Everything is Bigger in Texas (Including the Closets)

Today we’ll be talking about how to split up room cost between roommates when it comes to fancy Texan livin’ and their huge closet spaces.

Dear Splitwise,

I am currently in the process of moving into an apartment for the first time with 3 very dear friends of mine. It’s all really exciting but we are having some problems figuring out exactly how much everyone needs to pay a month. Two people will be sharing the master bedroom, while the other 2 will get their own rooms.  Continue reading Everything is Bigger in Texas (Including the Closets)

Latrines’ Galore

Today we’re talking about some sweet unconventional housing, hardwood floors, and figuring out how much rent each housemate should pay.

Dear Splitwise,

I am trying to arbitrate a living situation for my daughter and want to share some Outhouses Galorethoughts. Your “Splitwise” rent calculator is ingenious! However it may not work as well with unconventional housing. One thing missing from the calculation is the number of bathrooms. This is a drawback as a typical 4 bedroom house might have only two bathrooms so the MBR rent would be much higher due to the exclusive use of the MBR bath. All other tenants and house guests would use the single remaining bath… much less desirable.

Continue reading Latrines’ Galore

Saving the World, One Microwave at a Time

In today’s Dear Splitwise, we consider the troubles of a super-intense treehugger who lives off-campus with his roommates (and their girlfriends).

Dear Splitwise,Unplug that Microwave!

I live in an student-style apartment with 3 roommates, and we all have separate leases. The only thing not separate is the electricity, and there are a couple issues splitting it based on usage and our guests. Also, I’m an environmentalist, and every month, they hand me a $180 electric bill and asking me to pay for a third of it. To me, this is like saying, “Hey I need you to give me some of your money for something I need that you will not be using that will cause your friends to die, can I get that on the 20th?”

Continue reading Saving the World, One Microwave at a Time

Fridge Overlord

Shelf OverlordDear Splitwise returns this week to settle the issue of shelf space in a fridge that is owned by a roommate. This is common in places like Europe, where household appliances being included with a rental isn’t necessarily the norm.

Hi Splitwise,

I live with three other people in a four-bedroom share house. One of my housemates owns a 400L fridge. She uses between 40-60% of the fridge space, depending on how much food she has at the time. She also claims sole use of the largest and most convenient shelf (there are only three shelves, so no-one else can have their own shelf) and says that this is fair because it is her fridge. If we wanted to have unfettered fridge access, then we should supply our own fridge.

The problem with this – aside from the logistical issues with placing multiple fridges in an average-sized, inner-suburban house – is that the kitchen of a shared house is shared space. We all rent that space. If a housemate wants to carve out a fridge empire or own other large ungainly objects that others can’t freely use, they should do so in their bedroom and leave the common areas to be used equally by all housemates.

What do you think?

Yours Truly,
Shelfless

Continue reading Fridge Overlord

Rentin’ Rooms in your House

Why U No Use Rent Calculator?
Most Splitwise Man In The World

If you are going to rent out a room in your house, especially to a friend, you need to pick a fair price that also reflects the market. One reader asks:

Dear Splitwise,

How would you charge if you rent out a room with a private bathroom in the home that is your primary residence, which you own?

Sincerely,
Landlord in Training

Hi Landlord in Training,

Great question. As it happens, I just had to help my parents do this. Here’s what you need to know: Continue reading Rentin’ Rooms in your House

The Joys Of Living With Your Tenants

I feel odd linking to a NASDAQ page about shared real estate, but there was a nice article on one of the NASDAQ blogs recently about renting out rooms of a house or apartment that you own – that is, being a landlord in your own home. Apparently, the 2011 US Census has concluded that over 30% of households in the US now have unrelated adults living together, which comes to 69M roommates (and a 10.7% increase over the 2007 figure). This means the potential market for property owners to share their residence with renters is increasing rather quickly.

Renting part of a place you own is an appealing option for people who are living in a house that is now too big for them to afford. For instance, parents who have an empty-nest can rent out their kids old bedroom to get some retirement income. Or a young professional who wants to go back to graduate school can get some positive cash flow if they own some property.

If you’re able to get a mortgage, renting out the other rooms of a residence can also be a good way to live affordably while slowly buying the place you’re sharing. With interest rates low, and the sale-price-to rental-price-ratio declining in many major US cities, it’s getting easier and easier to pull-off paying off a mortgage with rental income.

The main trick to doing this well yourself is to find and keep good tenants / roommates, which can be a tough proposition. Finding roommates means ensuring your personal security and doing appropriate tenant screening. There are also a couple of things to watch out for: have some legal protection, pay taxes, and follow Fair Housing rules when advertising for tenants. (the NASDAQ article does not mention this, but the exact rules of fair housing legislation seem more subtle now in light of a recent court case).