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Old 10-11-2011, 08:05 PM
 
Location: Near a river
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I'd like to hear from retirees who are thinking about having a housemate, or from those who already have one or more.

- Is a housemate who is sharing chores and expenses technically a "renter" (I would imagine yes)

- How do you screen potential housemates to find someone compatible and trustworthy?

- What are the "laws" in the event the housemate doesn't prove compatible or pay the expected monthly rent?

- Do you have a lease with a housemate?

- Other things to think about?
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Old 10-12-2011, 12:21 AM
Status: "Support the Mining Law of 1872" (set 7 days ago)
 
Location: Cody, WY
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My biggest fear as I grow older is that I could be forced to go into a nursing home. To me, the worst thing about living in a nursing home would be the lack of privacy. I've only lived with my parents and my wife. In college I was fortunate in having a private room in the dorms the entire time.

From what I observed in school it seems that the quickest way for two good friends to destroy their friendship is to become roommates. I can't imagine what it would be like for two strangers who have both been masters or mistresses of their domiciles for the bulk of their lives.
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Old 10-12-2011, 12:56 AM
 
Location: Bay Area, CA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by newenglandgirl View Post
I'd like to hear from retirees who are thinking about having a housemate, or from those who already have one or more.
My mother is a 62 year-old woman, not retired yet, but she did recently start taking on housemates... in her case it was a combination of financial need, and her rented house feeling too big & empty. So I'll try to answer your questions, since I answered most of these for her already!

Quote:
- Is a housemate who is sharing chores and expenses technically a "renter" (I would imagine yes)
Yes... whatever you choose to call them, legally they are tenants/renters in the home (regardless of whether you own it or not).

Quote:
- How do you screen potential housemates to find someone compatible and trustworthy?
Honestly, the only thing you can do is go with "your gut." Background checks can be done too, just to see if there's a criminal record, and credit checks can tell you a little about their financial situation. But neither of those will say if you're compatible, in fact some of my BEST former roommates probably look terrible on paper (bankruptcy, child support, minor criminal charges, etc). So the best thing is to set up a meeting, and spend a little time getting to know one another... it's usually obvious upon meeting somebody, at least it has been in my experiences.

Also don't be afraid to ask questions, and make sure you're asking relevant questions. Having them list their favorite bands and colors is irrelevant, as are details about their past relationships, jobs, travels, etc. Important questions might include the following:

- How do you typically spend your free time?
- What kind of hours do you keep?
- Do you enjoy entertaining friends/family at the home?
- Have you ever been evicted for any reason? (if yes, ask why)
- Do you have/like pets?
- Are you a frequent phone-talker, TV-watcher, etc?

There are no right vs wrong answers to these questions, as it all depends on what's compatible with your specific lifestyle.

Quote:
- What are the "laws" in the event the housemate doesn't prove compatible or pay the expected monthly rent?

- Do you have a lease with a housemate?
The second question answers the one above it, LOL. Always always always have them sign a lease, and these can be easily obtained with a simple Google search... doesn't matter who wrote it, only matters that it has a signature and clear terms. Make sure to find one specific for your state, as laws vary according to where you live.

I'd recommend starting with a short-term lease, like 3 months, and offer the option of extending if things go well. This way you'll only have to deal with an incompatible roommate for MAX 3 months, and legally you would have the right to evict when that expires. But if things work out, just have them sign a new longer-term or month-to-month agreement after that first one ends. Oh, and if they simply don't pay rent as promised, you can evict them even before the lease expires (actual time depends on state laws). Good luck!

Quote:
- Other things to think about?
Just be sure to set clear boundaries from the beginning, in terms of personal space/time, household responsibilities, financial obligations, food sharing, etc, etc. Don't be an Ogre about it, though! Usually these issues come up naturally, so take advantage of each situation to explain your desires... example, if you find she's eating your food without contributing, suggest going grocery shopping together & splitting the bill. Or say something like "By the way, if you'd like to have a communal food arrangement, we should probably talk about how to do that fairly."

