Do I want to live in Daddy Day Care?
August 20, 2008 7:56 AM   Subscribe

What sort of agreements should I make or information should I consider before moving into an apartment that would be used as a daycare during the day when my roommate and I aren't around?

I have a meeting in two days to potentially sign a lease for me and a friend to move into a 3 bedroom apartment as subletters. The apartment would be rented by young parents with a 1 year old son who live in a different apartment in that apartment building. During the day (from 7:30 to 4:30) they would hire a nanny who would watch that child and 3 other one year-old-children in the apartment in the living room and using one of the bedrooms. Theoretically, this will only be happening on weekdays when me and my roommate will both be out of the apartment at school. We would be able to make use of that third bedroom at night when they aren't around as some extra space.

Has anyone ever done anything like this before? What sort of agreements should we have in writing beforehand to guarantee a smooth year for us? After having four babies in our apartment for the day, when we get home at 5 do you think it would be immediately obvious that our apartment was a day care, or might we not even realize? [Is this an insane idea that we should avoid at all costs, and instead seek housing elsewhere?]

For what it's worth, we are in Israel, but all our previous real estate transactions have been similar to how they would be in America, so any advice that would apply in America would probably be helpful for us. I'm not looking for legal advice so much, as wondering about any agreements we should reach with the parents/subleasers beforehand that we should be sure to include in the lease. This is a slightly complicated situation, so please let me know if anything is unclear and I can clarify.

Any advice or comments about this situation would be a big help before we sign the lease in a couple of days. Thanks!
posted by andoatnp to Home & Garden (34 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
What sort of agreements should we have in writing beforehand to guarantee a smooth year for us?

Man, this sounds like such a hornet's nest.

At the very least, you'd need it in writing that they're in no earlier than 7.30 and out no later than 4.30, with $X/hour ($X being very high, so as to discourage it at all costs) credited to your rent if they stay late.

Will they be using the kitchen? If so, there needs to be some agreement about cleaning it, and how much fridge space they can use.

Also, liability seems like a huge problem. Will you be required to get their consent regarding any new furniture? What if they break something you own? What if, pardon the joke, something you own breaks one of them?

After having four babies in our apartment for the day, when we get home at 5 do you think it would be immediately obvious that our apartment was a day care, or might we not even realize?

Well, for starters, you'd be living in a baby-proofed apartment. YMMV. And tiny handprints will be everywhere.
posted by mkultra at 8:04 AM on August 20, 2008

Have they participated in such an arrangement previously? If so, ask for references. Call the references and ask them about problems that arose, and things that they would have wanted to have in writing.
posted by grouse at 8:09 AM on August 20, 2008

Have a qualified lawyer draw up a contract with every single parent who's child will be in your home that will 100% guarantee that they will never ever sue you or your friends for what happens when a third party watches their children in your living space. Also that you're not responsible for their kids when you happen to be there at the same time, or when the sitter is a no show and you leave for school anyway, or when you decide to leave your knife and broken bottle collection in the apartment.

Also, sometimes those kids are going to be brought over early, and parents are going to need to have them stay late. Maybe one weekend you'll agree to let one kid come over for one hour, then you're an instant go to for as a weekend sitter for everyone. Are you cool with that? Also kids spread germs and they're going to rub their germs over everything you leave in that space, do you want to get slammed with some nasty illness during exams? Also, some days you'll desperately want nothing more in life than to lie in bed in silence, or study for that one last exam, but those kids are gonna be there.
posted by Science! at 8:11 AM on August 20, 2008

Response by poster: grouse: last year they rotated between 3 of the apartments the parents lived in when watching the children. This year they decided they want to be in the same place every day, so this will be a new situation and we can't ask about any references.
posted by andoatnp at 8:13 AM on August 20, 2008

I think the big question is what does the landlord think of this arrangement? Not the parents that you're subletting from -- the person or company that owns or operates the rental property itself. The situation you describe would probably set off red flags for many landlords I've dealt with. Does the landlord even know what the plans for occupancy / subletting are?
posted by QuantumMeruit at 8:18 AM on August 20, 2008

This sounds like a horrible idea for all of the reasons Science! specified and then some. Unless you're truly desperate, or you're getting a phenomenal break on the price, look elsewhere.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 8:19 AM on August 20, 2008

