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Renting Out a Room in my House

Berkeley Parents Network > Reviews > Housing, Neighborhoods, & Moving > Renting Out a Room in my House


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2009 - 2013 Discussions


Renting out room - include utilities?

July 2014

I've been renting out a room in my house for a few years. I've always just included the utilities as well as paper goods like toilet paper in the rent, but I was just curious how other people handle this. I guess I figure my child and I probably use more than the renter when it comes to water and do more laundry. I feel like it's been fine up to now, but I'm just thinking what to do if I get someone who uses a lot of water (since they aren't paying for it). Just curious


It would be cumbersome if even possible to try to charge a tenant for a % of water use- how would you calculate it?

I rent out a couple of spaces in my house and just figure utility costs into the price of the rooms. Sometimes I get a renter who uses a lot of heat, but that's balanced by those who don't. I do have rules about water use, and expect everybody to adhere to them.

As far as stuff like toilet paper goes, you the householder are the provider. It would be pretty petty to make an issue of TP use!

Since you sound worried, I wonder if you're charging enough rent. Take a look at market rates for your location. anon


When there are several persons sharing the utilities on a master meter, one fair way to divide the expense is the ''per capita method''; e.g. three people, each pays one-third. Since you are renting a room for a set price you need to calculate the per capita cost, and figure that into the room rent. You need to screen potential renters to rule out those who take extra-long showers in your interviews; if they have excess usage your rental agreement or month-to-month lease (you do have one, don't you?), can specify surcharges, or rebates for low usage. If you have a just one water line, you can hear the water running, so you will be aware of the usage. Lynn
I would definitely add a charge for water. This is going to be necessary, now with all of our rationing. I myself am quite the water hound (garden, taking my baths) and I would not want anyone resenting my water use. I want to pay my own water bill, so that I know what I am doing, and it is worth it for me. I don't want to annoy anyone. Hopefully you can figure out a way to make it fair for everyone.

Since you are two people, and the renter is one, it does seem reasonable to split the bill three ways. However, children tend to have more laundry than adults, so maybe you can split it four ways and have your renter pay one fourth of the bill? Love that H2O


Renting a room to Japanese speaker in exchange for childcare

July 2014

I am just about finished with renovations to my home to make the room on the first floor rentable. It has a separate entrance and now has a full bath and I can still get to the garage without going thru that space. The reason I've been doing this is that my 6 yr old son is half Japanese and is an immersion program but doesn't hear Japanese in the house since his dad moved out. I know how hard it is to raise a child to be bilingual and I'd like to give my son every opportunity especially since he is still young.

My idea has been to find a renter who speaks Japanese who would spend time with my son and speak In Japanese. I would want someone who could babysit early mornings (just by being in the house) so I could go to an early morning exercise class. I would also like to encourage a few activities that would get them to talk and interact.

Given that this is not just a regular rental I thought that I would reach out to the BPN community and see if people have advice on how to find the right renter, how to set up the situation and expectations correctly and then also suggestions on what (else) I can do to raise my son to be bilingual. Thank you for the advice!!


Your situation is a bit tricky, since it is equally a job and a rental. You are equally an employer and a landlord. It may be best to advertise as a ''job'' with housing benefits, rather than a rental with work requirements. That way you can screen for your requirements for language skills, security, and child friendliness. Other options would be posting a flyer in a Japanese church or social club, or just asking around among friends and acquaintances. If you are in Berkeley, Cal Housing has a housing service where you can post your ad, with your requirements. Lynn
I would contact the Center for Japanese Studies at UC Berkeley Center for Japanese Studies 2223 Fulton Street, 5th Floor Berkeley, CA 94720 Phone # 510 642 3156 cjs@berkeley.edu bilingual
Here are my recommendations: Since your child is only 6, and you are planning on having him babysat by someone you don't know, make sure you use a girl. Get a female Japanese renter. This is not to cast any shadow on the Japanese community, but I would recommend hiring a female babysitter in any community. (To prevent sexual molestation) Do all of the usual interviewing and checking of the person's history, since you are going to leave your child with her. Also, since this person will be living with you, make sure that they know their way around the kitchen, and know how to prevent fires, etc.

