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Renting to Roommates: 6 Helpful Tips for Landlords

Today, we’re going to focus on the topic of renting to roommate tenants. The reason is that this area is a common source of conflicts and issues, and they affect you as a landlord.

If you’re not careful enough, the tension between roommates decreases their satisfaction of living in your rental. So if you think roommate scenarios don’t affect your bottom line, think again. As much as possible, you want to keep your vacancy rate low.

Read this guide to learn some tips about leasing your rental to roommates.

1. Roommate tenants are jointly and severally liable.

"Joint and several liability" means that roommates are responsible to each other. You can demand rent from one of the two tenants and hold one liable in case of non-payment. So, in your lease agreement, make sure to specify that the tenants are “jointly and severally liable.” Take note that roommates will sign the same lease.

2. Encourage roommate agreements.

Roommate agreements don’t involve landlords since such agreement is made only between those who share the unit. But you as a landlord should tell your tenants to have one (put into writing). This is to ensure clarity on each tenant’s responsibilities when it comes to monthly payments, cleaning, shared areas, security deposit, and more.

3. Screen roommates the same way you screen other tenants.

Proper tenant screening is a must - if you want to rent out your property to people who are responsible. A background check allows you to assess the following aspects:

  • Stability - How often each tenant switches jobs and addresses. Seeing a pattern tells you that a tenant may leave the rental sooner.
  • Rental history - Speak with the tenants’ previous landlords. Do they pay rent on time? When they moved out, did they give a notice 30 days in advance? Were they careful in handling the things/equipment in the apartment?
  • Financially capable and responsible - You want roommates who pay their bills. Look for a good credit score. Also, their monthly income should be more than the rent.

4. Assign a tenant representative.

Instead of reaching out to all roommates when you have questions, concerns, or messages you want to relay, ask them to choose a representative. The tenant representative assigned will be the one to communicate with you. Doing this simplifies things for you and will save you a lot of time.

5. Set monthly or quarterly meetings with the tenants.

Positive relationships are important in running a successful rental property business. They’re possible if you keep communication lines open. Even with a tenant representative in place, set regular face-to-face meetings with both roommates to discuss concerns and whether they are getting along well.

6. Require each roommate to get renters insurance.

Many landlords ask their tenants (and include it in the lease) to acquire and maintain renters insurance. If a roommate’s belongings get lost or stolen because of the negligence of the other roommate, renters insurance will cover the loss. This requirement also saves you from getting involved in the dispute.

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