The concept of home-sharing can be a whole new world, and we understand that, for many, it may be the first time they consider living with someone outside of immediate family. Our participants and partners are full of great questions about the program. Here are the ones we hear most often:
Is home-sharing safe?
Yes. Safety is our number one concern at GRHomeShare and we recognize that living with someone new is always an act of trust. All participants in GRHomeShare undergo a background check, credit check, and reference check, and providers undergo a property check as well.
What services can a seeker help with?
Almost anything! A seeker might help with basic household chores, provide transportation to homeowners who no longer drive, cook meals, run errands, or help with any other support task specified by the homeowner. Services are built into the match’s rental agreement and allow the seeker to reduce their rent. Seekers cannot help with personal care such as bathroom or personal hygiene help.
How much of my home will be shared?
We ask that homeowners open a private bedroom and some common spaces to their seeker to provide both privacy and a shared living experience for relationship building. Kitchens and living rooms are often shared. Bathrooms may be shared or the homeowner may offer a private seeker bathroom. Other areas of the house may be shared or private depending on the provider’s preferences.
How is rent determined?
We ask that providers offer their space at a sub-market rent rate in order to support the needs of individuals struggling in Grand Rapid’s competitive housing climate. Rent reduced on the basis of services offered as well. The final rental amount is negotiated between the seeker and provider with the optional help of a GRHomeShare facilitator. A sample rental agreement will be provided as an optional basis for rental agreement discussions. GRHomeShare requires a month-to-month lease be used for the first three months of any match in order to offer flexibility to both the seeker and provider.
How much choice will I have in who I live with?
Depending on how many clients we currently have searching for a housemate, you may be presented with as many as three housemate candidates at any one time. We strive to give every match the best possible chance of success and work to ensure that any candidate whose profile we pass along to you is genuinely compatible with your preferences, needs, and lifestyle, and likewise that you are compatible with theirs. In pursuit of quality matches over quantity, should no compatible candidates be available, we will alert you and ask you to bear with us with patience as we continue the search. Compatibility is reviewed and determined through the extensive efforts of GRHomeShare social workers and staff members. Once one or more compatible candidates have been found, clients are presented with Candidate Profiles including first name, age, gender, interests, needs, routines, and other information to aid in the decision making process. If both parties approve of the offered candidate profiles, they may choose to meet either in the home or at the GRHomeShare offices. If both candidates would like to move forward with the match, we can begin discussion of the rental agreement. GRHomeShare clients have full final approval over all potential matches at all stages of exploration.
How does GRHomeShare affect my lease terms?
While operating under the GRHomeShare program, matches are required to use a month-to-month lease. All other lease terms are at the joint discretion of the seeker and provider. GRHomeShare offers mediation services with one of our licensed social workers to all matches at any point in their relationship. We encourage participants to use this service to negotiate lease terms. A standard lease agreement will be provided to all matches as a starting point in their own agreement. The use of this sample lease is entirely optional.
How long does it take to find a match?
It varies from match to match. We commit to finding matches which fulfill not only our clients’ service, financial, and housing needs but are also the basis for a compatible friendship within the home. Clients also have full discretion over the approval of any match or potential match. GRHomeShare works to present each client with compatible match candidates as quickly as possible following the completed application process, after which moving forward with a match is dependent on the client’s approval of (and approval by) the candidate presented.
How will rental income affect my tax return or benefits?
We recommend consulting a tax professional when adjusting to a new income stream like rental income. Rental income must be reported both on your tax return and to any agency offering benefits on the basis of income. This factor should be taken into account when considering whether or not homesharing is right for you. That being said, many homesharers consider the value of companionship within the home or services provided to be the most important benefits of their homesharing experience. Reducing the monetary rent paid either through a service exchange or simply as a help to those struggling for affordable housing may also reduce its impact on any income-based benefits received.
Do GRHomeShare providers accept housing vouchers as rent payment?
Not at this time.
What happens if I don’t get along with my match?
In order to build and support a strong match, GRHomeShare meets monthly (for the first three months) with the seeker and provider both jointly and individually as an opportunity to check in and discuss how the match is working. If any issues arise, GRHomeShare offers free mediation services with a GRHomeShare staff member. We require a month-to-month lease for the first three months so that both members of the match have the flexibility to leave the match should they decide to.
Can I use GRHomeShare to find a tenant for my rental properties?
No. Because GRHomeShare’s intent is to develop supportive relationships within the home, we require that our providers are primary residents in the home in question.
Does GRHomeShare offer financial, renovation, or personal care support to help me ready my home for a seeker?
We do not, but there are a number of other extraordinary programs and organizations in Grand Rapids who may be able to address those needs. We are always happy to make appropriate referrals.