Wednesday, July 16, 2008

BLOG: Rents & Rants Welcome to Rents and Rants, a blog for tenants, organizers and advocates to share their opinions and updates on tenant issue

Today's New York Times features a front page article on homeowners who rent rooms in their home to tenants as a way to defray rising housing costs in the current economy. The article discusses organizations in California, New Jersey and Vermont that specialize in matching owners and tenants in home sharing arrangements.

With rising heating costs and mortgage payments, as well as other economic difficulties, many homeowners are turning to renters to help pay the bills. For example, in New Jersy, home-shares rose 14 percent last year alone.

In many ways, the foreclosure crisis has shown just how thin the line is between owning and renting property. Once thought of as the ultimate in security, homeownership is now seen as more fleeting, with record numbers of owners being forced out of their homes and back into the rental market.

The rise of home-sharing further blurs the line between homeowners and tenants. With a trend toward both occupying the same home together, these new struggling landlords find their fate intertwined with that of their struggling tenants. The revenue from tenant rent payments may be the only thing that stands between many of these homeowners and foreclosure.

Given the current economic climate, it is not surprising that tenants seeking lower rents, and homeowners seeking to cover high mortgage costs, would move toward renting rooms within owner occupied homes. Boarding houses have long been a popular form of housing during difficult economic times, including the Great Depression during which such arrangements were common. Factor in the exorbitant cost of housing in California today, and it looks like the trend toward home sharing will only grow in the foreseeable future.

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