Homeowner informational pack – How to rent a spare room in your home

Welcome-Home

You want to rent out a spare room. 

Would you like to rent a spare room in your home but don’t know where to start? The usual process is to advertise your home on a property website. With the shortage of accommodation, you could be overwhelmed with applications. Another challenge is you don’t know much about the applicants, so how do you know who to trust?  Maybe you don’t feel comfortable inviting strangers to view your home.

 

HomeHak’s Tenant Selector allows homeowners to filter, sort, select and contact organised home seekers who could be happy in their home. Make an informed selection about who your property would suit best. If you do decide to advertise your spare room, ask for applicants to submit their HomeHak Tenant CVs so that you can filter, sort and select applicants in a consistent format in one place.

 

Once you have selected someone to view your home, there are many factors to consider and discuss with your potential new resident. This article prompts you to enquire about typical topics and what you may want to agree on at the beginning of any arrangement.

Important

This post focuses on an arrangement where an owner-occupier invites a home seeker to rent a room in their home. This is not considered the same as a landlord-tenant arrangement. Landlord and tenant legislation do not cover you, so the rights and obligations under that legislation do not apply to you. For example, you are not obliged to register as a landlord with the RTB. This also means that residents living in your home live under a licensee agreement, not a tenancy agreement, and are only entitled to reasonable notice if you terminate the arrangement.

 

In this article, we use the terms “homeowner” instead of “landlord” and “resident”, “lodger” or “home seeker” instead of “tenant”.

 

Welcome-Home
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Selecting your resident – some considerations and discussion points

Once you have selected the home seekers and invited them to view your home, there are topics we recommend you discuss with your potential resident before selecting who will move in.

Furthermore, you can also establish a formal agreement between yourself as a homeowner and your future resident. There is an example template linked at the end of this article.

Duration and Nature of the Stay

Discuss the intended length of the accommodation period and whether or not that period could be extended. Enquire about their plans and how long they need accommodation.  You may have future commitments and need the room back after 6 or 12 months or at a certain date. It is fair to manage expectations so your resident can plan accordingly. Communicate openly about the availability of the room, as flexibility is often attractive to residents.

Damage Deposit

If you are operating a damage deposit system, be clear about the conditions relating to the deposit and provide the resident with a receipt. Make it clear that the damage deposit is not rent and will be returned at the end of the accommodation period if all goes well. If any damage does ever occur, discuss the situation immediately. This will be less awkward than introducing it as surprise news at the end of the accommodation period. Return the deposit if no damage has been caused on the resident’s departure.

Utilities

Give the resident sufficient information about the approximate cost of utility bills. Make special considerations for individual situations. If the resident will be working from home, they could maybe contribute a certain percentage of the electricity or gas bill to reflect the extra consumption.

 

Working-from-home
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Rent Payment

Agree on the amount of rent, the day and frequency of payments, the method of payment, and to who it should be paid. Make it clear what is included in the “rent” and if utilities are included, for example. If there are situations when the rent can be increased or decreased in future, make these clear in advance.

Extra services

You may want to offer the resident extra services with the room, such as a secure parking space, cooked meals, laundry services, bed linen changes, etc. If you propose such and agree on additional services with your resident, make sure you factor in the cost of the services into the final agreed rent price for the room. Remember, if services are included in the rent, they must be delivered.

Common Areas

Outline which areas of the home may be considered common areas and which are off-limits to residents. . Generally, a resident would have access to the kitchen, living room, bathroom, back kitchen/utility room, and their bedroom. Still, every household varies, and if you prefer a resident to use a specific toilet, for example, that should be communicated.

Person in the living room with computer
Photo Thought Catalog on Unsplash

Time and consumption limits

Inform the resident of any time limits which may apply to the use of amenities such as the shower, the heating, the tumble dryer, etc. Most people can appreciate the rising cost of living, especially concerning utility bills. If you want to set consumption limits, make the residents aware before they move in to avoid potential disputes later.

Other Limitations

To rent a spare room in your home without incidents, you may want to discuss other limitations. For instance,  consider if there will be limitations on visitors, noise, hours of entering and leaving home, use of common areas, etc.

Expectations and Preferences

Discuss any personal expectations, pet peeves or preferences you have regarding your home. It could be related to anything from noise levels to security to cleanliness and so on. Every home and every person is different. If you are accustomed to doing things a certain way, it’s important to remember that people cannot read your mind! Open communication and setting reasonable boundaries early on will help to avoid any frustrations in the future.

