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House Hacking

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Cameron Woodward#1 House Hacking Contributor
  • Huntsville AL
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How do I find tenants for a house hack?

Cameron Woodward#1 House Hacking Contributor
  • Huntsville AL
Posted Apr 11 2024, 13:05

Im in the process of buying my first property. A 4 bedroom house but there's an extra room we can use as a bedroom. As of right now me, my partner , and one other person is moving in but, I need to find a way to fill in the other 2 bedrooms. Is there any recommendations on sights or places I can find good quality tenants. Another question, What's the best way to screen and run a background check on them?

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Stephen DeThample
  • Real Estate Agent
  • Las Vegas, NV
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Stephen DeThample
  • Real Estate Agent
  • Las Vegas, NV
Replied Apr 11 2024, 13:47

First focus on what kind of tenants you are looking for (college, certain employer, traveling nurses......) 


Then find out where they would see your ad or even an in person flyer at a coffee shop.

Ask friends or introduce yourself at those places.

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Daniel McDonald
  • Real Estate Agent
  • Beverly, MA
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Daniel McDonald
  • Real Estate Agent
  • Beverly, MA
Replied Apr 11 2024, 14:06

Roomies.com is an option. Like Stephen said figure out what type of tenant you are looking for. That will make a difference whether you are using FB groups, craigslist,etc.

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Wale Lawal#4 House Hacking Contributor
  • Real Estate Broker
  • Houston | Dallas | Austin, TX
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Wale Lawal#4 House Hacking Contributor
  • Real Estate Broker
  • Houston | Dallas | Austin, TX
Replied Apr 12 2024, 05:31

@Cameron Woodward

Looking for tenants for your first property, Check out online rental sites such as Zillow, Trulia, Apartments.com, and Craigslist. Reach out to local real estate organizations for tips and connections. Use referrals and networking to find trustworthy tenants. Take advantage of social media to advertise your property. Screen potential tenants thoroughly with applications, background checks, credit checks, employment verification, and reference checks.

When screening potential tenants, it is important to use industry-standard forms and reliable screening services to ensure compliance with fair housing laws. Verify applicants' employment and income to make sure they can afford the rent. Reach out to former landlords or property managers for insight on the applicant's rental history and reliability. It is crucial to prioritize open communication, honesty, and adherence to rental laws during the screening and leasing process.

Good luck!

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Sarah Brown
  • Real Estate Agent
  • Nampa, ID
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Sarah Brown
  • Real Estate Agent
  • Nampa, ID
Replied Apr 12 2024, 07:43

zillow, realtor.com, facebook marketplace, put notice out to your friends and family you are looking for a roommate.   Referrals are generally better than complete strangers.  If you want short term, you can look at furnished finders. 

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Rick Albert#4 House Hacking Contributor
  • Real Estate Agent
  • Los Angeles, CA
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Rick Albert#4 House Hacking Contributor
  • Real Estate Agent
  • Los Angeles, CA
Replied Apr 12 2024, 09:19

Facebook Marketplace and Facebook Groups is probably a good start.

Zillow now offers posted rentals by the room, but not sure who is looking there.

In terms of running background and credit check, I like mysmartmove.com. It is the most thorough. 

I would do the background check just like any other investment property and make no exceptions. This includes checking past landlord history, money in the bank, paystubs, etc.

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Savannah Yingling
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  • Realtor
  • Chevy Chase, MD
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Savannah Yingling
Pro Member
  • Realtor
  • Chevy Chase, MD
Replied Apr 12 2024, 09:40
Quote from @Cameron Woodward:

Im in the process of buying my first property. A 4 bedroom house but there's an extra room we can use as a bedroom. As of right now me, my partner , and one other person is moving in but, I need to find a way to fill in the other 2 bedrooms. Is there any recommendations on sights or places I can find good quality tenants. Another question, What's the best way to screen and run a background check on them?


 Hi Cameron! I am an assistant property manger in Maryland- here are my tips. Furnished Finder, Zillow, Facebook, and word of mouth is a good start. For screening applicants; RentSpree is a good option or you could reach out to a local Property Management Company and/or Real Estate Brokerage to see if they can just do the listing for your property to find and screen applicants for you. You'd most likely just pay a one time fee. Good luck!

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Savannah Yingling
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  • Realtor
  • Chevy Chase, MD
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Savannah Yingling
Pro Member
  • Realtor
  • Chevy Chase, MD
Replied Apr 12 2024, 09:41
Quote from @Savannah Yingling:
Quote from @Cameron Woodward:

Im in the process of buying my first property. A 4 bedroom house but there's an extra room we can use as a bedroom. As of right now me, my partner , and one other person is moving in but, I need to find a way to fill in the other 2 bedrooms. Is there any recommendations on sights or places I can find good quality tenants. Another question, What's the best way to screen and run a background check on them?


