How much rent should I charge my in-laws?

Money issues among family members are difficult, to say the least. A reader named The Lessor wrote to us recently about his sticky family situation:

I have a brother-in-law who decided to pursue ministry work overseas. He is married to a European girl and they live with her mother most of the year. Each year they return to the U.S. to keep citizenship/residency, visit with family, and fundraise for additional money to keep them living overseas. They usually spend three to four months in the U.S., living in my spare bedroom.

My wife misses her brother greatly when he's gone and likes for him to stay with us. I, however, can become annoyed when guests stay for an extended period, especially since they eat a lot of food, use a lot of utilities, are often messy, and generally put a lot of wear and tear on items in my house during these long visits. For the first time in over five years, they have offered to pay us some money to offset the costs associated with their stay.

My question to you is how can I calculate an amount that is reasonable for them to pay? I feel like there are a lot of unseen costs (such as my constant need to clean up after them). If the amount I charge is too high, they may choose to stay somewhere else next time, leaving my wife heartbroken. Any advice is appreciated.

Benjamin Franklin is said to have remarked, “Fish and houseguests smell after three days.” (Happy birthday, Ben! He would have been 307 yesterday.) So, The Lessor, you are not alone in your uneasiness with long-term houseguests, even if they are family.

My advice would be to figure out how much their annual visit adds to your budget. How much additional money do you spend on food during the months they stay with you? How much does your utility bill go up? The wear and tear on the house as well as the value of your time spent cleaning up after them are trickier to put a price on. A housecleaning service charges between $20 and $40 per hour (of course, this depends on the size of the house, the region of the country, and so on). Maybe if you charge them for cleaning up, they'll actually do it themselves.

So, Readers, what do you think The Lessor should do? How much should he charge his brother- and sister-in-law for their annual stay?

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Jenny
Jenny
7 years ago

I’d ask your brother-in-law what he was thinking made sense as a payment. I’d start by listing some of the costs associated with their stay each time, and ask him what seems fair given those expenses. You can pepper in talk about how much it means to your (wife) family to have them both stay with you each year. Then plan to be pleasantly surprised if you actually get paid anything, much less what you agreed together was fair.

Anje
Anje
7 years ago

Like suggested: the added cost. If they are careless with furniture etc. I would inform them (before they arrive) that they will pay the price to replace/repair any broken or damaged item.

And no-one should clean up after guests staying 4 months: sit down with wife and make a chore-chart for brother-in-law and his wife. Them taking on their part of cooking, cleaning etc. is to be expected. Or, if they are poor; maybe them tankin on all chores+doing maintenance work is a fair trade.

Jane
Jane
7 years ago
Reply to  Anje

“If they are careless with furniture etc. I would inform them (before they arrive) that they will pay the price to replace/repair any broken or damaged item.” See, I just don’t think you can do that without fracturing the relationship considerably. They sound like decent people. If something important or expensive gets broken, I would wait and see if they volunteer to replace it. If they don’t, only then would I broach the topic. No need to preemptively offend family members. It’s the wife’s brother – not a hotel guest in a for-profit hotel. As far as payment, I would… Read more »

Ashley
Ashley
7 years ago
Reply to  Jane

I’m just curious how they come across as “decent people” to you when they have mooched off of the guy for 5 years (and appear to mooch off the BIL’s wife’s mom for the rest of the year) and have yet to offer any compensation (and are messy to boot!).

Jane
Jane
7 years ago
Reply to  Ashley

Because I know how human nature works and how I feel when someone stays in my house for a long time. Even if they are good guests, I imagine them to be messy and annoying precisely because I don’t want them in my house anymore! I doubt that if they were that terrible, this arrangement would have lasted the five years that it already has. You have to remember that this post came from a person who is clearly frustrated. I just read the statement again “I, however, can become annoyed when guests stay for an extended period, especially since… Read more »

Student Loans Worked Out
Student Loans Worked Out
7 years ago
Reply to  Jane

Sorry, the guests do not sounds like ‘decent’ people at all. For two capable people to stay with family for prolonged periods of time without contributing is not decent by measure.