Smoking

Many homeowners don’t allow smoking. However, if you permit smoking, discuss the rules for smoking at your home. Outline if there are designated areas, where to dispose of cigarette butts, where to empty ashtrays, etc.

Sharing of Household items

There may be some everyday products that you are comfortable with your resident using. If you are willing to share, we recommend creating a checklist of items to agree on, for example, milk, sugar, tea and coffee, toilet paper, kitchen towels, cleaning products, dish soap or dishwashing tablets, shower gel, shampoo, laundry detergent, etc. Discuss with the resident which common products they have permission to use and how such items will be bought. If certain products should not be shared, discuss these in  dvance.

 

Man-cooking-kitchen-at-home
Photo by Jason Briscoe on Unsplash

Scheduling use of common areas

Schedules can be helpful where multiple people are living in the home. Everyone has different day-to-day lives. It’s considerate and useful to compare schedules with the resident. If necessary, agree on times of use for the busiest areas of the house.  For example,  you might schedule the use of the kitchen for cooking meals or the use of the main bathroom for taking showers or baths. The goal is to ensure that everybody’s daily routine can run smoothly. Understanding everybody’s schedule from the start can also avoid disruption if, for example, you or your resident must work awkward shift patterns.

Keys

Discuss the resident’s responsibilities regarding holding keys to your home. Specify any conditions, e.g. don’t make copies or that there is a fee to replace lost keys.

Security

For many homeowners, knowing there is a trusted resident in the home offers added security. Demonstrate to the resident how to properly lock doors and windows and set alarms or any other security equipment in the home. Specify your expectations about locking up when the home is unoccupied or before bed. If you have other people nominated as keyholders for your home, such as neighbours, family members, or a security company, make sure your resident is also in the loop.

Household Services/Contracts

Explain any services you may have contracted related to the home and how the resident should handle them in your absence, e.g. refuse collection, signing for post & packages, allowing access to builders, childminders, window cleaners, etc.

Household Responsibilities

Discuss the sharing of household responsibilities with the resident. This might involve, for example, taking turns each week to clean the common areas of the home, watering the plants/garden or taking out the bins to be collected, etc. Discuss and outline the expectations in advance, so there is no confusion later.

Embracing differences

Maybe your resident comes from a different cultural or ethnic background? If so, it is considerate to gen up in advance so that you can ask thoughtful questions about cultural differences that might affect the experience for both of you. Ask the resident what a typical day in their life looks like. Enquire about food and eating habits, work or study hours. You will possibly discover more similarities than differences and more conveniences than issues. For example, if your resident is from Spain, they may like to cook dinner later in the evening, allowing you full use of the kitchen during Irish dinner time!

Pets

Disclose plenty of information about your pets to the resident in advance. Make sure to introduce your pet to the resident before they move in It is important to avoid issues with allergies or where a resident has a fear of animals. Before agreeing to a property viewing, disclose details like the type of pet, size, temperament, etc. Be clear about any expectations concerning your pet, like ensuring doors, gates and windows be kept shut.

Would like your resident to feed your pets sometimes or keep an eye on them while you are away? Would you be happy to recognise such services with a discount on rent? Mention such expectations in advance. If you agree with a resident that they can bring a pet to your home, obtain the same information about their pet.

 

Dog-owner-at-home
Photo by Evieanna Santiago on Unsplash

Special Requirements

Discuss with your resident if you, any other household member or the resident, have special requirements, such as a potential need for minor medical assistance. For example, if someone has a severe nut allergy, it would be a good idea to inform all household members where they can find Epi-Pen and how to administer it – just in case. Other conditions might include diabetes, epilepsy, low blood pressure etc.

Emergency numbers

In the event of an emergency, discuss with your resident what to do. Maybe you have an accessible list of phone numbers for local emergency services and family members or neighbours. For your resident, it might be a good idea to share contact details for a family member of theirs, a friend or their workplace in case of any unfortunate circumstance.

Notice period

Agree on a reasonable notice period for termination of the agreement in advance. People living in your home as residents are living under a licensee agreement, not a tenancy agreement, and are only entitled to reasonable notice if you choose to terminate the agreement. Should you require the resident to move out of your home, the process is more transparent if you can invoke a previously agreed-upon notice period.

