Please live in my house.
June 21, 2013 9:36 AM   Subscribe

My previous housemate (a decades long friend who found a super cheap place on his own) moved out and I'm not having much luck finding a new housemate.

I've posted an ad on Craigslist, and the responses are few and far between. The main issues that I see with the situation are that we're a couple (third wheel? already formed alliance?), I'm a smoker (outside or, infrequently, in our basement where our bedroom is), 3 cats, distance from campuses (we're about a mile from two universities) and in a lesser known neighborhood (in a city where neighborhood tends to help people decide on housing). Because of these things, I feel like my ad has to be super awesome, and I'm not sure that it is. Here is the ad. Any tips or comments? I think maybe it's too wordy? Also, is there some neutral way to say that my fiance and I are not remotely "couply" and that we spend most of our time (both in the house and outside of the house) not together (we both place a very high value on our personal space) without it sounding like we hate each other?

I'm also wondering whether I should disclose the below two things when I first meet prospective housemates or if they're not a big enough deal and can be disclosed later. The first is that my fiance and I are members of the Communist Party USA and we host our neighborhood club's twice monthly meeting. It's in the early evening of a weeknight and tends to go on for 2 to 2.5 hours. The second is that I'm hosting a living room show/concert in August, also on a weeknight- the show should end by 10 or 10:30. Are these things that you would want to know before you moved into a house? For the record, our Commie meetings are pretty boring and deal with local issues like elections, union business, outreach, neighborhood issues, etc- basically community organizing. Personally, I feel that the show in August could be mentioned later, but that the twice a month meeting should be mentioned upon meeting, but the fact that it's a meeting of Communists doesn't need to be mentioned at all.

We are also an interracial couple, but I'm sure they'll figure that out when they see us, and though I'd like to slip that fact in there somehow, in order to weed out anyone who might have a problem, I feel it would stand out too much if I mention it- even as a simple descriptor of the word "couple."

Thanks in advance for any help!
posted by eunoia to Home & Garden (55 answers total)
It's not clear to me from the ad whether you're saying you don't smoke on the enclosed back porch because it's a common area or if you don't smoke inside the house because you have a lovely enclosed porch to smoke on. I'm not sure if this makes a big difference to most people, though.
posted by needs more cowbell at 9:41 AM on June 21, 2013

I don't think many people want to live with three cats but don't have (or want) their own pet.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 9:43 AM on June 21, 2013 [8 favorites]

It's a little long, and focuses on some details that may be best negotiated once you get them in the door to have a look, notably shoes on or off in house, liberal political values, towels.

Mentioning you are members of the communist party would be kind of weird, but you should probably mention the affiliation and the meetings when they get in the door for a look.

To get around the potential third wheel issue, emphasize "privacy" (if privacy is possible), but if you need to share a kitchen or whatever, mention that too. By emphasizing privacy, then you don't have to mention liberal values, since there will be little expectation you are going to talk about politics.

Smoking should be left in. That may be the biggest roadblock, but you could add something like "willing to negotiate when and where smoking in permitted".

I think it's okay to project flexibility in your ad, since any perceived weakness is balanced out by the fact that you get to say yes or no to the potential tenant.

But maybe list all the details you have included in the ad, and weed out what is not important and can be negotiated later.

I come from Canada, so it would be very unusual (it's a red herring) to discuss race in a rental ad, but I realize your neck of the woods may be different.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:44 AM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

I wonder if it being furnished is also a problem? Lots of people have their own stuff. Perhaps you could put your room up on airbnb instead?
posted by vespabelle at 9:45 AM on June 21, 2013

It sounds charming, but is maybe too long and personal.

I would edit the ad to focus on: room/amenities, cost, location, anything important (Must be able to deal with smoker who smokes outside house; must not be allergic to cats; must pay by first of month; whatever).

Make it more businesslike and less like you are looking for a friend. Be more specific about what you are looking for in a roommate; can rent for six months or a year; ideal for college student; must supply references; etc.

Bullet points, in other words, would make it easier to scan/attract potential renters.
posted by emjaybee at 9:45 AM on June 21, 2013 [3 favorites]

Why not find someone via the CP, though? Surely there are some young organizers or union members or campus socialists or something. Frankly, anyone outside of activist culture is going to find the CP thing really, really weird and maybe even off-putting once they move in. (I say this as an anarchist who hosts meetings and who gets all their housemates via activism.)