Jane
Jane
7 years ago

You don’t know what has transpired in the past. All I know is that family usually doesn’t communicate that well. I imagine the wife has said things to her brother like, “You are welcome to stay as long as you need.” “It’s no trouble at all.” “We love spending time with you.” It is especially probable that these exchanges have occurred since the writer has made it clear his wife somewhat cherishes these visits. Do you fault people for responding to such things and taking them up on the offer? My mom will often say, “Oh, I loooove having friends… Read more »

Student Loans Worked Out
Student Loans Worked Out
7 years ago

@Jane (comment 95): I agree that there is a lot to the story we do not know. But nothing of what we DO know suggests that guests are, indeed, decent people. Even if the wife repeatedly invited them to stay, a decent person would have realized the imposition, and sensed the husband’s annoyance, and would have found a different accommodation.

Jane
Jane
7 years ago

I guess I just assume everyone is a decent person until they prove me wrong. Besides, I never called them people of outstanding character or anything. The threshold for decent is pretty low overall. Calling someone not decent is pretty strong and I reserve that for the rare jerk I encounter in life. And I stand by my claim that if these people were real jerks this question would have been worded much differently or the living arrangement would not have gone on for five years. I understand why the poster is weary of the arrangement. He has every right… Read more »

Lizzie
Lizzie
7 years ago
Reply to  Jane

Holy moly. If you are staying rent-free, board-free in someone else’s house for MONTHS, then you shower then with gratitude and live as lightly as possible. If you can’t afford to feed yourself, then you cook meals for the people who are paying to feed you. If you can’t afford to kick in for the cable bill, then you make sure the house is spotless at all times. Maybe you trim the hedges. Maybe you babysit so they can go out for dinner. That’s just polite. I don’t care if your hosts are your siblings or your parents or total… Read more »

Petra
Petra
7 years ago

I applaud you for letting them stay. And I do applaud them for offering you some money for it. I think there are enough people out there who would just assume that they could stay for free because they’re family… (Well, they did too for a few years, but now not anymore, maybe because their financial situation improved?). Maybe you can come up with two numbers for yourself: a MINIMUM number, below which their offer becomes unacceptable (which will mean that if they can’t pay you this, they’re out of the house, keep in mind when formulating this number that… Read more »

John
John
7 years ago

My father in law passed away a few years ago and I offered my mother in law the use of my spare bedroom until she got her affairs straightened. She lived with us for about a year before moving into one of those fancy, high end retirement complexes. I did not charge her any rent, although she offered. Of course it was never intended to be an ongoing arrangement, like the OPs. As for that question, I would charge whatever additional costs I incurred and as far as cleaning, I would hire a maid service for that period of time… Read more »

Alicen
Alicen
7 years ago
Reply to  John

I’m with John – I woul hire a cleaning service for the duration of their visit which will help you determine a reasonable amount to charge them, as well as helping lower your stress level about picking up after them. I would charge them the full cost of the cleaning service and maybe a few extra bucks for food and hot water. That way, you can ask them to clean up their things and keep them tidy “so as not to incur extra cleaning charges” This passes the blame from you (for being the tidy person) to the cleaning company… Read more »

adriano
adriano
7 years ago

Why did they offer to pay some money? Maybe they sensed your annoyance and are trying to guilt you into giving them a bargain. My cold advice would be to find them cheap accomodation elsewere. If they can’t afford it, you didn’t find a cheap enough option. Offered to pay SOME money.. the nerve on some people.

Elle
Elle
7 years ago

Since they have stayed with you before perhaps you can look at the numbers and charge the additional cost of utilities as the minimum rent. Talk over with your wife over expectations that you two have about your brother in law and wife – chores and responsibilities around the house.

Remind her that they’re more than guests, they’re family and so they can take care of their things while they stay.

I hope that helps!

AMW
AMW
7 years ago

Money and Mess are two different subjects. I have no idea how to resolve the mess situation. As far as money goes, they are staying in your guest room so your utilities and groceries are what is really impacted. Take a look at what the difference is when they are there and charge them that amount. However, whatever number you decide, you and your wife should be in agreement about.

Hannah
Hannah
7 years ago

I would not charge family members for utilities and a fee for cleaning, it’s too businesslike. I would ask them to buy their own food and pick up after themselves. Ask them to help with whatever house maintenance you happen to be working on during their stay, like painting, yard work etc. In other words, stop treating them like they are guests in your hotel who you cater to and pick up after. During their stay treat them like family and ask them to contribute. This should help you not resent their stays.

Laura
Laura
7 years ago
Reply to  Hannah

+1. I haven’t even gotten through the rest of the comments but this is your answer. If they’re staying for several months each year, they should help with food and chores, including cleaning and contribute as family.

In your shoes, I would ask them to do this and not charge money.