For when your resident wants to leave, outline how your resident must communicate the notice (e.g. email or letter). State how long in advance they should advise you of the leaving date. Make it clear that you will return the damage deposit at the end of the final rent period if everything is satisfactory.  

Sample homeowner-resident agreement

Finally, if you rent a spare room in your home, consider having all the norms in writing. To make it easier, we have created this sample agreement (click here). Feel free to modify this sample agreement outlining living arrangements to your liking. Simply click on the option “File”, and then on “Make a copy” to edit this template.

 

Further reading

If you are considering the option of renting your spare room(s), we recommend you look at the article about benefits of renting a spare bedroom in your home.

Why employers should help their staff find a home

Employees-with-HR-person

Companies looking to hire new employees are significantly impacted by the housing crisis, according to the latest Morgan McKinley quarterly employment monitor: “The lack of housing supply in cities in addition to soaring costs is leading to a rise in emigration, further emptying the talent pool”.

 

Employers are struggling to keep native Irish talent due to the lack of supply in the Irish rental market. Besides, hiring international employees has become a highly complex task. Morgan McKinley’s report claims that “the housing shortage within Dublin is causing companies to struggle with securing overseas talent, leading to a reduction in non-EU professionals and a narrowing of the talent pool”.

 

Shortage of accommodation is not just a Dublin problem, as the figures speak about a nationwide accommodation crisis. According to the Renting and Risk report from the homeless charity Threshold and the Citizens Information Board, on August 1st this year, there were “just 716 homes available to rent in the State in comparison with an average of 9,300 at any one time in the years between 2006 and 2019”.

 

Employees-with-HR-person
Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash

The impact of Ireland’s accommodation crisis on the workforce

 

Ireland’s housing crisis, coupled with the requirement for many employees to return to the workplace and live in or close to the cities after working remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic, raises the following questions: Are companies doing enough to support their staff to find accommodation? Should employers help their staff find a home?

 

The general support employers provide to new hires relocating to Ireland is to cover the expenses of the trip and several weeks in either a hotel or a room rented from temporary housing providers. However, the problem comes when the employee must leave their provisional home without finding a longer term home.

 

The prospect of lacking something as fundamental as a place to live generates enormous stress for the employee, especially when they are in a foreign country. Unsurprisingly, absenteeism, disengagement, a decrease in productivity and, in some cases, resignation are the most common consequences.

 

According to the Irish company Excel Recruitment, the real cost of employee turnover can range from 33% to a stunning 200% of an employee’s annual income, depending on the complexity and seniority of a role.
The high cost of finding and replacing talent and the hit to productivity are strong enough reasons. This encourages some employers to have a more proactive role in supporting their staff to find a home.

Employers who help their staff find a home will see an increase in productivity

Available and affordable accommodation that fits the needs of the workforce is crucial to attract, keep and grow a skilled and productive workforce. Businesses should advocate and invest in finding suitable housing for their staff, not only to assist their employees but also the local economy.

 

Employees that live in the area near their workplace will have shorter commute times and, therefore, a better quality of life. Long commutes may not only push them to look for another job but also affect their wellbeing and productivity. A Britain’s Healthiest Workplace study carried out with 34,000 workers revealed that those who commute over an hour to go to work are more likely to experience stress, health issues such as obesity and depression, and financial concerns. The study also found that employees commuting less than 30 minutes per day “gain an additional seven days’ worth of productive time each year compared to those with commutes of 60 minutes or more”.

 

The relationship between homes and wellbeing 

This type of data is relevant for Irish employers. As revealed in an Aon survey, ‘work-life’ balance is their top wellbeing concern. Besides, this research also states that “96% of businesses in Ireland have at least one employee wellbeing initiative in place”. This figure is especially high when compared to the average of 86% in European firms.

 

Another piece of research carried out by The Happiness Research Institute, Kingfisher and B&Q shows the impact of accommodation on overall happiness and wellbeing by stating that a home contributes more to happiness than a job or a salary. The findings, gathered from over 13,000 people across Europe, showed that while a happy home accounts for 15% of a person’s total happiness, only 6% and 3% of happiness is based on what we earn and the job we do, respectively. This 2019 survey also unveiled that 73% of people who are happy at home are also content in life.