Also, why not post an ad at the campus? Or at local radical venues?

I do think your ad is too wordy.

"Seeking left-leaning housemate for quiet, pleasant house on [location]. Rent $$$. Room [short description]. POC-friendly, queer-and-trans friendly.

We have cats and one of us smokes [location of smoking].

Contact us to meet up and talk about the house"
posted by Frowner at 9:46 AM on June 21, 2013 [9 favorites]

The one thing that I can say is that it looks like you're looking for a boarder rather than a housemate: that is, a nice quiet foreign student who will arrive with a suitcase spend all their time in their room, never using the kitchen or the living room. If that's what you're looking for, the ad is fine. If you're not -- if you want housemates who will have a BBQ with you and who you will find making coffee when you get up in the AM -- then you need to make it clear that you want a housemate. Most people who want to share housing have furniture and stuff of their own -- so maybe empty the room and be prepared to add furniture and kitchen stuff to the common areas.

Also, yes, make sure that you're open to people with pets -- and then introduce them *very carefully*.
posted by jrochest at 9:47 AM on June 21, 2013 [4 favorites]

Could be a slow market for renters in the summer.

1. Have you tried/are you interested in marketing to couchsurfers/AirBnB types?
2. You'd probably have great luck with a grad student or older undergrad, but it's not quite their house-hunting season for another few weeks.
3. I wish I had any reason to live near you; I'd rent from you in a heartbeat.
posted by Schielisque at 9:48 AM on June 21, 2013

We only wear socks and slippers in the house, but we don't make our guests do so. We'd prefer that our housemate would remove their shoes at the door if they're obviously a mess.

I would take this (and some of the other wordy/personal bits) out. As a renter, that a landlord would mention something like this in an ad might indicate that there would be a lot of other enforced rules later on, and I would probably want to avoid that.

Is the kitchen available? It's a great kitchen but you don't mention whether or not they get to use it.

Other than that, the smoking and the cats are probably the biggest issue, sorry. I also think that the timing is just wrong-- I suspect you'll have more hits later in the summer when new graduate students and interntional students are looking for housing.
posted by jetlagaddict at 9:49 AM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

I agree with the advice to trim it up. Also the bathroom situation is something that would concern me - you all will have your own bathroom but the renter would also have to share with you? Are these two full bathrooms or is the basement one a half bath?
posted by brilliantine at 9:52 AM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

As a renter, that a landlord would mention something like this in an ad might indicate that there would be a lot of other enforced rules later on, and I would probably want to avoid that.

Sorry, I didn't quite phrase this properly-- it's not that it's a bad rule or that I would even have a problem with it, it's just that it's a little too much information too soon.

You guys have a lovely house and I hope you find the right person soon!
posted by jetlagaddict at 9:52 AM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Also, the way you describe the room sounds weird, and the room looks a little odd.

That part about the "hidden window" - I don't even understand that. If it's totally hidden, why mention it? Is it two-way glass?

I'd empty it all out and photograph it in daylight - that assortment of red sheet, green curtains etc clashes like heck with each other and the woodwork. Maybe let people know that furniture is available if they need it.

Also, is there anywhere else to put the bed? I would not want my bed jutting out in the middle with its back to a mirror like that.

Don't say that it's the master bedroom - I find myself wondering "why aren't they, you know, living in the nicest room?"
posted by Frowner at 9:54 AM on June 21, 2013

It's a pet peeve of mine when looking at roommate ads when the poster has pets (usually multiple pets, in fact) and then goes on to say NO PETS for a prospective roommate. Why should I have to put up with your pets if you aren't willing to put up with mine?
posted by MiaWallace at 9:56 AM on June 21, 2013 [5 favorites]

Could be a slow market for renters in the summer.

Second this - I've just been doing this same thing for the past two weeks, for a spare room in a two-bedroom in Brooklyn near two colleges. I've had to do roommate hunts a few times, and usually I get about 20-30 emails when I've posted an ad - unless it's in summer, when that dips to maybe seven or eight inquiries.

The only thing I would take out of the ad is any mention of "house rules" like the no-shoes-in-the-house thing - save that for when you're meeting someone in person, after you've had a chance to bait the hook by letting them see the place in person. (That's what I do - it does help.)

