Times are tight – and even if you are able to get a lower mortgage loan rate with a refinance, it might still be difficult to pay the bills. Whether you are considering renting out a room in your house, taking in a boarder for the summer or leasing out a parking spot, there are ways to cut your housing costs to try to live for free.
How to Rent a Room in Your House
Depending on the size of your house, you might want to rent a room in a house to help cover your mortgage. Following are things to consider when thinking about how to rent your house.
Be Aware of Zoning Issues: If you want to rent out a room or renovated basement in your home, you need to check with the legal requirements in your city, county or state to determine your financial reporting options.
Have a Lease: It’s key that you have a written lease signed by the tenant, which will protect your homeowner’s rights. These forms are easily available online.
Be Insured: At a minimum, check with your insurance company about your homeowners’ insurance and what that covers. While you might not be responsible for renters’ belongings, if they have dogs, there might be additional liability. Find out beforehand if you have personal and financial responsibility for tenants – and how to bypass them if you can.
Screen Potential Tenants: Of course, it’s common sense to known who you might be living with. Background checks – including credit and criminal checks are key. You will need a signed release to conduct the check, and do call references, including current employer.
Establish Rules: It’s your house and your rules. Be sure to state in your rental contract what those rules are: no smoking, no overnight guests or noise curfews.
4 Other Ways to Cover Your Mortgage Loan Costs
Consider Vacation Renting
If you’re going on vacation for a few weeks, consider renting out your home or apartment while you’re gone. Companies such as Vacation Rentals.com or Vacation Rentals by Owner are good resources. Kathy Kroesche is a veteran when it comes to renting when she goes on vacation; she emphasizes these key points:
- Do some research and price your rental at the market price.
- Require a deposit, as well as money to hold the property. “We generally ask for a $3,000 deposit, $1,000 to hold the listing and a $125 cleaning fee upfront,” Kroesche said.
- Ask for the entire rental fee up front if you can.
- Run a credit check. Just like renting an apartment, you will want to have a clear picture of your vacation renter’s financial situation. You can do this online – with the potential renter’s permission – for a reasonable fee.
- Inventory your belongings. “I take pictures of our possessions before we leave,” Kroesche said. “I document the linens, dishes, furniture, etc., and give that documentation to the renters. It helps if we ever needed to file an insurance claim for theft.”
Become an Apartment Manager
It sounds ideal — get your rent paid, as well as a salary for working. Being an apartment manager can help you live for free.
However, the downside is that you are basically never off duty. You are fielding calls at every hour from tenants who have emergencies such as broken water pipes to petty disputes between neighbors about parking.
Rent Out a Parking Spot
Depending upon where you live, parking can come at a premium. If you have an extra space in your garage or driveway, that can equal some extra cash. As with a room or apartment renter, you want to know who you are dealing with. Create a contract, gather a deposit up front and check on that person’s background. You don’t want to be a parking lot for stolen cars, after all.
Work Out of Your House
Depending on your profession, you might be able to deduct certain work expenses and portions of your mortgage interest as a business expense. You can find more information about the home office deduction from the IRS.
Living for free isn’t easy. However, using these suggestions, you can supplement your housing expenses.
Photo: Jeremy Brooks