How to Find a Suitable and Affordable Room for Rent
Whether you have recently relocated to a new city and require accommodation or if you aim to save money without the hassle of gathering financial paperwork such as pay stubs and tax returns, opting for subletting a room can prove beneficial. It could be that you're unsure about the duration of your stay in a particular place, or your credit score is unfavourable, and you wish to rent a room without the need for a co-signer.
When looking for a rooms to rent, experts suggest searching many reputable online sources.
Regardless of your housing situation, before you search for a room for rent, keep these considerations, caveats and pro pointers in mind.
Top Renters Insurance Companies
When it comes to finding the best renters insurance companies, there are several options worth considering. It's important to protect your belongings and ensure financial security in case of unexpected events.
How to Break Your Flat Lease
"I thought I would have to go through a background check or provide something that would prove my income. They surprisingly did not ask for any of that."
While you may not need to undergo a credit check, you should still expect to provide some kind of financial and background information. When Lee rented out a room in her flat, she took a more careful and conscientious approach. "I asked all renters interested in renting the room to fill out a form, including contact information of their previous landlords, referrals and their annual gross income."
Regardless of the agreed-upon terms and conditions between you and your landlord, it's important to agree to a sublease for added legal protection to ensure you're not on the line for property damages that occurred prior to your move-in date. Another important consideration: your comfort level with sharing communal areas such as a kitchen and bathroom with flatmates. After all, for all the flexibility renting a room affords, you still also may feel a lack of privacy living in someone else's home.
Use Websites, Apps and Social Media to Find a Cheap Rental Room from $400
When looking for a room to rent, instead of relying on one database, explore many reputable sources across the internet. As Sarah Hill, the founder of the NYC-based flatmate-matching service Perfect Strangers, puts it: "There are a ton of resources for finding rooms for rent. There are websites like SpareRoom and the Roomi app, as well as many Facebook groups." She suggests typing in "rooms for rent" in the Property Rentals section of Facebook Marketplace and seeing what comes up.
These websites and apps can be used to find a room for rent:
- iROOMit Website and App
After providing details based on your specific needs and criteria, such as how many rooms you're looking for, your price range and your location, each online platform provides a listing of rooms or flat units that match your preferences. And don't forget to crowdsource for leads among your friends and family members on social media to look for a room for rent for someone you trust.
Get a Written Agreement
You may discover that the person renting out a room has no contract for you to sign. Still, Lee suggests drawing up some sort of contract.
"Even though you may only be renting a room, you need to make sure you have a signed lease agreement, which should not only outline the rental amount, but also any requirements or restrictions expected from the landlord, like will they allow overnight guests and other details," Cook says. "You also want to define how utilities will be handled. Typically, if you're renting just a room, that would be included in the rental rate since it's difficult to determine an individual rate when utilities are shared throughout the home."
Will You Be a Boarder or Tenant?
"This varies from state to state, but you'll want to establish whether you're considered a boarder or a tenant," Cook says. This isn't just semantics. "A tenant has exclusive right to use the property in exchange for rental payments. A boarder pays in exchange for the right to occupy the room and perhaps share other spaces and typically has fewer legal protections," Cook explains.
Most states have detailed laws that regulate how a lease can be terminated between landlord and tenant, Cook says. "In the case of a boarder, however, the landlord may only have to give notice commensurate with the time period for which rent is paid. For example, if rent is paid weekly, only a week's notice may be required for termination."
Be Sure to Communicate
Though not every prospective flat-seeker is going to rent a room in as formal and professional a manner, even if you skip crafting a written agreement, you should (at the minimum) discuss agreed-upon rules and requirements. Talk about your living habits, your work schedules, if you'll be able to use the refrigerator and other important details. Do you have a pet? If so, you'll also want to discuss pet restrictions. Other questions to ask before you move in: Will I have flatmates? Can I expect the room to be furnished?
And if you are subletting, "it's crucial to have a signed contract before sending any money," Hill says. "You want to make sure the contract lists the full name of the person you are renting from, the address and unit of the flat, who the landlord is, length of stay, the monthly rent (amount), how much you paid in security deposit and terms on receiving that back, termination, splitting utilities and so on."
Beware of Fraudulent Schemes
She emphasizes the importance of being extremely cautious about potential scams, especially when subletting. In cases where you haven't personally visited the flat, it is crucial to arrange for someone else to inspect it on your behalf, ensuring its authenticity. Trust your instincts and pay attention to any red flags. If you're prohibited from seeing the room prior to renting it, it is likely a clear indication of a rental scam.
Additionally, Hill advises against sending any form of electronic payment before physically viewing the accommodation. Doing so could be a grave mistake, particularly when dealing with suspicious individuals. Therefore, exercise caution throughout the process of searching for a room to rent, as there is ample opportunity for mistakes to occur.