Two, my advice for your own sanity is to get someone who is fluent in English, but who is from Japan. I just had a roommate from Japan for the past year, and his English was not so good. What did this mean for me? This meant about 40 hours of my year was spent standing and explaining basic things to him. Never being able to finish a sentence without ''what? uh...what is that? uh....'' and then my patiently having to repeat and explain what I meant. At first you have patience, as you think ''oh, this person is excited to learn English and I am such a great teacher!''. But then, if their English does not progress, you find yourself getting quite tired of always having to explain everything, as if to a child. Not as easy as you think, folks. Imagine you are in a rush one day, and you just want to say ''oh Kiyo, can you take out the garbage today?'' as you leave the house. No. You cannot ever say anything fast like that, on your way out. Every single thing which you say must be explained. I only mention this to you to give you a heads up.

You already have a son, who is 6, and I'm sure you are a patient, loving parent who takes the time to explain things to him. Now imagine that you will have another very larger child who you will have to teach, if you take someone in who cannot converse in English.

If I were you, I would also try leaning Japanese myself. This could be a fun thing to share with your child over the years, as he could help you along. You could also add the Japanese channel, NHK? I think it's called, to your home TV cable. That channel is only in Japanese and it is how my child (now in college) learned Japanese.

It sounds like it could be a very nice set up, and hopefully that perfect Japanese (English speaking as well) lady who is sweet and responsible is out there waiting for you! Good luck to you!


Kudos to you for recognizing the importance of continuing the Japanese part of your son's life. There is a great pre-school in San Francisco called Little Angels with classes on Saturdays until 1 p.m.. My daughter loved it there and then transitioned to the all day Saturday Nihongo Hoshuko school down the road near the ocean until 8th grade equivalent. There may be a similar Saturday school in Richmond. Both schools helped her expand her Japanese tremendously while playing and learning with Japanese kids her age. Many of the kids were from families that were just in the U.S. from Japan due to school or work assignments of parents so your kid gets to blend with fluent Japanese kids. There may also be a tenant connection potential there for you to find a live-in Japanese speaker. Check out Little Angels and the Japanese Nihongo Hoshuko. Also the Japanese Embassy in Japan-town might have some tenant ideas for you. glad dad
You can find your Japanese tenants & nannies on http://www.bayspo.com/. You can post wanted adds. You need to hire a Japanese live in nanny for your boy. Hopefully his father can talk to him in Japanese all the time. You can go Downtown Berkeley YMCA for your morning exercise. I saw a Japanese volunteer baby sit in their childwatch room. http://ymca-cba.org/locations/downtown-berkeley/childwatch Shawn
I would look at places where there are ESL classes and see if you can find a native Japanese speaker or check out the UC campus - Japanese courses there.

Be fair to the renter - this is not just rental but some child care - you need to either pay them for the time or really drop the rent. Look into the Berkeley Japanese Methodist Church or the Buddhist church. They have activities for kids that might include some language classes. lots of wonderful Japanese movies eg; My Friend Totoro. You have to find the one that is not dubbed in English. good luck. JnmiM


Renting out an in-law unit using Airbnb

Feb 2013

If you have an in-law unit that you've offered for rental through Airbnb, please share your experiences, good or bad. We are considering finishing our basement and renting it out using Airbnb, but we've got a baby and I'm a little nervous about bedbugs, safety, and nuisance (noisy talking late at night, for example, slamming doors, parties, etc.). Would love to hear whether you've met some cool, respectful people or whether you've had more mixed experiences. Also, would people even want to rent a room beneath a house that has a baby? Should we disclose that our baby wakes up with the morning sun? airbnb newbie


Airbnb worked out great for us. You can put lots of detail in your listing so that you get a good match. For instance, we offered no tv. I wouldn't want to rent a room with no tv, but for plenty of people that is fine. So just tell people about parties and babies and anything else that is of concern. I have to say, however, that it is a lot of work. Laundry and cleaning is part of it, of course. Meeting people at odd times to hand off the key can be a problem. You might consider getting some kind of fancy lock with a combination so you don't have to be there. And sometimes the emails are overwhelming when someone is looking for just the right place. But the people who rented were very respectful and money was never any problem. Anon

Concerns about Renting out a Room in our House

Nov 2012

We are considering renting out a bedroom in our house in order to get a little more income that will help pay for college tuition. I would like to have a quiet graduate student and we have a large quiet, private room s/he could rent. We might share a bathroom and s/he would definitely need to use our kitchen. My husband is very wary of doing this and I'd like to know what others who have done this have experienced. He worries about an intrusion into our privacy, the possibility of theft, and I guess I don't necessarily want someone who wants to sit in our living room and socialize with us or with their guests. What have you done to ensure you get someone who is compatible and respects your privacy? What if it doesn't work out? We have a large expensive beautiful rug in that room, over hardwood floors--would you leave it there or remove it? Any/all responses would help. thank you!


