Four Things To Check Before You Rent Out Your Spare Bedroom

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If you have a spare room in your home and are thinking of renting it out as a way to earn some extra cash, don't jump the gun too quickly. There are some matters you will want to check on first to ensure that what you are doing is legal in your jurisdiction and that you aren't setting yourself up for problems down the road.

Is the bedroom in the basement or an attic?

In many areas, it is illegal to rent out a bedroom in the attic or basement of a home. If yours falls into this category, then check with the housing authority in your city or county to see whether you can legally rent it. Some areas will allow such a rental if there is a second fire exit, smoke alarms, or other provisions. However, don't be surprised if you find out that your spare basement or attic bedroom cannot legally be rented out even with modifications.

Do you have the proper fire safety measures in place?

Regardless of what floor your spare bedroom is found on, most municipalities have some sort of regulations in regard to the fire safety measures that must be in place when you rent out any space -- even a single bedroom. Your housing authority may tell you that you need to invest in a second smoke detector, fire extinguisher, or even different windows that would allow someone to escape in the case of a fire.

Do you need to register your home as a multiple dwelling?

In most jurisdictions, even if you are only renting out one bedroom, you will need to register your home as a multiple dwelling prior to doing so. If you fail to register, and you have an issue with a tenant that results in you going to court, your case may not even qualify to be heard by a judge since the tenant would then be considered an illegal tenant. Paying the fee to register as a multiple dwelling is well worth it, since it grants you this protection.

Do you have a formal lease agreement drawn up?

A formal lease protects both you and your tenant. You can find many examples of leases online and modify one to suit your needs. It's always a good idea to have a real estate attorney look over the lease for you to ensure all of the terms are reasonable and legal. Most attorneys offer this service for a reasonable one-time fee.

Once you address the issues on this list, you're ready to find a tenant for your spare bedroom. Enjoy the extra income -- and company!

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19 November 2015

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