Have you been to a daycare recently? In my experience, they always have a certain...smell. Kind of a mixture of sweet babies, dirty diapers, apple juice, and something. Not necessarily a bad smell but I would guess that yes, you certainly would be able to tell that a bunch of kids had been there all day, the minute you walk in the door. Like mkultra said, I think liability is a much bigger concern here, though. A very, very big concern--maybe not so much your own things getting broken, as I assume that they would be replaced according to whatever agreement you work out. But if one of the kids gets hurt, it could be a huge lawsuit (at least in America). Would the daycare operation have umbrella coverage or some sort of insurance to cover you? Would that really protect your assets? I'm not a lawyer but you should ask one.
Also, have you thought about what will happen when you wake up sick as a dog? When you have friends or family visit for a week? Will you have to be out of your own apartment by 7:30 am (this seems really early, even on a normal day for me) no matter what?
posted by Jemstar at 8:19 AM on August 20, 2008

So they're essentially establishing their own daycare center, and want strangers to live there to help defray the cost? I wouldn't even consider this arrangement. What if some parent ignorantly or mistakenly believes that none of the students (strangers) will ever occupy the apartment at the same time as his/her child. You come home at lunch to grab a book and the sitter runs out to a car or a shop for '5 minutes' right before that parent comes over to surprise the kid only to find you (a stranger) alone with the children?

Forget all that, what if everyone is honest and open and cool with everything thing and it all works until one parent has a bad week and decides to make your life hell for a week as well. People do that.
posted by Science! at 8:20 AM on August 20, 2008

Really as a student, I would not want to be in that situation solely for the illness situation. I've taught a little bit and it's amazing how often I would get sick, not a situation I would want to be in while attending school, especially if I had a difficult semester coming up. Kids are little germ factories, and you don't even get the fun of playing with little kids in this bargain.
posted by piedmont at 8:25 AM on August 20, 2008

Response by poster: To clarify, we do not need to be out of the apartment when the kids are their being watched. We will most days because we'll be at school, but if we want to stay home, we are welcome to hang out in the living room with the kids and all the parents know this.
posted by andoatnp at 8:26 AM on August 20, 2008

What a really bad idea. I can't imagine this being viable from either side.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 8:29 AM on August 20, 2008

Response by poster: Also, to clarify, when I say school, we are doing a year long study program, but we have both graduated college already so it's just for our own personal enrichment. There aren't any term papers or big tests we have to worry about, but we are receiving a scholarship to do it so they want us to be in class every day, and getting sick and missing a bunch of school might be a problem.
posted by andoatnp at 8:29 AM on August 20, 2008

This is a dumb arrangement even in an open, communal society like Israel. Way too much can go wrong and the benefit to you and your roommate isn't there. I concur with all the cautions above, particularly the legal and health concerns.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 8:31 AM on August 20, 2008

This is a really horrifically bad idea. Run away.

Obvious question: why aren't they using their own damn apartment?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:41 AM on August 20, 2008

I don't know anything about Israeli law, but just consider the vast number of possible permutations of incidents that you could get into, most already mentioned above. It just doesn't seem like you should go anywhere near this setup:
  • A possession of yours causes harm to a child
  • A child or a caretaker causes harm to a possession of yours but denies culpability
  • A caretaker steals an item of yours and denies it
  • A child or a caretaker causes harm to the apartment itself but denies culpability
  • Unusual circumstances cause you to be home when one or more children are present, and something goes wrong (the "can you watch them for 10 minutes while I step out for a sec?" scenario)
  • You inadvertently or innocently become obligated to provide care for one or more children outside of the normal hours, and something bad happens
  • A caretaker or parent falsely accuse you of some kind of wrong that occurs to a child, or just generally decides that you should be asked to move out for some unwholesome reason (e.g. a child stumbles into your horse porn collection)
  • A child falsely accuses you of doing some horrible thing while the caretaker was not looking
  • You have a day off and want time alone but can't negotiate it
  • One of the parents gets disgruntled with one of the other parents and tries to get the manager to evict them or you
  • A third party reports the setup to an inspector and you discover that a permit and license is required to run a day care center, and being on the lease makes you guilty of a crime and/or fines
  • The building management or owner discovers this setup and evicts you

posted by Rhomboid at 9:01 AM on August 20, 2008

all I can think of is all the fun cool stuff in my apartment that my friends with kids don't have, or have to keep under lock and key. computers (the cables are a pull and chew temptation), video games, neat stuff on tables and mantles, etc..

Not to mention childproof everything... cabinets, jars, cleaners, etc. Plug guards. ugh.

