Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Renting To Family Member Makes Homeowner Uneasy

Dear Tazi:

I own a small beach cottage that I enjoy during the season, but leave empty from Labor Day through Memorial Day. It is close to a major university (I am pretty sure you know the one I mean, Tazi; you've mentioned that your “Mommie” is an alumna) and my nephew will be attending this university starting in September.

“Roger” is planning on living in a dormitory, but has asked me for the use of my beach cottage for weekend use. He has offered to keep it cleaned and well-maintained, as well as any snow cleared, in return for its use as a weekend retreat from campus life. I am hesitant to say yes to this request for a few reasons, the first being that I live out of state and already have a seasonal caretaker who looks in on the place for me; the second because this school has a reputation for the boisterous behavior of its students who live off-campus. I am afraid that my quiet retreat will become Party Central and I, as the absentee owner, will be on the hook for any fines the police seek to levy.

My nephew has always been a responsible young man and he will be studying Business and Economics, so I doubt he will have time to party, yet I fear that offering him a place on the beach will encourage him to neglect his studies in favor of partying. This will be his first time away from home without any kind of parental supervision, and I do not want to play a part in him going off the deep end. On the other hand, I understand how difficult it can be to study in a college dormitory, especially on weekends when there are no classes and ample time to put off studying until later.

Since you have told frequent tales of hopping into your “Tazi Sack” for trips to the university I believe you would be more familiar with the lay of the land, so to speak, and the culture of this school than either I or my nephew, who “swears” that he will not abuse my cottage or my trust. Can you advise a maiden aunt on this matter – quickly? His email is awaiting my response!

Summer Resident

Dear Summer Resident:

That loud cheering you hear is your year-round resident neighbors who are applauding the fact that you are a responsible homeowner and potential renter. I am indeed familiar with the problems this local community faces with regard to rowdy renters, as is anyone who lives in a community with “town and gown” issues. The particular community to which you refer enforces the peace by fining the landlords who rent to unruly college students, so I understand your concern about being held responsible for Roger’s behavior.

Ultimately, the choice to rent or not to rent is up to you. If you are happy with your current caretaker’s services, explain to your nephew that you already have a caretaker and while you appreciate his offer you would prefer that he concentrate on his studies and not worry about the upkeep of your property. This solves the problem of offending Roger (and his parents) by denying a need for his services, not by expressing doubt in his level of maturity. Only the very determined would continue to push you on the matter, especially since he was not offering to pay cash rent for the use of the property.

Since this is Roger’s first time away from home, you are wise to express concern for his ability to handle living in an unsupervised rental property. Many a party has gotten out of control after “having a few friends over” has turned into an all-out bash. [Ed. Note: In my family, the story of how one cousin called to police to her own home to break up her out of control party serves as both legend and a stern warning!]. Many colleges offer social events and opportunities on weekends so students living on-campus do not get bored and start trouble. Everything from athletic events to opportunities with Habitat for Humanity are offered to break up the stress of constant classes and studying as well as to boost the sense of school pride and community that schools attempt to instill in their students. There is truly no reason why someone should have to move off-campus for the weekends in order to find something to do unless what they are seeking to do does not fall under the list of school-approved activities (such as underage and binge drinking).

Funneling is not a varsity sport!

Many if not all colleges and universities have quiet areas dedicated to student studying, so the idea that Roger would have to leave campus to find such a place is short-sighted. (The university which my Mommie recently graduated has a 24-hour study room in its library!). If you would like, you could offer to let Roger use your summer cottage as a weekend getaway for occasional weekends only – say, during mid-terms and finals, a time when respite from the academic environment would be welcome and the desire to party would be at its lowest. If Roger proves himself to be a responsible guest, you may want to consider allowing him to rent from you (for cash; his dormitory is not free either) starting in his junior year, which is when many students move off campus and the class workload has reached the point where it is no longer wise to party in an irresponsible manner.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

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