Debunking 5 Myths About Renting out a Room to a Stranger

Hey everyone! Enjoy this article by Mike. I was able to meet him at FinCon and he is super awesome! Michelle makes regular updates on her side income and one of the things she does is rent out her spare room to her sister.  It’s a great way to make some cash for anyone that…

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Last Updated: June 5, 2023

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rp_holiday-house-177401_640-300x2251-300x225.jpgHey everyone! Enjoy this article by Mike. I was able to meet him at FinCon and he is super awesome!

Michelle makes regular updates on her side income and one of the things she does is rent out her spare room to her sister.  It’s a great way to make some cash for anyone that has an extra room and as one see it definitely contributes to the bottom line at her end of month tally.

Just like Michelle, most folks are more inclined to rent out a room to friends or family because they know the person and likely have an understanding on their behavior and lifestyle.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that these folks are less likely to rent out their spare room to people they don’t know simply because the unknown will cause more headaches than it’s worth.  Or is that really true?

To this day, I’ve been renting out my room for the past 7 years and had 13 different people cycle in my two spare rooms that I didn’t know prior to having them move in.  All of my roommates were people I found via the internet.

With that said, I want to debunk some myths about renting out rooms to strangers.


Myth #1:  Your roommates are going to throw wild parties and invite every one of their friends over.

Truth: You’re roommates will probably reflect more on how you live.  Based on my experiences, most roommates are grateful that you’re taking them in over another roommate.

Most of the roommates I had were from out of town taking jobs in the area.  Rather than signing a year-long lease in an unknown area, they realize that renting out a room is far more economical and more flexible in terms of lease agreements.  For this reason, they’re extremely grateful that they’ve been selected to rent your spare room.

Additionally, I’ve gone away on vacation for weeks at a time and my none of my roommates had any wild parties(that I know of).  So, you really have to display how you want your roommates to live and chances are they’ll respect your lifestyle and keep their shenanigans to themselves whether it’s in their room that their renting from me or away from my residence.

Related: What You Need To Know About Renting A Room In Your House


Myth #2:  You’ll be constantly chasing your new roommate the first of every month for the rent money.

Truth:  A lot of people are deterred from renting out their rooms because they have these negative images of late paying roommates who’ll trash your place.

That’s definitely not the case.

I just checked my records and it’s been 44 consecutive months since the one and only time I’ve had to chase any roommate for rent payment.

Other than that isolate incidence, I’ve regularly received payment on or around the first without any hassle.  Most roommates realize that renting a room is paying for a service so if they don’t pay, their stealing and the roommates I’ve had are not in the business of stealing or mooching.


Myth #3:  Your new roommate will ruin your personal belongings

Truth: I don’t own many personal possessions in the common area(Kitchen, living, and deck).  I do have a TV(older tube type TV) and a small collection of DVDs.  The DVD didn’t grow any legs and the TV still works with no cosmetic damage.

I did buy a brand new high end grill(I like to grill my food) at the beginning of the summer and gave my roommates full rights to use it anytime.   One of my roommates has used it nearly as much as I have if not more and I can say that the grill does not look like it’s been abused.

It’s possible to share personal possessions without being a control freak.


Myth #4:  Your new roommate will want to be your friend and want to do everything together.

Truth: Your new roommate may want to be friends, but I’ve never had an instance where my new found roommates wanted to “tag along” everywhere I went.  My roommates have their own lives and go about it while just using my spare room as a place to live.  I rarely ever go food shopping with my roommates.  We do go out to eat or to the bar together once in a while.  This past Christmas we celebrated the holiday by getting a nice Douglass fir and doing a gift exchange.  In the end, it all depends on how you want to be involved with your roommates.


Myth #5:  Your roommates will be loud, noisy, and inconsiderate.

Truth: My roommates have never had blasted their music or TV in their bedrooms late night nor have my roommates come back stumbling drunk on Saturday nights like college students.

I find this holds for my roommates who were professionally employed at 9 to 5 jobs and my roommates who had jobs with irregular schedules(working night shifts).

My roommates have been respectful to myself and to other roommates.  I have not had any animosity between my roommates and myself because of personal property including food items in the fridge.

I’ll go and say that my residence is noticing the wear and tear with the additional people living in my residences, namely the carpet and the walls.  I’ll go into this on another post.



There could be some outlying instances where these myths hold true.  I have received e-mails confirming some of the aforementioned myths, but it’s not something I get regularly.

Despite the fact all my roommates were strangers when they first moved in, I’ve quickly got to know them and in some cases developed a mutual understanding or friendship that continues even after they moved out.   After developing a friendship or mutual understanding, it’s no different than renting out that spare room to a friend.

The hardest step is to renting out a room to some unknown person is taking the first stop.

For those that rent out a spare room for side income to a family member or a friend, what’s your concern about renting out a room to a stranger?



Mike is a part-time “live-in landlord” who first started to rent out his spare room to make extra cash as a way to pay for graduate school.  With the lack of advice to help him get started, Mike started a blog at where he shares his thoughts on the topic in hopes to better people’s financial situation.

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Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Author: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Hey! I’m Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and I am the founder of Making Sense of Cents. I’m passionate about all things personal finance, side hustles, making extra money, and online businesses. I have been featured in major publications such as Forbes, CNBC, Time, and Business Insider. Learn more here.

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  1. Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies

    I’ve been a room renter, and the person renting it actually ended up moving out and renting the whole place. She felt like she grew out of the situation and wanted a more “normal” home life when she started to settle down and get engaged.