You'll have the worst aspects of parenthood without actually being, you know, a parent.

Plus, you CAN assume something you love will be broken by a kid. It will happen. A monitor, crud jammed in the vcr, something.

Oh, and my house doesn't smell like pee and sour milk overlaid with the cloying perfume of baby powder.
posted by Kellydamnit at 9:16 AM on August 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

Is this an insane idea that we should avoid at all costs, and instead seek housing elsewhere?


It can't possibly be worth the hassle and possible legal issues. I would never put myself in that kind of situation, for any break on rent.
posted by gohlkus at 9:27 AM on August 20, 2008

I have a nanny share situation with my daughter - there are two toddlers in the house all day every day and I can tell you that at the end of every day it's a freaking disaster area. If it wasn't my daughter - there is no way I would choose to live that way. I seriously wouldn't live in the situation you describe if it were free. You are signing up for sticky, broken, smelly, and potentially legally landmindish year of hell. Run away. Why do you think the parents don't want this situation in their own home?!?
posted by Wolfie at 9:40 AM on August 20, 2008

This is crazy insane and the fact that you're even considering it makes me question how much you've thought about this.

Do you really, really want to move somewhere where you'll have babies running around for most of the time? Where you can't take a nap when you want to? Where you can't have alone time during the day, at all? Where you can't have things how you want and instead have to baby-proof everything? Everything you do is going to revolve around this "arrangement".

It seems totally crazy to me that these people, who have an apartment of their own, would expect you to grant them access to your apartment so they can run a business. For crying out loud, you're essentially paying someone else's rent and organizing your whole life around their needs for your own living space.

Don't do it.
posted by splice at 9:41 AM on August 20, 2008

Just to clarify since I think a lot of people are assuming this is a for profit day care, while it sounds to me like it's a group of parents who are agreeing together to hire a nanny and rent this apartment for her to work in and just want a way to defray the costs of the apartment rental. Which is the case?

The former seems fraught with all sorts of problems once the customers of the day care catch wind of what's actually going on, but in the latter case, if you can meet and get a signed agreement from all the parents, I'd be less uncomfortable with the idea.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:10 AM on August 20, 2008

Response by poster: Another Clarification

This is not a for-profit day care. It is 4 sets of parents who previously were taking turns watching their kids in each of their own apartments and instead want to do it every day in the same location. They are splitting the cost of the nanny, but it's not a for-profit thing. We would assumedly be able to meet and talk to each of the parents before we moved in.
posted by andoatnp at 10:14 AM on August 20, 2008

That still doesn't explain why one of the four parental sets of them will step up and offer their home... unless after last year it was such a nightmare none want to live with it again.
posted by Kellydamnit at 10:19 AM on August 20, 2008

Wha? So it's just a convenience thing? I don't think you should agree to this. Where's the benefit to you? The parents should continue to do it as they have - I think they want to avoid the mess and headaches at their own apartments and would rather use yours.
posted by agregoli at 10:24 AM on August 20, 2008

All the parents have no problem with... two guys off Craigslist hanging around their kids? What!!

Actually though, if you've ever been in a room with 4 little kids you could understand why they're not all that concerned about you guys hanging around! (Because it's pretty fucked. You wouldn't be sticking around much.)
You used the term babies...? Is that the impression they gave you? Wearing little jumpsuits with attached feet and sleeping all day. All I'm going to say is.. Nope.

Is the Nanny going to clean up after them? Not just all their crap but the mushed in food and stuff (ick!!), put the rubbish out ect. ??

None of it adds up really. Maybe it does, but people who must have one fixed location or are in a position to insist on it...? I don't know.. but it would be different to this, I would think?? And they would have some kind of references if asked for them, right? They just seem so blase. Blase people don't care about 3 different houses in one year. They have a kid, it's not like their home would not be fine...
That's what's wrong with this picture! If you were the nanny or you had a child yourself it would make perfect sense. But you are two guys, you know - off Craigslist?? Wtf!!

Oh and a room you can use at night is not a selling point. Erm, use it for what?
Don't do it...
posted by mu~ha~ha~ha~har at 10:38 AM on August 20, 2008

Response by poster: The reason that we're considering this is that housing is extremely hard to come by in Jerusalem. One of the messages we've heard is to lower our expectations from American standards and consider taking something that we wouldn't consider if we weren't abroad.

