The headline says, She Lost Her Childhood Home Over Taxes. Then It Erupted in Flames. It’s a sad story. The way the article tells the story, the daughter inherited the house and then couldn’t pay the property taxes on it. By law, the lien was sold to investors who, after two years, had the right to foreclose on it. When she was evicted she tried to burn the house down.
My first thought on reading that she owed $12,809 in back taxes was, Why didn’t she consider using her asset to make money? What if she had opened up the house to home sharing as soon as she realized that her finances were in trouble and she couldn’t pay the property tax?
My second thought on reading through the article more carefully was to realize that she has a chain of broken relationships—lawsuits with her sister, two contentious divorces, and a court case with a former boyfriend. While we don’t know what her experience is and why, I would consider such a history of lawsuits, indicating many extremely broken relationships, to be a red flag causing me to wonder if she’s a good fit for home sharing.
For me, the red flag is that all the people she took to court were close to her at one time—sister, husbands, and a former boyfriend. They were close relationships that somehow broke. These broken relationships would be a warning. After all, living in shared housing involves a certain amount of closeness.
The Golden Rule
Home share requires the ability to live by the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” This tenet, which we consider to be a key element in successful home sharing, is the ability to achieve compromise for mutual comfort. It assumes that a careful selection process has already confirmed no major conflicts over how the home will be used. Though the article says that people in her town knew Eve as a pleasant person, I would wonder what she’s like in her own home.
Would you learn about these broken relationships in an interview process? Probably. The question “How long have you been living alone?” is likely to prompt some of the story. That would give you an idea. Another question, “Why are you interested in shared housing?” might evoke the information.
Noticing the Red Flags
Our process for selecting a good housemate is designed to teach everyone to pay attention as they get to know a potential housemate. Paying attention means not just listening to the words spoken in the interview but also to your own feelings about the person. You can have a “gut instinct;” a visceral reaction to the person of attraction or repulsion. That is wisdom – your personal wisdom.
If you hear something you don’t like, pay attention. We have a blog post on a bad housemate situation in which the homeowner overlooked her own twitch of “Oh, I didn’t like that.” She overruled her instincts and lived to regret it. (See: Experiences of Home Sharing (and What Makes it Work)
In addition to listening to your gut, here are some additional questions to spot red flags:
– How open and frank is the person about their own likes and dislikes in a housing situation?
– Do they seem to be approaching home share with the appropriate amount of caution and concern about a “good fit?”
– When you talk to their references, is what you hear in line with what the potential housemate says?
The Good Fit
Selecting someone you can live with is both an art and a science. Sometimes people just “click” and it works out. The more usual situation is to be cautious and unsure. It’s worth taking the time to get to know a potential housemate. If you notice any red flags, you can simply stop and say truthfully, “It’s not a good fit.”
Our materials are designed to help you. You can learn how to do this. We offer a book, an online course, a periodic Zoom class, and bespoke presentations. And here’s another post on red flags in interviews.
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Last Updated on March 14, 2023 by Annamarie
This new idea of a Zoom Class for learning ways to find a compatible home-mate is so good. I can imagine taking the course again on Zoom WITH a potential home-mate. Even though I have kept work sheets, it is still awkward to ask some of these questions.
Taking a course together with potential choice would give a natural way to discuss issues. Anna Marie and other seekers would be the instigators of the questions raised.
What a good way to ferret out red flags.
Thank you for providing these helpful tools.
Well it’s not totally a new idea. We’ve offered Discovering SHared Housing many times. And yes, the whole interviewing process is a little awkward.. it just is. We’re not used to it. Job interviews are also awkward! But we’re used to that.. thanks for commenting.