the person's history, since you are going to leave your child with her. Also, since this person will be living with you, make sure that they know their way around the kitchen, and know how to prevent fires, etc.

Two, my advice for your own sanity is to get someone who is fluent in English, but who is from Japan. I just had a roommate from Japan for the past year, and his English was not so good. What did this mean for me? This meant about 40 hours of my year was spent standing and explaining basic things to him. Never being able to finish a sentence without ''what? uh...what is that? uh....'' and then my patiently having to repeat and explain what I meant. At first you have patience, as you think ''oh, this person is excited to learn English and I am such a great teacher!''. But then, if their English does not progress, you find yourself getting quite tired of always having to explain everything, as if to a child. Not as easy as you think, folks. Imagine you are in a rush one day, and you just want to say ''oh Kiyo, can you take out the garbage today?'' as you leave the house. No. You cannot ever say anything fast like that, on your way out. Every single thing which you say must be explained. I only mention this to you to give you a heads up.

You already have a son, who is 6, and I'm sure you are a patient, loving parent who takes the time to explain things to him. Now imagine that you will have another very larger child who you will have to teach, if you take someone in who cannot converse in English.

If I were you, I would also try leaning Japanese myself. This could be a fun thing to share with your child over the years, as he could help you along. You could also add the Japanese channel, NHK? I think it's called, to your home TV cable. That channel is only in Japanese and it is how my child (now in college) learned Japanese.

It sounds like it could be a very nice set up, and hopefully that perfect Japanese (English speaking as well) lady who is sweet and responsible is out there waiting for you! Good luck to you!

Kudos to you for recognizing the importance of continuing the Japanese part of your son's life. There is a great pre-school in San Francisco called Little Angels with classes on Saturdays until 1 p.m.. My daughter loved it there and then transitioned to the all day Saturday Nihongo Hoshuko school down the road near the ocean until 8th grade equivalent. There may be a similar Saturday school in Richmond. Both schools helped her expand her Japanese tremendously while playing and learning with Japanese kids her age. Many of the kids were from families that were just in the U.S. from Japan due to school or work assignments of parents so your kid gets to blend with fluent Japanese kids. There may also be a tenant connection potential there for you to find a live-in Japanese speaker. Check out Little Angels and the Japanese Nihongo Hoshuko. Also the Japanese Embassy in Japan-town might have some tenant ideas for you. glad dad

You can find your Japanese tenants & nannies on You can post wanted adds. You need to hire a Japanese live in nanny for your boy. Hopefully his father can talk to him in Japanese all the time. You can go Downtown Berkeley YMCA for your morning exercise. I saw a Japanese volunteer baby sit in their childwatch room. Shawn

I would look at places where there are ESL classes and see if you can find a native Japanese speaker or check out the UC campus - Japanese courses there.

Be fair to the renter - this is not just rental but some child care - you need to either pay them for the time or really drop the rent. Look into the Berkeley Japanese Methodist Church or the Buddhist church. They have activities for kids that might include some language classes. lots of wonderful Japanese movies eg; My Friend Totoro. You have to find the one that is not dubbed in English. good luck. JnmiM

Renting out an in-law unit using Airbnb

Feb 2013

If you have an in-law unit that you've offered for rental through Airbnb, please share your experiences, good or bad. We are considering finishing our basement and renting it out using Airbnb, but we've got a baby and I'm a little nervous about bedbugs, safety, and nuisance (noisy talking late at night, for example, slamming doors, parties, etc.). Would love to hear whether you've met some cool, respectful people or whether you've had more mixed experiences. Also, would people even want to rent a room beneath a house that has a baby? Should we disclose that our baby wakes up with the morning sun? airbnb newbie

Airbnb worked out great for us. You can put lots of detail in your listing so that you get a good match. For instance, we offered no tv. I wouldn't want to rent a room with no tv, but for plenty of people that is fine. So just tell people about parties and babies and anything else that is of concern. I have to say, however, that it is a lot of work. Laundry and cleaning is part of it, of course. Meeting people at odd times to hand off the key can be a problem. You might consider getting some kind of fancy lock with a combination so you don't have to be there. And sometimes the emails are overwhelming when someone is looking for just the right place. But the people who rented were very respectful and money was never any problem. Anon

Concerns about Renting out a Room in our House

Nov 2012

We are considering renting out a bedroom in our house in order to get a little more income that will help pay for college tuition. I would like to have a quiet graduate student and we have a large quiet, private room s/he could rent. We might share a bathroom and s/he would definitely need to use our kitchen. My husband is very wary of doing this and I'd like to know what others who have done this have experienced. He worries about an intrusion into our privacy, the possibility of theft, and I guess I don't necessarily want someone who wants to sit in our living room and socialize with us or with their guests. What have you done to ensure you get someone who is compatible and respects your privacy? What if it doesn't work out? We have a large expensive beautiful rug in that room, over hardwood floors--would you leave it there or remove it? Any/all responses would help. thank you!