Carmen
Carmen
7 years ago
Reply to  Laura

I would figure the cost of extra groceries/utilities and add that amount to a small rental charge–$100.-$200 per month, PLUS ask them to help with household and yard work.
Family is very important. However, you’re under no obligation to provide them with a three month free vacation. It sounds like their religious service is their excuse for their financial irresponsibility when they are here in the U.S. They CHOSE their lifestyle, and it is not your place to financially support them. I would feel put upon were I in your shoes.

phoenix1920
phoenix1920
7 years ago
Reply to  Carmen

It is a lifestyle they chose, but the house belongs to a couple–one of which very much WANTS her brother to stay because this is the way that she can maintain her relationship with him. There is nothing within the OP’s letter that indicates that there is any fiscal irresponsibility. They are fundraising for their cause and reducing expenses. I am sure that with the relationship being close between brother and sister, the sister has likely stated they are welcome as guests anytime. We tell our ILs this all the time.

Rya
Rya
7 years ago

THREE MONTHS? Wow, that’s a lot. That’s a lot. I completely understand how you would “become annoyed”. Well it’s too late now to tell your wife about how you feel, because their visits have become a sort of tradition… Charging them will feel awkward for all parties involved. It would have been easier if they could just pay you in food and house supplies (soap, toilet paper, kitchen paper etc.) but since it’s THREE MONTHS you can’t do that or you’ll have to end up with a garage full of house supplies. How much to charge? Calculate the monthly average… Read more »

John
John
7 years ago
Reply to  Rya

Weird? It’s weird (and rude, ungrateful, abusive, bad-mannered and somewhat insulting) for these free loaders to assume they have free reign over your home! I would charge them EXACTLY what it costs to rent plus cleaning fees. Maybe then they would get the hint. They are using their ‘generosity’ of doing ‘the lords work’ to take advantage of family members. That is not only crass but very unchristian.

Jane
Jane
7 years ago
Reply to  John

This comment makes me sad. First off, we have no indication that the couple hosting them has given them any sign their stay is too long. The onus is on the host to say if the terms are unacceptable. One summer I lived in Manhattan and (not surprisingly) I had lots of friends who wanted to come visit. One from the U.K. said he wanted to stay three weeks. Since this stay in NYC was at great cost to me already (I was double paying on rent) and I was living with someone else, I just told my friend that… Read more »

Nathalie
Nathalie
7 years ago
Reply to  Jane

I understand the sister (questioner’s wife) loves having her brother stay, but surely she can see the difficulty of the added time and cost. And with the couple having already broached the subject, it seems there can be a polite and respectful way to solve the issue. Really, though… three months?! Every year?! And this is the first time absolutely anything has been offered…? I can understand why the resentment is creeping in. As a grown adult, I would never, under any circumstance, expect a family member to put me up for any length of time over a night of… Read more »

John
John
7 years ago
Reply to  Jane

Freeloaders may be a bit harsh, but just because someone is family does not mean the people have no faults. Everyone is someones family. The crazy guy who shot up Sandy Hook had a very large family. He certainly had a few faults, no? People are people. Some people are freeloaders, family or not. I don’t know the entire parameters of the relationship in question but, if I had a family member staying at my home, rent free, three months every year for years and years on end, I would call that person a freeloader. Change the situation just a… Read more »

Rya
Rya
7 years ago
Reply to  John

3 months is a long time for a stay, but obviously the wife is okay with it. I guess the husband really loves her 🙂 if he’s okay with her brother and sister-in-law staying for so long.

kareninthecity
kareninthecity
7 years ago
Reply to  John

With all due respect, John, he is not asking for our opinion of the situation – just how much to charge (and if to charge). Glad I am not your sibling 🙂

Lea
Lea
7 years ago
Reply to  Rya

I would estimate a small amount of whatever utilities increase and charge them that, and then ask them to buy groceries every other week or alternately buy their own. The cleaning thing…maybe broach the idea that since there are so many staying you would like to consider hiring someone to come in once a week (or every other week) to clean and ask them to split costs? They may very well volunteer to clean instead and then you can work something out. I would not ask for wear and tear on furniture. If something breaks, see if they offer to… Read more »

Edwin
Edwin
7 years ago

He should charge what is fair. Check out rents on rooms near his area, what is bad about this situation is his brother in law which makes it for a sticky situation. It is easier to charge a person you don’t know then a family member. As long as He talks to his wife and they are in agreement on what to charge him it will be fine.

