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Work Life

The Handbook of Elder Care Resources for the Federal Workplace

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Housing Options

Home Sharing

As an alternative to moving into your home, your parent may want to consider sharing their home with others, moving into image of housessomeone else's home, or finding a new house that can accommodate them and several other people. Shared households can be arranged either by sharing expenses or by exchanging services for rent. For example, a homebound homeowner might prefer having someone do housework, shopping, yard work, or other errands in exchange for free lodging. This sort of arrangement should be put in writing, so there are no misunderstandings later

Consider these issues:

  • Do local zoning laws in your parent's community permit two or more unrelated people to share a house? Check with your local zoning or planning board.
  • Will your parents want to share their home or move to share another's home?
  • How will your parent's personality fit with a potential housemate's?
  • Do a background check with the local law enforcement agency and be careful about giving the person(s) sharing the home access to the home owner's financial information.
  • How will sharing affect your parent's finances?
  • How will your parent resolve differences that arise?
  • What will new income do to your parent's eligibility for certain public benefits like Supplemental Security Income and Food Stamps?
  • What will your parent's responsibility be if his or her housemate becomes ill?

Adding an Accessory Apartment

Another way your parent can remain at home is to add a separate, self-contained apartment unit to his or her house, called an accessory apartment. This allows your parent to stay in his or her house but not be alone, and the rental income will provide him or her with additional living resources. Creating a new kitchen, bath and access are usually the most expensive changes to be made; however, your parent's home may only require minor changes to accommodate an accessory unit.

Before your parent starts building, you might consider:

  • Do zoning laws allow accessory apartments? Check with your parent's local zoning or planning board before making plans.hammer
  • Will the cost of the renovation, increased utility bills, higher taxes, and insurance premiums be covered by the rent your parent receives?
  • Will the benefit of having someone nearby be worth the expenses?
  • Will your parent expect his or her tenant to be a companion or will your parent have a landlord/tenant relationship?
  • Is sufficient parking available?
  • How will your parent divide costs like taxes and utilities between himself or herself and the renter?
  • Will your parent be able to manage the responsibilities of a landlord?
  • Will your parent be able to find tenants?

Before your parent searches for a tenant, consider whether he or she wants a companion, someone who provides home services, or just a renter. If your parent needs help around the house, some tenants may be willing to exchange services for rent. Any arrangement for exchange of services in lieu of rent should be put in writing as part of the rental agreement. Also, it is important to be alert to any tax consequences in this type of exchange services.

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