IMHO it does not sound like a good fit for you. Aside from sharing a bathroom with a complete stranger, (yikes!) and having a child/children in your house with this stranger, this person will be paying you rent to live there, that means eat there, sleep there, have friends over there, sit on your couch, spill stuff on your floor, rug, whatever. How can you expect someone to pay you for a room to sleep in and be invisible the rest of the time? I think you need a different strategy. fwiw don't do it....

The mindset of moving a large rug out of fear of theft is not compatible with the mindset of roommate hunting. I recently advised someone on BPN about choosing a roommate. I had many successful ones over the years - own BR & BA, shared kit. Go back a few weeks, there were some good tips. The difference with your situation is that you are a couple and yes, your kitchen won't be private. No make-out sessions at the sink. This could be no big deal, or awful, depending on how you feel about it. How to draft the situation just as you want it: spell it out. Room and bath only, shared kitchen, these are your cabinets, ANY other rules you want in all areas, no matter how quirky or one-sided (you get a cat but they don't, you're the boss, own it), spell it out in the ad and weed all but good matches out. You get a bad or weird feeling or sense of incompatibility or anything at first meeting, forget it. Be willing to wait for the right person because this is your space. Then everybody go by agreed upon rules and trust the person among everything else certainly not to steal your furniture! Because you put the care and demands in up front. One other thing besides not acting on this if it scares you or changing your attitude, if your husband doesn't want this and you can afford not to, don't. - good luck

Hi There! Renting to students can be terrific or awful. Considerations include price range, how much of the house you want to share and how to check out your potential tenants. Will the space be furnished or unfurnished? Do you include utilities in the rent or are they separate? How's storage? I've been renting a combo bedroom and bathroom out to Cal students for 5 years. I use Craig'slist and Cal Rents to advertise the space, and do initial vetting on line and on the phone and if i like how the person sounds, I invite them to check the place out and give me references. Tenants also sign what has become a 3 page rental agreement with the rules for living here. We have good separation of space but share the whole house including the laundry but most of our tenenats hang out in their rooms or the kitchen. Ive taught a couple how to cook and fed quite a few of them. The CalRents website has a lot of good info about sharing your home and the most reliable of my tenants have used that site. good luck! Happy Landlady

I would not worry about theft. The privacy issue is of major concern. What you want to do is to offer a ''room for rent'' and not a ''house share.'' When interviewing, explain that the person will have kitchen privileges, but not so with the living room, etc.

You can also find out quite a bit about the person in the interview process. You clearly don't want to rent to a homebody or someone who enjoys cooking. Sometimes you can luck out and find someone who works a ton and mainly needs a place to crash. Also, some folks are only in the Bay Area during the week and need a place to sleep when they're in town. That would be ideal. I think you can find someone with compatible needs. However, if they don't have a private bathroom, price accordingly. That could be a major down-side to a prospective renter. Done This Before

Renting out a room is a good way to bring in some money. An extra person can actually be an asset to your household if you are compatible. To find the right person, I suggest that you be really clear in your ad about what you are looking for. For instance, I don't really know what you mean by ''privacy.'' If you don't want to share the living room, say so. Also, before you meet anyone, put together a list of questions. And be aware that they are considering you and what kind of a roommate you will be. I would be careful about limiting guests too much. Normal people have friends, and if you are sharing your house, you want someone who gets along with others. Yes I would remove the rug. A hardwood floor is easier to clean than a rug. Theft is unlikely. A roommate knows that if no one has broken in, they are the most likely suspect. Usually, a place is rented out for at least a year. If you don't get along, you just suck it up and wait until the end of the year. You could also do just a school year. That way you don't have to wait so long if you don't like them, and your college kid has a place to stay in the summer. Good luck! Anon

SO you want to rent out a room in the house, but the renter can't sit in the living room ? What about when they need to eat or use the bathroom ? It sounds as if your house does not have a clearly demarcated second unit with a separate entrance. If you don't have this sort of interior design, anyone living in your house will be part of your household. You clearly don't want anyone else to be part of your household. Bad Idea

We've rented a room in our home. Usually students are not interested in sitting in the living room with us or our guest, but there is a TV in the room we rent. The room we rent is downstairs next to a bathroom and they ALMOST have exclusive use of it...notice I say almost. We have posted a set of written rules, but I do have to remind them to turn off the lights. One kept hers on all night resulting in a $50 increase of our electric bill, but once I mentioned it she turned it off.