    Personally I’d rather have a smaller place and not rent out rooms, since I sometimes keep odd hours and don’t like being disturbed.

    1. Kostas @ Finance Zone

      What an unusual situation. I wonder how many times that sort of thing has happened where the person renting moves out. How does that work with the landlord? I, too, don’t like sharing as I can keep very odd hours and like to sleep when I’m able.

  2. I bought a house that has a studio apartment set up in the basement. It’s the best of both worlds as we have some income and the only space we share is the laundry room. I do have a friend who rents out one of his rooms and he’s never really had issues with his roommate.

  3. Brian

    Since I don’t have a seperate living area and a small child, I just don’t feel comfortable with a stranger. If I didn’t have a kid I would totally would have been willing to do it, but my wife wasn’t on board.

  4. Tara @ Streets Ahead Living

    I would be leery in my area for total strangers as you can get some shady people along with all of the good ones. I would fear theft of things which is why I’d still do a credit check and/or reference check for folks wanting to rent with me. I know that doesn’t give the whole picture and that a person with terrible credit could be a great roommate but you gotta have a way to vet.

    I once rented a room for a year from a guy and in my opinion, the landlord was the creepy one! He’d go in my room and move things around when I wasn’t there which is a big no-no in my book.

    1. Barbara Carrillo

      I did get some shady people – they wanted to move to the Oregon coast – get jobs and get their own place – I said I was willing to rent out the spare room – young couple – he couldn’t keep a job – she never looked for one – and when rent is due – they won’t pay they don’t have money – I have to put up with them for another month for the eviction process – it has been a nightmare- they have destroyed the room – in our agreement I said no smoking – they smoke like a chimney –

      I cant take them to small claims because they don’t work

  5. My brother-in-law has a 4-bedroom house and he actually often has all four rooms rented and just sleeps in the dining room. He basically lives for free AND has people to take care of the house and his dog when he travels (which is pretty often). Pretty sweet deal.

  6. A postive post about renting out rooms? Whoohoo!

    We’ve been renting out a bedroom in our house for over three years and it’s been a great experience from day one. I think it’s a quick and, frankly, easy way to get side income.

  7. A positive post about renting out rooms? Whoohoo!

    We’ve been renting out a bedroom in our house for over three years and it’s been a great experience from day one. I think it’s a quick and, frankly, easy way to get side income.

  8. We briefly discussed renting out a room a while back (before that extra room became an office) and though it sounded like a good idea, we chickened out for some of the above listed items. Of course, we also ran through the scenario that a stranger might be a psycho and that sort of freaked us out (like in Single White Female!). Probably a silly thought.

  9. I’m with you. I need a roommate in order to live in my apartment and I actually found my current roommate off Craigslist. She’s fantastic, we get along really well and have lived together for 1.5 years.

    I understand the hesitation, but there are success stories.

  10. We currently rent a room to my sister, and her boyfriend is about to move in as well. They will be moving out within the next few months though as they are moving to Chicago, but for now they are trying to save money by living with us first.

  11. Adam

    My wife and I are renting our lower level out to my brother for 6 months to a year so he can pay off his debts and get his financial situation back on track. With him living with us he will save over $300 dollars and it cuts our mortgage down by $400 dollars.

    I asked my wife about renting it out to strangers and she wasn’t comfortable with it unless she knew them personally or really well. I can’t say I blame her though while not every story is a horror story waiting to happen I think personal comfort is a must for everyone involved.

  12. I’ve had GREAT experiences renting my room out. As an actor, there are always people in the biz needing a place to stay and they’re almost always a friend of a friend. I’m going on vacation in a couple of weeks and even renting my room out while I’m away. Extra savings!

  13. I enjoyed this post. I believe interviewing them before hand really helps to make the difficult decision easy. This is a common thing in the nyc area.

  14. The endeavor is mostly geared towards single people or couples without kids. It doesn’t always rule out families looking to renting out rooms. I’ve fielded questions from a mother that rented out her spare room to a study abroad student through a home study program.

  15. I wouldn’t rent a room because we have a small child, but I always rented rooms when I was in school and none of my roommates ever did anything bad. When I was on one three month rotation during optometry school, I rented a room from a lady who was always renting to the students coming through. It’s hard to find a rental for 3 months, and optometry students are not know for destroying places, so it was a win win for everyone.

  16. Natalie

    Most of my roommates have been strangers! Except for two… the two that were my friends I actually ended up having a falling out with because of living tensions.

    I actually prefer living with strangers; it’s almost as if you have your own place when you don’t have to hang out twenty four seven. You can just live side by side but independently.

  17. The worst thing I ever did was share a house with one of my partner’s childhood friends. He owes me $1000 in back rent and bills, which I’ll never get back.

  18. I rented my two spare rooms to strangers and it is unlikely that you will have problems if you live in, because what a shame to see your landlord every day if you are late on rent. In the UK you can just change the locks and put their stuff out if they don’t pay, which is not the same if you don’t live in. So I made sure they knew that when the moved in 🙂

  19. Margaret

    I totally agree with the given information. But everything depends on a person, his character, habits and his surrounding. You were lucky to have such tenants that were really nice and educated well-bread people. But not everyone is so good as he seems to be. Anyway, every time when we are renting our house or flat to someone unknown, we should verify what kind of “Fruit” he is. It means we should talk over all the question and would-be problems we may face.

  20. Dani Schultz

    So awesome to hear about how people get so creative to make money. It isn’t always easy, but it is worth it!