Would you ever consider renting out a room in your home? After 14 years of renting for me in London before we bought our home, I’ve had some success stories as a tenant and quite a few horror stories, too. We were also landlords when we first got together and rented out Pete’s first house in Cambridgeshire whilst we rented in London. But what about now we have two spare rooms?
In the current economic downturn everyone is looking for ways to make some extra cash on the side. If you have some extra living space in your home, subletting can be excellent to do just that. Pete is definitely too risk-averse to let a stranger into our house (and maybe I’ve seen too many Single White Female type movies!) but the concept of subletting isn’t a new one. It has been used and practiced for hundreds of years, especially in larger cities where residents become de facto roommates when apartment dwellers sublet a room.
It’s not for everyone understandably, but when it works well it really works. However, before subletting your home to someone you don’t know, you need to keep a few things in mind. Here is a helpful rundown of things to consider.
Ensure It’s Legal
There is a big difference between renting and leasing your house versus subletting a room. Subletting is considered less formal than the other two options but still comes with some legal caveats. This is why when you sublet your home to someone, you should still get all the terms and conditions in writing, signed, and notarised.
If you have your own place, then great, but if you do not and you yourself are a tenant, make sure to clear up the topic with your landlord before letting someone new move in. While most landlords are okay with the arrangement as long as your new roommate isn’t too loud or breaks things, some aren’t and might create problems once you’ve sublet your flat to someone (I moved my previous boyfriend into my teeny studio bedsit when I first moved to London without telling the agents, woops!)
Screen Tenants Carefully
When subletting a room in your home, you need to be very careful about who you’re letting in. You need to be able to depend on this person not only to pay the rent on time but also to keep your home in good condition. If you can, look for a word of mouth recommendation – maybe a friend has a friend or colleague who needs somewhere to stay temporarily. Failing a recommendation, look for reputable advertising sites and see listings to find a suitable tenant.
This is why when you finalise your decision on who you’re subletting to it’s wise to perform a proper screening from the best background check site, on account of its reliability and reputation. It’s also a good idea to have an informal conversation with your new tenant and discuss any ground rules you have to avoid conflict later on.
Understand the Insurance Requirements
Insurance is also a major factor to keep in mind when subletting a room. The addition of another member to the household can significantly affect the contents and conditions of your home insurance. Have a talk with your insurance company to clarify how a new tenant might affect your insurance terms and conditions.
It’s likely your insurer may increase your premium, but if you want to be sure that your personal belongings are protected, it’s important to let them know and make the necessary changes to your home insurance policy. If you don’t, your insurance policy may become invalid once your new tenant moves in.
Have Your Home Inspected
Before a new tenant moves in, it’s helpful to have a third party inspection take place at the property with both landlord and tenant present. This way, both are clear about the state of the property, any updates which may need making and also an inventory of items especially those which will be in the room the tenant uses. This helps to keep communication open and honest so there are no issues further down the line should there be any damages to the property or belongings.
Prepare Properly for Evictions
Whilst we hope that everything runs smoothly, it’s a good idea to have a solicitor in place in case it’s needed (remember those 90s films I referenced earlie?!) In the absolute worst case that a tenant needs evicting, a solicitor will need to advise on the correct process to follow. If the tenant doesn’t leave willingly, it’s not possible to simply remove their possessions and take matters into your own house.
Enjoy The Process!
The above may all sound a little daunting and perhaps put you off, but it’s honestly all common sense ideas to help you get the most out of your time if you choose to sublet a room. It can be one of the best ways to make a side income and hopefully help someone in need out in the process.
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