Have you considered hosting? For us it works. The school screens the students and sometimes they are only with you 4- 8 weeks. If you don't get along, you contact the school. Most speak passable English. We've had some that we truly enjoy and are still in contact with each other years later. Then there are others who keep to themselves behind a closed door in their room. You can get a feel for the student after awhile. The best thing is that, if you don't like the student much, you know there is an end date. However, if you like them, departures can be tearful!

I have rented rooms from families as a ''quiet graduate student'' in the past, and I can say that I was almost pathologically afraid of intruding on the family's privacy or making them uncomfortable. (I stayed with one family -- this was a bad situation -- who yelled at me for never engaging them in polite, but brief, conversations when I saw them. You can imagine how fun the subsequent conversations were.) I ate poorly because I was afraid to share the kitchen, cleaned the shared toilet routinely, and generally treated the space sharing as a form of obligatory trespassing. I don't *think* I ever stole anything! -- although I may have used things like paper towels or silverware that I believed/was told it was ok to share (but always washed or replaced). The point is, if you want to share your house with someone as uncomfortable with the arrangement as you are, those people are always out there, because the economy is what it is. It is basically tolerable and, if you're a little friendlier than the family above, sometimes pleasant.

By ''graduate student'' I assume you're looking for someone with genteel, upper-middle-class manners, respect for property rights, and a retiring nature who nonetheless is too poor to afford a better living situation -- right? You will have no trouble finding such a person and making it clear to them that you expect docility and deference. No trouble at all. It's fair to ask yourself whether you want a relationship like that with another person, however. If you really don't think you'll get *anything* positive from the experience besides money, don't do it. No one, no matter how polite and quiet they are, truly wants to live with people who resent and dislike them. If you think you can be civil and respectful to your tenant and afford him/her a modicum of trust, though -- as I said, this situation can be perfectly fine. - they carpet train us before our prelims

I share the same concerns as you regarding renting a room in my house. My suggestions are the following: 1.always get references from a previous landlord 2.If you have a graduate student, they will be busy and won't be around a lot. This you can screen out. Either get an employment reference or other professional reference. 3. A deposit is mandatory for any kind of rental agreement. 4. CONTRACTS are mandatory. ALWAYS be sure to have a written contract with anyone in your home. If you have any issues at all (damages, whatever) and have no written contract you have no protection whatsoever on any level. 5. Use your instincts. If you really like that rug you are talking about, and it's really important to you, remove it. If you feel that it will kill you if something happens to it, take it away. home owner

There is certainly some adjusting and accomodation (pun intended...) necessary when renting a room out in your house... Here are some suggestions:

o Treat it as if you were renting out a full apartment, rather than just letting a room. Have a written lease, use written rental applications, require a security deposit, get references, use a tenant background check/credit report service (e.g. Fidelis AM but there are many) and so on.

o The above is necessary because there is little difference between renting a full unit and renting a room.

o The rule of landlording, regarding getting rid of bad tenants, is to not let them in to begin with. Screen them per above, be clear about the house rules, the terms of the lease, the rent, security deposit, what's included, what's not, etc. up front.

o Don't discriminate on the basis of age, race, gender, sexual-identity, physical ability, and other protected classes. When renting shared space, you have a little more leeway, but not a lot.

o Ideally, your boarder would be confined to their room at all times they are at home, and you would only see them coming and going. But that's simply not reality. They're going to be in the kitchen, they're going to have stuff in your fridge, on your shelves, and they're going to want to sit in the living room, and sometimes they are going to want to have a guest. If you can't deal with this, you probably aren't suited for it.

o Review the tax implications with your tax advisor. You should be able to write off a portion of expenses tied to the room rental, against your income. Done It

From what you have written, it sounds like you should let your husband have the veto on bringing a stranger into your home. Privacy is a big deal to most adult married men. We have had a house cleaner's boyfriend steal my husband's stuff, and have never gotten over it.

