What you'll find in this article:
What comes to mind when you hear the phrase, “room for rent”? While it might seem inferior to other rental options like an apartment or even a single-family home, the room-for-rent market is far from obsolete. Why? It all comes down to perks (believe it or not, a rental room offers pros that a traditional rental cannot) and circumstance.
While you might reserve this type of rental for an early, less settled stage in your life, it’s certainly not limited. There are a handful of reasons why a military member might consider a room for rent.
Military Member Searching for a Room for Rent? Here's What You Need to Know
When is a room for rent a good idea?
A room for rent sparks thoughts of a college kid or a recent grad just starting in life. But renting out a room is a viable option for many, specifically those looking for a short-term rental (less than a year).
People in these situations include:
- A military member who’s living as a “geo-bachelor/bachelorette” (geographically separated from partner).
- A service member in short-term training.
- A young couple looking to save for the future.
A room for rent can offer flexibility and freedom and is often easy on the wallet.
Some perks of renting a room:
Saving money. Say hello to paying off debt and saving for the future, if you can save a portion of your BAH each month and redirect it toward your debt, investments, or saving to buy a house at your next duty station.
Learn more: Breaking Down the Finances of Renting a Home
Easier transition. Rooms for rent often factor your portion of utilities in the monthly rent payment. There’s no need to set up extra bills and no need to cancel service when you move. It makes transitioning into the home and out of it that much easier--hooray for a simpler PCS move!
back to top
How do you find a room to rent?
So, how do you find a suitable room to rent? As with any house hunt, you need to identify your priorities.
Pay Attention to These Details when Looking for a Room for Rent
Furnishings: A fully furnished rental (especially as a geo-bachelor/bachelorette) is likely going to be a must!
Amenities: What's included in the lease, exactly? Utilities, internet, cable, and HVAC are all pretty high on the priority list. And what about the community? Is there a pool, gym, golf course, or other activities that might interest you and give you things to do outside the small space you’re renting?
Storage: The need for storage may not be high without a house full of stuff accompanying you. However, military gear is a hefty burden, and you may come to realize that it takes up more space than you remembered. If the rental doesn’t offer adequate storage, is there a safe facility nearby to house your extras?
Housemates: Do you want roommates? Do you not want roommates? You’re likely to share space with the landlord, but are you hoping to be the only renter, or are you open to a house full of other renters?
Rules: Rules are good! Issues like the pet policy, shared living space, curfew, alcohol use, and guest policies might be written in the lease and can help you determine which place is best for you.
Some house rules that might matter to you when renting a room:
- Parking: Does the landlord provide a garage or carport for your vehicle? Are you expected to park in the street? Does shelter for your car matter to you? If you’re renting in the city, is parking free, or are you expected to cover the expense on top of rent?
- Common areas: Some rooms-for-rent are literally a room within a house, while others are a mother-in-law suite or offer a private entrance. But many leave room for shared space with the landlord (common areas). What are the rules regarding this space? Think kitchen, laundry living area, and entrance. Are there set times for you to use the space? Are there designated shelves in the fridge? This particular component leaves a lot of room for gray areas.
- Guests: Let’s say you have a friend coming over, a date that went well, or a spouse coming to visit—are they allowed to stay overnight?
- Alcohol use: While it’s easy to assume that alcohol won’t be an issue, for some, it is. Narrow your rental search to rooms that offer a similar culture to what you prefer.
- Noise: While you may not be looking to blast music or Netflix from your room, the rest of the house’s volume might concern you. If the landlord is okay with loud music, you should then decide if you are. Does your landlords host parties that will disrupt your sleep? Or, on the flip side, is this the first hint that you will be good friends?
- Curfew: Are you expected to be inside with doors locked by a specific time?
- Pet policy: Are furry companions welcome? If not, then you and your fur baby might need to keep on looking.
How to Search for a Room for Rent on MilitaryByOwner
Just as you’ve no doubt found single-family homes in the past, you can also search for room rentals and apartment listings on MilitaryByOwner.
To expedite the search process (see images below):
- Highlight “rent.”
- Enter your desired military installation, city, or zip code.
- When the search results populate, scroll over to “refine search.”
- Click on “home type.”
- If there are rooms for rent in that area, they will show under “room for rent.”
Safety First When Renting a Room
Renting a shared space makes room for insecurity. There’s certainly less privacy, and that can leave you more vulnerable. So, how do you counteract those lurking thoughts and create a feeling of safety?
- Get everything in writing. While renting a room might feel informal, it’s not. If you want tenant rights and the ability to defend yourself within the law, should something take a turn for the worse (like your landlord fails to maintain a livable housing space, respect your privacy, or worse), then a lease is essential.
- Have a separate lock on your door. While not all states require a separate deadbolt lock on a room for rent, you can always request it. Instead of thinking of your rental as a room in a home, treat it as a small apartment. In this case, get the habit of locking your space each time you leave.
- Use a safe. Purchase a small safe that fits under the bed or in the closet. Try to keep the safe reserved for your more precious valuables or those which cannot be easily replaced.
back to top
Don’t Forget Your Tenant Rights
According to Nolo, no matter the type of rental, whether it’s a single-family home, apartment, or room-for-rent,
“almost every state’s laws entitle tenants to safe and livable housing, regardless of how much rent the tenant pays. Livable housing means that the rental meets basic requirements, such as:
- a roof that keeps out rain and snow
- sufficient hot water
- reliable heat
- sturdy floors and walls that aren’t in danger of imminent collapse
- no significant danger from environmental hazards such as lead, asbestos, and mold, and
- reasonable protection from criminal intrusion.”
However, it all comes down to state laws. For example, according to SFGate, in California,
“An owner who lives in the house has the right to enter the room you are renting at any time of the day or night for any reason. However, the homeowner cannot harass you or take your possessions.”
When in doubt, you should always check your state laws.
Tips for Success in Renting a Room
If you want to make this unique living situation work, then it’s important to establish a healthy relationship with your landlord, as you’ll be likely to share common space.
1) Communicate. Communication is key, isn’t it? In every relationship, our ability to convey our thoughts and concerns either strengthens or tears them apart.
2) Understand that your room is the landlord’s rental business. “Although your rental house is a temporary home to your family, with minimal responsibilities, the homeowner or property manager is operating a rental business and the amount of responsibility for maintaining the property legally is significant. Safety codes, taxes, and repairs are just the beginning of the list duties that a business owner has to accomplish.” — How to Be an Amazing Tenant
3) Follow the rules. Be respectful. Beyond understanding that your room is the landlord’s business, remember that it’s their home and care for it as such.
4) Find a compatible rental. When you search for a room for rent, find one that has house rules that you can follow and that feel natural with your normal lifestyle.
5) Get renter’s insurance. Is renter’s insurance necessary? Yes! Renters insurance covers your own belongings. It helps ensure that you’ll see financial compensation for stolen or damaged property, provides liability coverage should accidents happen, and a cushion should the property be unlivable and force you out of the home. (See 5 Reasons You Need Renters Insurance.)
6) Learn your landlord’s style. “Your landlord is a type. Some like to be super involved and create a personal relationship. Others want to be more hands-off, and they expect to be given as much privacy as they give you. Figure out what type your landlord is and cater to it. You might stretch yourself to be a bit more chatty or learn to hold your tongue.” — 6 Tips for Being a Tenant that Landlords Love
Ready to find your room for rent? Head to our homepage where you can search near your next duty station!
By Danielle Keech
back to top