IMHO it does not sound like a good fit for you. Aside from sharing a bathroom with a complete stranger, (yikes!) and having a child/children in your house with this stranger, this person will be paying you rent to live there, that means eat there, sleep there, have friends over there, sit on your couch, spill stuff on your floor, rug, whatever. How can you expect someone to pay you for a room to sleep in and be invisible the rest of the time? I think you need a different strategy. fwiw don't do it....
The mindset of moving a large rug out of fear of theft is not compatible with the mindset of roommate hunting. I recently advised someone on BPN about choosing a roommate. I had many successful ones over the years - own BR & BA, shared kit. Go back a few weeks, there were some good tips. The difference with your situation is that you are a couple and yes, your kitchen won't be private. No make-out sessions at the sink. This could be no big deal, or awful, depending on how you feel about it. How to draft the situation just as you want it: spell it out. Room and bath only, shared kitchen, these are your cabinets, ANY other rules you want in all areas, no matter how quirky or one-sided (you get a cat but they don't, you're the boss, own it), spell it out in the ad and weed all but good matches out. You get a bad or weird feeling or sense of incompatibility or anything at first meeting, forget it. Be willing to wait for the right person because this is your space. Then everybody go by agreed upon rules and trust the person among everything else certainly not to steal your furniture! Because you put the care and demands in up front. One other thing besides not acting on this if it scares you or changing your attitude, if your husband doesn't want this and you can afford not to, don't. - good luck
Hi There! Renting to students can be terrific or awful. Considerations include price range, how much of the house you want to share and how to check out your potential tenants. Will the space be furnished or unfurnished? Do you include utilities in the rent or are they separate? How's storage? I've been renting a combo bedroom and bathroom out to Cal students for 5 years. I use Craig'slist and Cal Rents to advertise the space, and do initial vetting on line and on the phone and if i like how the person sounds, I invite them to check the place out and give me references. Tenants also sign what has become a 3 page rental agreement with the rules for living here. We have good separation of space but share the whole house including the laundry but most of our tenenats hang out in their rooms or the kitchen. Ive taught a couple how to cook and fed quite a few of them. The CalRents website has a lot of good info about sharing your home and the most reliable of my tenants have used that site. good luck! Happy Landlady
I would not worry about theft. The privacy issue is of major concern. What you want to do is to offer a ''room for rent'' and not a ''house share.'' When interviewing, explain that the person will have kitchen privileges, but not so with the living room, etc.

You can also find out quite a bit about the person in the interview process. You clearly don't want to rent to a homebody or someone who enjoys cooking. Sometimes you can luck out and find someone who works a ton and mainly needs a place to crash. Also, some folks are only in the Bay Area during the week and need a place to sleep when they're in town. That would be ideal. I think you can find someone with compatible needs. However, if they don't have a private bathroom, price accordingly. That could be a major down-side to a prospective renter. Done This Before


Renting out a room is a good way to bring in some money. An extra person can actually be an asset to your household if you are compatible. To find the right person, I suggest that you be really clear in your ad about what you are looking for. For instance, I don't really know what you mean by ''privacy.'' If you don't want to share the living room, say so. Also, before you meet anyone, put together a list of questions. And be aware that they are considering you and what kind of a roommate you will be. I would be careful about limiting guests too much. Normal people have friends, and if you are sharing your house, you want someone who gets along with others. Yes I would remove the rug. A hardwood floor is easier to clean than a rug. Theft is unlikely. A roommate knows that if no one has broken in, they are the most likely suspect. Usually, a place is rented out for at least a year. If you don't get along, you just suck it up and wait until the end of the year. You could also do just a school year. That way you don't have to wait so long if you don't like them, and your college kid has a place to stay in the summer. Good luck! Anon
SO you want to rent out a room in the house, but the renter can't sit in the living room ? What about when they need to eat or use the bathroom ? It sounds as if your house does not have a clearly demarcated second unit with a separate entrance. If you don't have this sort of interior design, anyone living in your house will be part of your household. You clearly don't want anyone else to be part of your household. Bad Idea
We've rented a room in our home. Usually students are not interested in sitting in the living room with us or our guest, but there is a TV in the room we rent. The room we rent is downstairs next to a bathroom and they ALMOST have exclusive use of it...notice I say almost. We have posted a set of written rules, but I do have to remind them to turn off the lights. One kept hers on all night resulting in a $50 increase of our electric bill, but once I mentioned it she turned it off.

