Renting to students by room (Long island)

6 Replies

Hey everyone!

I have been a lurker at bigger pockets for a few months now so I am excited to take the plunge and join this wonderful community! I was hoping I could get some advice on how I should go about my first house hack. I recently got hired at a new job located close to Stony Brook University and online I have found many 4 room/2 bath homes that are not only reasonably priced but also close to the campus. My plan is to rent each room to grad students and to live in one of the rooms. Taking into consideration the high homeowners tax rates in Long island and mortgage payments, I expect the rent revenue from each room to cash flow positive at $500 -$700/month.

-Is anyone here familiar with the occupancy ordinances in Suffolk county?

-For those that have personally done something similar, would it be weird being in such close quarters with tenants? I just feel like I would turn off a lot of potential tenants.

-I know appreciation is the icing on the cake but I'm noticing that a lot of house in Long island do not appreciate. why is this the case?


      You would need to check with your local codes. For example near our college the houses must have a special zoning to do that. They actually zone the home inn/lodge. If it doesn't have that zoning and the certificate required by codes associated with it then the landlord cannot rent by room

      @Michael Toba .

      Hi Michael, Welcome to the site, Stony Brook has cracked down in recent years on illegal apartments and rentals (not to say that is what yours would be) to deal with what they called illegal rooming houses.

      I don’t own any rentals there but have looked in the past. I believe all apartments need to be registered there to be legal.

      According to the stony brook site:

      “A rental dwelling unit is considered legal when it has been inspected by the Chief Building Inspector or a designated employed by the town, and meets all applicable housing, sanitary, building, electrical and fire codes, rules, and regulations. Upon receipt of the approved Inspection Report, the Chief Building Inspector shall issue a rental registration valid for 15 months from the date of issuance of the temporary rental registration.”

      I believe Stony Brook is within the town of Brookhaven and they may limit the number of non-related people on your lease. I'm not trying to discourage you, and would love to hear any feedback you get through the process. You may be able to get it, might not but best of luck, let us know how it goes.

      Originally posted by @Michael Toba :

      Thanks @Matt B. ! I will definitely take the local rental ordinances into consideration when getting started with this.

      Do you think I will have trouble finding students willing to live in the same unit as the owner?

      I don't have any input on the area/legality. But I rent out all the rooms in my house and originally had the same concerns that you do. I have a 4/3 and the rooms stay rented with no issues at all. It's not difficult or uncomfortable if you do it correctly. The things I have found to be most important are screening your tenants thoroughly, being upfront with them as to your expectations, and being mindful of everyone's schedules. So I have one tenant that leaves at 7am, one at 10am and one at noon so nobody is in the kitchen at the same time and everyone gets home at night at different times. If all three of them worked a 9-5 then there may be conflict. 

      Good luck!



      @Michael Toba , great thinking on this one and I can tell you from experience it works. I do rent to college students and all of the points made above are valid. Here is a few things to consider:

      1. Local laws and regulations whether you an rent by room (already mentioned - some cities require that each room have its own lock as now each of the rooms is considered to be its own unit). In addition, where I rent, you can only have 4 non-related occupants live in a single family home. You might want to check on that as well. 

      2. Living there yourself - the positive of this is that you are there and can get real time updates on what is needed etc. The negative is that no-one wants to live with the landlord on premises, especially college kids. They tend to have people over, not treat the property with much respect, be negligent,...etc.etc. These things will annoy you and eventually will put you in difficult situations whenever you confront them.

      3. Renting by room - I dont know if this is the best option. How about you rent the whole house for a set price and let the students figure out their roommates? This would be a lot easier for you as there is only one contract in place with all of their names, and also less headaches about a bunch of strangers living in the same house (they will eventually fight). You can also make the parents co-sign since most of the students dont have credit or past rental experience (very tough to screen). 

      4. Make sure you get security deposit for at least 2 months and put together a very specific, clear, concise rental agreement. There should not be room for negotiation or interpretation. Understand that renting to Students is much more riskier, hence the higher rewards.

      5. when calculating your ROI, make sure you call your insurance first. There are not many carriers that will insure a home with students and the ones that do, you will see a big increase on that premium. make sure that is baked in to your calculations.

      6. THE MOST IMPORTANT ONE - put the house in an LLC. This is the very least that you can do. In the event of a lawsuit, you need some type of protection on your personal assets.

      Best of luck!