14 tips for renting a room to a boarder

Have you ever considered renting your room to a boarder, but didn’t know where to start?

When I was 18 I was a boarder in Sydney, since then I have had boarders and rented my house on AirBnB as well as being a landlord. Renting a room to a boarder can be a great way to make money on the side if it is done well and you get along, it can even pay your mortgage! (Check out this post on The Thrifty Issue outlining how to make your home pay for itself!) Before accepting the first application that comes along, check out these tips for renting a room to a boarder.

14 tips for renting a room to a boarder

1.) Research prices of rooms for boarders

Get online and check how much boarders are paying in your area and what is included in the price. Is it the room only then bills such as water, electricity and gas are split evenly or is it all inclusive? Decide on a price that works in the property market you live in and that will make you money.

2.) Check tax

Before listing your room, research tax implications, for example will the price you have selected push you into a new tax bracket? How will that affect your income, tax return and other bonuses? Cash in the hand is great, but I prefer to do things legally and you should be declaring all income. As such, check the tax implications of renting a room to a boarder for your personal situation.

3.) Check your rights and responsibilities

Most boarders are pretty good, but you need to make sure you know your rights and responsibilities in case things go bad. Depending on where you live in the world there are laws protecting squatters, if you don’t have a solid tenancy agreement you might find it difficult to remove the boarder without proof and the law on your side. Your local fair trading office or council should be able to give you the information you need about your rights, responsibilities and the law.

4.) Insurance

Check with your insurance company if you need extra insurance with someone else living there or if your current policy is ok. Some insurers require separate insurance such as landlord insurance if you are renting a room to a boarder.

5.) Will you supply furniture for you boarder?

Will the you furnish the room? If you do you can charge more, however it means you are responsible for replacing furniture as needed. In my experience furniture or no furniture mades no real difference to being able to rent the room out.

6.) Parking

Where will the boarder park their car? Do you have off street parking or will they need to park on the road. If they do park on the road, is there room for them or will it cause issues with neighbours?

7.) Privacy

How much privacy do you need? Do you have house rules in place already? Are there separate living areas and space that is yours alone? Consider all of this before renting your room to a boarder.

8.) Create your ad

Once you know what rate you will charge for renting out your room and what that rate will include, create an ad listing out all the benefits, costs associated and rate for the room. Take clear, accurate, well lit photos of the room and home so people can see what they are renting before applying. This reduces the chances of either of you wasting your time. Place the ad on sites such as GumTree or join Facebook share rooms/rooms for rent groups and promote it on there.

9.) Interview boarding applicants

Do not accept the first person who enquires. Have a conversation with them, meet them in person, check references, check their online and social media profiles and get a feel for them. When interviewing them as them about previous places they have lived, living and eating habits, social life, occupation/income, goals etc. Also discuss your expectations around things like privacy, rent payments, noise levels, guests sleeping over etc. Get to know them to ensure they are a suitable candidate and will be able to pay the rent.

10.) Trust your instincts

If they present perfectly on paper, however you have a terrible feeling in your gut, trust your gut.

11.) Write up a contract or use a proper lease form

Include everything in it such as:
• Bond and deposit paid (e.g. 2 weeks rent)
• Date it was paid and term of contract (e.g. 3months to see if you get on, with the option to continue if both parties agree)
• When rent is due – weekly/fortnightly and what day and will it be paid in cash, into your account or will you use property management software?
• Which areas of the house are they allowed to use/are they renting?
• Services you provide – do you provide any meals/cleaning/lifts?
• Share of bills – will it just be half each?
• Share of household chores – alternate cleaning or only clean up after yourselves or pay for a cleaner to come in and do communal areas.
• Room inspections – frequency and expectations
• Notice period – how much notice they must give you and you them if either one of you decides to terminate the contract.
• Specific house rules – noise control, house duties, overnight guests, if they can store things such as extra furniture at your house or not. Include everything. If it is in writing and signed by both parties, it cancels out a lot of disputes.

12.) Lodge the bond properly

Bonds are to be lodged correctly, not just be held in your bank account. If you don’t lodge it there can be issues and legal ramifications.

13.) Document everything

Before they move everything in, take pictures and note everything already wrong with the room. Better yet, go through it with a video camera and the boarder present then create a copy of it for each of you or load it to dropbox for future use. This will help settle disputes if any arise when they leave (or they cause any damage.)

14.) Leave them be

Remember the room is theirs. It’s their choice if they keep it messy or not. Also remember not everyone gets along and you may find this boarder and you are not compatible. Don’t let that stop you from trying again.

Good luck with it. I know this list might seem over the top, but it’s better to be safe and prepared than sorry. Renting a room to a long term boarder is different to a quick couple of nights from an AirBnB guest, both can make you good money though.

What tips would you add for renting your room to a boarder?


  • Brittany

    Oh man. This topic stresses me out! We moved from our home we purchased a few years ago and have been renting it out ever since. It always makes me worried, but my husband does a great job taking care of it all. I will DEFINITELY have to send this to him! Thanks for the great tips!

  • Ari

    AirBnB surely put benchmark on the service and procedure for the business. Interview boarding applicants put both parties on trust building:)

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