Have you considered hosting? For us it works. The school screens the students and sometimes they are only with you 4- 8 weeks. If you don't get along, you contact the school. Most speak passable English. We've had some that we truly enjoy and are still in contact with each other years later. Then there are others who keep to themselves behind a closed door in their room. You can get a feel for the student after awhile. The best thing is that, if you don't like the student much, you know there is an end date. However, if you like them, departures can be tearful!


I have rented rooms from families as a ''quiet graduate student'' in the past, and I can say that I was almost pathologically afraid of intruding on the family's privacy or making them uncomfortable. (I stayed with one family -- this was a bad situation -- who yelled at me for never engaging them in polite, but brief, conversations when I saw them. You can imagine how fun the subsequent conversations were.) I ate poorly because I was afraid to share the kitchen, cleaned the shared toilet routinely, and generally treated the space sharing as a form of obligatory trespassing. I don't *think* I ever stole anything! -- although I may have used things like paper towels or silverware that I believed/was told it was ok to share (but always washed or replaced). The point is, if you want to share your house with someone as uncomfortable with the arrangement as you are, those people are always out there, because the economy is what it is. It is basically tolerable and, if you're a little friendlier than the family above, sometimes pleasant.

By ''graduate student'' I assume you're looking for someone with genteel, upper-middle-class manners, respect for property rights, and a retiring nature who nonetheless is too poor to afford a better living situation -- right? You will have no trouble finding such a person and making it clear to them that you expect docility and deference. No trouble at all. It's fair to ask yourself whether you want a relationship like that with another person, however. If you really don't think you'll get *anything* positive from the experience besides money, don't do it. No one, no matter how polite and quiet they are, truly wants to live with people who resent and dislike them. If you think you can be civil and respectful to your tenant and afford him/her a modicum of trust, though -- as I said, this situation can be perfectly fine. - they carpet train us before our prelims


I share the same concerns as you regarding renting a room in my house. My suggestions are the following: 1.always get references from a previous landlord 2.If you have a graduate student, they will be busy and won't be around a lot. This you can screen out. Either get an employment reference or other professional reference. 3. A deposit is mandatory for any kind of rental agreement. 4. CONTRACTS are mandatory. ALWAYS be sure to have a written contract with anyone in your home. If you have any issues at all (damages, whatever) and have no written contract you have no protection whatsoever on any level. 5. Use your instincts. If you really like that rug you are talking about, and it's really important to you, remove it. If you feel that it will kill you if something happens to it, take it away. home owner
There is certainly some adjusting and accomodation (pun intended...) necessary when renting a room out in your house... Here are some suggestions:

o Treat it as if you were renting out a full apartment, rather than just letting a room. Have a written lease, use written rental applications, require a security deposit, get references, use a tenant background check/credit report service (e.g. Fidelis AM but there are many) and so on.

o The above is necessary because there is little difference between renting a full unit and renting a room.

o The rule of landlording, regarding getting rid of bad tenants, is to not let them in to begin with. Screen them per above, be clear about the house rules, the terms of the lease, the rent, security deposit, what's included, what's not, etc. up front.

o Don't discriminate on the basis of age, race, gender, sexual-identity, physical ability, and other protected classes. When renting shared space, you have a little more leeway, but not a lot.

o Ideally, your boarder would be confined to their room at all times they are at home, and you would only see them coming and going. But that's simply not reality. They're going to be in the kitchen, they're going to have stuff in your fridge, on your shelves, and they're going to want to sit in the living room, and sometimes they are going to want to have a guest. If you can't deal with this, you probably aren't suited for it.

o Review the tax implications with your tax advisor. You should be able to write off a portion of expenses tied to the room rental, against your income. Done It


From what you have written, it sounds like you should let your husband have the veto on bringing a stranger into your home. Privacy is a big deal to most adult married men. We have had a house cleaner's boyfriend steal my husband's stuff, and have never gotten over it.

If you happened to KNOW a tidy, quiet, well-mannered student, that would be a different matter. But IMHO it would be a false economy to bring in an unknown tenant to help pay the rent who could easily cause you unlimited headaches.

