Whether or not we like to think about it, renting a spare bedroom in your house entails taking on some degree of risk. There's no pleasant way to state the fact that renting that unused room to well-meaning relative or a stranger can sometimes have an unpleasant outcome. Unless one is careful and follows a few fundamental good business practices called "due diligence", problems with personal safety, security, and money can - and often do, arise. So what can you do to protect yourself, your family and your home from these types of problems?
At issue is our natural human tendency to trust others. We want to be happy and make some much-needed money to help pay the bills, so a decision is made to rent out the spare bedroom. It isn't difficult to find someone willing to rent the room, and after a short search or a few phone calls to friends and relatives, a potential tenant arrives, bag in hand. This is good for us because we have now rented out the empty room, effectively turning it into a business asset. On the other hand, this may not be quite so good if we didn't bother to run a background, credit, or character reference check on the person anticipating moving into our domain.
The principle of due diligence requires doing all the background work before a decision is arrived at. Naturally, not every tenant is going to be a character from your favorite horror movie. Most people are good and can be trusted. Nevertheless, by not having a rental application accompanied by a signed release to conduct a background, reference and credit check, you could be facing a problem. Maybe you are just a bit too trusting, or maybe there just isn't enough time to bother with it. On the other hand, perhaps you just don't know how to go about it. All of these problems, as large as they may seem at first, disappear as soon as you learn the ropes and get it done. You may need a little help to do so, but help is as close as your nearest apartment owners association.
You should begin by contacting the nearest professional association. Another good resource is an attorney that specializes in property management and landlord issues. Check the telephone book and you're sure to find any number of eager lawyers and helpful property mangers. The Internet is also a good resource and websites like landlordforms.com have a variety of free forms and resource articles. You can download everything from rental applications to background consent forms quickly and easily. If you need some extra help, be sure to call a property manager that has a reputation for keeping a good tenant-landlord relationship. They will be glad to help you out, as they are always looking for referrals and testimonials to help them keep their units occupied, just like you.
Minimizing the risk to your room rental business is an important step in providing some degree of assurance that your new tenant will be a good tenant. While the paper work might seem troublesome, you should look at it as if you were buying an insurance policy, which is exactly what you are doing. Be sure to take the time to collect a properly filled out and signed rental application form, background and credit check consent form, and reference check form. The next step is to complete all the checks before allowing the prospective tenant to set up housekeeping. Once you have all the information you need, you will feel much more secure and are far less likely to have problems.
Due diligence is a good business practice for anyone thinking about renting out a room in their house. Like all good business practices, it takes a bit of discipline and effort; on the other hand, you should consider it as an insurance policy that is nice to have, but not necessary to use unless you have to. You are far more likely to avoid unnecessary repairs, unwelcome guests, lost rent, and a host of other problems common to many landlords if you take the small amount time necessary to do so.