House hacking in Tacoma

7 Replies | Tacoma, Washington

I'm very close to having a single family home in Tacoma under contract.  I plan to house hack it by renting out most of the bedrooms.  The home will have communal bathrooms, kitchen, and laundry areas.  I haven't been able to find solid answers on the legalities of renting out a single family home this way.  Does anyone have tips or experience in dealing with the City of Tacoma for this house hack?  

I also welcome any ideas on how to structure the leasing paperwork to account for the fact that multiple strangers will be sharing the bathrooms, kitchen. and the rest of the common areas?

@James Krusmark  - I’m not an attorney so standard disclaimers apply. I have helped multiple clients purchase properties to house hack in Tacoma and other areas of Pierce County. For SFRs, most of them will number each of the bedrooms, and note the room number on the lease as part of the address. The lease also mentions that the tenants have access to a shared kitchen, etc. as “common areas.” They also supply a list of rules for the common areas which the tenant sign and agree to follow as part of the leases and that failure to follow the rules is grounds for eviction. Now, how those rules hold up in court if they were ever challenged is another story. I suspect it would depend on the rule  and how severely it was broken. I don’t see a landlord being able to evict for dirty dishes, but consistently throwing “frat parties” that disrupt the other tenants right to quiet enjoyment of their home might be something that could be enforced. 

You can put rules in the lease. You can also do a sublease agreement which may be worded a bit differently. A decent attorney should be able to put together a good lease for less than a couple hundred bucks and then you can just use it as a template from here on out. 

And just a tip, if you've got multiple people renting rooms, nobody will ever want to clean. Hiring a consistent cleaner to come through every couple of weeks is a must according to my friends who do that strategy in the area! Sure, it's an extra cost, but it makes a property more attractive to tenants as well, so it's worth considering. 

As someone who's rented rooms in another major area (Silicon Valley), Ryan's right. Nobody ever wants to clean up. They also don't want to take care of the yard, if you have one. Invest in a cleaning service & a gardener, and incorporate the cost into the rent. 

Hope the house hack goes well! Please share whatever you find out from the city; I'd like to know about this too.

Thanks for the replies. You guys gave me some good things to think about.

As far as the city is concerned, I talked to the landlord-tenant coordinator, the Tacoma Housing Authority, and the Business licensing office. They all said that other than having a rental business license(no local taxes by the way), and meeting code and safety requirements, I'm good to go.

@James Krusmark , for rent by the room, we need to make sure we are not exceeding the number of un-related persons in the house. For the City of Tacoma, this number is 6.

Each City has its own number.