If you happened to KNOW a tidy, quiet, well-mannered student, that would be a different matter. But IMHO it would be a false economy to bring in an unknown tenant to help pay the rent who could easily cause you unlimited headaches.

Your happy marriage and peaceful home are the priority here, Amelia

Renting room to childcare provider

July 2012

We are fortunate to have a large house with five bedrooms, one of which we have rented out to a boarder in the past. We'd like to do this again, but this time, offering to rent the room to childcare provider that could put in a couple hours each day during the week in the morning as a ''mothers helper'' to get the kids dressed, fed, off-to school, etc. We can't afford a full-time nanny, and I would assume this person would have other work that provides the bulk of his/her income. Does anyone have any experience with how to structure this? I presume that the correct approach would be to have one lease agreement for the room, and a separate agreement for the childcare services. (As opposed to a single agreement that provides room and board in exchange for child care.) I imagine the two agreement approach would, for example, allow the boarder to continue boarding in the event he/she could no longer provide childcare for whatever reason. Your real-world experiences appreciated. Plenty of Room

How much is the room worth? 10hours per week at $15 per hour is 600 per month. This doesn't seem like it would be a fair arrangement if you charge for the room in addition to child care. Anon

Renting out a room in our house

Aug 2011

Hello BPN People we have a small room in our home with a private entrance, private patio, and bath-- we're in Kensington at the bottom of the hill just off Colusa Cir. (walkable to BART, Solano, etc.) and I'm wondering what we could rent it for? The room is to be rented seperately as a mini-studio w/o house priveledges. We provide a hot plate, microwave and frige, only a bathroom sink -- not sure if we'll provide laundry priveledges or not. The space is very woodsy and beautiful-- yet small (10 X 11)-- the patio is another 10 X 10. Do you think this type of place is rentable in this area? JUST a room-- with no access to the rest of the house? We'd have to do some soundproofing work on the room and would appreciate hearing from anyone who has experience renting rooms in this area before we invest the time and money into converting it into our mini-studio Wannabe Landlord

I don't think you'll have a problem renting out your room. I rented out a small cottage in the back of my former house in Albany. It was even smaller than yours (with no private outdoor space), and I got $600/month for it. Granted, it was closer to Solano Ave than yours, but your neighborhood is nice, too...and close to BART. What I did was to list the room on Craigslist for the amount I thought I could get. I initially rented it at $700, but then we lost 2 tenants during the first year because it was too expensive for them. When I lowered it to $600, I got an amazing tenant who stayed for a long time. Good luck.

I've been renting out a room in my house, which is near the N. Berkeley BART station, for the last 3 years. The room does include kitchen privileges, but I've had a number of people in it who cooked so little that a hotplate would have sufficed for them.

I've tried a few renting methods: first I listed it at U.C. Housing Office online and my first 2 renters were students. Then I decided I wanted somewhat older renters, so I switched to craigslist. I still use CL, and now I also use

I first rented it for $650./month, then raised it to $700., and had little trouble keeping it occupied.

I haven't wanted a real long-term renter, don't want to make that kind of commitment, and my first several renters averaged 3-6 mos. Then I had a few weeks' gap to fill and I decided to try listing it on CL as a weekly rental at $300./week. That was very successful and I realized that I could make substantially more money specializing in short-term rentals, so now I list it as a weekly rental on CL and then negotiate a monthly rate if someone wants to stay 4 or more weeks.

On airbnb, the rates are per day, and I list at $50./day. My current renter is by way of airbnb, she is staying 3 months, and we negotiated a monthly rental of $850.

I'm really happy doing short-term rentals- the income is great and I've enjoyed the parade of people through my house (a web developer from Russia, an astrophysicist from Australia, a digital storyteller from Malaysia, and an assortment of others- not a bad apple in the bunch).

I made the room really nice- fresh paint, nice furniture, TV, stereo, computer desk, comfy bed, etc.- which is important to attracting quality renters. I provide all linens.

Well, that's my experience, I hope some of it is useful to you!

