Empty Nest? Rent out a Spare Bedroom

After about 20 some years of feeding and housing a child, parents can have a variety of different reactions when they finally leave the nest and go off into the world. Parents with only one child may be tempted to keep their son or daughter's room exactly as it is, but many who are not quite so sentimental about the former living space may want to convert that room into something they can actually use.

There are a number of things to be done with this newly unoccupied room. One that may not immediately occur to parents, but which is actually a very wise idea to consider in the current economy, is renting the room out. A den, study, or guest bedroom may be nice, but most parents did not buy a multi-bedroom house—that was considerably more expensive than one with fewer rooms—because they want a place to read the newspaper or give visiting relatives a place to sleep. They bought it for their children to live in, so when the kids are gone there is no reason to keep paying the full price of a mortgage on a house that is larger than the current family needs. This option may not be for everyone, but for those who are willing, it will put the room to profitable use.

The following nine tips will help you to prepare a spare room to be rented.

1. Store Any Belongings Left Behind

Garage storage

Put any of your child’s personal belongings that they did not take with them in boxes or other containers and place them in storage, either in your basement, garage, or a separate unit. Make sure you talk with your son or daughter beforehand so they know you will be doing this so they can take anything they might miss with them.

2. Deep Clean the Carpet if Needed

All that should remain at this point is the bed with the bedding removed and any other large furniture. Remove all the furniture from the room and thoroughly vacuum the carpet and use the carpet cleaner on any stains. It may be wise to consider shampooing the carpet if there is a lot of damage, but this may not be necessary in all cases.

3. Dust and Change the Light Bulbs and Linens

Clean linens

Clean the windows, shelves, and other surfaces of dirt and dust. Also, replace the light bulbs and add new bedding that was not used by the room’s previous occupant. You'll want to generally get the room as clean as possible for people who will look at it.

4. Check Your Personal Contacts First

When you begin looking for a renter, the first place to turn is your personal contacts, since then you can be sure of your renter’s character and background. If this does not turn up anything, try placing ads online or in local print media.

5. Leave Plenty of Time to Show the Room

Make ample time to show your room to potential renters so you can sit down and talk with them personally. It may behoove you to ask for contact information from an employer or other parties related to the renter to verify their character.

6. Refine Terms of Living Arrangement

Once you have found someone you are comfortable with, work out the details of what facilities outside of the room they are allowed to use (for example, if you have more than one bathroom you may want them to stick to a designated one) and any rules you may have in terms of having guests over, noise levels, or similar issues.

7. Get an Agreement in Writing

Lease agreement paperwork

Search for a rental agreement form online and print it out. Have your renter and yourself sign it to make it binding. This should contain all stipulations from the previous tip so you will have grounds to evict the renter if they are not meeting their end of the deal.

8. Help Your New Renter Move In

Schedule a time for your renter to move in and offer to give them a hand. This will help to establish a friendly atmosphere so you can all live together in relative harmony.