Mrs PoP @ Planting Our Pennies
Mrs PoP @ Planting Our Pennies
7 years ago

You are saving them from paying rent on a short term lease during this time period. Figure out how much they’d likely be paying in rent elsewhere and then cut it by 50%-75%. That’s probably more than enough to cover extra costs (including a cleaning service!). Luckily for you, you should have all the info needed to calculate the added utilities from their visits to see if it sounds fair.

Saskia
Saskia
7 years ago

I have friends in a similar situation. I thought for a bit that you were talking about them, but unless you’ve changed quite a few details, you aren’t. If the financial situation your relatives are in is anything like that of my friends, they can’t afford to pay much, if anything at all. That’s why they’re staying with you and living with your BILs MIL. I do think asking them to help with chores and to contain the mess is more than reasonable. But above all, you need to talk to your wife before you deal with the relatives. Regarding… Read more »

Bando
Bando
7 years ago

It seems to me the obvious answer to this question is ask them to give whatever amount they think is fair. Otherwise I’d go with a low number unless you want to offend them. Regarding the cleaning up after them, I suggest you just lighten up and get in touch with your messy side. They will likely clean up after themselves if you leave their messes be for a while instead of following them around with a broom and dustpan

Ashley
Ashley
7 years ago
Reply to  Bando

Why is it reasonable to you for them to live in a messy house when they are being generous enough to host his wife’s family? It seems unfair they should have to lower their standard of cleanliness for mooches. And the “waiting to pick up after them” seems like a tactic you would use with a kid.

Sam
Sam
7 years ago

We’ve had my husband’s father utilize our smallest rental property for a couple of months in the winter (we are in Florida) the rent on that property is normally about $700 and the utilities, which revert to my name when we don’t have a tenant, run around $150. Then there is also the cost of getting the property ready for the next tenant but we would have that cost anyway. He paid for his own groceries and took us out for dinner a few times but we absorbed the loss of rent and the other costs, so in total it… Read more »

John
John
7 years ago
Reply to  Sam

If it was just a one time thing, I wouldn’t charge them anything at all. But this is every single year for months on end.

Saskia
Saskia
7 years ago

You could be talking about friends of mine. In fact, at first I thought you were, but unless you’ve changed quite a few details, you’re not. If your relatives are in similar straits as my friends, they’re staying with you because they can’t afford anything else. That’s also why they’re living with your BILs MIL. Ask them to contain their mess and do chores, but I think you need to consider the financial side your contribution to their ministry. Maybe there’s a legal way to quantify this and get a tax write-off as a charitable contribution. Or shorten the amount… Read more »

Allison
Allison
7 years ago
Reply to  Saskia

Exactly.

Tania
Tania
7 years ago
Reply to  Saskia

“My house”, “my spare room” – I thought the OP was part of a couple? The very first step before discussing the issue further with the in-laws is negotiating with his partner about the use of “their house” and “their spare room”.

Courtney
Courtney
7 years ago
Reply to  Saskia

Great response! I bet the visiting couple fundraises not only for their ministry, but for their living expenses as well. If they have to pay for a short-term lease while they’re in the States, that’s money that can’t go to whatever cause they’re supporting. The OP is contributing greatly by allowing them to save money on that aspect, but it sounds like he’s uncomfortable with the scope of his contribution (or maybe he’s not looking at it that way). He should definitely talk to his wife, keeping in mind that she seems to be getting more positives from the arrangement… Read more »

Mario
Mario
7 years ago

It sounds like this is as much a psychological transaction for you as it is a financial one, and there are three parties — you, your wife, and her brother — that have to leave the negotiations happy. Not only that, it appears that the actual number you end up at is far less important than the process of getting to that number. Figure out what they added in utility bills and grocery bills last year (or for the latter, figure out what you and our wife have spent on groceries in the last month and use that), compared to… Read more »

Carole
Carole
7 years ago

These people have a ministry that they have given their lives to. They could probably make a lot more money doing something else. If you support their philsophical beliefs then you will want to do all you can to help them. I suspect you don’t feel their passion which put them in the category of being an annoyance. Perhaps your wife can find a way to get someone else in the family to have a turn at supporting them while they are here raising money for their mission.

Mario
Mario
7 years ago
Reply to  Carole

I can’t speak for the author’s brother-in-law, but as someone who spent many years taking jobs geared toward the social good — and getting paid the low wages that come with these sorts of jobs — I knew from the beginning that I was making sacrifices to live that life, but never expected anyone around me to take part in that sacrifice.

victoria
victoria
7 years ago
Reply to  Carole

Around here I’d expect to be able to rent out a furnished spare room for about $400 a month, including utilities but not including food. Once you add in food for two people you’re talking at least another $200 a month. So that 3-4 months of room and board is worth about $1800 – $2400.

