Life has more transitions than any of us can prepare for. Did you feel ready the first time you became a parent or experienced the death of a loved one? What about the transition into retirement or an encore career—have you felt ready for that?
You aren’t alone. Many struggle with the financial and social implications of getting older – the realities of fixed income, property maintenance and often empty nest syndrome. Many don’t want to uproot from homes, but at the same time feel the pressure of all that extra space and the work (and money) required to keep it up.
So what’s a person to do? One option attracting new devotees is homesharing. Unlike other tenant-landlord relationships, homesharing is about finding someone whose lifestyle is compatible with yours to share a living space with you. Rent is exchanged—but so is companionship, and many times light help around the house or yard.
Find a compatible housemate. Sharing a living space is very intimate and personal. Whether you search for a housemate on Craigslist, a real estate site or a homesharing site, don’t be shy about asking questions and stating preferences. If you’re considering living with someone, understanding their inclinations and lifestyle is a simple and effective way to determine if you could live together harmoniously.
Protect yourself with a lease. Even if your housemate seems like the world’s most trustworthy person, it’s never a bad idea to put your shared housing agreement in writing and document provisions like termination, rent payment, deposits, etc. This document will give you and your housemate a shared understanding of what living together means, from a legal perspective. Although there are many websites on Google offering free lease templates, you might consider asking a lawyer to draw one up for you, since local landlord/tenant laws vary from state to state or even city to city.
Lay out your house rules. The legal perspective isn’t the only perspective that affects shared housing. Non-legal items like chore expectations, kitchen and bathroom access, policies for having guests over and guidance for resolving disagreements are all critical for a happy homesharing arrangement. In addition to your lease, consider building a homesharing agreement or set of house rules with your new housemate—prior to move-in day—to reduce the chances of conflict arising and give yourselves a non-personal way to address it if it does.
Collect (or pay) rent. It can be awkward to talk about the financial aspects of a relationship you have with another person. Establishing guidelines for paying rent in your lease and/or homesharing agreement will certainly help, but you may want to consider using an online payment processing tool to direct deposit rent and avoid the awkward, “Please pay the rent” conversation.
In addition to those rent payments, homesharing has a lot of other benefits. Even housemates who don’t spend much time together have social contact and companionship for one another, just by being in the same place.
Another benefit of homesharing is the flexibility it allows the homeowner and renter. Many homeowners choose to reduce the rent they charge in exchange for help around the house or yard—and many renters are happy to provide assistance to pay less.
Finally, homesharing provides stability and the option to stay at home in a world that seems full of unappealing options. Having this kind of control and autonomy is a huge improvement: you don’t have to let your housing (and some financial) decisions be made for you; you can think outside the box and create the living situation you want.
Author: Kate Cygan is marketing manager for Silvernest, an online homesharing platform that matches homeowners and renters based on compatibility and provides a lease builder, rent direct deposit, access to legal counsel and other tools for homesharing success. All Silvernest users are ID-verified and background checks are available. Visit www.silvernest.com for more information.
Regarding homesharing, the New York Foundation for Senior Citizens, in Manhattan, has a home sharing program, where one party must be a senior citizen. A social worker on their staff performs the vetting process to ensure compatibility of the parties,