Rooming House
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Rooming House (by Johnny B. [MA]) Feb 16, 2019 8:55 PM
       Rooming House (by GKARL [PA]) Feb 17, 2019 2:17 AM
       Rooming House (by Steve [MA]) Feb 17, 2019 4:42 AM
       Rooming House (by Still Learning [NH]) Feb 17, 2019 5:42 AM
       Rooming House (by Johnny B. [MA]) Feb 17, 2019 6:19 AM
       Rooming House (by Deanna [TX]) Feb 17, 2019 9:36 AM
       Rooming House (by GKARL [PA]) Feb 17, 2019 3:20 PM
       Rooming House (by Deanna [TX]) Feb 17, 2019 3:34 PM
       Rooming House (by GKARL [PA]) Feb 17, 2019 4:35 PM
       Rooming House (by DJ [VA]) Feb 17, 2019 6:39 PM
       Rooming House (by GKARL [PA]) Feb 17, 2019 7:53 PM
       Rooming House (by Johnny B. [MA]) Feb 18, 2019 6:19 AM
       Rooming House (by DJ [VA]) Feb 18, 2019 6:25 AM

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Rooming House (by Johnny B. [MA]) Posted on: Feb 16, 2019 8:55 PM

For those that own a rooming house, what would you say are a few of the main challenges with managing the property and the people versus managing a traditional multi-apartment property? What advice would you give someone thatís beginning their learning/research into rooming houses.

Rooming House (by GKARL [PA]) Posted on: Feb 17, 2019 2:17 AM

Compared to apartments, I would say turnover is more frequent and often with short notice, so one must be prepared to manage that. However, turning over a room is nothing like turning over an apartment or house. It goes very quick. I have a mix of longer term residents and short termers. I try to get folks who will stay at least 3 months.

I spend about 1-2 hours a week mainly on bookkeeping and showings. I've implemented many of the pre-screening techniques I've learned here to cut down showings and to cull through applicants. I really don't want to take an application from anyone unless I'm fairly sure I want to rent to them. I find pre-screening via text very effective in cutting down the time. Once I have their name, I'm able to check the court system on on line for convictions. During the winter, pickings are slim just as they are with apartments. I'm moving to a system where tenants will either deposit their rent at the bank or remit it via mobile banking. That will save weekly trips to the collection box.

I've found a need for rooming houses for normal folks who are priced out of rentals. I think they will work well in areas where rents have spiked. Just like apartments though, you need to screen well and work to keep the units full.

I've not found issues between roomers to be much of an issue. Occasionally something crops up but here of late, no issues at all. That's a luck of the draw sort of thing. When there are issues of any sort, I deal with it immediately and fairly. I also respect the tenant's space and try not to enter their rooms unless I have to. It's important to have a set of house rules and enforce them consistently.

All in all, it's been a good experience. However, I think one's experience with a 20 room place will be different than a place half the size (I have 9 rooms). I know of someone with 20 rooms and he's there much more than I am but some of that is how he's managing the place also.

Generally, the market for rooming houses is limited to local operators. You won't have an out of area investor buying a rooming house. You can hire off site management, but most people who have a manager in place set up on on-site. I don't have an on-site manager but plan on hiring one of the tenants to be a resident assistant to do cleaning and help with showings and room turnovers.

Rooming House (by Steve [MA]) Posted on: Feb 17, 2019 4:42 AM

Johnny B, I know a few LLs in my area who have both apts & rooming houses. For some reason their rooming houses all tend to have between 6 & 12 rooms. I think there might be a couple of LLs in Mike's group that have them. You might give Mike a call or send him an Email about this or bring it up at the next meeting.

From what I gather it;

is much simpler to remove a roomer than it is an apt tenant

is more labor intensive for cleaning & monitoring

is ruled by different laws & regulations

has stricter health / safety regulations

attracts an entirely different type of clientele

has more police interaction

more drama then other rentals

can be very profitable for the right owner

One long time LL that I know has been transitioning his 3 & 4 units from apts to some sort of halfway houses. If I understood him correctly he's generating 2-3 times as much net income from these compared to his regular rooming houses.


Rooming House (by Still Learning [NH]) Posted on: Feb 17, 2019 5:42 AM

A halfway house type situation is an interesting idea. I had 2 men apply for an apartment coming out of a sober living house but they didnít meet my criteria. They pay an a huge monthly amount to live there and have a hard time finding a landlord to accept them. They were working all of the time and wanted a quiet place to stay out of trouble. If they had a sober rooming house type situation to show they were staying clean and out of trouble it would be easier for them to find a landlord to take them. Rent for that situation could be less than the sober living facility but more than regular rooming house rates.

Rooming House (by Johnny B. [MA]) Posted on: Feb 17, 2019 6:19 AM

Thank you all for the great feedback; itís very helpful. Also Steve[MA], good suggestion about discussing with Mike. I unfortunately havenít been able to make the last few meetings due to my work schedule but hope to make the February meeting. GKARL[PA] for your 9 rooms how many bathrooms do you have? Also what appliances do you provide in the kitchen and how many of each?

Rooming House (by Deanna [TX]) Posted on: Feb 17, 2019 9:36 AM

The thing that's always kept me from trying for a rooming house or halfway house kind of situation is the local ordinances (schedule of permitted uses restricts it to certain zonings [which tend to be my smaller/older houses]; parking ordinances; gotta collect hotel/motel tax if they stay less than 30 days) combined with a good dose of I-don't-want-the-neighbors-to-hate-me.

