September 1, 2016, I signed an agreement to become a homeowner. I was planning on finding a roommate to help pay for the place when one of my friends was on a time crunch to find a roof to live under. Let’s refer to her as Amy. I offered Amy my second bedroom for rent. I knew Amy for 3 years and we would hang out, gossip and go to shows together once in a while. Amy was an okay friend with constant drama around her, two neglected pets, terrible with money and no job. No surprise I started to regret my decision within a month.
Lessons learned – Room renting to a friend
Trust your gut picking out a tenant. I had a bad feeling offering Amy to stay at my place but did it anyway because she was a friend in need, I was in a rush to get a roommate and was getting short on money after buying a house and dealing with dead car month later. Everything ended with me asking her to leave after 6 months of drama, late payments, and property damage. Take time and chose best tenants for your property, it will worth it at the end.
Lease Agreement. No matter who you rent your place to, sign a lease agreement. It’s a guideline for the tenant and an insurance for both in case something goes south. Sure glad Amy signed a month to month lease giving me an opportunity to end lease within 6 months.
Stick to the agreement. I should have charged her for always being a week or two late on rent. It was setting me back with my bills causing numerous late fees. I simply felt bad because she didn’t have money or job(her mom was paying the bills). Not sticking with an agreement cost me a pretty penny at the end.
Emergency. Having even a $1,000 for an emergency would have saved me from all the late fees and additional debt on credit cards. We can’t predict the future but we get prepared for unexpected expenses beforehand.
Damage deposit and pet deposit. If there are pets there should be a deposit. There were two cats and a medium size dog in the house. One of the cats was mine, ironically enough I adopted him from her two years back. (The cat was very skinny and abused by the dog spending his life under the couch. I was lonely, Amy was about to give the cat to a shelter but I took him with me and became a cat lady.) Amy would spend most of the day laying in bed watching endless Netflix and YouTube while dog hardly was taken on a walk or to do its business outside. The dog had no other choice but to do its business on rugs or laminate floor.
Electricity bill. Utility bill should be split among people living in the house, including this bill in rent was a mistake. My bill went up 3 times after she moved in. Since she wasn’t the one responsible for the bill, Amy took advantage of it and used it 110%. Christmas lights were the light source for her room, electric heater going all day long as well as all the gadgets possible plugged in into one outlet. Amy was home all day long due to no job and everything was on all day. I was concerned about fire safety as well as a large bill. After fire hazard chat we agreed to turn the heat up in the house to 71°F instead of 69°F if she stops using the electric heater. A week later I would come home to 75°F in the middle of winter at -10°F outside. Amy kept changing temperatures all day long until one day we woke up in the middle of the night freezing. Later on, finding out heater stopped working due to constant changes to the thermostat (old home problems).
Amy moved out and I did a walkthru summarizing all the damages. Numerous large holes in walls from ripping anchored shelves, all new rugs as well as new laminate floor damaged by the dog, heater repair, late payments, thru the roof electricity bill… and let’s not include taking care of her cat and paying for everything including tp while her BF covered her food. Asking her to buy food for her cat or more paper towels would end up with drama making me feel that I’m required to take care of her. It was my fault for letting Amy take advantage of me, yet I felt bad kicking her out and even considered giving her deposit back.
I lost money but it taught me why I should stand my ground and not be taken advantage off as well as the importance of selecting right tenants and friends.