I'm not exactly sure how accurate a sentiment that is, but it's not like we are considering this place or some other place where there wouldn't be children. We don't have any other options at the moment, and only another two weeks to find a place, so we're just trying to get a sense about what exactly this living situation might entail.

Thanks again for all the advice.
posted by andoatnp at 10:39 AM on August 20, 2008

Response by poster: Although a lot of people seem to be saying this is a bad idea and we shouldn't do it, there is still a possibility that we might, so any constructive advice about what to talk about in advance with the parents to make this work would really be appreciated.
posted by andoatnp at 10:51 AM on August 20, 2008

You really do need to consider the germ issue very carefully. As a parent and sometime teacher, I can assure you that if you are around small kids, you WILL catch everything they bring into the apartment and they will bring EVERYTHING into the apartment. Small children are germ factories. I sympathize with your desire to find housing but, honestly, unless you've grown up in a house with four much younger siblings, you don't have any idea what you're getting into, here. I wouldn't do it, myself, unless the situation was really extraordinary, like free rent. As in, FREE.

However. If you're going to do it anyway, I'd make sure that all the legal issues everyone has quoted above are okay: primarily, that you can't be sued for anything that happens to a kid in the apartment. Then I wouldn't put anything at all into the shared space - no TV, no computer, no furniture, no nothing - because it's not really a question of whether it will get broken but more of when. And I would put locks on your bedroom doors and make sure the daycare people are aware that those rooms are permanently and completely off limits. That way, if you do have a sick day or two, you'll at least have a room of your own to crawl into. It won't be quiet - oh no, it will not be quiet - but it will be yours.
posted by mygothlaundry at 11:03 AM on August 20, 2008

One of the messages we've heard is to lower our expectations from American standards and consider taking something that we wouldn't consider if we weren't abroad.

I can't speak to Jerusalem specifically, but when I was in Paris, the sentiment was similar but referred to situations like renting a room in someone else's apartment, where you did not have privileges to hang out in the rest of the place, even the kitchen. I think you're being far too accommodating in this situation.
posted by mkultra at 11:21 AM on August 20, 2008

One of the messages we've heard is to lower our expectations from American standards and consider taking something that we wouldn't consider if we weren't abroad.

And that's exactly what they would tell you in order to get you to accept otherwise unacceptable conditions.

Again, there's no reason for them to use your apartment for this. They have their own. There must be a reason why they don't want this in their apartment and want to saddle two Americans with this. You should take this as a hint that your time there will not be pleasant.
posted by splice at 11:48 AM on August 20, 2008

I can understand why you are interested in renting this place. It seems like a unique opportunity to take advantage of a part-time use situation. It might smell a little funny, and sometimes they will overrun their allotted time, but it won't be that bad. Someone above mentioned that the empty room is not a selling point, and I think they are right. No furniture equals no use, unless you are planning a dance party.

They should find a nice single dad or mom to lease this place.

Good luck!
posted by cockeyed at 12:28 PM on August 20, 2008

If the apartment market is so tight in Jerusalem then why haven't a dozen other people jumped all over this opportunity while you are making up your mind? I HAVE three kids and I wouldn't willingly share my living room/kitchen/bathroom with them unless we were related.

IF you were going to go ahead: your rent should reflect that you are not renting an apartment, you are renting a bedroom with limited access to shared kitchen and bathroom. In my area a three bedroom apartment would be $2000 a month, a bedroom with communal space is $200. Do you see a similar reduction in what you are being asked to pay? One adult can look after four children (busy day!) but they can not be expected to clean as well, is there someone else who will be coming in from four-thirty to five or five-thirty every day to clean? If the nanny is expected to clean then she will not be able to supervise the children and they will break/get into your things in order to get someone's attention. Is there enough space in the bedroom to store all of your things (so it's a bedsit)? Can you use a potty when the main bathroom is tied up with toilet training.? Do you want to live out of your room? If four children are in the living room and one bedroom they are going to need all that space for their own belongings. The ratio of size of child to size of items needed for them is hugely disportionate (one twenty pound baby equals a high chair, a potty, an exerciser/bouncy chair, a shelf of books, a cot or bed, a box of toys etc, - now times that by four).

Parents are known for being stressed and kinda taking advantage of any situation to ease their burdens (just ask any daycare provider about parents being on time to pick up their children). Do you have the personality to stand up for yourself or would you gradually become a doormat?