That’s far more than I would expect any family member (including the ones who are wealthy by almost any definition) to contribute to any cause of mine, religious or not. I think the missionary couple is taking advantage.

Pauline
Pauline
7 years ago

The problem is that you offer full board so you can’t really compare with the price of a room without food. What a complicated situation, you are a saint. I would put the cleaning schedule on the fridge with their names on it so they can’t miss it. And obviously do nothing in their room, they can clean it and change sheets themselves. Regarding food, add half your usual budget, although cooking for 4 is usually cheaper. It should make up for the wear and tear.

Mario
Mario
7 years ago

One more thing. I’ve found that a good way to show fairness and feel ok with yourself is to put mechanisms in place that both put a real-life price tag on behavior and puts the decision out of your hands. Two examples of this that I’ve used are actually hiring a cleaning service (whose costs we split) and getting a property manager for rental properties. With the cleaning service, back in school, I had a messy roommate who just wouldn’t clean up after himself, so I started using a cleaning service that came every other week. With the property manager,… Read more »

EMH
EMH
7 years ago

This is tough. I guess I would tell them that they don’t need to pay rent but ask them to split the utility costs with you during the months they are visiting. That would make them aware of the extra expense you take on without having them pay you a monthly fee to live with them.

Courtney
Courtney
7 years ago

I think you need to ask yourself if the money would really make you happier with them staying with you for three months.

Ivy
Ivy
7 years ago
Reply to  Courtney

Or once you have them contributing, they will take this to mean it’s OK to stay 4-5 months even, as long as they are paying.
I remember reading about an experiment where a day care or preschool set late pick up fees to discourage parents from being late in picking their kids. The delays promptly increased, now people felt that it was OK to be late as long as they are charged.
Maybe a better way would be to go with “we can only host you for a month” option.

Student Loans Worked Out
Student Loans Worked Out
7 years ago
Reply to  Ivy

That is a valid point. So yes, I think the author should consider just turning the guests away. Obviously, his love for his wife will make it an uncomfortable decision, but perhaps it will be better for both in the long run.

Kate
Kate
7 years ago

I would have them pay for the groceries and call it good.

I would also expect them to chime in with the household cores.

My parents vist for at least two weeks every quarter. This is the arrangement that works us and helps my husband stem his resentment at the frequent longterm house guests.

Greg
Greg
7 years ago

*thinks about living with my in-laws*
*shudders*

I would just charge (if at all) what new expenses come up during their stay. I would expect them to help out with food, and would just tell them that.

As far as mess, treat them as if they are your kids (as odd as that sounds). If you lived with them and made a mess, they would tell you to pick up after yourself. That should be all it takes.

Sarah
Sarah
7 years ago

What a dilemma! I really feel like this issue should ultimately be negotiated by your wife and her brother. First of all, why doesn’t she clean up after her beloved brother instead of you? That would lessen your annoyance a lot and balance out her desire to have her brother stay with her. If she doesn’t like doing that, she can talk to her brother about how they should share chores the way they did when they were kids. On to the money situation. In general, family should be able to stay at your place for free. If your family… Read more »

Marcy
Marcy
7 years ago

The family hosting the couple has been most gracious. I think that the visiting couple ought to contribute their share of the groceries and the utilities. Also, anything that costs the family. That way, the hosts aren’t out financially, but don’t make money on the brother either. It is still very kind of the family, anyway.

The visiting couple should help with repairs. (Painting, deck sealing, etc.) Extra hands are helpful! They should also help with routine housework, snow shoveling, errands, kids’ homework, cooking, etc. This is not a short vacation. Everyone can pitch in!

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
7 years ago

Wow. I’d pay them to live elsewhere instead… “Here’s $200 for your airbnb this month, kids! Happy fundraising!” 😀 — I’ve known this “guests are like fish” expression all my life, but I thought it was from a Roman source. Anyway, since “three days” is a bit vague, I’ve codified it (for years, now) as “the two night rule,” since night time is the critical portion of any visit. I’ll offer people my hospitality for a maximum of two nights and then dispatch them on their way. Vaguely related, though not the same, my parents are visiting from out of… Read more »

Sam
Sam
7 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

I’m very close with my family but having house guests (I’ll have them this weekend by the way) on a regular basis is not my fave. I used to go the route of renting a B&B or hotel for family when they wanted to come stay, but Mr. Sam (who isn’t especially close with his family) thinks that is a ridiculous expenditure when we have two guest rooms. I’ve lost the argument on this one.

