Householder’s Guide to Finding Your Housemate

Householder’s Guide to Finding Your Housemate

Householders’ Guide to Finding Your Housemate

The following steps will guide you through the process. Senior Shared Living representatives will assist you as needed.

Begin the process

Step 1: Self-Assessment
The first step is to determine your reasons for sharing your home. Are you seeking supplemental income, social connection, assistance with daily tasks and ongoing maintenance? Do you want to reduce your impact on the planet by sharing belongings?

Next, consider your needs and desires. What do you hope to gain by sharing your home? What do you specifically want and need from your housemate, including your desired rent and utilities fees? What qualities will you look for in someone who wants to share your home? What qualities and conditions would be unacceptable to you? See the Householder Self-Assessment to help in your assessment. 

Step 2: Create an Ad
Create a targeted, descriptive ad which includes what you are looking for and what you are offering.

The ad should include:

  • General location of the home (do not give your street address at this time)
  • Features of the room and house
  • Number of people living in home
  • Pets in home
  • Something about the personality of the household
  • Something about whom you are looking for
  • Amount of rent charged and/or services you need that might offset or partially offset rent 

SAMPLE AD
Newhall area. Walk everywhere. Large fenced area with big garden. 8’ by 11’ second-floor room, unfurnished. Sunny. Shared bathroom and kitchen. Wireless internet, no TV. We are two women with one cat and one dog. Interests: Watercolor painting, classical music, gardening. Meals are independent. No additional pets. $500/month. 2 references required.

Step 3: Complete These Forms
Fill out the Property Information, Householder Information, and Limitation of Liability Forms.

Step 4: Submit Your Advertisement and Forms 

If you’ve filled out the forms electronically, you may email them to Senior Shared Living at ssl@scv-seniorcenter.org

If you have filled them out by hand, deliver them or send them by postal mail to:

Senior Shared Living
SCV Senior Center
27180 Golden Valley Road
Santa Clarita, CA 91350

A staff member will contact you to verify receipt. If you have questions, contact a Senior Shared Living representative.

Screening of Home Seekers

Initial Screening of Potential Home Seekers
Once your ad goes public, home seekers will inform us of their interest in your property. An SCV Senior Center Senior Shared Living representative will contact you with information about home seekers. If you wish to proceed, we will send the completed Home-seeker Application Form to you for your review. You may also schedule an appointment with a representative to review the form and discuss the process and any concerns you may have before you proceed.

Set Up A Phone Interview With The Home Seeker
In preparation for your phone interview, you should refer back to your Householder Self-Assessment form and the Home-Seeker Application Form. These should help you formulate questions for the applicant. For additional prompts, see the Sample Interview Questions for Householders Form.

The phone interview is your opportunity to learn a bit more about the home seeker, her circumstances and expectations before you schedule an in-person interview. You may find that her personality and lifestyle will make the match unsuitable for you. On the other hand, you may sense some compatibility and decide to move on to the next step—the In-Person Interview.

Keep in mind that the home seeker will have her own questions and the exchange of information should help you both decide if this will work.

If you feel the home seeker is a good candidate and she agrees, contact a Senior Shared Living representative (link to come) to arrange for an in-person meeting at the Center. One of our representatives will arrange to be present at that meeting.

Do not give out your home address at this time.

When you confirm time and location for the interview with the home seeker, ask her to bring an ID card or driver’s license to the interview. You will need this information if you decide to conduct a background check.

Conduct an in-person interview

The interview
During the meeting with your prospective housemate, you can discuss your house rules and desired financial arrangements. As the person offering housing, you have the right to set the house rules. (See the Sample House Rules and revise it to suit your needs and preferences.

Don’t be shy about stating what you want and asking questions. Clarifying expectations at the beginning will result in a more successful home sharing arrangement.

Conclude the interview
Make no decisions and sign no agreements at the interview. Let the prospective housemate know how and when you will follow up with her in a day or two. Then it’s time to review and reflect.

After the interview

Review and reflect
Take a few minutes to debrief with the Senior Shared Living representative immediately after the meeting. She will guide you through the debrief and assist you in making an assessment of the applicant.

Review your initial assessment notes and those you made during the debrief. Refer to the Householder Review Form for prompts to aid in your evaluation. This review should give you a sense of whether this person will be a good match for you.

Taking time to reflect on what you know about the home seeker and your own expectations may lead you to think of other questions for the home seeker. You may want to consider meeting again for something more social – like dinner or coffee – to get to know the person better.

Check references, verify income, and perform a background check
If this face-to-face meeting is successful, you will likely want to check the home seeker’s references and verify income. You might also want to do a criminal background check. See the Reference—Income—Background Check Form as a simple template to guide you in these processes.

Remember that you might be collecting personal, private information about the other person. It is your responsibility to protect this information. Under no circumstances should you share your Social Security numbers with each other.

Checking references 
Reference checks provide an opportunity to talk to people who know the home seeker and can give you an opinion on her ability to be a good housemate. 

At the interview, ask for appropriate references, which may include past landlords, roommates, or employers. References should be those who have known her for a substantial amount of time but are not family members or romantic partners. Always call references yourself, even if a home seeker offers to have her references call you. Do not accept calls from references unless you have left contact information for them to return your call.

Verifying income
If your potential housemate indicates she is employed, her employer can verify this but will most likely not verify salary. To verify employment, find out the name of the employer. Also ask for the name and phone number of the person’s supervisor or the department that handles verification of employment. You may be able to confirm only that the person works for the company and the beginning (and end) date of employment. If you speak with a supervisor, you might ask an open-ended question such as “What could you can share about  ______ that would help me make the decision to share a home with her?”

Background check
With the person’s name, address, and date of birth as collected from her ID, you can request a criminal background check. Fees will vary depending upon the source you use.

There are many companies that perform national criminal background checks. You can conduct an online search to find them or talk with organizations or programs to see who they use. There is no comprehensive database containing all criminal records, so there is no guarantee that by conducting such a check you will obtain a completely accurate record of her criminal history. However, it is still a helpful screening tool, and is advisable.

Home tour
Once you have completed the above, offer a tour of your home to the home seeker. This will allow you both to get a better sense of one another in your home environment. It might also prompt more questions and discussion.

Contact the home seeker and a Senior Shared Living representative to arrange a time for a home tour. The representative will attend the home tour.

Create your agreement form
If you decide to offer space in your home, create an agreement form or use the sample Homeshare Agreement provided here. During the course of your interviews, you will likely have negotiated some elements of the agreement, so be sure to review the final form with the home seeker before signing.

Once the agreement has been signed, make arrangements for payment of the agreed-upon rent and any other applicable payments (first and last, security, etc.). Once you have received payment, your housemate should receive a house key.