Renting rooms

It is Friday afternoon, and I am pondering how rent is recorded in situations where the rental unit does not have a separate address.

Example 1: an unrelated housemate or family member rent a room in an owner-occupied 1-family home.

- is this person considered a renter in the ACS? Is his/her rent included in the median rent in the area? Play a role somewhere in the housing cost burden?

- should this rent be included as income for the head of household? can it be included as negative income for the renter?

Example 2: 4 students rent a room in a 1-family home with separate contracts with the landlord. They share one address/mailbox, the front door and the kitchen

- It is my understanding that this situation makes them one household with four unrelated roommates

- Say student A respond to the ACS as person 1 and fills out the housing questions. What does he fill out as the rent? His individual rent or the combined rent? My reading of the instructions leads me to believe that he answers only the amount he is contracted to pay.

- How is housing cost burden calculated? Based on one person's rent or the combined rent? My understanding is that the combined income (household income) is used in this calculation, so it would be better to use the combined rent as well.

- How does this contribute to the median rent in this area? Having information on what a single person pays for rent is more helpful for people that are looking to rent and for comparing rent in different areas.

Can anybody shed some light on this?

  • Oh, these are such good questions.

    Given the questionnaire structure, I think the owner/renter information is limited to the status of the primary householder (and therefore everyone in the house would be in an "owned" household, even if they're a roommate, boarder, etc...):

    Is this house, apartment, or mobile home –
    Mark (X) ONE box.
    _ Owned by you or someone in this household with a mortgage or loan? Include home equity loans.
    _ Owned by you or someone in this household free and clear (without a mortgage or loan)?
    _ Rented?
    _ Occupied without payment of rent? ➔ SKIP to on the next page

    Even if the person filling out the survey rents from the primary owner, the question structure refers to whether or not it's "owned by your someone in this household..." And there is only one set of cost questions (one for if rented, one for if owned). There's no place for each person to list their housing costs.

    Person 1 should be responding with rent for the entire household. The question wording is:

    What is the monthly rent for this house, apartment, or mobile home?

    (Whether or not everyone thinks to report that way is unknown, but the instruction is rent for the house, not personal/individual share of rent.)

    Yes to the 4 roommates being one household with 4 unrelated individuals.

    Housing cost burden is calculated for the entire household (all housing costs and all income pooled).

    On median rent... I think the question structure is getting at something like "market" rent--what a unit might be listed for, but doesn't allow for analysis of individual cost burden in cases like you've described. (But maybe I'm wrong and there's some way to tease that out of the data that I'm not thinking of? Would love to hear thoughts from others!)