Your happy marriage and peaceful home are the priority here, Amelia


Renting room to childcare provider

July 2012

We are fortunate to have a large house with five bedrooms, one of which we have rented out to a boarder in the past. We'd like to do this again, but this time, offering to rent the room to childcare provider that could put in a couple hours each day during the week in the morning as a ''mothers helper'' to get the kids dressed, fed, off-to school, etc. We can't afford a full-time nanny, and I would assume this person would have other work that provides the bulk of his/her income. Does anyone have any experience with how to structure this? I presume that the correct approach would be to have one lease agreement for the room, and a separate agreement for the childcare services. (As opposed to a single agreement that provides room and board in exchange for child care.) I imagine the two agreement approach would, for example, allow the boarder to continue boarding in the event he/she could no longer provide childcare for whatever reason. Your real-world experiences appreciated. Plenty of Room


How much is the room worth? 10hours per week at $15 per hour is 600 per month. This doesn't seem like it would be a fair arrangement if you charge for the room in addition to child care. Anon

Renting out a room in our house

Aug 2011

Hello BPN People we have a small room in our home with a private entrance, private patio, and bath-- we're in Kensington at the bottom of the hill just off Colusa Cir. (walkable to BART, Solano, etc.) and I'm wondering what we could rent it for? The room is to be rented seperately as a mini-studio w/o house priveledges. We provide a hot plate, microwave and frige, only a bathroom sink -- not sure if we'll provide laundry priveledges or not. The space is very woodsy and beautiful-- yet small (10 X 11)-- the patio is another 10 X 10. Do you think this type of place is rentable in this area? JUST a room-- with no access to the rest of the house? We'd have to do some soundproofing work on the room and would appreciate hearing from anyone who has experience renting rooms in this area before we invest the time and money into converting it into our mini-studio Wannabe Landlord


I don't think you'll have a problem renting out your room. I rented out a small cottage in the back of my former house in Albany. It was even smaller than yours (with no private outdoor space), and I got $600/month for it. Granted, it was closer to Solano Ave than yours, but your neighborhood is nice, too...and close to BART. What I did was to list the room on Craigslist for the amount I thought I could get. I initially rented it at $700, but then we lost 2 tenants during the first year because it was too expensive for them. When I lowered it to $600, I got an amazing tenant who stayed for a long time. Good luck.
I've been renting out a room in my house, which is near the N. Berkeley BART station, for the last 3 years. The room does include kitchen privileges, but I've had a number of people in it who cooked so little that a hotplate would have sufficed for them.

I've tried a few renting methods: first I listed it at U.C. Housing Office online and my first 2 renters were students. Then I decided I wanted somewhat older renters, so I switched to craigslist. I still use CL, and now I also use airbnb.com.

I first rented it for $650./month, then raised it to $700., and had little trouble keeping it occupied.

I haven't wanted a real long-term renter, don't want to make that kind of commitment, and my first several renters averaged 3-6 mos. Then I had a few weeks' gap to fill and I decided to try listing it on CL as a weekly rental at $300./week. That was very successful and I realized that I could make substantially more money specializing in short-term rentals, so now I list it as a weekly rental on CL and then negotiate a monthly rate if someone wants to stay 4 or more weeks.

On airbnb, the rates are per day, and I list at $50./day. My current renter is by way of airbnb, she is staying 3 months, and we negotiated a monthly rental of $850.

I'm really happy doing short-term rentals- the income is great and I've enjoyed the parade of people through my house (a web developer from Russia, an astrophysicist from Australia, a digital storyteller from Malaysia, and an assortment of others- not a bad apple in the bunch).

I made the room really nice- fresh paint, nice furniture, TV, stereo, computer desk, comfy bed, etc.- which is important to attracting quality renters. I provide all linens.

Well, that's my experience, I hope some of it is useful to you!