But yeah, searching for someone in July just sucks; the pickin's is slim. Good luck.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:56 AM on June 21, 2013 [2 favorites]

Thanks so much for your replies. You all have already been extremely helpful.

brilliantine- When the basement bathroom is finished being renovated, it will be a full bath. The house, however, is a ranch, so everything, except our bedroom, the laundry machines, and the bathroom are upstairs. If we're upstairs and need to use the bathroom, or if we have guests over, etc, we wouldn't go down to the basement. The guest room is also upstairs so any overnight guests would use the upstairs bathroom as well.
posted by eunoia at 9:58 AM on June 21, 2013

Drop the shoe thing, that makes you sound like you are both very anal. Are you willing to move the furniture out? If not, that's fine; if so, you need to reword the ad. What is this hidden window thing? You never talk about the kitchen, which makes it sound like they can't use it. The bathroom situation is too complicated, just say that you all share a bathroom.

The no pets thing (but you have three cats) and the smoking thing are likely to be problems. If the window to the bedroom is on the other side of the building from your smoking place, you should say that so that they know that your smoke doesn't always drift into their bedroom.

Leave off the detail about parking on the driveway for street cleaning. If they can use the driveway, then say it, if they can use it only for a half day during street cleaning, say that there's lots of street parking only.
posted by jeather at 10:00 AM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

You have a lovely home. I would look towards your communist group and see if they have any friends or relatives who might be looking for a room to rent. I personally would not want to rent a room somewhere that included a bathroom that I would share with a political group. Makes it all a little too personal.

Cut down the about us section to: Educated couple with room for rent.


Educated couple with room for rent. Nice house, safe neighborhood. All utilities included in rent except for cable.

And don't go on and on about how independent and non-couply you and your guy are. Prospective renter will think you are hinting at a three-way.
posted by myselfasme at 10:08 AM on June 21, 2013 [3 favorites]

Waaay too wordy. It's hard to find the wheat for the chaff. Like, outside of MeFi of course, who cares if your cat is adorable? Is a potential tenant going to be scanning through ads or visiting your place and considering very seriously until they find out--whoa, shit, folks have a seriously ugly cat, can't live there...Why should a rental ad state that if the tenant's shoes are a mess they should be left at the door, or that when the street sweepers come cars need to be parked in the driveway? Or that there's a window hidden behind the storage unit in the room to be rented?

Change it all to bullet-point format, starting with the location, access to colleges and amenities (don't make a potential out-of-town renter figure out where "Beaver Hills" is and whether it's accessible to the places they need to go), short description of the room and common areas and available amenities: wi-fi, kitchen, etc.\. Put only the few biggest potential downsides/dealbreakers at the end: 3 existing cats, no more pets, people do sometimes smoke inside the house (even if it's infrequent and only in the basement bedroom, that still counts as smoking in the house for a person who doesn't want to live in a house with smokers).

All the personal details and finer points about your usage of the house are irrelevant. You're looking for a tenant, not a friend. The whole thing comes across as weird and over-sharing, IMHO. Your revised ad should be about 1/3 of the current length.
posted by drlith at 10:10 AM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

You should try (if you haven't already) listing the place in Yale's Off Campus Housing database. And, for the record, I lived in New Haven for 7 years and have never heard of "Beaver Hills." Doing a Google search now, I can see where it is and was familiar with that area, but never heard it referred to as "Beaver Hills."

That said, my sense is that trying to rent a room to people is much tougher than trying to rent a whole apartment.
posted by Betelgeuse at 10:10 AM on June 21, 2013

Frowner- It is an odd room. That giant wall length built in thing is actually a giant built-in headboard. There is one other viable place for the bed, but it looks even weirder there. The mirror on the left side, behind the bed slides open and there's a window, which we didn't even know it was there until after I'd closed on the house. I will take the hidden window stuff out of the ad & just show it to anyone who comes by to see the room. And our basement bedroom (which isn't technically a "bedroom") is way way better/larger than the weird master bedroom, but I will take that wording out.