SLCCOM
SLCCOM
7 years ago
Reply to  Sam

So I assume that Mr. Sam gets to do the preparations and cleanup afterwards?

Jane
Jane
7 years ago
Reply to  SLCCOM

Wait, so you’re saying that as a partner I can just voice opposition to anything and then get out of helping in any way? Sign me up!

That’s not how a marriage works, or at least I don’t think that’s how a healthy marriage works. Just because she doesn’t want them to stay at the house doesn’t mean she is in perpetuity not obligated to contribute to the prep and clean up of said guests.

Student Loans Worked Out
Student Loans Worked Out
7 years ago

They are family, so, yes, it is a difficult situation. I think the most appropriate way to handle things is to be straightforward with them: explain that you are glad to see them and provide accommodation, but it puts you in dire straights financially. Therefore you can ask them: – to contribute to the food budget, say, $X a week, or just buy certain provisions for the family. Yes, the whole family, not just themselves. – contribute a portion to the utilities proportional to their usage. I.e., if there are four people in your family, plus them, then it will… Read more »

partgypsy
partgypsy
7 years ago

Yes. With whatever agreement or arrangment that is made, whether they buy their own groceries plus some money towards utilities, make it clear you are not making money off of them, simply defraying the costs of another family living there for 3 months! Believe me, whatever you end up with I’m sure will be less than what they would have to pay if they had to find regular accomodations.You are already giving up space, privacy, etc for them to live there; shouldn’t have to have additional financial hardship as well. And I’m surprised this discussion hasn’t happened until now.

Mike @Personal Finance Beat
Mike @Personal Finance Beat
7 years ago

Two words: market value.

How much would you charge if you were renting out the room full time, to a stranger? Take that price. Then maybe knock off 15% for a “family discount”.

carosgram
carosgram
7 years ago

It appears that your BIL does missionary work. He has to fund raise to support his efforts overseas and still needs to live with relatives to make a go of it. I would consider my previous giving them a place to stay while in the US a contribution to his ministry. Since your wife wants them to stay with you I think you need to be very careful of the emotions and commitments involved in this family dynamics. Since they have offered to contribute this year to the costs, I would tell them that I consider their stay a contribution… Read more »

jim
jim
7 years ago

Forget the budget. If you can’t “give” it to them without feeling resentful, tell them to get out – that’s it. It’s your home, your castle. Never lend to anyone – give it if you’ve got it, otherwise JUST SAY NO.

Jph
Jph
7 years ago

Before you mention any figures you could describe the facts. Food, energy etc. You can tell them that you went through last years numbers because they made the offer to contribute. The same can be applied for the choruses. Best is to do this before the actual visit and let them make a suggestion.

Chances are that you can find a solution that suits all of you.

Meika
Meika
7 years ago

I don’t think this is a financial question at all. I think that this is equal parts a “communication” and “someone might be a little self-centered” question. When I hear phrases like “staying in MY spare bedroom” (does this not also belong to your wife? and is it not spare?), it’s a red flag to me. And what exactly are the utilities that two adults are causing to rise so much? If they’ve been staying with you for five years and you’ve never before addressed these issues, you have a communication problem. And having people live with you can be… Read more »

Student Loans Worked Out
Student Loans Worked Out
7 years ago
Reply to  Meika

I disagree. First of all, I do not see a problem with the person saying “MY spare bedroom”. One really does not have to stress common ownership all the time, unless one feels insecure (I do not have a problem with my hubby saying: MY car! MY house! My kids. Of course, when either of us says MINE, it always means OURS). Second, who knows how the circumstances may have changed in those 5 years? We only see a glimpse of the whole story here. Maybe the author was a lot more comfortable financially before? Maybe he was a lot… Read more »

Meika
Meika
7 years ago

No, I stand by this. Of course, there are plenty of things that we call “mine” even when they are “ours” – my car, my purse… but the spare room seems an odd one for that. Maybe it’s his office and it’s with cause; who knows. It highlighted, for me, the tone of the letter, which I read as all irritation about how much he himself is being inconvenienced. Again, maybe it’s warranted. But all we see is HIM talking about HIMSELF, with very little concern for his wife’s feelings or those of his family members. Also, when missionaries are… Read more »

