Renting a room or apartment from family may sound wonderful at first. Before you pack your bags, why not sleep on it for a little while? Letting the idea sink in and ensuring this is the right thing to do may end up saving you some time and a relationship. This time may also enable you to decide what you are going to do to ensure that your renting relationship is at a business level, securing your personal/family relationship.
The pros of renting from family are many. You know your landlord and obviously you trust them or you wouldn’t even be considering this to begin with. Your landlord may come with some great perks like watering your plants and feeding the cat when you go on vacation. Of course, they can have the same perks from you as a renter. What a wonderful mutually rewarding situation. If emergencies arise a family member would probably be the first one to be able to help or understand, unlike a Property Management Company.
The cons of renting from family can also be great. I don’t know about your family, but my family is sometimes a little too close. We talk almost everyday and we know probably too much about each other by other families’ standards. My older sister and my mother are my best friends and the phones were ringing off the hooks the past year as my sister went through a divorce. If you want your private life private, it may be a little tough under your family’s surveillance if they are at all nosy or intrusive.
If you are running short on funds it may be easiest to ask your family landlord to bend your agreement. This can backfire on you when everyone in your family finds out and you get a lecture from Mom. Also, you will begin the “I owe you one” game. If those “owe yous” begin to pile up, eventually the tower will fall. Unfortunately, in the end it is the relationship that is the loser. Unlike another landlord, you cannot just walk away from this one.
The benefits of a family-member-as-landlord can far outweigh the disadvantages. You and your family just need to make a commitment that this relationship is going to be a business transaction. You need to respect it as that. You should follow the rules set forth, and be considerate. Communicate your expectations prior to moving in. Write it down. It doesn’t have to be a formal legal lease to show an agreement you both came to. Anyone would appreciate this. It protects you both.
Mari rented the basement of her aunt and uncle’s house for her last semester of college. “I was on the 4-and-a-half year plan when I had to retake a class.” The last minute housing arrangements after realizing the unexpected extension and expenses ended up saving her. Mari explained that it definitely wasn’t college life. She never had visitors into the family home. “My aunt and uncle had two kids in school, so it was hardly campus life, but at that point, all I wanted was to graduate.” The relationship was wonderful, she explained. They ended up even supplying all meals in trade for a few weekly rides to sports and piano for the kids.
There is no simple answer if you should or shouldn’t rent from family. Every family is different. Relationships within families are different. Just make sure you aren’t looking at only possible advantages and forgetting about the disadvantages. There is a lot more to lose, should things turn south than just a room.