About the no more pets thing: I agree that it sounds strange to have three cats, but want no more, however, my fiance is allergic and 3 is his limit. Plus one of my cats is extremely territorial (and prone to urinary issues, which can be caused by stress), and he still hasn't fully adjusted to having two other cats around.
posted by eunoia at 10:13 AM on June 21, 2013

So that you hold bimonthly political meetings in your home and are planning to hold a show in your living room suggests that you and I might have a very different idea about what "quiet, quasi-introverted" means.
posted by florencetnoa at 10:13 AM on June 21, 2013 [10 favorites]

Can the furniture in the room be removed? Because for me, that would be the biggest dealbreaker, both because I have my own furniture that I like, and because (sorry, but I'm being honest) that furniture is seriously ugly and non-functional for that room. I mean, an enormous 80s-style mirrored wall unit that blocks one of the room's only two windows? Do not want. Sure, let people know that some furniture is available if they want it, but don't try to make it mandatory, much less a selling point.
posted by decathecting at 10:14 AM on June 21, 2013 [2 favorites]

I don't want to threadsit so this will be my last comment. I (and pretty much anyone else who's seen it) agree that the built-in wall unit is hideous. Unfortunately, since it is built in, it won't be removed any time soon.
posted by eunoia at 10:21 AM on June 21, 2013

Emotional, honest reaction: The fact that all the communal spaces are staked out as yours (the porch is "your smoking lounge") and the hypocrisy of the pet thing mean that I wouldn't rent from you. If you're renovating a bathroom, one of them should be dedicated to your roommate after it's done. Why do you need to share it?

It sounds like you want a boarder, yes, not a roommate at all--and everything about the ad is tailored to emphasizing your comfort and what you want out of a home but doesn't even touch on what might be totally reasonable needs from someone renting a room, like not wanting to share a bathroom with a couple and their guests.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:21 AM on June 21, 2013 [10 favorites]

I agree with the others that have suggested taking out the shoe thing: that also gave me the impression of someone who will be nitpicky/have other random rules. The other thing that struck me was the emphasis on you being a COUPLE looking for a housemate—that would make me wonder if there wouldn't be some kind of proposal of a threesome situation at some point. I mean, you worded it nicely and I totally get that you're trying to come off as easy going and trying to get as much information out at once, but I would play down this aspect and really, really, emphasize privacy and that potential roomies are not expected to interact with the two of you as a couple.
posted by Eicats at 10:22 AM on June 21, 2013 [2 favorites]

It sounds like you want a boarder, yes, not a roommate at all--and everything about the ad is tailored to emphasizing your comfort and what you want out of a home but doesn't even touch on what might be totally reasonable needs from someone renting a room, like not wanting to share a bathroom with a couple and their guests.

Yeah, seriously. I don't know what New Haven rents are like, but unless $600 is a TOTAL FUCKING STEAL, I really don't see the appeal.

I wouldn't want to live with a couple with three cats who have their own bathroom but insist on getting to use mine as well and insist that I take my fucking shoes off when I get home.

I don't think that the issue is the ad so much that y'all aren't very enticing roommates for the vast majority of people.

What if you lower the rent? Or reconfigure your expectations? Or just eat the $600/month?

I have a friend who's in a similar situation. She's a single mom with two teenage sons and they live in a big house in a kind of shitty part of the San Fernando valley. She got a spare room filled by lowering the rent a lot.

So, reconfigure your expectations and your ad, or just lower the rent a couple hundred bucks.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 10:31 AM on June 21, 2013 [7 favorites]

The cats and the smoking (if you do it in the basement I would bet it's noticeable on the first floor of the house) are probably going to turn off a lot of potential renters with asthma and/or allergies. That being said there's not much you can do about either, other than quitting smoking, so you are right in disclosing them.
posted by Aizkolari at 10:31 AM on June 21, 2013

Also, as a non-smoker, looking at that [glass] enclosed porch, I'd assume that the whole house is going to smell like cigarettes between smoking there and the basement. And "smoking lounge" makes me think you're going to be doing quite a lot of it inside.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:38 AM on June 21, 2013 [2 favorites]

If I saw this it would be very clear it was your house, never our house. I would consider it if I was new to town and didnt have a lot of options, but would move after a year.

Also, I would never want to live with a couple. You're always out voted. It's never really your home, it's the couple's. There is also the fear that the couple will want to cut joint expenses down the middle as opposed to thirds.

And for a majority of non-smokers, living with a smoker, especially one that doesn't smoke 100% outside is a total deal breaker.

The pet thing concerns me less. I always like my roommates to have pets. It's like having a pet with none of the responsibility.