Thinking about renting my extra room to a student

May 2006

I live in central Berkeley and have an extra room I am thinking about renting to a student. They could come and go as they please, would have no chores outside of cleaning up after themselves in the bathroom, keeping their room clean, and doing there own laundry. They could join us for meals or not, as they prefer. They could not have overnight guests. Has anyone done this and what experience or advice can anyone offer? What would be a fair price to charge? Thanks for any assistance anyone can offer. Susan

I rented two rooms for a year (to a postdoc and her son, and a grad student) to help cover my husband's rent when he was away on sabbatical. You can gauge current rents by checking on craigslist and with the off campus housing office at The rent you can request won't be as much as you may hope, but you'll benefit taxwise by reporting the rental income and writing off expenses including the depreciation on the percentage of your home that you're renting - you'll wind up declaring a loss actually. I found that year kinda tough, found it hard to have people in our home, but you sound like a more relaxed and more social person than I am!! Recovered landlord (!)

My friend the expert hostess for exchange students says that no guest living situation can work unless the houseguest has his or her own bathroom. You don't mention the number of bathrooms but she think this is vital for peace. She also say that male houseguest need their own bathrooms because of the way they take care of the bathroom. I cannot help you with price. And I think you are smart to spell out no overnight guests. Julia

renting a room can be really wonderful, socially, and incredibly difficult too. Be prepared to trust your renter and also be very direct about your expectations regarding pets, noise, bathroom use, kitchen use, smells (incense, pot, cooking meat, etc.), what spaces are shared (kitchen & linen cabinets, etc.) parking in driveway, bicycle storage, space for hobbies & gardening, energy use, telephone/ dsl lines and anything else that may be difficult to share. We have had many housemates in our house and it was easy until we had kids: then we became a lot less flexible. The big issues for me were: noisy coming and going that woke me up, boyfriend spending everynight over (cuz boyfriend was prohibited by his housemates from having overnight guests) and cooking in kitchen together every night, boyfriend's dog barking and shedding, 2-hour long baths (we have only one bathroom), broken car stored in driveway for 12 months, smoking in house when expecting baby, and television on constantly in shared space. But, this housemate was a wonderful person: always happy to sooth baby when I was at the end of my tether, and was warm, friendly and a wonderful presence. I just wished that I had been more clear from the start. It is better to state what you cannot tolerate or share in the beginning and also important that you ask potential housemate to consider what they need too. It is not fair to stipulate ''no overnight guests''. You can stipulate advanced planning, length of visit, and that regular bathroom and kitchen use is only by one, not two people, cuz your house can really only take the impact of one more person. What if the housemates family member wants/needs to visit for a few days? What if the housemate falls in love -- must rent a hotel room? I would never rent with a ''no overnight guest stipulation'': it implies a strong lack of trust, and if you are not prepared to throw the benefit of the doubt at your renter and assume trust initially, then you shouldn't have a renter anon

I have 3 dogs and a cat, and I need the closet - hard to rent room?

Jan 2005

I am considering the possibility of renting one of my 2 bedrooms in my small, cozy, N. Berkeley bungalow. There are some special considerations to take into account, and I'd like advice on whether this sounds feasible and realistic. Also, since there are renters on this list, some advice on a fair rent to charge would be much appreciated. I want to get a sense of whether this is a good idea or not before I start rearranging my house!

Here's the story. The room is the front bedroom with direct access from the front door, not a separate entrance, but a bit of privacy when entering. It is 14.5' x 10.5 ', and southeast windows that give nice light. There is a nice size closet, which I would need to keep a small amount of space in for myself. I would plan to furnish the room simply, and there are several shelves on the wall over the best place for a desk.

The house has one small bathroom off the hallway between the bedrooms (nice bathtub, tile, etc.). I keep the house clean and neat, it's nicely furnished, and there's a fireplace. There's also a nice sized and peaceful back garden (currently being partially redone, so a bit torn up). The neighborhood is quiet, and is 1.5 blocks from BART, and a short walk to Monterey Market area.

I would not be looking for someone who wants to make a permanent home, as I'm not looking for a long term tenant/housemate, maybe 2-3 months at a time, then review, continue if mutually agreeable. I'm thinking maybe a visiting academic, grad student or other person in transition, etc. Use of the kitchen and living room would be included. It also might be a good set-up for someone wanting a quiet place to write during the day, but not actually live in. I work at home (I would be moving my office from the front bedroom to the dining room), am in and out, but my work and lifestyle are not noisy. I would want a tenant who is also reasonably quiet.

