When deciding to rent out a spare room in your own home, you are just as much a landlord as someone who owns and rents out an entire building. However, the rules and regulations for renting a room as opposed to renting an entire property may differ.

To prevent any legal issues from arising, it is essential to learn and abide by these regulations. Although there are many guidelines to becoming a successful landlord, implementing the same tips and procedures for renting a room in your home will help ensure a legal and fair transaction for both you and your tenant.

In this guide, you can find the information you need to become a legal landlord (even if it’s just by renting one room), earn some extra cash, and have a trouble-free process. Sound good? Let’s get to it!

Creating a suitable space

At the very least, the room you’re looking to rent out should be livable with all the necessary amenities, such as heating, electricity, and plumbing, all set up. In addition, ensure that you have specified which bathroom is for your tenant’s use.

Ideally, a lock should be installed on the bedroom door for added privacy, as it is a tenant’s right to have a sense of security for their belongings and a sense of privacy in their home. Fulfilling these requirements is crucial to stay in compliance with landlord-tenant laws.

If you’re willing to furnish the room, it’s essential to both parties that an inventory is taken and a walkthrough inspection is done prior to signing the lease. Take photos of the furniture, walls, carpet, etc., so that both you and the tenant have a record of the condition of the room prior to occupancy.

Advertising for a tenant

Once you have made your space suitable and decided on the kind of roommate you are looking for, it’s time to write an ad and make it available to potential renters.

As the tenant may not look in the normal spots, be sure to target your advertisement to niche locations, such as college campus housing agencies, college newspapers, and senior citizen centers if you are in search of a specific type of tenant. Don’t forget to share your ad with your personal network; oftentimes, word of mouth can lead to excellent results.

Choosing a suitable tenant

You should always make sure to thoroughly screen applicants before accepting them. This can be done by yourself or with the help of a professional service for a nominal fee. It is also useful to ask for references from past roommates if the applicant is willing. This will give you a more accurate assessment of their living habits than the landlord would, who may not be as in the loop.

Traits to look for

In the landlord-tenant relationship, regular rent payments are a must. In most cases, you will require your tenant to pay on time each month so that you too can keep on top of any outgoings. Perhaps the sub-tenant’s payments will even be contributing towards your mortgage payments. In that case, you definitely don’t want them falling behind on payments or you’ll be in trouble! So, reliability is a must.

You should also look for someone who will care for your property with pride. If they do, make sure to give them their security deposit back and leave a good landlord recommendation when the time comes to move on. Minor damages caused by everyday use are inevitable, so make sure you are prepared for these. A lick of paint may be required when the tenant moves out.

Checks to perform

When a master tenant sublets a room, they may request a background check from the subtenant and have them pay a security deposit. It should be noted, however, that a subtenant paying a security deposit to a master tenant does not also cover their security deposit with the master tenant’s landlord.

There are regulations and laws that are particular to different California cities and counties. Oakland, for instance, forbids landlords from inquiring into potential tenants’ criminal backgrounds. A master tenant ought to adhere to the same standards as their landlord in such matters. Any tenant who is uncertain if laws like these apply to them should seek the advice of a landlord-tenant lawyer.

Setting a rate for renting your room

Deciding how much you’re going to charge for your space is an important decision. Too much, and no one will be interested. Too little, and you might not cover the costs associated with renting out the space.

California state law prescribes the maximum security deposit a master tenant may charge for a sublet room. An unfurnished room can have a security deposit that is up to two times the monthly rent, and a furnished room up to three times the monthly rent. Moreover, the security deposit can be utilized to cover the last month’s rent, although this may not be prudent since it might not be enough to pay the rent and any damage caused to the room.

If you own your home, there are numerous expenses to factor in, from the regular monthly costs to the infrequent, one-time costs, as well as additional fees that could arise. These regular, predictable costs include: mortgage payments, property taxes, utilities (electricity, gas, internet, etc.), homeowners insurance, and HOA fees. By adding up these monthly costs and dividing by twelve, you can calculate the amount of the total annual expenses you would like your spare room rental to cover.

When pricing a spare bedroom rental, it is essential to account for infrequent costs. These costs typically include one-time payments for furniture and other accessories, repairs, and maintenance, and renovations to make the room more attractive. Although the rent should be enough to cover most of these costs, there are still other factors to take into consideration. By properly calculating potential infrequent costs, one can establish a fair rental price and ensure they are adequately prepared for any unforeseen expenses.

You might also want to take a look at what other rentals in the area are listed for, as a baseline to gauge how much to charge for your spare room.


What are the benefits and challenges of renting out a spare room in your home?

The main benefit of renting out a spare room is financial gain. With the rise of online peer-to-peer platforms, renting out your extra space can bring in a consistent stream of supplemental income. Additionally, depending on the local laws, there may be tax benefits to taking on a tenant as well.

On the flip side, the primary challenge associated with renting out a spare room is privacy. As an example, if you plan to offer long-term leases or are thinking about allowing pets, the agreement will need to be written in such a way that balances both parties’ needs while ensuring personal property remains safe and respected. It’s also important to consider what happens if the tenant fails to pay rent or damages property.

What are the most important considerations when deciding to rent out a spare room?

When deciding whether or not to rent out a spare room in your home, it is important to think about who will occupy the space (e.g., families vs. single adults), how much money can you reasonably expect to make from renting out the space, and how much work is required for maintenance and upkeep.

In addition, it’s essential that you understand all relevant local rental laws and landlord regulations before signing any agreements.

What are some creative ways to make extra income by renting out a spare room in my home?

You don’t have to find a long-term roommate to make a passive income from renting out your spare room. An alternative is to offer day-time accommodations for corporate travelers who need somewhere convenient and comfortable for quick business trips into town.

These short-term rentals are increasingly popular due to their flexibility; providing an attractive option for vacationers who want something more affordable than traditional hotel stays yet still need some of the same amenities they would find in a full-fledged apartment complex (i.e., internet access).

If you don’t have space inside your house to rent out, you can still make a bit of cash on the side. With a platform like Spacer.com, you can earn a steady income by renting out your driveway, garage, or other parking spot to those in need of one. You decide how much you want to charge for your space each month, list your space’s specs online, then just wait for someone to snap it up!

Wrapping up

In conclusion, renting out a spare room in your home in California can be a great way to bring in extra income. With careful planning and preparation, you can easily turn an unused space into an opportunity to increase your monthly earnings. From taking the time to spruce up the room and set up your rental agreement to finding the right tenants, you’ll have the chance to experience first-hand the rewards of being a landlord.

Just remember that although it’s an exciting venture, there is always the potential for risk. Taking precautionary measures like background checks and carefully reviewing any prospective tenant is always a good idea. Overall, if done correctly, you could be on your way to generating some extra money from that previously forgotten about room!



I'm Steve Prescot, an Interior Designer living in Kansas. I am a fan of DIY, home design, gardening and anything related to home interiors and exteriors. I'm also interested in crafts and Home Improvement projects. I have been in the home design industry for more than 17 years. I love decorating and transforming spaces so that people living in them are happy and pleased with their space. Have a look around and I hope you'll like the content and ideas in this website!!

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