Room For Rent? Read This First

The availability of rental units is at an all-time low in many cities, prompting some homeowners to start mulling around the idea of renting out their basements. Before you get too far, here are some rental unit considerations to look into.

1. Get in the zone. Check your local zoning bylaws (and your homeowner's association regulations if applicable) to find out if you're even allowed to rent out a separate apartment in your home.

2. Ensure you're high and dry. Check building codes to find out if your ceiling is high enough. And then take note of how the basement smells to ensure you don't have moisture issues that give off a musty or mouldy smell. Mould and damp floors and walls obviously need to be resolved before you take another step, as do any leaks in the basement.

3. Know the ins and outs. A basement rental unit should have both a separate entrance and a second form of emergency escape. An emergency exit can come in the form of an egress window, a window large enough to allow tenants in the basement to climb out, and a firefighter with full equipment to climb in.

4. Safety first. Your local municipality will be able to clarify any fire regulations, which would include properly wired smoke alarms, a sprinkler system, and wall and ceiling materials made of fire-rated materials. You should also talk to your insurance company to find out how adding a rental unit could affect your home insurance coverage.

Of course, if you're finding you have space in your house you simply don't need and renting isn't of interest to you, just pick up the phone to discuss all your downsizing options.