Student Loans Worked Out
Student Loans Worked Out
7 years ago
Reply to  Meika

And again, I disagree.There is nothing wrong with saying MY house, even though it might be technically OUR house (or, in a state which is not community property – maybe it IS his house. We do not know the arrangement). One more point to address: a husband has every right to feel imposed on, or inconvenienced, even if his wife does not see anything wrong (she might now see the increased bills, or she is not the one doing the cleanup). And why would he not voice his objections? If he is bound to suffer for 4 months without a… Read more »

Ashley
Ashley
7 years ago
Reply to  Meika

I am an extremely private person and I got annoyed at his in-laws just reading the letter. Some of us genuinely can’t handle that much social interaction on a daily basis without being exhausted all the time or feeling stressed out. Same with messy houses – I get depressed when my house is a mess, so I’d be really upset if guests were sloppy and treated my belongings carelessly as he described.

Courtney
Courtney
7 years ago

Visiting a counselor is almost never a bad idea. Even if it’s not some deep-seated problem of perspective, it’s an important issue that he and his wife seem to disagree on. He’s reaching out for suggestions on a financial website – why not ask for suggestions from a professional?

julie
julie
7 years ago

I didn’t read the other comments. My thought is this – never do business with family. Never. You want to help them you do it for free, otherwise, tell them they have to go elsewhere.

julie
julie
7 years ago

it shouldn’t be on you to come up with a dollar amount- if I were these people, I’d hand you a wad of money when I leave.

Flounder No More
Flounder No More
7 years ago

The Lessor can turn it back to the brother/sis-in-law, and say, “How much were you thinking?” Most likely they DO have a figure in mind, and then The Lessor will have a much clearer picture on which to set expectations.

The only reason to do it this way, and not to calculate market rate is because relationship preservation seems to be a top goal. But, as noted elsewhere, the mess/wear-and-tear conversation needs to happen, too!

Lea
Lea
7 years ago

I think the author is afraid the amount they offer would be too low.

I think you could guide them to what you’re thinking by saying ‘thanks for offer, I think if you could pay something on utilities and buy groceries that would be great’. Then they’ll have an idea what you’re looking for.

If the real problem is that you don’t want them there at all…that is a different thing. You need to talk to your wife about that.

Rebecca B
Rebecca B
7 years ago
Reply to  Lea

Isn’t the first rule of bargaining that the first person to name a dollar amount loses? So the in laws should come up with a number and if it’s too low, he should say, “Hmmm, but what about groceries?” until he gets them to an amount that feels fair (and that the other side offered to pay) to both sides.

Flounder No More
Flounder No More
7 years ago
Reply to  Rebecca B

I was thinking of this approach in terms of negotiating, AND getting clarity from the relatives so The Lessor has a better idea where the conversation is beginning.

victoria
victoria
7 years ago

I’d say 1/3 of the utilities for the time they’re there and 1/3-1/2 of your normal grocery budget. They’d have to buy food no matter what arrangement they made, so I don’t think that would be enough money to make them want to stay elsewhere. And I would strongly consider putting that money towards a housekeeper to come in once every week or two for the time they’re there. Clearly having them there isn’t breaking the bank, since you’ve never asked them for money before. So use the money towards mitigating one of the problems you’ve already identified. I would… Read more »

Mary
Mary
7 years ago

A year ago, after graduating college, I lived with some family friends that were basically family since my apartment lease didn’t start for 2 months. But I wanted to contribute and do my part, so we settled at $100/week. That didn’t really end up saving me any money, (compared to the apartment rent I was about to split 3 ways), but I knew that it was a blessing to them, and it made me feel better about eating family dinners with them, etc.

Adrianne
Adrianne
7 years ago

My family actually lives in Italy and we just got back from a long stay with family in the US. We stayed part in a short term rental, part with my mother (her request) and part with my sister and her family (joint decision). When we stayed with my mother we paid for the groceries we wanted, split the difference for the holiday meals because we had Thanksgiving at her house. We did not pay her rent. We did however buy an air mattress for use while we were there. When we stayed at my sisters, again we split the… Read more »

Carolyn
Carolyn
7 years ago

Do you contribute to their ministry in other ways? Take a look at the costs to you of having them as guests, document these costs, then write them off as tax deductions for your contribution. Work with a tax professional at first to be sure you’re within the tax law, then proceed.