Last edited by gizmo980; 10-12-2011 at 01:09 AM..
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Old 10-12-2011, 04:36 AM
 
Location: SW MO
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I, for one, would never consider it. I prize my privacy. One thing I really appreciate about my wife is that she gives me the space I want and need and I do the same for her which makes us very compatible "housemates." We don't get underfoot with one another yet are close and spend almost all our time together. We can also do so easily and comfortably without a lot of chit-chat yet at the same time we can indulge in deep conversations. Neither of us is "needy."

When looking at homes to buy once we decided on our retirement location, one absolute imperative was a large kitchen. We both love to cook and are quite proficient at it. We also love doing so together but we needed a large enough space to prevent getting in on another's way.

Should I lose my wife the last thing I would consider would be filling the "void" by having someone else move in and share space; especially someone I might have to jump through legal hoops to get rid of if it didn't work out.

Moving a virtual stranger into the home, no matter how well I screened, would not be an attractive option.
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Old 10-12-2011, 06:08 AM
 
Location: Near a river
16,042 posts, read 18,969,510 times
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Gizmo, great post, lots of sound advice~~

Curmudgeon, I wonder if it's a male thing to not want to have housemate(s) in older years....are men more set in their ways perhaps, and women more "communal"? Just wondering....
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Old 10-12-2011, 06:34 AM
 
Location: SW MO
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Quote:
Originally Posted by newenglandgirl View Post
Curmudgeon, I wonder if it's a male thing to not want to have housemate(s) in older years....are men more set in their ways perhaps, and women more "communal"? Just wondering....
Could well be. For me, especially, since cooking and grilling (I do so about six nights a week on average) are both a hobby and a true pleasure, no one but my wife had better mess with my extremely well-appointed kitchen and grill and accoutrements. A housemate who wanted or expected kitchen priveleges just wouldn't work.

Yup! Just set in my ways, I guess! Thankfully, my wife is much the same. Wonder if that's why we actually get along. Also, I leave the baking to her. That's her favorite domain and she provides all our breads and such. Everything, with both of us, is made with healthy, natural ingredients and we grow many of our own vegetables as well.
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Old 10-12-2011, 06:48 AM
 
Location: The Triad (NC)
28,490 posts, read 62,120,010 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by newenglandgirl View Post
I'd like to hear from retirees who are thinking about having a housemate...
The issues are largely the same whether its for/with retiree's or college kids.

Quote:
- Do you have a lease with a housemate?
- What are the "laws" in the event the housemate doesn't prove compatible or pay the expected monthly rent?
- Is a housemate who is sharing chores and expenses technically a "renter"
The specific legalities will vary by State and County but generally a housemate tenancy is NOT subject to the same strict requirements for notices and other remedy type things as when someone has rented a separate apartment.

The flip side is that anyone responsible and mature enough to otherwise suit is likely to also want/expect the sort of rights they would have under a regular lease situation.

Consequently, "lease" is not the right term in most situations regardless of what the financial arrangements or other terms (like work around the house) you mutually agree to honor... but setting out in writing in some sort of agreement exactly what your expectations and allowances are is absolutely appropriate.

Quote:
- How do you screen potential housemates to find someone compatible and trustworthy?
Finding an appropriate person is harder than finding a romantic interest.
The level of intimacy is almost absolute and that almost immediate; with a bf/gf you can stop whatever your arrangement is without giving them 30 days notice.

Assuming you're looking for adults... look for professionally stable ones.

Quote:
- Other things to think about?
The "squirelly" factor. The biggest issue to be aware of is that beyond the undergrad age the people who are looking for a situation fall in to two basic groups. Those who are in a temporary transition stage of some sort and those who aren't and will forever need to be someone's housemate.

The problem with the non-squirelly is that they aren't likely to be sticking around as a housemate longer than it takes to sort out their divorce or find an apartment of their own after they have settled into the new job or find new friends in their new town or similar normal life progressions.