The special considerations are that I have 3 (very nice) grown dogs, so the person would have to genuinely like and know dogs- it's just a lot of dog energy around. And, I have one (very nice) cat. The cat's door is through the front bedroom window, and there is absolutely no place else that I can set it up because of the dogs. So, the person would also have to enjoy cats and not mind her walking through. The pet issues are my biggest concern- would it just be too hard to find someone who would be happy sharing a house with 4 animals?

Looking at room rentals on Craigs List, the prices seem to be generally in the $600.-700. range, but it's hard to tell what's comparable to this.

I would really appreciate any feedback or advice! Thanks cfl

This is advice from the Landlord Liaison at the Cal Rentals Office (part of UC Housing):

Over the years many Berkeley residents have rented rooms to visiting scholars and found it an interesting and rewarding experience. The typical visiting professor or scholar comes either for one semester (mid-August through December or January through May) or for the academic year. This means that the greatest demand for room rentals involves time periods that are longer than 2-3 months. However, there are also people who come for shorter periods, especially during the summer months. Grad students are almost always interested in long term housing.

Visitors usually expect a fully furnished room with a bed, dresser, desk and chair, adequate lighting, linens and, increasingly, internet access in the room.

A furnished room with shared bath in the Monterey Market/North Berkeley Bart area would realistically probably rent for between $500 and $600(including utilities) in the current market. If you use Craig's List as a benchmark for rental rates, you should know that people often advertise rentals on CL with the expectation of negotiating downward.

Pets in your home are not necessarily a negative, but some cultures are not as dog and cat friendly as we are in Berkeley, and three dogs and a cat may put some people off. But if so, then you probably wouldn't want that person living in your house. Sometimes visitors from other parts of the U.S., and grad students (especially) have pets of their own and they find it extremely difficult to find a place that will accept their pets, so if your pets are amenable to sharing their space, this could be a plus.

Finally, anyone contemplating renting out a room in the current fairly soft rental market should be aware that the number of academic visitors is down from in the past, and there is no guarantee of continuous occupancy, especially for rooms that are not in walking distance to campus.

If you would like to list your room rental, or a vacant house our apartment, with the University, please contact the Cal Rentals Office, 2610 Channing Way #2272, Berkeley, CA 94720- 2272, 642-3644. You can download a rental listing form from our website,
Nancy at Cal Rentals

Hi- I would respectfully say a renter with whom you have no prior relationship, paying anywhere near market rate, would not want to have your belongings in his/her closet and let your cat in and out, even if they didn't mind all the pets, and be told at move-in that you would decide in 2-3 months if they still had a place to live. I have had several renters in our home and they view that space as paid for and temporarily their own and only want to be responsible to pay rent on time and not cause permanent damage or be too loud. College students in the summer months may be more pliable, but won't pay very much for that set- up, maybe half market rate. anon

What's the going rate for a room in the Oakland Hills?

Sept 2004

What is the going rate for a room in a home in the Oakland Hills? The room is furnished, has it's own small bathroom and a semi private entrance from the side of the house. Do views count? Do you charge for utilities? Kitchen privelages are included. Karen

We have several rentals like the one you describe. For a one bedroom, with it's own kitchen, and amazing views, we get $1850. Although the units are new, the views are the main selling point for us, so yes, they do count. If you're sharing a kitchen, and it's more of a studio, I think you can charge at least $1250, if it's nice and an okay size. We also charge for utilities, based on sq. ft., internet ($25) and satellite ($35). Good luck! -B. -B.

We rent but we are not located in the Oakland Hills. What I do when I need to rent our place is look into Craig's list, input info similar to our place and look for the prices to get an idea of the going price range. Good luck renting your place, E.

Yikes! I was not going to contribute to the discussion about what to charge for a room, figuring I would let home owners inform this person what they are getting. However, the $1850 for a one bedroom apartment, even with fabulous views, is an incredibly high rent for the current market.

Here in Cal Rentals at UC Berkeley, where we input over 20,000 rental ads annually, we see whole 2 and 3 bedroom houses in nice areas going for this kind of rent. And $1250 for a studio with shared kitchen? Not likely. If this landlord is currently getting those kinds of rents, he or she is very fortunate indeed.

The rental market demand has softened considerably and rents have declined quite a bit overall. Room rentals with kitchen privileges are running between $425 to $650, depending upon the size of the room and the location. If you are asking more, the room had better have some extra amenities: a private bath, extra large size, fireplace, superior view--those sorts of things. We rarely see studio apartments, with kitchens that are not shared, for over $1000 any more. Most studios are renting for well under $900, even in good areas.