How much experience do you have around one year olds? Some people like them, some don't. Have you met all the children and parents? Is there mutal approval? Again, this situation is NOT renting an apartment, you are signing up for living in a communal house with one roommate, one nanny, four children and eight parents. Fourteen people emotionally and financially invested in one three bedroom apartment seems like a recipe for disaster.
posted by saucysault at 12:34 PM on August 20, 2008

A few observations, some based around questions my wife and I considered when we started sharing my daugther's nanny with friends and their son:

Red flags: Why has it suddenly become unacceptable to do this rotating around the parents' homes? Because something went wrong, and now they want something to go wrong in your home. One nanny for four kids will be stretched pretty thin, too.

Liability. I would want iron-clad liability clauses in any contract I signed; specifically around not being held liable for anything that went wrong with the kids, and the parents being liable for anything the kids break. 1 year old kids are learning to walk, poke stuff, and accidents will happen, even with the best and most well-behaved, well managed kids.

Timekeeping: Parents are arseholes about this, and I speak as one. Every professional creche I know of in my country has huge, punative penalties for late pickup/early drop-off of kids, because without them, kids show up half an hour before they should, and leave half an hour after. Our nanny commented that one of the things she likes about us as employers is that if, for some reason, we need to to stay a bit late we either pay her for it or let her take time off later on; most nannies she knows have people simply expecting that the nanny should eat a quarter hour here, a half hour there.

What's your recourse when parents start picking kids up at 5 instead of 4:30? In the contract, make it punative.

What happens when the nanny is sick? Do the parents expect you to help out? You laugh, but wait until there are 3 kids at 7:45 and two of the parents have already gone to work and the nanny rings in ill and the third parent needs to go somewhere. Does a parent pick up the slack?

What's the threshold for kids having to stay at home if the kid is sick? Kids are little plague factories. Again, most commercial daycare facilities have really strict rules around this because otherwise they end up with measles, mumps, whatever, dumped on them. Incidentally, how are your immune systems - have you had mumps? Up to date with your shots? You're basically volunteering to enjoy the worst period of adults-getting-sick-from-kids. Be ready for it.

Security: Who's going to have keys to your apartment? Four families, plus the nanny... can uncles, aunts, grandparents expect to drop by whenever? Can you lock the doors to your own rooms with a different key. What happens if stuff goes missing?

Child-safety: If you haven't lived with small bipeds before you have no idea. You will need anything you want to keep in your room or otherwise out of reach. Knives, pots, pans, and whatnot will all need to be kept secure in the kitchen. Cleaning products need to be out of reach. No leaving anything poisonous or medical below adult head height in the bathroom. Cables, cords all need to be marshalled safely. Power outlets need to be kid-safed. Anything breakable in child reach will be, sooner or later, especially with a 1:4 adult:kid ratio.

Sociabilty: We parents are a pretty picky lot about what comes out of our kids' mouths. If we're atheists, we get twitchy about religion. If we're religious, we get twitchy about wrong religions, or no religion. We get upset about behavior that violates our political, ethical, moral codes. If your a couple of non-observant American liberal Jews and the parents are Orthodox Likudniks, how do you think they'll critique what hangs on your walls, what you wear, the opinions you may offer when they or their kids are in earshot? Or the other way around? Your space is their space; books, manners of speech and dress, will all need to be compatible. When a parent arrives at 7 early ("It won't be a problem, I'll look after little Samuel!") and you're having a noisy quickie before when you thought the kids would arrive... what's the reaction going to be?

What if the parents are routinely coming into your home spouting political or moral positions you find repugnant? Feel like a year of that?

Cleaning: Who cleans up? Does the nanny have to make sure the house looks at 4:30 like it was at 7:30? Do the parents take away dirty disposable nappies, or do you get to enjoy waiting for rubbish day with increasingly putrid mounds of shit-stained paper? If they use cloth nappies, do they get washed there (on your power bull) or at home? Is the parents & nanny's view of clean enough the same as yours? Conversely, is the state you keep a kitchen/bathroom/laundry the state the parents and nanny will find acceptable? Are cleaning products maintained by the parents, or do they just use yours?

Food: Is your food going to be raided if the kid's stocks are low?
posted by rodgerd at 4:39 PM on August 20, 2008

Best answer: We decided that this wasn't a good situation for us to live in. I'm marking this as best answer just so people can see it although I appreciate all the information above and it was all helpful and each of these answers could have been a best answer as well.
posted by davidstandaford at 1:17 AM on August 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

Thanks for the follow-up, David.
posted by JimN2TAW at 11:19 AM on August 21, 2008

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