Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, July 17, 2015

Tips for renting out a room in your home


Travis Close

With the new school year just a couple of months away, a fresh round of college students will soon be looking for housing in the greater Chattanooga area. If you want to earn a bit of extra money and don’t mind sharing your personal space, renting out a room in your home can be a great way to supplement your income.

As with any moneymaking venture, there are pros and cons to leasing a space. Since some rental policies and laws are specific to cities, states, and regions, the Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors (GCAR) is a key resource for local homeowners looking to rent. With this in mind, GCAR has compiled the following tips to help prospective landlords effectively navigate the renting landscape.

Make small but smart changes: Rather than shelling out money on high-end renovations and modern appliances, focus on clearing out the clutter of the room you plan to rent and give the space a fresh coat of paint. Typically these minor upkeeps suit the needs and expectations of student renters who are often simply looking for a safe, comfortable, and clean living space.

Consider your clientele: Setting boundaries up front can mean the difference between a welcome houseguest and a rowdy roommate. Create a rental agreement that outlines details of your living arrangement. Besides mentioning monthly utility fees and early termination costs, lay down rules detailing other issues such as whether the walls can be painted or decorated and how many visitors are allowed in the home at one time.

Remember Uncle Sam: The rent you receive is taxable income which must be reported to the IRS, but this income can usually be entirely offset by tax deductions in the form of home repairs, trash removal costs, association fees, or homeowner’s insurance, just to name a few. Keep track of what qualifies for tax deductions so you can pocket the most money possible during tax season.

Trust your instincts: Meeting potential housemates in person will help you gauge whether they would be a good fit for you and your home. Credit and background checks are also encouraged as another means to ensure the safety of both yourself and your family.

Know where to list: A good space will never get filled if it isn’t seen! Be strategic and smart about where you list your rental. List with a Realtor, who can assist with marketing and showing the space. Also, a Realtor can be of service in screening tenants and preparing lease documents. Should you choose to list the property on some of the popular rental sites (i.e., Craigslist, Airbnb.com, iStopOver.com), a Realtor can help the owner and potential renters take steps to reduce the risk of falling victim to popular online rental scams. And while some landlords may enjoy the rental income but not the hassle of being a property manager, a Realtor can help with that, too. Contact a Realtor who specializes in property management and be the “go-to” person for your renter when it comes to collecting rent and making repairs.

Renting to college students can be financially rewarding, and following these recommendations will help protect both you and your property in the process. Whether you’re a new landlord with high hopes or an experienced landlord who’s been burned in the past, the Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors is a great resource for ensuring successful landlord-tenant relationships.

The Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors is “The Voice of Real Estate in Greater Chattanooga.” The Association is a regional organization with more than 1,500 members, and is one of more than 1,400 local boards and associations of Realtors nationwide that comprise the National Association of Realtors. The Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors services Hamilton and Sequatchie counties in southeast Tennessee and Catoosa, Dade, and Walker counties in northwest Georgia. For more information, visit www.gcar.net.