If you would like to give us a call and tell us some specifics about what you hope to rent out, we can give you some market comparables. That way, you won't be asking too much rent and then wondering why you aren't getting any telephone calls from prospective tenants. The landlord listing line for Cal Rentals is 510-642-3644.

Renting a room in our house, we have a young child

Aug 2004

My husband and I are thinking of renting out a room (or two) in our house for the next year or two. We have a 4B/2B house. I am looking for advice from others who have done this. If you ran a credit check, how did you do this? What kinds of questions did you ask them when you interviewed prospective tenants? What house rules did you have? If you had problems with your tenant, how did you resolve them? Since we have a young daughter, it complicates things alittle because the tenant would have to be quiet once she went to bed but tolerant of the noise a normal toddler can make. Thanks!

A few years ago I decided to get a renter to help with my financial situation. I started by asking friends if they knew anyone who was looking for a room rental. Then I posted an ad on Craigslist in which I was very honest and straightforward about my two small dogs, the room itself and sharing a bathroom. I interviewed a couple of candidates and also talked to a friend of a friend who was interested. I ended up having her move in with me and she stayed for 2 years. She loved my dogs, took great care of them when I was away and was a great roommate in every way. We did not become friends, but we were friendly and polite to one another. From time to time I would invite her to get-togethers I had at the house, but generally we did not socialize together. She was a v. prompt rent payer and overall it was a great first landlord experience. We are still in touch and she still watches my dogs. Anyway, a few recommendations I have: Find someone you know, but aren't really close friends with. I didn't do a background check, but got a good sense of what my former roommate was like from my other friend who knew her. We didn't really have any major issues during her stay but she would purchase big items (from Costco) that we really didn't have any room for and that kinda bugged but it wasn't a big enough deal for me to bring it up. I picked my few battles carefully. I would be very honest during the interview process, letting prospective tenants know what you expect and are willing to provide. Because of your child tho', I recommend a background check/credit check. It will put your mind at ease. Good luck. Andrea

Advertise to single parents. There must be plenty of parents out there who would love a shared living situation with other parents. You can share babysitters and another parent will be understanding of your child's sleep schedule - theirs may even have a similar one. Advertise here on UCBPN and at places like Bananas. anon

I moved into a large house 7 years ago for the purpose of living with housemates. I had a partner and have 2 kids. I have successfully and happily lived with old friends, newer friends, and students. The only unfortunate housemates were a very young couple and their dog who I did not meet before they moved in because they were relocating from the East coast. Your housemates will be living with you, not just renting a room. Choose them carefully. Think about what kind of people you are, what your values are, your hours, your cleanliness needs, etc. I find that younger housemates are less fussy than those of us who have had more time to get stuck in our ways. My younger housemates have become dear friends. Don't let age differences get in your way. However, try to judge a person's degree of responsibility. Think twice or three times about allowing pets, even if you like animals. Consider who you will feel safe with having in the house while you are asleep or away. You can run credit checks, though for housemates I never have. (Google ''credit checks for landlords'' for services. There are many kinds of checks to choose from for a small fee.) However, do write out a rental agreement. The written agreement, with lots of details, makes it very clear to everyone what is expected. This helps avoid conflict or uncomfortable situations. Nolo Press has a very wonderful and simple book for landlords with a CD with the forms you need. It's a good investment. Living with other people can be such a rewarding experience for you and your children. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. Good luck.
Sign me: Nuclear No More.

I just want to suggest that you rent to someone you know, or to someone who knows someone you know. Or, do a credit check and get references and call the references. A few years ago I was sharing a house with 4 other adults (all of us grad students or working people), plus two kids, and we naively rented one of our rooms to someone who turned out to be a crazy lady. When we met her she seemed like a reasonable person, friendly and intelligent, an older woman who said she was a writer. We thought she'd be a good roommate - never occurred to us to check references. Within a month, she had filed restraining orders against all of us, was calling the police to come to the house saying she feared for her life, and she refused to move out, claiming she had no other place to go, and that our eviction notice was in retaliation for her restraining orders. We were forced to hire a lawyer, and we all had to go to court to defend ourselves. It still was two more months of hell before she finally moved out. We found out during the court process that she was paying rent on another apartment in Berkeley, and had filed numerous restraining orders against previous housemates, and had taken numerous people and organizations (local churches, the YMCA, UC Berkeley) to small claims court. What a nightmare that was!
Always check references