If that rent is market rate, I would drop it by at least $100.
posted by whoaali at 10:40 AM on June 21, 2013 [4 favorites]

There's nothing you can do about this, but one thing that would turn me off is the fact that your fiance works from home :\ A lot of people looking for this type of arrangement would not want someone who's hanging around the house all the time, probably in the common areas. (You'll notice a lot of "roommate wanted" ads even specify that the person must be employed outside the home - at least they do here in Chicago.)

Also, so you have these big monthly meetings (would also turn me off, but I'm more introverted than most) - can your new housemate do the same? What about friends/overnight guests? Are they entitled to have people stay over in your guest room? Or have a party in your living room? That's the kind of stuff people want to know.

The room is furnished, so it's appealing for someone who doesn't have their own stuff. Can they use all the pots/pans/dishware in your kitchen?

And yeah, leave out the stuff about the shoes. That's way too much information for a CL ad.

The smoking is also a problem.

Agreed with others: lower the rent. It looks like a beautiful house but that's a lot of money for this situation. (I say that as a person who has lived with couples, and who has been part of a couple and still had roommates.)
posted by goodbyewaffles at 10:43 AM on June 21, 2013 [2 favorites]

Roommate arrangements tend to work best when all roommates involved have the same status/relationship with one another - i.e. none are dating, all are renting rather than one/two people owning the house, etc. I think it'd be really hard for a roommate to feel at home in your house.

I do, however, think it'd be perfect for an airbnb-type thing. The room's fully furnished and you can provide sheets and towels, and your house is beautiful.
posted by Metroid Baby at 10:57 AM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

For $600/mo you're asking people to accept a lot, and when they arrive and see the cat tree and all of your books in the living room and learn about the shoe rule it will be clear that they will never have full status/rights as a roommate.

As others above suggested, please consider AirBnB instead. All of the above problems drop away, e.g., being a couple becomes an advantage because it seems like a safe situation. If you only need to get $600/month out of your rental opportunity and it's close to both Yale and Southern, you'll do fine. Since your husband works at home, the whole key-provision/laundry aspect of AirBnB will be easy.

If you go AirBnB you can, if you want, exclude dates from the calendar if you prefer, e.g., meeting nights or to accommodate your own guests. Stress the spacious bedroom, private bathroom (yes, you'll be going downstairs when you're hosting guests) shared living room and kitchen privileges. Mention cats and smoking, but leave out the shoe rule and all of the extraneous details about windows, your politics, etc.. Improve the photos: that bed needs an attractive comforter and pillows and the bath needs matched and pretty towels. Put some art on the walls along with an alarm clock and, if it will fit, and a comfortable chair (that straight chair looks uninviting). Hide the white electrical cord.

Worst case scenario: you hate it and return to a roommate situation.
posted by carmicha at 11:00 AM on June 21, 2013 [6 favorites]

The issues that would deter me are that you're a couple, have one person "working" from home, hold meetings in the house and the shoe comment.
FTR, I am very introverted. Less introverted people may not care about the couple thing, the person mainly at home or the meetings. The shoe thing just sounds annoying.
posted by KogeLiz at 11:02 AM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Any prospective boarder/roommate is looking at ALL the ads, so I suggest you do the same. Find out what your competition is offering, where, how much it costs, and how they're describing it. You'll quickly get a feel for the desirability of your home in relation to others that are available. I'm thinking that you can definitely find someone to rent your room if you set the $$ low enough.

Also, organize your ad with bullet points or something similar. Bedroom. bathroom, kitchen, living room, utilities. Include a beautiful photo of the cats.

Are you willing to give anything up in order to attract more/better candidates? Is there anyone else who can host the club meetings? Could you allow your tenant to have a bathroom that's theirs alone?

Smokers have pretty limited pickings when looking for a place to share. If you highlight the fact that you'd accept an outdoor-and-porch smoker, that might help you.
posted by wryly at 11:11 AM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Re: AirBnB, you can also post a photo of yourselves in the host profile area to weed out jerks who can't handle inter-racial couples.
posted by carmicha at 11:14 AM on June 21, 2013

Could you accept non-furry pets? Or exclude cats (and dogs?) but accept bunnies, turtles, fish, snakes etc.?
posted by travelwithcats at 11:16 AM on June 21, 2013

I just want to hop in and say that the whole no-shoes/some-smoking/cat-tree/shared-bathroom/couple thing would be totally normal in the activist circles in which I move. I don't think any of these things are deal-breakers unless you're looking to live with people substantially outside your subculture. (In S MPLS, a lot of houses don't even have two bathrooms - the whole "when sharing a house I get my own bathroom" thing seems weird to me.)