2004 - 2008 Discussions


Thinking about renting my extra room to a student

May 2006

I live in central Berkeley and have an extra room I am thinking about renting to a student. They could come and go as they please, would have no chores outside of cleaning up after themselves in the bathroom, keeping their room clean, and doing there own laundry. They could join us for meals or not, as they prefer. They could not have overnight guests. Has anyone done this and what experience or advice can anyone offer? What would be a fair price to charge? Thanks for any assistance anyone can offer. Susan


I rented two rooms for a year (to a postdoc and her son, and a grad student) to help cover my husband's rent when he was away on sabbatical. You can gauge current rents by checking on craigslist and with the off campus housing office at calrentals.housing.berkeley.edu. The rent you can request won't be as much as you may hope, but you'll benefit taxwise by reporting the rental income and writing off expenses including the depreciation on the percentage of your home that you're renting - you'll wind up declaring a loss actually. I found that year kinda tough, found it hard to have people in our home, but you sound like a more relaxed and more social person than I am!! Recovered landlord (!)
My friend the expert hostess for exchange students says that no guest living situation can work unless the houseguest has his or her own bathroom. You don't mention the number of bathrooms but she think this is vital for peace. She also say that male houseguest need their own bathrooms because of the way they take care of the bathroom. I cannot help you with price. And I think you are smart to spell out no overnight guests. Julia
renting a room can be really wonderful, socially, and incredibly difficult too. Be prepared to trust your renter and also be very direct about your expectations regarding pets, noise, bathroom use, kitchen use, smells (incense, pot, cooking meat, etc.), what spaces are shared (kitchen & linen cabinets, etc.) parking in driveway, bicycle storage, space for hobbies & gardening, energy use, telephone/ dsl lines and anything else that may be difficult to share. We have had many housemates in our house and it was easy until we had kids: then we became a lot less flexible. The big issues for me were: noisy coming and going that woke me up, boyfriend spending everynight over (cuz boyfriend was prohibited by his housemates from having overnight guests) and cooking in kitchen together every night, boyfriend's dog barking and shedding, 2-hour long baths (we have only one bathroom), broken car stored in driveway for 12 months, smoking in house when expecting baby, and television on constantly in shared space. But, this housemate was a wonderful person: always happy to sooth baby when I was at the end of my tether, and was warm, friendly and a wonderful presence. I just wished that I had been more clear from the start. It is better to state what you cannot tolerate or share in the beginning and also important that you ask potential housemate to consider what they need too. It is not fair to stipulate ''no overnight guests''. You can stipulate advanced planning, length of visit, and that regular bathroom and kitchen use is only by one, not two people, cuz your house can really only take the impact of one more person. What if the housemates family member wants/needs to visit for a few days? What if the housemate falls in love -- must rent a hotel room? I would never rent with a ''no overnight guest stipulation'': it implies a strong lack of trust, and if you are not prepared to throw the benefit of the doubt at your renter and assume trust initially, then you shouldn't have a renter anon

I have 3 dogs and a cat, and I need the closet - hard to rent room?

Jan 2005

I am considering the possibility of renting one of my 2 bedrooms in my small, cozy, N. Berkeley bungalow. There are some special considerations to take into account, and I'd like advice on whether this sounds feasible and realistic. Also, since there are renters on this list, some advice on a fair rent to charge would be much appreciated. I want to get a sense of whether this is a good idea or not before I start rearranging my house!

Here's the story. The room is the front bedroom with direct access from the front door, not a separate entrance, but a bit of privacy when entering. It is 14.5' x 10.5 ', and southeast windows that give nice light. There is a nice size closet, which I would need to keep a small amount of space in for myself. I would plan to furnish the room simply, and there are several shelves on the wall over the best place for a desk.

The house has one small bathroom off the hallway between the bedrooms (nice bathtub, tile, etc.). I keep the house clean and neat, it's nicely furnished, and there's a fireplace. There's also a nice sized and peaceful back garden (currently being partially redone, so a bit torn up). The neighborhood is quiet, and is 1.5 blocks from BART, and a short walk to Monterey Market area.

I would not be looking for someone who wants to make a permanent home, as I'm not looking for a long term tenant/housemate, maybe 2-3 months at a time, then review, continue if mutually agreeable. I'm thinking maybe a visiting academic, grad student or other person in transition, etc. Use of the kitchen and living room would be included. It also might be a good set-up for someone wanting a quiet place to write during the day, but not actually live in. I work at home (I would be moving my office from the front bedroom to the dining room), am in and out, but my work and lifestyle are not noisy. I would want a tenant who is also reasonably quiet.

The special considerations are that I have 3 (very nice) grown dogs, so the person would have to genuinely like and know dogs- it's just a lot of dog energy around. And, I have one (very nice) cat. The cat's door is through the front bedroom window, and there is absolutely no place else that I can set it up because of the dogs. So, the person would also have to enjoy cats and not mind her walking through. The pet issues are my biggest concern- would it just be too hard to find someone who would be happy sharing a house with 4 animals?

