16 May Homesharing – Right for You?
Homesharing is about two or more people living together, and it can include all ages, incomes, and abilities. Each person has their own bedroom (furnished or unfurnished), and they share common spaces such as kitchen, living room, and yard. Depending on the situation, they may or may not share a bathroom.
People with a home to share may do it to supplement their income, to gain some help they need (e.g. laundry, meal preparation, feeding and walking pets, yard work), to feel more secure, or to have companionship.
People looking for a homesharing arrangement may be able to afford a room but not the cost of an apartment. They, too, may be looking for companionship or security, or be interested in helping someone else.
Each arrangement is unique, and should be tailored to meet the needs of both parties. For example, if the homeowner requires a lot of help, they may charge little or no rent. An arrangement of, say, 5 to 10 hours of service per week is approximately equivalent to what family members may be struggling to provide for the homeowner.
The state of Vermont has developed a guide for people wanting to share their home. Here are several of their suggestions.
Write down exactly what your needs are, what you can offer, and the nature of cooperation you are looking for. Identify amenities in your neighbourhood that might appeal to would-be homesharers. Use a positive tone to create a notice or advertisement.
Spread the word
Post your notice online, in local papers, and around your neighbourhood without giving your home address – just a phone number or e-mail address to contact.
Ask questions of each person showing an interest, to then decide which applicants you want to meet and interview. You might want to have a friend or family member with you when you interview, or perhaps hold the interview somewhere other than your home.
Do background checks
Once you’ve settled on someone, ask for references and do a background check on them (e.g. criminal record, sexual offender, driving record if driving is one of the services).
Run a short trial
Invite your prospective applicant to stay for a week or two, rent free. They should keep their current accommodation, bring only a suitcase, and work with you to develop a detailed draft agreement.
Do weekly check-ins
Once you have a homesharer, be sure to keep the lines of communication open, and meet with them once a week to see how things are working for each of you.