How to Stay Safe When Renting a Room From a Stranger

Given that most Americans have been dubbed “generational rents” because of their diminishing chances of ever owning a home, the recent economic turmoil — with interest rates, inflation, and rising rents — is only exacerbating an already severe trauma. . More and more people are forced to be creative in order to secure housing. For some, this may mean giving up on the noble goal of renting the entire apartment and agreeing to rent a room .

On paper, it’s not much different than renting an apartment with some roommates. In fact, things can be quite different, because you are only renting a small area in someone else’s house. While legally your rights as a tenant are the same as if you were renting the entire property, in reality it can be an isolating, privacy-challenging experience because you won’t be in control of many aspects of your life situation, from utilities to your home. access to different areas of space. Since you also probably live with a landlord you don’t know very well, this is a recipe for stress.

One of the biggest concerns when renting a room is security: how do you feel safe living with strangers (and in power)? No matter how well you get along, there are a few steps you should take to increase your safety when renting a room.

Exercise due diligence

When renting a room from someone you don’t know, the security starts even before you sign the lease or lease. Meet your potential roommate landlord – at the very least, video chat with them. Feel free to ask about anything that worries you; a legal and reasonable landlord should be available to answer any questions you may have about the accommodations they offer.

Check the property and surrounding area and make sure you feel comfortable there and consider paying for a background check of the person you will be living with. Many landlords hire potential tenants through services like Rentberry —usually passing the cost on to you—so why not switch tables and check out the person you plan to live with for the next few months or years? Even a simple Google search for a landlord’s address or name can reveal disgruntled previous tenants or other issues.

Add (or improvise) a lock

The biggest security concern when renting a room is your privacy. The property owner retains the right to access your space at any time , which becomes intimidating if the relationship turns sour.

By law, you can’t add a lock or change an existing lock on your room without your landlord’s permission, so ask for it ahead of time and get it in writing (preferably on the lease itself). It is entirely possible to remove an existing handle or door lock and replace it with one you bought yourself without any damage to the door, and the previous lock can be put back in place when you leave the room.

If your landlord won’t let you install or change locks, you can improvise a lock on your door that will add some security while you’re in the room. One of the easiest ways to do this only requires a metal dinner fork and a pair of pliers. This will prevent anyone from opening your door from the outside without making any changes to the existing door or walls, which can help you sleep at night.

Add Camera

Generally speaking, tenants are allowed to use CCTV cameras in their private space as long as they don’t encroach on common spaces. A simple indoor camera like the Amazon Blink model can be discreetly placed on a shelf and can monitor your room when you’re not there by sending motion-activated alerts. This way, you will at least know if your landlord/roommate comes into your room while you’re not there, or sleep better at night knowing they respect your privacy. Your main consideration here is to use a wireless setup that won’t damage the walls or require other permanent changes.

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