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August 31, 2011


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I have not done this, but I think the most important thing would be to screen prospective tenants very carefully. You may also want to draw up a contract with some very specific rules about what is or is not allowed, given that it sounds like this is your personal residence. Also, recognize that the wear and tear on those rooms will be far greater renting to college students (where you can expect turnover every year) than other types of tenants. Also, would you do 9-month rentals, or would you require full-years? Lots of things to consider, but it certainly could be a lucrative way to earn extra income.

I haven't rented rooms myself. But I would recommend if you do so that you should make sure to educate yourself on the landlord-tenant laws in your city/state. Renting out rooms in your house is generally treated a little differently but theres still going to be some laws that you need to be careful to follow.

Also keep in mind that you're required to report the income for tax purposes. You could potentially get some tax deductions to offset that though. So I'd also make sure to research the tax implications. For example if you rent out 2 rooms in your 3 bedroom house with utilities included then you might be able to deduct 2/3 of your utilities as an expense.

Haven't done it, but having been a student for a long time, I would recommend distinguishing between undergrads and grads. Grad students are older and generally less troublesome. PhD students are generally looking to stay for multiple years.

I suggest just offering 9-month and 3-month leases, with the summer lease being significantly cheaper. I rented a room under such an arrangement once as an undergrad; it worked out well for both me and the landlord. Students can't afford to eat three months' rent, and generally can't know for certain now that they'll be in the area next summer. By offering them more flexibility, you should be able to get a modest $/month premium, and you'll decrease headaches with sublets and/or defaults.

I also agree that screening tenants in person is important. You want quiet nerds. They're fairly recognizable. As a double-check, make sure to ask what the prospects are majoring in!

Our situation is a little different. Our house has 2 apartments on the third floor that we rent to law students. They have their own entrance, and each apartment has its own kitchen, bath, etc. So it's quite a bit different from renting out spare bedrooms and sharing the living spaces. We also don't rent them "thru the college." We did put an ad on the bulletin board at the law school. Apart from that, we just listed them on craigslist.

Having said all that, I agree with all the advice you've been given here so far. :) The only thing I'd add is to think carefully about focusing on international/"foreign exchange" students. Their culture may have very different expectations about living space than you do.... everything from how bathrooms are used to what is appropriate to wear in shared living spaces. A friend of mine recently rented a house to a group of international students... and he bumped into quite a few surprises...

Thanks to everyone for all you advice. Their are a list of rules that the college puts on the incoming students and a list of things that me as the renter have to abide by. Mostly basic stuff but I think they have covered alot of the rules like what they are requires to do how they are required to act and what their expectations are when living in someones residence. It is a very intriging idea that I am having to make the choice about. They rent the rooms for approx 4 months at a time since that is how some of the exchange students required classes are set up. The college pays approx $640 per room. I never thought about the different cultures and what they see as normal compared to what we do here in the states so that is something that I would have to check into for sure. Once again thanks for all the ideas and advice and I will take it all into consideration before taking that next step.

The students who pay rents in one college town I know of have to put down a month or two's deposit. This is because many times rooms can be trashed if there is a lot of partying.

My neighbor owned several houses in that town and made a good living off of it. But he did a crafty. There were two colleges in that town, a state college and a medical college. He rented only to the medical college. They kept their guys too busy with classes, internships, etc. and they were usually too tired to party.

I did it once for a grad student for about two months. Difference being my wife was a student with the gal so we had references before her moving in and it was part-time. It was kind of weird having someone hang around my house after it being just my wife and I for several years, but the extra money was nice while it lasted.

Are these students coming to the U.S. to study English or their respective majors? How old are they? One thing that you might want to consider is what the students are looking for in a landlord. I have worked as an instructor in many college ESL (English as a Second Language) programs. Often, students are given a choice between living in residence halls, apartments, or homestays. Those looking for homestays are often interested in the experience of living with an American family so they can practice their English more and learn more about American culture. (There could also be some cost differences as well between the three options.) Would you want this level of involvement? This is not to say that they will be in your house all the time expecting to be entertained, as they will make friends in their program and they will have many college activities in addition to homework. However, most would expect to share dinner with you if not participate in some family activities. It can be a great experience for both sides. In my experience, most of the time it worked out, but there were occasionally a few mismatches.

I have not ever rented to a college student and probably would not do it anytime soon because I live too far from the college. With that said, I'm looking through some of the comments and I'm surprised to see that many people are saying college students cause more wear and tear than other tenants would. I would think this would be the exact opposite for a college student renting a room (not a full apartment).

How much partying can a person do with just 1 bedroom? None really.

"How much partying can a person do with just 1 bedroom? None really."
Could they be pot-smokers? Could they be coming home late after a binge? Could they bring strangers in, and the homeowner has to evict, throw foot down, etc.?

@ Tommy Z

I suppose they could do a bit of partying while you're gone at work all day. Or when you go away for the weekend. Or take off on a week-long vacation. Or do you stay home 24/7? :)

I'm kidding. I think you're right that the odds of "party damage" would be dramatically lower if they're sharing your house & living space compared to renting an apartment or separate house. But the odds are just lower, not zero.


Could they be pot-smokers? Could they be coming home late after a binge? Could they bring strangers in, and the homeowner has to evict, throw foot down, etc.?

To answer your questions, yes to all. However my point is that a college student renting a room vs. other non-student tenants would cause LESS wear and tear. Why?

Think about it. If you are a full grown adult trying to rent a room from somebody else, why would you be doing that? Most likely because your financial resources are far below average when compared to other adults. A non-student 1 room renter could very likely have drug and alcohol problems...which may contribute to the reason they cannot afford their own place.

A college student on the other hand would probably be renting a room because he/she is nerdy and wants to focus on studying instead of partying. No sane college student is going to try and save a few bucks by renting only a room and then try to organize huge parties around the home owner's vacation schedule.

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