What to do before sharing your space with a tenant

Wednesday October 9 2019

Before you share your personal space with a

Before you share your personal space with a tenant, have rules in place to help you live in harmony. Photo by Ismail Kezaala 

By Promise Twinamukye

Sharing one’s house with a tenant is a step that comes with a great burden if ones choices are not given a serious thought. Whereas some find it interesting to rent out their spare space with a stranger, others may look at it as a bad idea and would rather keep the space to themselves. If you are to rent out your spare room to a tenant, there are things you need to put into consideration before you take this step.

Pascal Omella, a landlord in Namuwongo, Kampala, shares that before renting out a room, his lawyer has to be present and everything has to be documented and signed.

“If any rule we agreed on is broken, it is easier to deal with, especially when it comes to stubborn tenants. This helps even when they are moving out. My lawyer comes to make sure everything is in order before the tenant leaves the house. This helps to make sure the house is in good shape just as it was when the tenant entered it. This helps one avoid instances of having to put in ridiculous costs for the repair of the house to be presentable enough to rent out to another tenant,” Omella shares.

Naira Nabirye, a property consultant and broker in Najjera, Wakiso District, emphasises that any tenancy needs an agreement which obligates the tenant to pay rent bills.
She adds: “The tenancy agreement, should also contain other clauses like keeping the environment clean, no noise pollution. When the tenant agrees with that, he or she has to keep it up.”

“I do not normally dictate on the number of people a tenant stays with. You can bring all the relatives for all I care. So long as you know you have to pay your own bills, ” Omella shares.

Omella says as long as you are peaceful and are the one who buys food for your children or relatives, his tenants can bring as many members as they want and can afford to look after.
When renting out his house, he says he makes it clear that the tenat is in charge of paying their own bills.

“You pay for the water you use, clear your own trash and all that you use,” he says.


He adds: “Other than being your landlord, you are an independent family from mine. This reduces the tendency of frequently checking who uses more utilities and who pays less bills.”

Omella represents a section of landlords who are okay with tenants bringing in relatives and friends to his premises.

However, if you are the kind of landlord who has a problem with tenants staying with a certain number of people or bringing in guests or staying with children, it is better you clearly state it at the beginning of the tenancy period.

“While staying in my rental, when something goes wrong, let’s say a pipe has leaked or clogged, or when there is a short circuit, you need to let me know before you put it in your hands to repair.” he says.

Since he knows the way his house was built and has the map, Omella says he has to use his mechanic to repair what went wrong in the house though he will be paid by the tenant.

This reduces the risks of manipulation of the wires and pipes by unprofessional mechanics that may otherwise blow up the house in the long, or even short run.

Tenancy laws
Regardless of the city or place you live in, you are not legally allowed to enter your tenant’s room without their permission or further notice, meaning that if you enter the room without permission or warning, you could find yourself in legal hot water. Plus, you may be held responsible if you, say, barge in and break something of your tenant’s.

Exit rules
You and your tenant should have an idea of how long he or she will be living in your home. You also might want to ask for the last month’s rent or a deposit upfront.

Apartment facilities often do this and you can also choose to do it that way. Think about all possibilities; what if your tenant one day decides to leave abruptly? What would happen then?

Kinh Demaree, a startup consultant and real estate investor, says thinking about what will happen if your tenant gets behind on rent, breaks one of your rules, brings drugs into the house, damages something gives you a glimpse of how you will handle things if they get that ugly. It can be especially awkward if you have to evict someone while they are living in your home.

Tenant relationship
Geoff Williams, a US real estate reporter, advises landlords against giving tenants information about their home, likes and dislikes and carefully think through what they say about themselves.

“Keep some details to yourself that they have to figure out somehow on their own and that may be later on when you have gotten accustomed to them,” he says.

“After all, in the beginning if your whole meeting, you probably know nothing about this person, and you don’t want to tell a future thief that you keep an extra key underneath a stone in front of your house, or under your welcome mat,” Williams adds.

Market value
Nabirye says one needs to keep updated on the real-estate market and the value of the property.
Comparing market value helps one to determine how to gauge their own. This is because the rent prices should neither be too higher or lower than the market value.

Additional information from U.S.News&World Report