I would say that you need to offer a good, competitive rent for your social sphere, though. We live in a run-down place that's getting fixed up (by us) at a glacial pace - and we offer a rent that's at the low end of local activist house situations.

If that built-in is going to stay, I feel like you need to drop the rent. (Unless $600 inclusive is already low.) None of the other stuff would bug me as long as we hit it off, but having such a bizarre thing in my room would be tough, especially since it limits bed options. How much would it cost to rip it out and re-sheet rock? It's not like that particular built-in is adding to the value of the house. (Honestly, I have lived with an enormous eighties built-in, and they have a lot of good qualities - but not the headboard/mirror piece.)
posted by Frowner at 11:22 AM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

I think this could work if you and your partner took the upstairs room and the prospective tenant lived in the basement. Then that person could have their own bathroom.

But I can't imagine anyone, even an extrovert, being happy with constant meetings right outside his or her bedroom door, a shared bathroom with a herd of people at these meetings, etc. Or if you do manage to get someone in there, dollars to donuts that they person will move out in a few months.

You could highlight the garden a bit more in a list (plot of land available for gardening), in addition to the fact that smokers are accepted as tenants (it sounds like you are already smoking in the house,no?)
posted by Wolfster at 11:26 AM on June 21, 2013 [4 favorites]

I don't necessarily think that sharing a house means everyone gets their own bathroom, but in this case it would be a nice consolation prize with the meetings, no pets, smoking, and your being a couple. Some people (younger, less neurotic than I am) might not mind sharing a bathroom but for a lot of people it's a pretty big deal, especially if the sharing is with an assortment of guests and not just fellow residents.

Agree with others re: removing furniture but offering the option, air BnB, a note about the kitchen, the pets thing, etc.

If I were younger and lived there, I would totally consider it and all the liberal stuff would be icing on the cake, but I am big on privacy and it sounds like that's not the main draw at your particular place, so if you can make the ad emphasize the ways in which there WILL be privacy for a tenant/roomie, that may help!
posted by masquesoporfavor at 11:37 AM on June 21, 2013

Nthing that it really seems like, from your ad, you want a boarder who will live in your house, not someone who will be a housemate in a shared living situation.

I actually have experienced and seen situations like this that worked out for everyone, but you have to offer your tenant something to make it worthwhile. I once was a boarder, and it was great because the people who owned the place were only there about half-time. I also know a woman whose kids are out of the house, but she's very motherly and has international students live with her. It's very much her place with her rules, but they don't mind because she takes care of all the house stuff, organizes "family" dinners, etc.

So think about what you can offer to potential tenants that would make it worth it to be essentially living in someone else's house. Lower rent? A sense of community for someone new to town? Freedom from having to think about things like utilities?

Even then, you're probably only going to find short-term tenants, because most people will eventually want a place that feels like their home too.

If you want someone longer-term, you may need to rethink some of your rules and ways of doing things. I'm guessing all these rules and habits emerged as a result of your situation with your previous roommate, but when you bring someone new in, they're going to have their own opinions and preferences. Unless they're a short-term boarder, they really should have a say in how things are run.

Also nthing that you should look in your activist circles.
posted by lunasol at 12:01 PM on June 21, 2013 [3 favorites]

Reiterating that this does not at all appear to be an ad for an equitable roommate situation in which all parties are equally invested in the experience of creating a home together and all parties are welcome to use all the spaces in the home freely. This appears to be an ad placed by an established couple looking for help paying the mortgage but who don't actually want another person around.

I totally agree that a short-term AirBnB houseguest scenario could work out much better for you.
posted by jesourie at 12:08 PM on June 21, 2013 [2 favorites]

Master bedroom for short or long term rent in the Beaver Hills section of New Haven.
The room is 15x11, furnished with a full size bed, desk, wall of built in storage, and walk-in closet, with 2 windows.

The house has been fully renovated in the past year. Upstairs bathroom is shared; we are renovating the basement bathroom adjacent to our bedroom. The shared living room has a wall-mounted 55" 3D TV and functioning fireplace.