So-- for those of you who have dealt with it in residential zoning, how do you keep the neighbors from hating you, and how do you avoid people who have trouble with opioids?

Rooming House (by GKARL [PA]) Posted on: Feb 17, 2019 3:20 PM


I have three kitchens and four bathrooms for nine rooms (one room has its own bathroom, so three baths are shared). All kitchens have stoves and refrigerators. Tenants get their own dorm refrigerators and microwaves. I supply all room furnishings. I like the metal platform beds that Walmart sells. I cover the mattress and simply wash or replace the cover between tenants as needed.

I focus on C class tenants and most of them transition into apartments once their stay ends. I don't deal with felons, alcoholics or addicts thus I have almost none of the issues generally associated with rooming houses. The thing that makes this effective in my area is the spike in apartment rent.

Deanna, I would think opioid users would ultimately show themselves at some point.

Rooming House (by Deanna [TX]) Posted on: Feb 17, 2019 3:34 PM

GKarl, it's one of the things I deal with in sfh, and I think it would be magnified with a rooming house situation. A lot of known druggies don't actually have anything on their criminal record that I can point to and say, "Aha! They're bad news." And that makes it harder for me to tell the difference between "poor" and "undesirable."

I can catch a lot of the worst by running them through the local grapevine, but if my source is (a) kin to them, or (b) not currently involved in the local drug scene, I don't always get accurate information.

Rooming House (by GKARL [PA]) Posted on: Feb 17, 2019 4:35 PM

Deanna: I've not seen it yet or perhaps it is occurring and I'm missing the signs. I understand addicts can be high functioning but I'd have to think that is for those in professional jobs with enough money to fund their addiction. I suspect the lower end guys, like the one's I'm dealing with, would reveal themselves mainly by not being able to hold a job and thus not being able to pay the rent. I have no grapevine to warn me either. I have to observe closely.

Rooming House (by DJ [VA]) Posted on: Feb 17, 2019 6:39 PM

My rooming house has 2 separate floors. Each has 4 bedrooms(4 people) , 1 bath, 1 kitchen, and laundry. I put a table and chairs in the kitchen, but have been renting the rooms unfurnished. However, I am getting ready to furnish some, and see if they rent better. I have had trouble filling all the rooms. I screen out violent / drug related convictions, (incl. restraining order), and recent (< 1 year) evictions.

As GKarl said, turnover is high, so there is near constant screening. I have found that I need to operate old-school and talk to people on the phone for screening. Working on alternate method, but not yet.

So far, turnovers have been very easy - rooms left in good shape / pretty clean, even the ones I kicked out. Roomers do all cleaning - so far so good.

I am glad I have several security cameras - outside and inside common areas, like pointing at the entrance/rent box. I do have a locking dropbox on each floor, for rent, since most of mine buy money orders from the nearby 7-11. However, 1 takes it to my credit union, and I'm going to try to transition to some sort of electronic payment when I get it figured out - for those that get there $ on a direct express tip card, or any who may have a bank account.

Mine was zoned as a "rooming house" when I bought it - different from roommates in a residential neighborhood. Very important to know you local and state laws.

In VA, I can do a self-help eviction in the first 90 days of consecutive residency - after that, have to go thru eviction. But really, I just non-renew the weekly rental term.

One really big challenge / frustration I have is my paycheck job. I am unable to network with senior services, veterans center, and other potential sources of more stable roomers, due to working when they are open.

Also, the "class" of tenant is such that I rarely go unarmed - just the truth, folks. They are bigger & stronger than me (everyone is), have lots of street smarts, and I assume everyone carries some sort of weapon along with a self-protective attitude/frame of mind. Always try to keep a reactionary distance, and don't turn my back.

Rooming House (by GKARL [PA]) Posted on: Feb 17, 2019 7:53 PM

"Also, the "class" of tenant is such that I rarely go unarmed - just the truth, folks. They are bigger & stronger than me (everyone is), have lots of street smarts, and I assume everyone carries some sort of weapon along with a self-protective attitude/frame of mind. Always try to keep a reactionary distance, and don't turn my back."

Wow DJ. I've not felt the need for that. It may be my tenant mix; half are women. It is what it is though. Is your place in a major metro area?

Rooming House (by Johnny B. [MA]) Posted on: Feb 18, 2019 6:19 AM

GKARL and DJ - Thanks for sharing information on your rooming house structure. This helps me with understanding rooms:bathrooms:kitchens ratios that are working for others. Iím in the early stages of my research and I appreciate your willingness to share.

Rooming House (by DJ [VA]) Posted on: Feb 18, 2019 6:25 AM

No, I'm just smaller and weaker than most, which is easy to see if someone is "sizing me up". No point in taking unnecessary risks these days.

Yes, I am well trained and capable of handling a pistol. I carry one every day for my paycheck job and am re-qualified regularly, in addition to personal practice.

I don't put it out on display first time I meet an applicant, (unless they give me the willies and my shirt "accidentally" rides up) ; ) My roomers have all figured out I carry, and are fine with it - they are used to people having weapons of some kind. I have heard comments like "she don't PLAY! / respect" so I think it has the desired effect. Actually, most didn't know I carried until summer - and by then they knew me to be reasonable, fair & level-headed, and responsive to problems.

NOBODY should just go out and buy a gun without real training, and think that makes you safer - if it ends up in the other person's hands, you are much worse off!

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