Looking at room rentals on Craigs List, the prices seem to be generally in the $600.-700. range, but it's hard to tell what's comparable to this.

I would really appreciate any feedback or advice! Thanks cfl


This is advice from the Landlord Liaison at the Cal Rentals Office (part of UC Housing):

Over the years many Berkeley residents have rented rooms to visiting scholars and found it an interesting and rewarding experience. The typical visiting professor or scholar comes either for one semester (mid-August through December or January through May) or for the academic year. This means that the greatest demand for room rentals involves time periods that are longer than 2-3 months. However, there are also people who come for shorter periods, especially during the summer months. Grad students are almost always interested in long term housing.

Visitors usually expect a fully furnished room with a bed, dresser, desk and chair, adequate lighting, linens and, increasingly, internet access in the room.

A furnished room with shared bath in the Monterey Market/North Berkeley Bart area would realistically probably rent for between $500 and $600(including utilities) in the current market. If you use Craig's List as a benchmark for rental rates, you should know that people often advertise rentals on CL with the expectation of negotiating downward.

Pets in your home are not necessarily a negative, but some cultures are not as dog and cat friendly as we are in Berkeley, and three dogs and a cat may put some people off. But if so, then you probably wouldn't want that person living in your house. Sometimes visitors from other parts of the U.S., and grad students (especially) have pets of their own and they find it extremely difficult to find a place that will accept their pets, so if your pets are amenable to sharing their space, this could be a plus.

Finally, anyone contemplating renting out a room in the current fairly soft rental market should be aware that the number of academic visitors is down from in the past, and there is no guarantee of continuous occupancy, especially for rooms that are not in walking distance to campus.

If you would like to list your room rental, or a vacant house our apartment, with the University, please contact the Cal Rentals Office, 2610 Channing Way #2272, Berkeley, CA 94720- 2272, 642-3644. You can download a rental listing form from our website, http://calrentals.housing.berkeley.edu/landlord.html.
Nancy at Cal Rentals


Hi- I would respectfully say a renter with whom you have no prior relationship, paying anywhere near market rate, would not want to have your belongings in his/her closet and let your cat in and out, even if they didn't mind all the pets, and be told at move-in that you would decide in 2-3 months if they still had a place to live. I have had several renters in our home and they view that space as paid for and temporarily their own and only want to be responsible to pay rent on time and not cause permanent damage or be too loud. College students in the summer months may be more pliable, but won't pay very much for that set- up, maybe half market rate. anon

What's the going rate for a room in the Oakland Hills?

Sept 2004

What is the going rate for a room in a home in the Oakland Hills? The room is furnished, has it's own small bathroom and a semi private entrance from the side of the house. Do views count? Do you charge for utilities? Kitchen privelages are included. Karen


We have several rentals like the one you describe. For a one bedroom, with it's own kitchen, and amazing views, we get $1850. Although the units are new, the views are the main selling point for us, so yes, they do count. If you're sharing a kitchen, and it's more of a studio, I think you can charge at least $1250, if it's nice and an okay size. We also charge for utilities, based on sq. ft., internet ($25) and satellite ($35). Good luck! -B. -B.
We rent but we are not located in the Oakland Hills. What I do when I need to rent our place is look into Craig's list, input info similar to our place and look for the prices to get an idea of the going price range. Good luck renting your place, E.
Yikes! I was not going to contribute to the discussion about what to charge for a room, figuring I would let home owners inform this person what they are getting. However, the $1850 for a one bedroom apartment, even with fabulous views, is an incredibly high rent for the current market.

Here in Cal Rentals at UC Berkeley, where we input over 20,000 rental ads annually, we see whole 2 and 3 bedroom houses in nice areas going for this kind of rent. And $1250 for a studio with shared kitchen? Not likely. If this landlord is currently getting those kinds of rents, he or she is very fortunate indeed.

The rental market demand has softened considerably and rents have declined quite a bit overall. Room rentals with kitchen privileges are running between $425 to $650, depending upon the size of the room and the location. If you are asking more, the room had better have some extra amenities: a private bath, extra large size, fireplace, superior view--those sorts of things. We rarely see studio apartments, with kitchens that are not shared, for over $1000 any more. Most studios are renting for well under $900, even in good areas.