. (Transit System)bus stop one block away
. on-street parking
. additional storage available
. shared washer and dryer
. quiet neighborhood
. X min. walk to Southern
. X min. walk to Yale
. other features?

Rent: $600 includes use of common kitchen, living room, gas heat, internet, electricity, central air.
Cable tv available, not included

About us: I work days at a local public utility. He is a grad student at Yale, currently writing his dissertation from home, and teaching in the Fall. We are quiet, quasi-introverted, and very politically liberal. We have 3 very friendly [and adorable!] cats. Our bedroom is in a finished portion of the basement. I smoke, but not in common areas (except for our lovely enclosed back porch which doubles as my smoking lounge), and he doesn't smoke at all.

Looking for someone quiet, respectful, and responsible. Drinking is fine, smoking is fine (outside or on the back porch), but we'd prefer no more pets. The room is available now.
posted by theora55 at 12:12 PM on June 21, 2013 [7 favorites]

I agree that you should look in the CP/ liberal activist communities. Most universities have a housing office, and may list your housing opportunity. Many large businesses/ hospitals, etc., have a newsletter with classified listings. Ask your friends, they may have a staff-only posting policy. This rental would be ideal for someone who commutes to town for weekday classes. Make up flyers with the tear-offs for your email & phone, post on campuses, grad school offices, etc.
posted by theora55 at 12:37 PM on June 21, 2013

As a former international student I'd be wary as hell of rooming in a place that had political meetings - wouldn't matter left- or right-leaning. That fact might be cutting down your potential roommates but I'd keep it in so they can avoid it.
posted by hydrobatidae at 12:53 PM on June 21, 2013 [2 favorites]

The sticking point for me would be the bathroom situation. $600 is a lot to pay when you don't have your own bathroom and you may want to drop that rent a bit.

Mr. gudrun's parents rented rooms for years to Yale grad students in their New Haven house and later in their large New Haven apartments. They usually had multiple cats, and someone was usually a smoker, so it is doable, but they always ensured the person renting had their own bathroom. Mr. gudrun's parents tried to focus on grad students, and they tried to find international students, or people doing one of the medical or law degrees. In other words, they looked for busy people who spent a lot of time at school or studying. This is doable at Yale and the New Haven environs.

About the political meetings, if you want to give people the heads up I would couch it more that you are active in the community, without identifying the political persuasion other than by saying you are politically liberal.

So, change this sentence from theora55 to something like: We are quiet, quasi-introverted, very politically liberal, and active in the local political community.
posted by gudrun at 1:11 PM on June 21, 2013

We are a couple looking for someone to rent out a room

Certainly change this wording. The word "out" is what bothers me. You want somebody to rent a room. You are the one who is renting out the room.

More importantly, I think it isn't clear what you are looking for. The "rent out a room" thing makes it sound like the person will not have free reign of the house, including the kitchen. But then the ad goes on to talk about the TV and gardening, which kind of sounds like the opposite. So be more clear. If this person will have access to the entire house, except your private bedroom and bath, then say something like this: "Couple looking for roommate to share house". And I think you need to divide up the bathrooms. Let the roommate have that other bathroom. If you have meetings, or guests, then those people will have to use your bathroom, even if it is down in the basement.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 1:19 PM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

As a nonsmoker, I would not live with a smoker by choice, even if she only smoked outside. Clothing picks up smoke smells. Not worth the trouble. Most of the people I know who don't smoke wouldn't consider living in a house where someone smokes in an enclosed porch / the basement even if they'd live with a smoker.

There's little you can do about it, but I think that you're probably eliminating a large percentage of nonsmokers.
posted by insectosaurus at 1:32 PM on June 21, 2013 [3 favorites]

If you're going to use theora55's wording, I think you should really, really get rid of the bit about the smoking lounge. It raises too many questions--will your roommate be able to use it if they're a non-smoker? Will a smoking lounge be its primary purpose? If you call a place your smoking lounge, it implies that a great deal of smoking will go on there--and if you call it your smoking lounge, you're claiming ownership in a fairly clear way--and I love me a nice sunroom to read in, but wouldn't want to do so in someone's smoke-filled room (and I certainly wouldn't find that room lovely!). Saying "I smoke, but not in common areas (except for our enclosed back porch)" puts forth the same message but is much more palatable-sounding.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:40 PM on June 21, 2013 [2 favorites]

$600 for a room that's furnished and includes utilities? Sounds like a deal to me. I'd look at comps from the area.