People in ministry are not “freeloaders” but even the most beloved guests can be more than disturbing. If you and your wife work as a team on this, you may find a much more workable — and fair — solution than the one you have.

xing
xing
7 years ago

what to charge?

whatever the market will bear

heh

jxm
jxm
7 years ago

After a week, family or not, it is freeloading. I’m turned off at the point that this guy has to clean up after his “guests”. This isn’t a hotel stay – they should be courteous enough to pick up after themselves. Regarding food, they should also be considerate and chip in for their added costs to the hosts budget. If the OP doesn’t want to step on any toes, he could tell his guests that he and his wife are on a specific budget. They would like to remain on track with their budget so it would be nice for… Read more »

kat
kat
7 years ago

How is this an issue?

Use splitwise.com rent/houseguest calculator.

THis is an obvious third party non biased calculator and I’ve used it to split rent w roommates fairly.

Lauren
Lauren
7 years ago
Reply to  kat

I complete agree. I use splitwise on a regular basis to split utilities. But using their guest calculator I would think you could just put in monthly mortgage cost & average monthly utility cost into the how much rent do you pay box and select how many nights they are staying.

Bryallen @ The Frugal Graduate
Bryallen @ The Frugal Graduate
7 years ago

It’s nice of you to let them stay for so long. I think I would go a bit crazy! First off, what number does your wife think is fair? I would suggest that she takes the lead in this, since it’s her brother. Secondly, DON’T charge them for cleaning up after them! That will only offend them and probably anger your wife. If they start getting messy, just ask them to do a bit more to help around the house. It’s not like they’re only staying for a week! If it were me, I would simply charge them for the… Read more »

PB
PB
7 years ago

They should certainly pay for food. Other than that, one would expect them also to be good guests and keep themselves and their environment clean.

If you add up the costs that you incur otherwise, can you take them as a charitable contribution off your taxes? Make them a donation to their church/organization and get a receipt as part of their support? This might alleviate any difficult conversations, as long as you itemize and are using comparable numbers to your neighborhood.

Richard
Richard
7 years ago

As they come back on a regular basis, the amount of increased costs in utilities at least should be charged as well as their food. However, as suggested above, a conversation with the wife about the increased costs and what is fair should precede any discussions with the in-laws.

Sabrina Allen
Sabrina Allen
7 years ago

We (my husband and myself) live with my parents in their guest house – so while it is a separate apartment (complete with kitchen, living room, bathroom, bedroom, walk in closet), it is staying with Family. We pay $300 a month to cover utilities. It is way more than what our actual share of the utilities would be (it would probably be closer to $150) but it is a way fair amount and there is no way we could get an apartment even close to that amount. My advice: ask them to cover all utilities for the months they are… Read more »

Oliver @Christian Money Blog
Oliver @Christian Money Blog
7 years ago

While I applaud you for being kind to your wife’s family, I think I would be more than annoyed. If it were only for a few weeks, no problem. But 3-4 months? That is 33% of an entire year! If working in the ministry will not provide some sort of temporary financial relief while home on furlough, then I would kindly suggest they find a short term rental and GET A JOB! Then your family can still hang out with them in the evenings at their apartment or your home w/o wanting to kick them out of your house (or… Read more »

Crystal
Crystal
7 years ago

I would consider this the same way I consider renting out a room of our house normally. You can take a look at the general monthly room costs in your area and give a “family discount”. I use Craigslist to find roommates when we are in the market. You can look at other rooms-for-rent in your area, find the average cost, and then take off whatever you feel comfortable with if it seems high. In our area of Houston, TX, rooms rent for $400-$650 a month. So we rent out to a couple (aquaintances we met in one of our… Read more »

Tina
Tina
7 years ago

My father in law lived with us for a couple years until he passed away. Even though we couldn’t afford to support 5 people in our household, we found a way to stabilize our finances. My father in law was in charge of the food budget, helped with cable bill(he wanted all the channels) and did most of the yard work and laundry. He was retired and both my husband and I work full time. He also took the kids to and from school. I appreciated the chores and errands he did much more than the money. My suggestion is… Read more »

My Financial Independence Journey
My Financial Independence Journey
7 years ago

They’re family, so I wouldn’t treat this like a business transaction.

I would charge them based on how good of guests they are. If they are mindful of your property, help with the chores, and occasionally pay for dinner, I’d charge them a nominal sum like $100 a month.

If they do none of that then you can charge them the average rate of renting a room for a month (see Craigslist) plus one additional person’s worth of food.

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