When you're looking for a room to rent, searching online is the best starting point. Unlike when you're searching for an apartment or a house to rent, you likely won't be able to use a rental locating service or a leasing agent for a room rental. Look closely into the background of the person you'll be renting a room from and the details of the lease before signing a contract.
Websites for Room Rentals
Countless websites are available that specialize in room rentals. These include Roommate Locator, which has a section specifically for finding rooms to rent. Easy Roommate is another site where you can search by your city or ZIP code. You can choose if you're looking for a room in a house or apartment, how many bedrooms you want, the minimum and maximum age of your roommates, the gender, and whether they are students or professionals. Listings typically include photos and prices prominently posted up front. Padmapper is another option that lets you search by rooms. It has the added benefit of populating a Google map with the rental locations, so you can easily find if a rental is in the part of town in which you're interested.
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In addition to specialty websites, you can also look for room rentals on general classified sites such as Craigslist. Message boards that have specific forums for your city, such as on Reddit.com, also include posts by people who are looking to rent out rooms in their homes or apartments. Social networking sites such as Facebook can be a safe avenue for finding room rentals, especially if you look for rooms within your circle of friends.
General classified sites such as Craigslist can be riskier when searching for rooms to rent, since there is no vetting process for submissions. Consider meeting your potential roommate in a safe location first before visiting his home.
What to Look for in Room Rentals
When you're renting a room in a house or apartment, get to know the neighborhood first. Is the area in a safe part of town? Will the commute to work or school be long? Find out if you will be responsible for maintenance fixes in your room and what kind of access you will have to other parts of the house. Make sure you review basic matters, such as where you can your car, if you'll need to pay extra for a designated parking space and how garbage pickup is handled. Ask about the house rules regarding having guests visit or sleep over.
Pitfalls to Avoid
Before signing that lease, make sure you know what you're getting into. Ask about the security deposit and what is required for you to get the deposit back when you move out. Review the options if you have to end your lease early. Will you have to pay the remainder of your lease up front or do you have the option to find someone else to take over your lease? In addition, do a little research on your roommate before you move in. Ask for references and check them thoroughly. Look at his social network and Google his name to see if anything negative comes up. Especially in cases where your roommate is a stranger, consider starting out with a shorter lease so you can leave if things don't go well or if you don't get along.