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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2009

    Question What Are My Responsibilities when I Share My Home

    I bought a townhouse about 8 months ago and have been renting out the extra rooms for added income (actually to be completely truthful, I'm living here for free. For example, the place is renting out to 4 other housemates for $1,650 gross, but it only costs about $950/month after the mortgage, bills, condo fees, etc. are paid for). The rent setup is that there's no damage deposit required and the rent is month-to-month (with the option of paying bi-weekly after the first month).

    So far things have been going fantastic and we've had very little problems at all. People seem very happy to room up here. There are a few things that I'd like some information on.

    First, it's a three bedroom condo with a basement. So there's a young couple in the master bedroom and two other guys in the remaining 2 rooms. I sleep in the basement (which, by the way, is currently undeveloped and there is NO window down there) and I share the living-room, kitchen, and only bathroom in the house with everyone else. There's no landlord for me to report to.

    I eventually will develop the basement in the near future with another full bathroom and a legitimate bedroom (including cutting out a window in the foundation) mainly for easier living and better resale value.

    A couple of questions are:

    1). could my roommates report me for risking myself sleeping down there being that it's not legal sleeping quarters? Keep in mind I would *never* rent out the space to someone else.
    2). what about rent? I'm going to claim the money as income, but what about setting the prices? Can I increase rent of the vacant room if a roommate moves out and an existing roommate wants to move into the other room? How much notice do I need to let them know of a rent increase if there's no room move changes?
    3). I have a rental agreement that each of my roommates have signed stating that I have 'rights to entry' of their bedrooms for general inspection (if I suspect illegal substances, etc) or for general maintenance such as vacuuming. Is that legal in this roommate situation? I've had at least one roommate freak out when he learned that I was in his room without him there when I vacuumed the carpet.
    4). If I *did* have a major situation where someone didn't pay rent, harassed someone, or caused damage and I wanted them gone, could I change the electronic dead-bolt code and remove their personal items from inside the house to outside without ramification? How much notice do I have to give?
    5). Fire insurance is covered by the HOA, but I also have $50K of insurance for *my* contents. I've stressed and made my housemates sign acknowledging I'm not insurer and that my roommates are fully responsible for their own insurance. Could my roommates still sue me if a fire happened and their belongings were burned up?

    There's really not much information on the web for my situation. Thanks for your help in advance!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Toledo, OH

    Default Re: What Are My Responsibilities when I Share My Home

    1) It's YOUR house, you can sleep wherever you please, and no one can say tiddly-boo about it. It's only illegal for you to rent it out as an apartment, not for you to sleep/hang out down there.

    2) Yes, you can increase the rent. Presumably, they'd want to move to the room because it's bigger? They're leasing a room in particular, not an interest in the entire house. If you're approached about moving rooms, you simply note that the new room is X more per month than the old room.

    3) You need to give your tenants 24 hours written notice prior to entering their rooms. They have the right to quiet enjoyment of their rooms, and you are prohibited by law in most states from just moseying in whenever you please. In an emergency - say, there's smoke pouring from under the door and you're pretty sure the room is on fire - then all bets are off and you can immediately enter to take care of things. Otherwise, 24 hours notice.

    4) If someone fails to pay rent, you need to give them a written 3 day notice to pay up or get out. If they don't leave, you need to file a formal eviction action. You may not lock them out. If you had identified your state, I could point you at specifics.

    5) They could try. But it's likely - especially if you put in writing that they need to carry their own renter's insurance - that a judge would tell them it's their own fault for not carrying insurance.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2009

    Default Re: What Are My Responsibilities when I Share My Home

    Thanks for the reply. It was very helpful including the 3 day written notice thing. By the way, I'm in the province of Saskatchewan, Canada. One thing that interests me: when I lived in dorms, a semi-frequent cleaning service would often knock on the doors and if no one was there they would enter to vacuum, upkeep, etc.

    Similarly when we left for Christmas break, maintenance staff would check up on the rooms to see if there were lights left on, clean up food left over, etc. In fact, that's how one maintenance person found out I had a pet turtle residing on my desk .

    If I wanted to have the same maintenance privileges/rights to entry, how would I be able to encompass that in the roommate agreement, if possible?

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