If you would like to give us a call and tell us some specifics about what you hope to rent out, we can give you some market comparables. That way, you won't be asking too much rent and then wondering why you aren't getting any telephone calls from prospective tenants. The landlord listing line for Cal Rentals is 510-642-3644.
Becky


Renting a room in our house, we have a young child

Aug 2004

My husband and I are thinking of renting out a room (or two) in our house for the next year or two. We have a 4B/2B house. I am looking for advice from others who have done this. If you ran a credit check, how did you do this? What kinds of questions did you ask them when you interviewed prospective tenants? What house rules did you have? If you had problems with your tenant, how did you resolve them? Since we have a young daughter, it complicates things alittle because the tenant would have to be quiet once she went to bed but tolerant of the noise a normal toddler can make. Thanks!


A few years ago I decided to get a renter to help with my financial situation. I started by asking friends if they knew anyone who was looking for a room rental. Then I posted an ad on Craigslist in which I was very honest and straightforward about my two small dogs, the room itself and sharing a bathroom. I interviewed a couple of candidates and also talked to a friend of a friend who was interested. I ended up having her move in with me and she stayed for 2 years. She loved my dogs, took great care of them when I was away and was a great roommate in every way. We did not become friends, but we were friendly and polite to one another. From time to time I would invite her to get-togethers I had at the house, but generally we did not socialize together. She was a v. prompt rent payer and overall it was a great first landlord experience. We are still in touch and she still watches my dogs. Anyway, a few recommendations I have: Find someone you know, but aren't really close friends with. I didn't do a background check, but got a good sense of what my former roommate was like from my other friend who knew her. We didn't really have any major issues during her stay but she would purchase big items (from Costco) that we really didn't have any room for and that kinda bugged but it wasn't a big enough deal for me to bring it up. I picked my few battles carefully. I would be very honest during the interview process, letting prospective tenants know what you expect and are willing to provide. Because of your child tho', I recommend a background check/credit check. It will put your mind at ease. Good luck. Andrea
Advertise to single parents. There must be plenty of parents out there who would love a shared living situation with other parents. You can share babysitters and another parent will be understanding of your child's sleep schedule - theirs may even have a similar one. Advertise here on UCBPN and at places like Bananas. anon
I moved into a large house 7 years ago for the purpose of living with housemates. I had a partner and have 2 kids. I have successfully and happily lived with old friends, newer friends, and students. The only unfortunate housemates were a very young couple and their dog who I did not meet before they moved in because they were relocating from the East coast. Your housemates will be living with you, not just renting a room. Choose them carefully. Think about what kind of people you are, what your values are, your hours, your cleanliness needs, etc. I find that younger housemates are less fussy than those of us who have had more time to get stuck in our ways. My younger housemates have become dear friends. Don't let age differences get in your way. However, try to judge a person's degree of responsibility. Think twice or three times about allowing pets, even if you like animals. Consider who you will feel safe with having in the house while you are asleep or away. You can run credit checks, though for housemates I never have. (Google ''credit checks for landlords'' for services. There are many kinds of checks to choose from for a small fee.) However, do write out a rental agreement. The written agreement, with lots of details, makes it very clear to everyone what is expected. This helps avoid conflict or uncomfortable situations. Nolo Press has a very wonderful and simple book for landlords with a CD with the forms you need. It's a good investment. Living with other people can be such a rewarding experience for you and your children. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. Good luck.
Sign me: Nuclear No More.
I just want to suggest that you rent to someone you know, or to someone who knows someone you know. Or, do a credit check and get references and call the references. A few years ago I was sharing a house with 4 other adults (all of us grad students or working people), plus two kids, and we naively rented one of our rooms to someone who turned out to be a crazy lady. When we met her she seemed like a reasonable person, friendly and intelligent, an older woman who said she was a writer. We thought she'd be a good roommate - never occurred to us to check references. Within a month, she had filed restraining orders against all of us, was calling the police to come to the house saying she feared for her life, and she refused to move out, claiming she had no other place to go, and that our eviction notice was in retaliation for her restraining orders. We were forced to hire a lawyer, and we all had to go to court to defend ourselves. It still was two more months of hell before she finally moved out. We found out during the court process that she was paying rent on another apartment in Berkeley, and had filed numerous restraining orders against previous housemates, and had taken numerous people and organizations (local churches, the YMCA, UC Berkeley) to small claims court. What a nightmare that was!
Always check references
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