 Hi Cameron! I am an assistant property manger in Maryland- here are my tips. Furnished Finder, Zillow, Facebook, and word of mouth is a good start. For screening applicants; RentSpree is a good option or you could reach out to a local Property Management Company and/or Real Estate Brokerage to see if they can just do the listing for your property to find and screen applicants for you. You'd most likely just pay a one time fee. Good luck!


One other thing to add- I would highly suggest making a rental verification part of your process. A previous or current landlord can tell you A LOT about a prospective applicant. 
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Replied Apr 12 2024, 10:50

There are a lot of ways to find tenants. You want to find quality tenants. But first, you have to know what kind of tenants you're looking for like Stephen mentioned above. The property management software I use has partnered with many listing sites that will give you tenants. It's up to you to run a background check, credit check, and eviction check. I would also get references from their previous landlords and call them.

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Alecia Loveless
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Alecia Loveless
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Replied Apr 12 2024, 14:40

@Cameron Woodward I use Facebook/marketplace a lot for filling my rentals. It seems to have the highest results.

Second using MySmartMove for background checks. Simply set up a landlord account then go from there.

I have the prospective tenant pay for the background check but I have it narrowed down to my first choice by that point, then if there is a problem I move to the second choice, etc. I don’t just run like 20 background checks on everyone who applies.

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Brian Sardinskas
  • Real Estate Agent
  • New Hampshire
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Brian Sardinskas
  • Real Estate Agent
  • New Hampshire
Replied Apr 12 2024, 17:52

Hey @Cameron Woodward

@Sarah Brown touched on it above, but using your network of friends and family is a great way to find tenants. I especially like this when you will be sharing common areas with your tenants. I find it comforting to live with someone that was referred by a friend or family member, rather than someone you find off Facebook marketplace or Zillow. That being said, I have house hacked with 'strangers' before and it went great. So do not be afraid of using all available avenues to find tenants. 

One additional tip, when I house hacked, I was very naive and assumed that everyone lived very similar to me (ie. wakes up early, goes to bed early, likes a clean space etc.). Remember that this is not always the case, so you want to try and get an idea of their daily routine to make sure it aligns with what you are looking for. 

Hope this helps!

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Ryan Thomson#1 House Hacking Contributor
  • Real Estate Agent
  • Colorado Springs, CO
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Ryan Thomson#1 House Hacking Contributor
  • Real Estate Agent
  • Colorado Springs, CO
Replied Apr 15 2024, 13:24

I've thought a lot about this....

Not being able to find tenants is one of the biggest fears beginning house hackers have when they first get started. I talk with my clients in Colorado Springs about it all the time. 

Fears:

The number one fear among house hackers is the inability to find tenants, which can significantly impact your ROI and rental income. However, it's important to remember that this fear stems from the unknown. Once you've experienced the successful rental of your first house hack, this fear diminishes. In reality, finding tenants is quite easy, especially if you follow these steps to reduce your risk of vacancy:

Living in a growing city in a desirable location increases your chances of finding tenants. In addition to that, the current housing shortage creates a demand for affordable housing, making renting rooms even easier to do. Be willing to adjust the rental price if necessary to attract potential tenants.

Implement the following steps to increase your chances of finding suitable tenants and minimize vacancies.

Generating Interest and Attracting Potential Tenants:

Making the Listing

Take professional photos! You can use them every time you need a new tenant. If you can’t afford professional photos you shouldn’t be house hacking.

Make sure your listing description includes the following items:

  • Rent
  • Is utilities included or not?
  • Credit score requirement
  • Job/income requirement
  • Description of yourself and other tenants

To maximize your reach and find potential tenants, utilize various platforms, including:

  • Facebook
  • Craigslist
  • Apartments.com
  • Zillow
  • Roomster
  • Roommate.com

Responding to Inquiries

Once you create an awesome listing you will start to get inquiries. While you may receive numerous inquiries from individuals casually browsing listings, focus your time and energy on serious prospects. Make them earn your attention by demonstrating genuine interest.

Ask them an easy question back to see if they are interested. I usually start with something like this:

“We require a 550+ credit score as well as a current job paystub or a co-signer who meets these requirements. The move in date is August 1. Does all that work for you? “

If they answer “yes” you are on to the next set of screening questions. I use this: “I have a couple questions for you to make sure it’s a good fit for you. Please answer these. Then we can go from there: “What is your Job? Only you? Pets? Move in date? Estimated length of stay? Any questions for me?”

Based on those answers you can decide if you want to set up a showing with them.

Before we talk about streamlining showings, I want to share a hack with you during the initial screening phase.

