With real estate prices at an all time high, it is becoming more and more common for homeowners to rent out the basement in order to help pay their mortgages. Despite the financial benefit to this, the tenant-landlord relationship is notorious for being a complicated one, leaving many potential landlords asking themselves, is it even worth it? Take a look at these 7 tips to see how you can better coexist with your basement tenant.
1) Be diligent in your interviewing and screening processes
Finding a tenant that you get along with and trust is not an easy process. The ideal situation is to have a friend or family member’s recommendation; that way, there is some sort of trust level right from the get-go. If that is not possible, post ads online (Kijiji, Craigslist etc.) or flyers around your area. Always be sure to meet with the potential tenant beforehand so that you can get a sense of who they are, and how they will be living. It is a good idea to come prepared with a few questions, as there is information that you may not get at without asking particular questions.
Once you have narrowed your search down, be sure to do a credit and criminal check on your potential basement tenant. Although you are going to have to pay for these services, it is well worth the expense. This person is going to be living under your roof, and these small steps can help avoid any issue to come in the future.
2) Be sure to lay down ground rules right away
Expectations with things like guests, pets, allergies, chores, etc. are important to touch upon right away, ideally before the tenant has signed the lease. If the lease has been signed and there is no agreement on these house rules, it could make more a very difficult living situation for both parties. If they don’t like the rules, then they should look for a place more suited to what they are looking for.
3) Have a written lease to protect yourself and your tenant
It is important to have a legitimate lease to rely on if anything were to go wrong. Attempt to get an Associate of Realtors lease and a credit application. It is always helpful to include the house rules in this written document as it serves as an agreement between both parties that the rules will indeed be respected and followed. Most importantly, be sure to include the rent amount, the date the rent is due, and the term of the lease.
4) Be open and honest about everything right from the start
Honesty is important in the tenant-landlord relationship, as it tends to be what is missing in many instances. When interviewing for a basement tenant, you will be asked many questions about the property and the surrounding area. Instead of lying as a way to talk up your property, tell it how it is. Don’t advertise that your house is a 5 minute walk from the bus stop when it is really a 25 minute walk. Don’t claim that the property has a closet and ample storage space when it truly doesn’t. This is just going to lead to problems with your tenant in the future that could have been easily avoided through honesty.
5) Allow for privacy
Just as you appreciate your privacy in your own home, so will your tenant. As long as they are abiding by the ground rules and being respectful, let them be. Enough said.
6) Choose your battles
Having a basement tenant is going to result in a change in your lifestyle as your house is not completely yours anymore, you are sharing it. Sure, there may be many little things they do that bother you, like playing loud music occasionally or having a few people over, but there is no sense in having arguments constantly. Sit and think to yourself, “will this matter to me in a few day’s time?” If the answer is no, then let it go.
7) Listen to what the tenant has to say
Your tenant is going to have questions, concerns, and demands while they are living in your house. Make an effort to address all of these as landlord are typically known to ignore the needs of their tenants. The key to a friendly tenant-landlord relationship is one where you both listen and respect what the other has to say.
Being a landlord can be a lot of work, but more often than not it results in financial benefit. If you follow take these 7 steps into account, there is no doubt you and your basement tenant will be happy you did. Do you have any other advice to give to other current or potential landlords? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
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