Is Your Apartment Suitable for Hosting Guests?

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A few weeks back in preparation for the holidays we ran an article on how to secure your apartment before you travel. However, not everyone goes away for the Thanksgiving or Christmas holidays. Some of you may be looking at hosting visitors in your apartment instead. But before you agree to have your friends or family stay with you over the holidays you need to give some thought to whether or not your apartment is really a good place for guests. If it isn’t, for the sake of everyone’s sanity, it’s probably best to consider taking advantage of overnight hospitality options in your city, such as hotels, AirBNB or even furnished apartments provided on site by your landlord.

The following list serves two purposes. It can be a checklist for apartment hunters who want to find a place where they can host visitors regularly, and it can also serve as a pre-holiday self check before you sign on to host visitors at your place.

  • Does your lease allow for guests staying overnight? Does it limit how long people can stay? Do you have copies of your apartment keys to give to your guests, and if not, are you allowed to make copies of your keys at all?
  • Are your roommates OK with strangers staying over?
  • Do you have space for everyone to sleep? A couch or air mattress is fine. The floor is not.
  • Do you have space for everyone to eat? A lot of renters get used to eating on the couch or at a computer desk, and many modern apartments don’t have dining rooms.
  • Is there a way for your guests to get to the bathroom while you are asleep? I once lived in an apartment where the only bathroom was entirely contained within the bedroom. It was a little awkward when I had people stay over.
  • Do you have clean towels for your guests to use, and a place to store them? Renters may only have one or two bath towels and keep them hanging on a bar in the bathroom. While guests can certainly bring their own linens, they should probably be warned of the need to do so before they arrive.
  • Will all of your guests be able to comfortably get into your apartment from the street? For folks who live in elevator buildings this is less of an issue. But those of you thinking of inviting older family members and parents of children with very short legs to stay with you in a third floor walkup – have some mercy.
  • Who in your building needs to know about your guests? Do you need to warn your neighbors? The doorman? Your landlord? The parking garage attendants?
  • Are your guests going to be able to get to my apartment without help? Despite the protests of cabbies and rideshare drivers, hired cars don’t serve every neighborhood. Overnight parking is not always a given. Do you need to buy overnight passes for permit parking zones? Will you need to meet your guests at the airport or at the El?
  • Is your apartment safe for visitors of all ages? Are the walks shoveled reliably? Are there any surfaces with exposed lead paint? How about uncovered electrical outlets or unsecured cabinets that could pose a danger to children? Leaks or cracks that could be forming mold? Issues that might be acceptable to you might be really dangerous for your visitors.

Have you ever been in a situation as a visitor or host where you found the housing arrangements to be less than ideal? Let us know what happened in the comments!

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Published by

Kay Cleaves

Founder and owner of RentConfident. She's the primary developer of the website and research engine code. She's spent over 10 years working in the Chicago rental industry and has assisted with over 1200 leases.

4 thoughts on “Is Your Apartment Suitable for Hosting Guests?”

  1. Excellent points! I know we have a limit to the number of guests, and the number of nights they can stay over in any given month. We also have to purchase parking passes for overnight guests or they will be towed from the property at their own expense.

  2. These are all good questions. Do you have many multi family houses in Chicago, or is the bulk of rentals in buildings? Multis definitely have their special issues too. There’s different neighbor relationships, sharing outdoor space, being sure not to block each others’ cars, to name a few.
    In my guest experience, linens/bathroom space is definitely the hardest; there is no room for anyone but us to hang a towel!

    1. Depends on the neighborhood. Downtown it's all high rises but once you get outside of the main business/tourist districts it's mostly smaller walkups that are 100+ years old. There are some streets that are nothing but two-flats as far as the eye can see.

      In terms of not blocking each others' cars though, that's something few Chicago folks have to deal with. We don't have driveways for the most part, all of our garages empty out into the back alleys.

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