The link between happiness and the home

Support that goes beyond paying the hotel bill

Employers that don’t help their staff find a home will feel the consequences of an unhappy and disengaged workforce. An unpleasant experience in a new city will make any employee less likely to stay in the company. This could also harm the brand’s reputation.

 

Employee experience begins way before starting the new job.  The Recruitment teams should  set the right expectations about the moving process. A prior-first-day orientation to the new hire should help alleviate the relocation stress. For example, the welcoming package could include a local guide. This resource should incorporate information about public transport and recommendations for local services such as grocery shops, hospitals or gyms. This will help international workers know where they would like to live before getting started with their home search.

 

Employers can create opportunities for their staff to connect and help each other with their house hunting. Getting co-workers to network “reduces the likelihood of turnover by 140%”, increases productivity and, in this particular case, it could help employees find a house through their professional connections.

 

Households formed by like-minded people, such as employees of the same company, are more likely to have good chemistry than those where complete strangers cohabit. Employees who live near or with each other will also enjoy spontaneous get-togethers. This can also enhance the employee experience overall. When employees live together, they can commute to work in groups and share the cost of transportation.

 

Happy talent is productive talent. Hence, the company would ultimately benefit from these types of living arrangements between team members.

 

Girls-at-home-with-dog-laughing
Photo by Chewy on Unsplash

 

The company’s duty of care

Another reason a company should support their workers in finding a home is that they owe it to their staff. Under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 the standard duty of care places an obligation on the businesses to do everything that “is reasonably practicable” to protect the health, safety and welfare at work of all employees.

 

Employers are also morally obliged to protect their employees from undue risks when they relocate. Therefore, they should make every effort to protect employees travelling and relocating to a new city for business purposes from any physical or psychological harm.

 

By safeguarding their employees and preventing them from experiencing distressing situations such as not having a place to live, the company will also protect its own image and reputation.

 

Businesses can execute their duty of care by guiding their relocated employees. They should help them avoid accommodation scams, choose safe neighbourhoods for housing, and find reliable and convenient commuting options.

 

The social contract: why employers should help their staff find a home

The social contract between employers and employees has long been established and should not be forgotten. Employers provide stability and fair compensation in exchange for their employee’s dedication, hard work, and skills. Since finding housing is a necessary component of stability, employers should become powerful allies in their staff’s housing search. This behaviour will also help strengthen the relationship between employers and employees, turning them into advocates of the company.

 

All things considered, it seems logical for employers to build as much housing support into the recruitment process as possible. Employers should help their staff find a home and navigate the complicated Irish home market.

References:

  1. The housing crisis is making Ireland’s skills shortage worse, a new report reveals.
  2. Housing Crisis Threatening Job Growth as Vacancies Up 6.9%.
  3. Collapse in number of properties on rental market since pandemic laid bare in new report.
  4. The True Cost of Replacing an Employee. [online] Excel Recruitment.
  5. Long commutes costing firms a week’s worth of staff productivity
  6. Aon survey reveals ‘work-life’ balance is the top wellbeing concern for Irish employers
  7. What makes a happy home?
  8. Networking Statistics: General Stats, Benefits, Face to Face, and More!
  9. Duty of Care

The 7 Benefits of Renting a Room in Your Home

Woman-at-home

If you are reading this, you have probably considered or have some experience renting a room in your home. Did you know that Eurostat figures confirmed that Ireland had the third-highest share of people living in under-occupied dwellings in the European Union in 2019? That means that we have more spare rooms than most EU countries. Despite this fact and a recent increase in residential construction, the reported housing shortages in 2019 in Ireland were estimated to range between 32,000 and 50,000 units.

 

While some people may be understandably sceptical about opening their homes to new people, platforms like HomeHak.com are here to relieve the apprehension by offering a solution where landlords can choose a resident for their home by utilising HomeHak Tenant Selector’s detailed filtering system.

 

Woman-at-home
Photo by LinkedIn Sales Solutions on Unsplash

Gain access to a pool of pre-qualified tenants with HomeHak

Using the HomeHak platform, tenants can take a number of steps to make their Tenant CV desirable to homeowners, landlords and agents seeking to fill available accommodation without the overwhelming response of posting the listing on a public platform. In addition, tenants can verify their ID using Stripe, and invite ID-verified users to write references on their behalf. They can also display rental history, employment history and their available budget.

