Rental Basics in New Jersey>Question Details

Seraphinnian…, Other/Just Looking in New Jersey

Can I Rent Rooms n My Own House ? It Is Legal? Do I need a special license or permit in order to do that?

Asked by Seraphinniangel, New Jersey Tue Apr 13, 2010

The house is in Belleville, essex county. Its a single home and the rooms are not in the basement. All the rooms they have windows and closets.

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Knowing now what I didn’t know before… You’re in NYC or any of the 5 boros its 2010 you have a spare bedroom and the thought of renting it out and making the spare cash sounds good, what most of us home owners don’t know is that it’s not legal in NYC unless you have a boarding house. And when you do rent a room the tenant has to have their own bathroom and kitchen otherwise is not considered a legal apartment and is considered a room rental, if it’s in a basement it has to be set up to legally rent out as a bedroom or a studio. Here’s what happened to me. All my kids are grown so I rented out a bedroom in my own private house. Everything was going really good, the extra income was helping a lot. And I thought I had the perfect tenant. After 9 months I noticed that she has mental problems, she was doing crazy weird things like throwing ice on the floors all around the house, Burning camphor, mumbling to herself all day and knight. I had to call 911 on her to take her to the hospital for her mental health. When she came back home I asked her to find a place because I’m not comfortable with her in the house anymore. The burning camphor was a fire hazard the ice on the floor could make someone slip and get hurt. And the mumbling is freeking everyone out. I think she was worshiping the devil. So I had to take her to court. And that’s when I found out that renting a Bedroom in your apartment of house ISN’T legal. Why because we don’t pay taxes on that. But I had to do what I could to get her out the house. Imagine living in a house with someone you can’t trust, you’re scared that she might burn the house down, or sneak into your room and involve you in her crazy rituals, or who know what she was capable of. I didn’t know that she had a history of mental problems before. But she knows the law as it pertains to rental situations. She knew I couldn’t kick her out and that I had to go to court and the court would grant her more time to find a place and that time would be in addition to the time I had to wait to see a judge. Then when she left she left a bunch of dirty clothes and other junk in the room. I later found that now I am responsible for safeguarding her belongings and I can’t sell them even though she owes me close to $2000. I can’t throw them out and i can’t put them in storage because all the storage places want it in my name and would keep billing me for the storage. So I took her to court. I was lucky enough to win the case because she didn’t even show up. But now I have to pay an additional $300. So that a marshal can get a warrant in order to enforce the court decision. Meaning that the marshal has to get a warrant to come in and look at the bedroom and say ok the room is now your property. They also document what’s in the room but they won’t remove anything. So now I still have to keep her stuff for at least 6 months. And by the way that 6 months is an unofficial number, nobody will tell me how long I have to keep her stuff safe. But within a year she can take be back to court and claim she is missing stuff or that I took her stuff and I would be liable for damages at a rate of 300 percent. After 3 months of this nightmare I now have permission from the city to change my own lock to my own house. I would encourage anyone who really needs the money and is still willing to rent out a room in their home to do a full background check, see if they had problems in NYC housing, if they have been taking to housing court or civil court, if they have a criminal record, if they have a mental history, get as much of a deposit as you can as well as first and last month rent. And then as soon as possible save at least $1,000 of what you make from the rent and consider that money as a loss, to be used for later to get rid of this person. When I was considering renting the room, I searched on the internet and couldn’t find out if it was legal or not. So I guess we can all learn from my mistake. Good luck to all, I know these are hard times and we all could use some extra cash but in my case isn’t want’ worth the money to live in fear of a crazy person in my own house.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jul 21, 2011
Oandd, I think you answered your own question- You said it was illegal because you "don't pay taxes on that" meaning you didn't report it as income on your taxes, yes? If that's what you were told, then declare the income from your next tenant on your taxes and you can do it. Sign a month to month tenant agreement stipulating what areas of the house are yours, hers and common areas. You would still have to document and go through the legal system to evict her but the law would be on your side and the process would probably be quicker. And, yes, always check out who you will be living with. Id probably go through a broker as well. There are no guarantees that someone isn't going to go off the deep end. Sorry you had such an awful experience :( Now if I could only find out if this applies on Long Island! :D
Flag Tue May 27, 2014
Wow, thank you for sharing your sad story...
Flag Wed Feb 5, 2014

Some people do it, legal or not. I would check with township anyway just to be sure. One thing I would consider if its NOT a family member, there may be a liability to you if something happens to the "roommate" or even his/her stuff, especially while you are out, so I might even check with an attorney. People are very litigious these days and your first thought should be to protect yourself.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Apr 13, 2010
Dp rent rooms strictly by the book, you will need to check with your town/city hall regarding zoning and licensing issues. Most people just do it but that is not always the correct way. The varaiables are if you live there and how many rooms you are renting. If you want to do it by the book, your town/city hall is the best place to start.
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2 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Apr 13, 2010
Seraphinnian if you have a mortgage you may want to look through the documents because their are clauses that you agree NOT to run a motel or boarding house with the loan you have. If their is such a clause and the bank finds out it could be cause to call the note due.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Apr 13, 2010
I have a similar question.
I have a house in bronx, 2 family. 1st floor is rented to a family. Bur, Can I rent the rooms on a second and third floor ? US it legal? I keep on room for myself and I am there 2 to 3 times a week. Thank you .
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jul 5, 2016
Very dangerous ad for safety and security of the "landlord to be!" I am a licensed LL in Anderson, SC.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Nov 24, 2013
A roommate is OK, but if you start renting to multiple unrelated adults, you are going to get yourself into trouble. Trust me, the neighbors will notice, they will complain, and you will have the town on your case. A single family house cannot be used as a rooming house.

0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Apr 13, 2010
If you do, make sure you have a really nice lease agreement.
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0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Apr 13, 2010
Hi Sera,

Mary brings up a good point that you should really pay very close attention to. Obviously we all would recommend that you set this up the correct and legal way with the Belleville municipal authorities. Not doing that and having boarders "on the side" on a month to month basis may actually open you up to liability in which state law still sees you as the landlord and you would have to abide by and respect all your tenants' rights. It can get difficult, it can get messy, and you do need expert advice from a local attorney. Start at town hall first though and see what's possible.

Good luck,

Jacobus "Jack" Vollenberg
RE Appraiser - Vollenberg Appraisers
Realtor/REO Asset Manager
Bridgewater Realty
Office (908) 968-0336
Cell (973) 590-0142
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Apr 13, 2010
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