I stopped reading when I got to the bit about smoking. You don't smoke in common areas, but is there smoke billowing out of the open door of your room? Is your bedroom window right below mine? It's not clear the level of secondhand smoke they'll be exposed to.
posted by salvia at 1:43 PM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

I went ahead and made some changes and we'll see how it goes. Thanks again everyone!
posted by eunoia at 1:52 PM on June 21, 2013

Are you sure you're charging a reasonable price for the room you're offering? I don't know your market, but 600$ is on the high end around here (500 is standard, 400 low-end).

I did a quick search in the newhaven craiglist your ad is posted in, and saw a bunch of rooms under 500 posted today - even if they're all terrible/in terrible locations, that's some serious competition to consider, particularly if you're aiming at the student market.

Since your room has many dealbreakers for many people (smoking/no pets are independent dealbreakers for me, and the furnished room/hosting large meetings twice monthly are both huge drawbacks as well), you need to be pricing it very competitively if you want to generate enough interest to find a worthwhile tenant. I really don't think the wording on the ad matters as much as the price, although there have been some good suggestions for wording changes.
posted by randomnity at 2:07 PM on June 21, 2013

Also, I would never want to live with a couple. You're always out voted. It's never really your home, it's the couple's. There is also the fear that the couple will want to cut joint expenses down the middle as opposed to thirds.

I wanted to elaborate on this a bit since it was only touched on minorly above.

A lot of people, especially in their early 20s have lived with a couple. Older people probably did when they were younger. The way this ad was worded made you sound like a very specific type of couple. The shoe thing, we have pets but you can't, the bathroom situation, etc.

It was gone over above that various things make it seem like it's very much your house and in no way the renters, but it also exudes the squicky vibe that whoaali brought up that it seems like you would very much want to be "captain of the ship" and have your partner to back you up. I get that, i mean it's your house you actually own. But that makes it sort of a double down on the couple situation.

Not are they outvoted because you're a couple, with the other concerns of you using one room and wanting to treat yourself as a "unit" on some things. But you own the place and essentially have veto power to do things however you want.

Having lived in places where a combination of those two things were going on, i would absolutely never do it again. Many people probably looked through the ad, picked up on that vibe, and said "fuuuuuckkk that". If you reword the ad you might just skip forward to a point where people come to the place, pick up that vibe, and bail after looking at it. Pretty much your only hope here is someone new at renting or who hasn't lived in a situation like that rolling in. Anyone who has(even if you guys are awesome, which i'm willing to believe!) will probably just be sketched out and be smelling the negative experiences they've had before that can so easily happen in power imbalance setups like this.

I really think some serious sitting down and working out exactly what you want from a tennant/roommate, and thinking about if it's truly reasonable. For instance, as others asked, how much free reign of the living room and the rest of the house do they get? Are they allowed to keep a bunch of their stuff in the upstairs bathroom because you have your own? What if they want to invite a bunch of people over to hang out for some reason?

I really think an AirBNB thing might be the best option here simply because of that.. Otherwise drop the rent a bunch and be really clear that "you only get the room, you can use the kitchen occasionally. the bathroom is shared" type of setup in the ad. Because it sounds like that kind of thing might be what you really want honestly.

There are definitely houses like that near the colleges here, and even further out from them that students live. Pretty restricted, you don't get to use the common areas much, you just get a room. People will rent that if you want it to be that way, it just has to be cheap(er).
posted by emptythought at 3:02 PM on June 21, 2013 [4 favorites]

In addition to many points above, I would go to the thrift store, buy a nice white comforter and five green pillows to match the drapes in the bedroom, as well as a throw. Put those on the bed and put a book on the throw. I can't remember if you had a side table and nice lamp, but those would help too. Stage the room.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 3:03 PM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Chaussette brings up a really good point. You could definitely stage the room to look nicer, rephotograph it, and include that in the listing.
posted by gudrun at 9:39 PM on June 21, 2013

Smoking, cats, and living with a couple are just each major dealbreakers for different subsets of people, so with the three together you're probably going to be losing a lot of folks. For me, reading this ad I'd be thinking "Ooh, sounds like really cool people...oh wait, they're a couple, minorly negative but worth checking out...3 cats? yeah, probably not gonna happen...smoking? oh hell no."
posted by threeants at 1:00 AM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

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