Prepare templated questions in advance to streamline the process and utilize text replacement features on your smartphone for efficiency. For example, all I have to do is type “rental1” in my iPhone and it will replace it with that first reply. I type “questions1” in my iPhone and it replace it with all of the questions I want to ask.

Setting up showings:

Do as many as you can in a one or two hour block. Tell potential tenants when you are going to be showing the house and make them work around your schedule. I like to schedule 15 minutes showings back to back and get several qualified potential tenants to come during the same window. While we are there I make sure I get a feel for the tenants and how I would get along with them. Tell them you will send them an application with background check, credit check, and eviction history. Ask them if there is anything that might come up on their reports that they want to let you know about?

Choosing the tenant:

When you are house hacking there is no fair housing laws. You can pick who you want to live with. I would recommend deciding based on these criteria:

  • Will you get along with them and if they are a good fit for the house.
  • Do they have the basic credit, income, and eviction history that you require.

Getting Leases and admin stuff set up

Use e-sign technology to get leases signed. I like Doc Hub and you get 5 free document signatures a month.

Once the lease is signed set them up with software you are going to use. The best software I’ve found for managing tenants are Apartments.com (formerly COZY) or Rentredi.

Personally I use apartments.com. With Apartments.com I can automate rent payments, have the security deposit paid, and have tenants upload their proof of renter’s insurance.

Challenges of living with other roommates and renting by the room

When living with roommates there are always challenges. More often than not it is enjoyable and a great way to make new friends. Here are some of the challenges I’ve faced with rent by the room house hacking:

Dishes!! People not doing them is annoying. Set up a chore list. Set an expectation that no one leaves their dishes in the sink. Create a chore list and if someone misses make them buy the house beer or do everyone’s chores the next week.

Drama between tenants. Facilitate conversation and get people to talk like adults.

Tenants not paying on time. Require autopayment set up in the lease. Use Apartments.com to do this. Have a lease in place that gives you some options if tenants aren’t paying on time. Enforce the late fees every time to incentivize on time payments.

You can do this!

With the outlined steps and strategies, you can overcome the fear and stress associated with finding tenants for your house hack. With these steps you can reduce your risk and your time. Remember that living in a growing city and providing affordable housing will attract potential renters. By creating an appealing listing, responding to inquiries efficiently, conducting effective showings, and choosing the right tenant, you’ll minimize vacancies and maximize your rental income. Additionally, setting up leases and utilizing software platforms will simplify administrative tasks. With these tips in mind, you’re well on your way to successful house hacking. Don’t be discouraged—finding tenants is an achievable feat!

And remember to declare your rental income on your taxes so you can use that income to help you qualify for the next house hack!

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Anthony Swain
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#2 House Hacking Contributor
  • Investor
  • Charlotte, NC
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Anthony Swain
Pro Member
#2 House Hacking Contributor
  • Investor
  • Charlotte, NC
Replied Apr 17 2024, 11:52

Great info @Ryan Thomson!

I'm sure if you follow these strategies @Cameron Woodward you will certainly be heading in the right direction.

Do you want to rent out the rooms long term or short term?

As a new house hacker, running the numbers as a "Mid Term rental" made more sense. Depending on the demand for 30+ short term stays, then maybe that is an option. You can potentially be getting travel nurses, other business professionals, interns, etc. I like this strategy, because if all of their info checks out then you're most likely getting a quality tenant in place, especially with medical professionals that require strict background checks. 

One way, you can check the demand for "mid term rentals" is furnished finders stats page and looking for other furnished rentals on zilow/other listing sites. Are there many with immediate availability (could be low demand) or are they all booked until a future date (could be a good sign)?

TLDR; Decide if you want to do short-term or mid term rentals for increased income. Check demand on furnished finder, airbnb and other listing sites. If yes, then aim for a specific avatar and nail it! 

Anyway, good luck! I hope this strategy works out well for you!

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Adrian Lammersdorf-Scioll
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  • Florida
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Adrian Lammersdorf-Scioll
Pro Member
  • Realtor
  • Florida
Replied Apr 19 2024, 07:59

First would be a good idea to get with your partner and agree on the type of roomate you are looking for, then asking your friends and people you know if someone is looking for a room.  If that doesn't work try using zillow, padsplit, or FB marketplace.  Interview them in a coffee shop and screen them with rentprep.  I had a similar situation with my partner and we were lucky to find people through our network of friends.

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Jeremy Jareckyj
  • Real Estate Agent
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Jeremy Jareckyj
  • Real Estate Agent
  • Salt Lake City, UT
Replied Apr 21 2024, 07:00

I highly recommend turbotenant. It is free and has done wonders for me in finding tenants.