Tips for Living With Your Tenant

March 8, 2021

If you own your home and want to make a little extra money, you may have thought about renting out one or more rooms. There are many people who are looking for a room in a house for rent in northern Colorado.


However, there is a big difference between renting out an apartment or house you own but don’t live in and renting out a space where you will basically live with your tenant. This is especially true if you and your tenant will share common spaces such as the kitchen and living room.


If you’re thinking about renting out a room, here are a few tips for living with your tenant that you should keep in mind to ensure success.


Be Ready for Change


Have you ever lived with a roommate before? If not, you do need to recognize that you will have to adjust.


This isn’t like living with your parents and siblings. You’ll likely have to compromise on some things. You may also no longer have the privacy you once enjoyed.


For example, if you share a kitchen, you will have to accept the fact that your tenant may be cooking when you want to prepare a meal. You may also have to change your clothing habits if you tend to wear few or no clothing at times.


Also remember that while you may be the landlord, that doesn’t mean you can lay down whatever rules you want. If you try to micromanage your tenant, you may find it very difficult to keep the room rented out.


It’s also okay to realize that living with a tenant isn’t what you expected. If you determine that you simply can’t share your space, be upfront with your tenant about it.


Don’t simply continue to become more and more miserable, because that will create an environment that isn’t healthy for either of you.


Decide on the Setup Before Renting


Before you even have a potential tenant over to see the space, determine how the two of you will co-exist.


Will the tenant have private use of a bathroom, or will they be expected to share with your guests or with you? How will you keep track of what food in the refrigerator belongs to who?


landlord showing terms and conditions to roommate/tenant


Taking the time to set out what your tenant will have use of and how things will work in shared space will save you a lot of trouble later.


Be sure to consider how you’ll share things other than space and food, too. Will your tenants have access to your movie collection, your books, or your streaming accounts?


If you allow your tenant to borrow some of your physical items, what will you do if they damage them? Think all of this through before allowing tenants to use anything you own.


Think About Changes to Your Home


If you have the budget to make a few upgrades, you may want to think about changing some things to make it easier to rent out a room or other space.


man adding fixes and repairs to a room in his home


For example, could you add an exterior door to the room you are going to rent out, so the tenant has a private entrance?


Should you invest in a small refrigerator for your tenant so they can separate their food? If you are offering a furnished room, do you have all of the furniture necessary?


You may need to invest some money in the space you’re renting out to truly attract the type of tenants you want.


Know the Law


It’s very important thinking about becoming a landlord to read and understand the laws regarding landlords, tenants, the Federal Fair Housing Act, and any other federal, state, and local regulations.


You need to know what you can and cannot consider violations of the lease. If you’re living with your tenant, you may be more likely to spot things that you think could be lease violations.


Knowing the law will help you differentiate between true violations and things that simply bother.


While you may not want to, it is important that in addition to understanding the laws regulating deposits, applications, and leases, you also need to understand how evictions work.


No landlord wants to have to have someone evicted, but it does happen. You want to make certain you know how you can legally protect your property and your home in the case of a belligerent tenant.


Don’t Let Issues Fester


If something does begin to bother you about your tenant, address it as soon as you can. If you let it fester, you may start becoming irritated or angry at your tenant.


That means when you do finally talk about the issue, it’s more likely to lead to a fight instead of a calm discussion. Address your concerns clearly and listen to what your tenant has to say.


This issue may be something as minor as taking out the trash, but it still needs to be addressed to keep your living situation peaceful.


Likewise, if your tenant comes to you with an issue, hear them out and address it. If you and your tenant communicate well, they will likely continue to rent from you.


two roommates arguing


If you establish yourself as someone who doesn’t communicate well, it’s likely you’ll find it difficult to find and keep good tenants.


Have a Lease Agreement


It may seem obvious, but some people who rent out a room don’t have the tenant sign a lease.


If the tenant is a friend or family member, it’s easy to simply assume there’s no need for a formal document. Don’t make that mistake.


You need to have a lease agreement that clearly spells out what you expect of your tenants and what they can expect of you.


tenant signing a lease


This should include any rules you have about guests, parking, split chores, when rent is due, and the amount of the security deposit. If something goes wrong with your living situation, you will need this document in court.


Set Rules for Communicating Important Information


Another key point in your lease agreement needs to be how official conversations between you as the landlord and your tenant are to be conducted.


Yes, you’re going to see each other often and likely talk about many things. However, if your tenant needs to ask you to repair something in their room or you need to let them know that they are late on the rent, you need a way of doing this that keeps these conversations professional.


The best thing to do is to have these official conversations in writing, either via paper letter, email, or even text.


This does two things. First, it lets both you and the tenant make certain the issue is clearly communicated and understood. Second, it creates a paper trail of the issue.


tenant and landlord who are roommates disagreeing


Like your lease agreement, this paper trail can be invaluable if you end up pursuing legal action over something the tenant does.


Keep all of these emails, messages, and other communications just in case they are ever needed.


Understand Your Right to Entry


One thing that can be very easy to abuse when living with your tenant is the right to entry.


As a landlord, you have the right to enter any space you own, but if that space is rented out, you should give your tenant notice before you do so.


woman landlord knocking on bedroom door before entering


The Colorado Landlord-Tenant Act does not actually require 24 hours’ notice, but it is recommended. Your lease agreement should spell out when you can enter the space, including your right to do so without notification in the event of an emergency.


Even though there is no law preventing you from entering the space, you need to respect your tenant’s privacy. Their space should be considered off-limits unless they give you permission to enter or there is an emergency.


Abusing this right to entry may lead to your tenant leaving.


Remember that You’re the Landlord First, Friend Second


When living with your tenant, it’s easy to become more friendly towards them than you would if you were renting to someone who lived in a separate space.


You may even share meals together and spend time watching TV in the living room every evening.


Your relationship may quickly move from landlord/tenant to friends. That will certainly make living together easier, but it can complicate your professional relationship.


If you are friends with your tenant, you may feel like you have to let them be a few days late on the rent if they ask. You might take care of some repairs without going through the official channel of putting it in writing.


All of this can cause problems if your friendship sours or if you have to push for the rent. This is also why you should avoid renting to your current friends or to relatives.


When you mix business and friendship/family, it can lead to arguments that damage those relationships.


Are You Ready to Rent Out Your Space?


If you’re ready to start reaching out to those who want to rent a house in northern Colorado, there’s no time like the present.


Make certain you have thought through everything your tenant will need, have a lease in place, and are ready to live with someone else. Once you are, it’s time to begin reviewing applications.

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