HomeShare is a very simple, traditional arrangement whereby homeowners with unused bedroom and bathroom space offer it for affordable rent to someone who needs it. While it is often promoted as a major benefit for older adults who wish to age in place, its benefits are much broader.  It has major benefits for younger homeowners, members of the workforce, neighborhoods, small and large businesses, real estate markets and energy conscious communities.

Almost all of us have experience with home sharing in one of its many forms – a live-in nanny, a foreign exchange student, an uncle or aunt who fell on hard times, friends or children of friends who are new to the area and are getting settled.  There are many more reasons for beginning a HomeShare but the arrangements and results are similar.

Homeowners may be young or older, own their home outright or be still paying down a mortgage.  They have a space that can be designated as a private bedroom, furnished or unfurnished, usually with a private bathroom.  The space might be accessed separately but very often is through a shared entrance and parking arrangement. The other shared spaces of the home include the kitchen, living spaces and outside lawns, gardens, porches or patios.

Interviews for HomeShare arrangements differ from those for separate apartments and the landlord tenant regulations are different.  Relationships in HomeShare take into consideration common sense and courteous living styles that require discussion of, for example, how those shared spaces will be designated, pets, sharing a refrigerator, noise and music, guests, cleanliness and neatness, or parking.   Trust and flexibility are key and easily developed.

A lease is not required.  A Living Together Agreement can be reviewed and/or signed noting that these topics have been discussed.  RSA 540B is NH state legislation that allows the homeowner to ask the renter to leave without any cumbersome eviction process.  In 30 years of HomeSharing with 20 different renters I have never even considered asking someone to leave.

Rent is income and should be required to maintain the proper understanding of the relationship.  It is, however, less than market rate apartment fees since the arrangement involves shared space. How high or low the rent is can depend on the location, the neighborhood, other amenities of the house, furnishings and the amount of private space.  Bartering for services such as lawn care, cooking, pet care or other services can be arranged and the rent reduced accordingly.

The benefits to the homeowner are numerous.  The first obvious one is using the idle asset of unused space to increase income to offset property taxes or the mortgage.  This improves the security of neighborhoods by reducing the number of homes being sold and often put on the second home market.

The homeowner has companionship.  Having a homemate creates a comfortable relationship with a person who is independent, self-sufficient and responsible for themselves, but is nonetheless companionship. Each of you is aware of another coming and going and the offer of occasional conversation is always there but not presumed.

Additionally, a homemate sharing the utilities appeals to the energy conscious.  The home and neighborhood are safer having another watchful set of eyes, especially on the occasion that the homeowner is away.  In my own case, it was homemate who discovered the water pipe leak and had it stopped long before I got home.

Less directly, the homeowner has the satisfaction of knowing they are contributing to the solution of finding affordable workforce housing in the community without waiting for multi-unit apartments to be zoned, financed, permitted and built.  Land and zoning are not required to house the many people who can be easily accommodated in our neighborhoods without any disruption.  In any town in New Hampshire there are countless empty bedrooms that could be made available for the newly hired professionals needed in our communities.  In addition to my original nanny, my homemates have included new teachers, physical therapists, hospitality workers, graphic artists, journalists, and friends who needed a safe place to live.

Any homeowner who would like to explore more about a home share experience and explore how to make it work in their home is welcome to contact me at I am happy to talk with you at no cost and help you consider what it would mean for you.

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