Renting out rooms - Owner Occupied - What’s Allowed?

4 Replies

Hi BP,

Admittedly, I’m new to this. I purchased my first property and moved in at the beginning of May. It’s a single family 4 bed home with the intent to rent out the additional rooms.

My girlfriend and I will be occupying the master, but we’re curious on what “house rules” you’re able to put in place and what’s illegal?

Ive searched landlordology and BP for state specific laws, but it seems like owner occupancy is a bit of a different beast.

Topics were curious about:

1) shoes in the house (for instance, could we say prefer to take your shoes off when walking in?)

2) keeping the common area relatively clean

3) etc.

Any help would be greatly appreciated!


Same equal opportunity housing laws apply - cant discriminate based on age, race, disability, religion, family size, etc.. so technically all those ads saying ‘Room for Rent - perfect for college student/ one person/(or other caterings) are ‘illegal’ and can be considered discriminatory..BUT those ads are very common and it’s unlikely anyone would pursue reporting ... nevertheless, you could be opening yourself up for potential legal consequences so I just keep my ads/posts very generic and objective stuff about the room/house, etc.

Buttttt, one good thing owner occupied properties, you CAN advertise & select a tenant based on Gender! TX law allows for this, thankfully. I got a lot ppl with kids or couples asking if 2 people were okay. Can't say NO, gotta offer them a rental application just like everyone else buttt another tip is to check and read your local county laws and ordinances about single family dwellings (if you're renting a SFH, of course). They usually have some limitations on # of unrelated ppl, # ppl allowed per sq ftg of bedroom, etc. so you can maybe use some of these local ordinances in your favor to eliminate undesirables legally. A whole other annoying topic is pets that are labeled ‘service' I have to allow or not? I dunno for sure on this one, I think law leans towards ‘Yes' unfortunately. Can't charge a pet deposit either, which is even more absurd :(

There is no different set of rules for leasing a room than there are leasing an entire house.  Texas Property Code Chpt's 90 and 91, plus chapters on FED (eviction), etc.

But to be honest, it is more of a pain in the butt when you live there, too.  Can you imagine living with your boss?  What seems like a mild request to you comes across as a landlord demand because of the difference in power.  Based on the topics you are curious about, I'd say you don't have the temperament to have roommates.  

If you have rules, they should be few, short, concrete, clear, concise, non-discriminatory, and applied equally.  

Each rule creates an opportunity for conflict.  

If you cannot state the rule in 1 sentence, you don't understand what you are requiring.  If a stranger cannot read it without questions, they don't understand what is required.