I live in a semi. What are the drawbacks of renting out a room? I worry about stealing, snooping, etc. and don’t want pets. What if it doesn’t go well? – ROOMMATE RESERVATIONS
DEAR ROOMMATE: Renting out a room in your home does not fall under the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) if you share common space with the tenant, such as a kitchen or bathroom. Outside of the RTA, you have more of an ability to choose your tenant and can set limits for them regarding habits or pets.
You’ll need to start by creating a rental agreement (aka a lease). This provides a written record of the terms to which you and your tenant agree and can be easily referenced if issues arise. I suggest you base your contract on the RTA’s standard lease agreement, available online from the Government of Ontario (Ontario.ca under “home and community”). This template incorporates the bulk of the critical details, but you’ll want to address additional concerns that are specific to your home, such as the sharing of food and expenses, household rules, hosting of guests, cleaning responsibilities, laundry, parking, pets, any restricted areas and what to do if damage occurs (the list goes on).
When you’ve written your terms into the agreement, have it reviewed by a lawyer. This will cost a bit out of the gate, but will prove invaluable if there are ever issues down the road. There’s no avoiding the fact that living with a tenant will take some adjustment, even with a signed contract in place. Choose your roommate carefully, and be clear in advance on what steps you’ll take if things don’t go well.
PRO TIP: While the rent you collect can be used to offset your living expenses, a tenant may also affect your taxes, home insurance premiums, and eligibility for social assistance. I suggest you do a little research before making the leap.
If someone makes full priced offer on our home, do we have to take it? Developers have purchased a number of properties in our area. We would prefer to sell to a young family. – FAMILY MAN
DEAR FAMILY: The simple answer is no, you are never obligated to accept any offer.
It sounds to me like you’ve built valuable memories in your home and would like them to continue with another family. This is understandable. At the same time, I suggest you consider this more of a business decision than an emotional one.
Let’s be honest: if a developer were to offer you significantly more for your home, you would be well advised to take the money. Moving forward, those funds could secure a comfortable “next chapter” for you, or even build a legacy for your family. That said, the final decision would be up to you, no matter what the circumstances.
PRO TIP: It’s a seller’s prerogative to turn down any offer, whether higher, lower or at their asking price. As a Realtor, my clients count on me to say “no” in uncomfortable situations.