 

Therefore, you can easily identify candidates who fall into the price range you are expecting for the rooms you are offering. Renting a spare room in your home is now much easier and safer!

 

Here are some of the many benefits of using HomeHak.com to find a tenant for your home:

1. Earn extra income & split the cost of living

The number one reason people around the world rent rooms in their homes is to earn extra cash! You can also save more money by sharing the cost of living with tenants. The Rent-a-Room Relief scheme provides an incentive to homeowners in Ireland who want to rent a room in the house that they occupy as the main resident. Essentially, it is available to live-in landlords. Those benefiting from the scheme can earn up to €14,000 in a single tax year, exempt from income tax, PRSI, and USI. Besides, if you decide to sell your home, the scheme will not affect your capital gains tax.

 

Supplementing your income by renting a room in your home could potentially allow you more freedom. You might choose to work less, take more holidays, pay off debts, grow your savings and more with the extra income.

2. Provide much-needed accommodation for frontline workers and students  

Nurses and other health care providers are frequently travelling inter-county or from overseas to work in hospitals and care facilities in Ireland. Some have faced huge difficulties securing adequate housing in the vicinity of their workplaces.

 

Similarly, students returning to university in September have also been challenged with finding a place to call home for the academic year. Some students are seeking part weekly basis accommodation, which may be a good fit for homeowners who like the idea of renting a room but would also like to have the house to themselves or some family time at the weekend. HomeHak’s Tenant Selector can help to identify students from local universities or staff from local hospitals who may be in need of a home in your area.

 

Doctors-in-a-hospital
Photo by Luis Melendez on Unsplash

3. Exchange friendship, culture, food and language

People from all over the world have created their Tenant CVs and are looking for places to live on HomeHak. Would you like to learn about new cultures, and foods or learning a new language? Hosting an international resident at your home could be an exciting opportunity! This may allow you to have an immersive experience and meaningful connection with interesting new people.

4. Benefit from the extra security, especially for those living alone

You’ve probably heard the old saying “There’s safety in numbers”. Having an extra person at home will provide you with extra security should you ever be unlucky enough to be a target or victim of a crime or have an accident in your home. You may also feel more at ease when on vacation or on a work trip, knowing that someone is at home taking care of your house. Your residents might even take care of your pets and plants while you’re not home!

5. Combat isolation in older adults

With an ever ageing population, there has been an increasing number of older adults who live alone in Ireland. According to the Loneliness, social isolation, and their discordance among older adults findings from The Irish Longitudinal Study on ageing older adults who lived alone had a higher risk of social isolation than those who lived with others. The study also notes: “Loneliness and social isolation are not a necessary fact of the ageing process and recent efforts to alleviate these potentially damaging phenomena should be encouraged.”

 

Matching the numerous individuals in need of accommodation with older adults who live alone, such as empty nesters whose children have grown up and moved out, could provide a strong and effective relief to the social isolation often experienced by the demographic.

6. Get some extra help around the house

Some residents may have special skills they can offer you. For example, they could be qualified landscape gardeners, chefs or professional care providers. Suppose they are open to carrying out some tasks you have available in the home. In that case, you could propose a once-off or ongoing reciprocal agreement. For example, a reduction in the cost of rent in exchange for specified services provided in the home.

 

Man-and-woman-cooking-in-the-kitchen
Photo by Becca Tapert on Unsplash

7. Set out your own terms – Your house rules apply

Since you are the owner of the home, you can set out any rules/guidelines and precedent between yourself and the resident in the form of a written agreement prior to them moving into your home. Deposits, rent, and conditions can all be defined by you as the landlord. Spend some time considering what conditions might be important to you and your lifestyle or living situation. After that, craft an agreement around your needs. This will ensure you find a tenant who is a great fit and agrees to uphold the agreement you propose in exchange for the accommodation provided.

 

Of course, there are also various drawbacks to renting a room in your home. New relationships can be tricky to navigate, and you might not be accustomed to sharing your personal space with others. If you are receiving benefits you should check how the extra income could affect your entitlements.

 

Being a landlord may not be the perfect solution for everyone’s unique situation. However, if you have an urge to rent a room in your home, have good communication skills and are open to new experiences it could be the perfect opportunity to earn substantial extra income with a small amount of work contributed compared to if you were to earn the money at work.

 

Sign up to rent your spare room/son HomeHak today and select a tenant for your home.