Reeling from the recession's one-two-three-punch of job woes, climbing mortgage payments and evaporating equity, desperate homeowners are dipping into a nearby income stream to avoid foreclosure.
That bedroom just down the hall.
While renting out a room has been around for years, especially in the
"I'm up against a wall and I had no other place to turn for income," said
Whether they've rented out rooms in the past to make ends meet, or a job loss has prompted them to tap into their inner landlord for the first time, many people say their rental income is the only thing keeping them from losing their homes. And for many homeowners — even those whose property is worth less than their loan amount — losing their home is not an acceptable option.
"I can't imagine life anywhere else," said 71-year-old
"Without my tenants, I couldn't make it," said Licon, who's hoping her lender will modify her
While it's hard to know precisely how many struggling homeowners have turned to renting out rooms, housing advocates have seen a surge in the past year in the number of people desperate enough to give it a try. Especially among the recently unemployed, rental income — along with family loans — has become a godsend.
"Renting out bedrooms is a growing trend," says
But a word of caution: becoming a landlord, especially for someone with little or no experience, can bring headaches, from tenants who fail to pay rent to those who are just a pain in the neck to live with.
Before finding his current tenant this month, Porras took in a roommate last year, "but I didn't like it because he was messy. He was watching too much TV. I couldn't even change the channels in my own house."
The situation became untenable, said Porras, because "he took over the place, sleeping in the living room. I had to force him to leave because we were arguing so much. It didn't turn out well."
Often, it's family members moving in together for shelter from the recession.
And all that drama can spell trouble. For
Jackson and his roommate,
"Laundry, for example, became an issue," says Jackson. "Frankie works in a body shop and he didn't realize that when you wash something really dirty, like his uniform, it leaves a ring. So he's lost his washing privileges. 'Go the Laundromat,' I told him. 'You might meet a nice lady.'"
SOURCE: San Jose Mercury News. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services (c) 2010.