Assuming you aren't doing it (primarily) for the money... then don't sweat the money.
Charge what you can and still be competitive in your area and if all goes really well you can consider a rebate after a while or some other thing they'll appreciate. But if (when) a hiccup happens you'll have a slush fund.

Ideally, that rent amount will be enough to cover all the direct expenses but also it should include a reasonable allowance for all the little things that can get shared that there should only be one of in the house and are more trouble than it's worth to account for individually (spices, condiments, cleaning/paper products, etc).

But still tell them they are expected to share in replenishing the items on that list as well.
And have that list... with the brand names you prefer or you both agree on.

hth

Last edited by MrRational; 10-12-2011 at 07:04 AM..
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Old 10-12-2011, 06:48 AM
 
Location: State of Being
35,885 posts, read 67,147,825 times
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My Aunt, who is 95, had a renter in her home at one point. It worked out well b/c the space was a a fully equipped walk-out basement (living area, bedroom, kitchen) with its own entrance.

She and the renter rarely spoke or had anything to do with each other. That is how they both wanted it.

Any housemate arrangement would have to be with a separate entrance and be treated as if it were a detached property (for me to be comfortable with it).

However, as contradictory as this sounds, I have been looking for a property to convert to a B&B for years . . . as I like being a hostess. Go figure!

Consider that it is quite possible with many house configurations to block off an area to rent - even if that means having a door put in for access to that area. I had an additional entrance created to my house this summer - it was not that difficult, but then - this house has siding, not brick.
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Old 10-12-2011, 08:35 PM
 
15,190 posts, read 31,132,279 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Curmudgeon View Post
I, for one, would never consider it. I prize my privacy. One thing I really appreciate about my wife is that she gives me the space I want and need and I do the same for her which makes us very compatible "housemates." We don't get underfoot with one another yet are close and spend almost all our time together. We can also do so easily and comfortably without a lot of chit-chat yet at the same time we can indulge in deep conversations. Neither of us is "needy."

When looking at homes to buy once we decided on our retirement location, one absolute imperative was a large kitchen. We both love to cook and are quite proficient at it. We also love doing so together but we needed a large enough space to prevent getting in on another's way.

Should I lose my wife the last thing I would consider would be filling the "void" by having someone else move in and share space; especially someone I might have to jump through legal hoops to get rid of if it didn't work out.

Moving a virtual stranger into the home, no matter how well I screened, would not be an attractive option.
I feel exactly the same way. I am a woman, so definitely NOT a male thing. If something happened to my sweet husband, and money was tight I would rather move into the smallest place possible rather than take on roommates.

Plus, I have been a landlord, and those were the worst years of my life. I can't even imagine what hell it would be if a renter was actually LIVING with me. This, of course, is only my view and I'm sure many do it and it works out for them.
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Old 10-13-2011, 01:24 AM
 
Location: Bay Area, CA
29,041 posts, read 45,015,503 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by newenglandgirl View Post
Gizmo, great post, lots of sound advice~~
Thanks, and I'm glad it was helpful! While I'm of a different age group (35 next week), I've had lots of roommates myself... also helped my mother with this issue recently, so it was fresh on my mind.

Quote:
Curmudgeon, I wonder if it's a male thing to not want to have housemate(s) in older years....are men more set in their ways perhaps, and women more "communal"? Just wondering....
That could definitely be the case, as women generally are more "communal" by nature. Even true in nature, when you consider how many species live in groups of women/babies, while the men are solitary (lions, for example). When my parents got divorced in their late-40s, my father lived alone for under a year, before moving into a house with his new wife-to-be. My mother, on the other hand, immediately moved in her best male (gay) friend... and ever since, she's always had either a friend or housemate living with her. Never thought about it until now, but that is an interesting observation!

Could also be a generational thing, as people my age are more used to roommate situations. Not only are we getting married later & moving out of our parents' homes earlier, but COL is much more expensive these days - especially here in the Bay Area. Our COL is so high, it's actually unusual for single folks NOT to have roommates, regardless of their age. I live alone right now, and the rent is seriously killing me.
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