negotiating as a live-in landlord

le sigh…it’s happening again.  The problem with being a live-in landlord is that your roommates/tenants will constantly be asking you for things.  All sorts of things.  Can you redo the ducts so my room is warmer? Can’t I get a pet? Can you put in a different wireless internet system? I’m having a crisis, can I please pay you rent a few days late this month?  It’s always something.  I tend to be an unusually accommodating landlord, so I do try to deal with whatever they are asking right away, or explain why it’s not feasible.

Unfortunately for me, I’ve had one roommate/tenant who has been an excellent roommate (quiet, courteous, keeps things generally very tidy), but who has been a giant pain-in-the-ass about trying to get away with paying as little as possible.  I understand, you’ve got to try to get yourself the best possible deal.  But I find it frustrating to constantly be asked to make exceptions.  It started with the very beginning: my roommate was moving in towards the beginning of the month and wanted to get pro-rated rent for the few days he wouldn’t be there.  That seemed reasonable, as I’ve seen rental agreements with commercial apartment buildings do that.  We had a short-term lease so he could see how he liked the place for the graduate school semester, with the option to renew for the rest of the calendar year.  However, he wanted to travel during the summer break and only wanted to sign a lease starting in the next semester, leaving me hanging for two months.  I told him that I would hold his place as long as we could find a summer sub-letter, which worked out well.  I was worried that with the upcoming winter break he’d want to try and pro-rate the rent again, but that thankfully was not the case.  Instead he asks to negotiate a lower rent rate.  The rate I’m offering is pretty darn reasonable, so I’m not too keen on lowering it.  HOWEVER, he has been a pretty great roommate and I’d love to count on having him for the 2+ years left of graduate school.  Knowing what type of roommate I’d have, for a guaranteed time period, could be worth taking in less in for rental income.  For example, say I normally rent the room at $650 but drop it to $600 to accommodate him.  That’s a decrease of $600 for one year.  If it takes me two months to find a replacement roommate, the room is empty for two months, losing me twice as much money as it would be to simply lower the rent and keep the room filled!  Mike at Renting Out Rooms wrote a great post about this very pricing dilemma.  I think I will try and negotiate with him to find a rental price that will keep both of us happy.  (and yes, I realize almost all commercial apartments INCREASE rent each year, not decrease.  But I have to LIVE WITH my tenants, so finding someone who is the right fit is more important than simply filling all the rooms with paying bodies)

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