How do I rent my empty room out?
October 21, 2009 10:10 AM   Subscribe

Trying to rent a room in a home in New Orleans. What's my problem, and what am I missing?

My boyfriend bought a 3 bedroom house in a nice area. One of the bedrooms is being rented by a friend, and we would like to (read: kind of need to) rent out the third bedroom. None of our friends are looking for housing. I've tried to post on CL, listing monthly rent, what's included, how awesome we are, etc. I included two ways to contact us, email and phone, and promised pictures by email. Not a thing, and it's been two weeks. I'm getting worried now that I'm going about this all wrong. How best to seek out renters for a room in a home?

Related, where can I find a lease agreement for this sort of situation? We have a pretty bare-bones one for the friend, but I would like something more substantial and protective of all parties involved.
posted by Night_owl to Home & Garden (12 answers total)
my first thought:

"promised pictures by email"?
No way, man, if there's not photos on the craigslist posting, I'm not going to bother.
posted by aimedwander at 10:14 AM on October 21, 2009 [4 favorites]

Night_owl: and promised pictures by email.

This. Raises a hurdle for the buyer. Add the photos to the listing. Do you maybe also want to post a link to the CL's ad? There might be something twitchy about your ad or some major point you're missing.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:14 AM on October 21, 2009

Thirded. I usually filter any Craigslist search for by "has image". How do you expect to entice someone without pictures? You want them to fall in love with the place.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 10:16 AM on October 21, 2009

Okay, actually, to be more helpful, consider websearches on "staging a house" and "real estate photography". If it's essential to have good photos for selling a place, the same is true for renting.

Yes, you're looking for a roommate, so telling about yourselves is important - however, a totally neurotic CL posting will get no responses. Anecdotally, a friend just moved out of a terrible roommate situation, and loves to monitor the 3-page-long rommate ad posted by her crazy former roommate, as it continues to get no responses. It's so detailed as to clearly express how obsessively controlling this person is. So, I'd include photos, and a summary of what's included/expected as briefly as possible, but letting the phrasing flow in a way that gives the reader a clue as to the personality of the roomates. Harder than it sounds.

But in short, I can't see why craigslist wouldn't work, unless New Orleans just isn't into that enough. Ads on campus boards/busstops? At coffeeshops you like?
posted by aimedwander at 10:23 AM on October 21, 2009

Link to post. Mods, if uncool, feel free to edit out. Note: removed my phone number a few days ago due to a disturbing phone call.

I will definitely add photos to my new post. Anything else?
posted by Night_owl at 10:38 AM on October 21, 2009

The rent seems high, especially considering the proposed living arrangement and the area.
posted by ajr at 11:05 AM on October 21, 2009

Really? I've seen similar rents posted. What would you expect to see?
posted by Night_owl at 11:24 AM on October 21, 2009

The couple + best friend all living together sounds a little exclusive to me. I'd re-write that part. Also, because that's 4 people crammed into a 3BD house, I'd re-work the copy to emphasise privacy and "busy, full-time students" who are, you know, maybe not there ALL THE TIME. Privacy is an issue I'd be concerned about were I looking at this rental, in other words.
posted by DarlingBri at 11:30 AM on October 21, 2009

I'd lower the rent by about a hundred bucks.

There are a few hurdles here:

• You're not really doing this at the right time of year. You'll have better luck in May, when students are looking for housing for next year. (Also, at least when I was at Tulane, groups of students tended to get together and rent an apartment or house themselves. It's fairly easy to find two or three friends and get an apartment near campus. Or better yet, in Aron.) You may even have better luck if you look for someone to move in after the first semester is over.

• You're kind of far afield. Tulanians tend to go for places close to the Riverbend, and you're way out there on the other side of Claiborne.

So, yes. Post pictures -- they'll be absolutely necessary. Consider lowering the rent. Good luck!
posted by brina at 12:02 PM on October 21, 2009

You should specify how many ways the bills would be split (4 would be obvious but it answers one more question right away).

Also, are pets allowed? You say you have a dog, but would you allow new roommate to bring along a pet? How big? If you do allow this, add "fenced yard", plus which kind of fence.

And add a picture of yourself & the boyfriend, and if you can get one, have all three of you in a pic together.
posted by Sufi at 1:26 PM on October 21, 2009

Suggested edits in italics! I changed it to downplay the "stranger wanted for existing well-entrenched group situation" bit, and to address the questions others had about rent amount. Cable/internet/electricity will probably be close enough to a set amount each month as to be better off bundled with rent, so you don't have to do math or collect. I added some details that photos would help with, i.e. "unfurnished" and "carpeted". Right now, a person can't tell whether she can bring her queen sized sleigh bed or if you're renting a fully-furnished room your Aunt Elizabeth just moved out of. Additional information that might be useful: is the house/room on the main floor/handicap accessible? do you want to indicate you're LGBTQ-friendly? is there a window? do you have air conditioning? I think you did a good job indicating the current residents are friendly, quiet, clean people who are tolerant of the occasional party.
Housemate wanted for nice 3 bedroom, 2 bath house at X street in Y area! Your unfurnished, carpeted room is 12'x12' with an additional 7' wide closet with a shared full bath. Rent: $500/mo, including cable/internet, electricity, water, and use of top of the line washer/dryer. Due at move-in would be first and last month's rent. The room is ready for move-in immediately.

This room is in a beautiful, post-Katrina overhauled house featuring a big kitchen with new appliances including stove, fridge, dishwasher, washer and dryer. There is a nice yard, and street parking for your single vehicle in front of the house on a quiet street. The house is located about a mile away from Tulane University (5 minutes by car, 20 minutes walking). There is regularly scheduled lawn maintenance guys and Orkin pest control. We hate bugs, so there will never be a nasty roach problem in this house.

About us: Two Tulane students and a non-student, all in our 20s. The couple has the master suite. We already have a semi-outside beautiful black lab puppy who is very friendly, so no dogs please, but your small caged pet or fishtank is welcome.

We are looking for someone fun, clean, responsible, and near our ages who likes to hang out but doesn't bring noisy parties home every night. We like to cook and watch TV (we have HBO and the NFL network) and go to Tulane sports events. For more information, more photos, or to set up an appointment, email me at the above address.
posted by Sallyfur at 9:29 PM on October 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

I don't live in New Orleans anymore (and haven't for a long time), but I have a friend paying a bit less than that for half (one other roommate) of a nice house in a much more desirable area... So, perhaps the rent is a bit high?

/exremely limited observation
posted by taz at 10:37 PM on October 21, 2009

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