People take in boarders to help pay mortgage

July 17, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
An increasing number of people, struggling to keep their homes, are turning to other people for help. They're taking in boarders to rent out rooms in their home, so they can keep up with the mortgage, but it's an arrangement that warrants careful consideration.

"This is a dream come true for me, having this house, and I've worked so hard just to keep it going," said Ed Lautoa, a homeowner.

For Lautoa happiness fits perfectly into 1,500 square feet. He bought his four-bedroom home two years ago, but from the beginning making his $3,500 a month mortgage payment, hasn't been easy, especially on a sky cap's salary.

"With the issues I have regarding the mortgage, of course this is what I have to do for now," said Ed Lautoa, a homeowner.

He now shares his home with three other boarders. With more and more homeowners facing foreclosure, nation-wide it's a trend that's on the rise.

"This is a sign of the times, I feel," said Debra Smith, a housing coordinator.

At HIP Housing, a non-profit in San Mateo that helps people with their housing problems, staffers partner room seekers with home owners. It's an option they're quick to recommend, but many homeowners are hesitant to accept.

"Concerns are finding the right person, making sure that the people who come into their home and want to live with them are suitable," said Smith.

While HIP does a back ground check, not every match fits. That's when attorneys like Dave Butler get involved. Currently, he's handling four eviction cases between homeowners and boarders.

"It's always after they move in, that the problems present themselves, typically relating to domestic problems," said Dave Butler, an attorney.

Some problems arise when sharing space. That's why having a rental agreement should help.

Butler also suggests homeowners make sure that no zoning ordinances are violated by having extra tenants in the house and that homeowners insurance covers renters.

Still for Lautoa, he tries to keep things between him and his boarders simple and separate.

"For me it's a personal issue," said Ed.

That's why he keeps his refrigerator in his closet.