Dear Savvy Senior,
What can you tell me about senior home sharing programs? I’m 76-years-old and am interested in renting out a spare room in my house for extra cash and for some help around the house.
Renting out a spare room in your house is a great way to generate some extra income and even get some help with chores around the house. To find a good fit, older homeowners often turn to “home sharing programs” that will match an empty nester with someone needing affordable housing.
But be aware that home sharing isn’t for everyone. You need to carefully consider the pros and cons of renting out a spare room in your house and make a list of what you want and don’t want in a housemate/renter.
To help you figure this out visit sharinghousing.com, a website dedicated to understanding home sharing and which offers a guide and workbook for $25 to help you find and choose a good housemate.
Finding a match
If you decide to proceed in finding a housemate/renter, your first step is to seek out a home sharing program in your area.
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Home sharing programs, usually non-profits, screen both homeowners and renters. They check references, handle background checks and consider lifestyle criteria when making matches. They can also help you with the leasing agreement that the renter would sign that covers detailed issues like smoking, pets, chores, overnight guests, use of common rooms, quiet hours, etc.
Most home sharing programs are free to use or request a small donation. Others, however, may charge the homeowner and potential renter a fee for this service. To look for a home sharing program in your area visit the National Shared Housing Resource Center website at nationalsharedhousing.org.
These sites work more like online dating sites that require homeowners and home seekers to fill out a profile. Once a match is made, you’ll be responsible for contacting and interviewing prospective renters and making the final agreement.
If you don’t have any luck with any of these home sharing sites, put a call in to your Area Agency on Aging—call the Eldercare Locator at 800-677-1116 for contact information—who may be able to offer assistance or refer you to local agencies or nonprofit organizations that offer shared housing help.
You can also check with your local senior or community center, or local church you attend to see if you can post an ad on their bulletin board or in their newsletter. Or, you can advertise in your local newspaper or online at craigslist.org, spareroom.com or roommates.com.
If you find someone on your own that you’re interested in renting to, ask the prospective renter to fill out a rental application, see rentalleaseagreement.org to download and print one for free, and run a tenant screening and background check, and then call their references. Tenant screening/background checks can be done for free at naborly.com.
Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit savvysenior.org. Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of “The Savvy Senior” book.