Would you rent out your home for a commercial or civic purpose?
That was the question I recently had to answer on two separate occasions. And while the answer may seem obvious to you, for me, it was a dilemma that was not easily decided.
The first request to rent my house came from a location scout. Believe it or not, these people really do exist in Los Angeles, and one of them showed up on my doorstep on a cloudy afternoon. She explained that she needed to find a house that had an unobstructed front porch to shoot a promotional spot for a cable television channel. The shoot would take less than a day, and I’d be paid $1,500.
I have to admit I was tempted. Make that very tempted. Perhaps $1,500 wasn’t a princely sum for the use of my property, but it certainly would have been a welcome bonus in my bank account. And while I don’t subscribe to cable television, I’d become quite a fan of that particular cable channel via DVDs.
But then I considered the disruption and the absolute certainty of many complaints from my neighbors, one of whom sleeps late and works nights. I questioned the scout and discovered that one day of shooting meant 12 hours from dawn to dusk; my quiet residential street would have to be partially blocked off, and there would be a fair amount of only-to-be-expected noise from the comings and goings of the crew.
At that, I declined, and the scout quickly disappeared in search of another house with an unobstructed front porch. Alas, she didn’t leave behind her name or telephone number, nor did I ask how I could contact her if I reconsidered my decision.
Because of course, I did. A film set could be a lot of fun, I thought, and perhaps that $1,500 could have bought some nice gifts to soothe my neighbors’ wrath. I remembered that film shooting has been in a slump in Los Angeles, and I realized that one day of filming would be one day of work for those so employed. And best of all, there might have been movie stars, a possibility that, strangely enough, hadn’t even occurred to me as I’d questioned the location scout about the noise and disruption.
So that was that.
The second request to rent my house came a few days later from a young man who worked for the Los Angeles County Registrar. He needed to find a house that could be used as a polling place for a special election called by the State of California. He explained that the county would pay a stipend of $25 for the day, and that the polling place (i.e., my house) would be needed from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. …CONTINUED
Being a former poll clerk and inspector, I was eager to help out. I believe in voting, and I liked the idea of helping my neighbors vote at my house.
The young man checked out my garage, which is accessible from the street and almost empty apart from my car, and pronounced it to be perfect for the purpose.
But then, I asked about liability. Suppose someone tripped in my garage and suffered a serious injury? Would I be responsible? A lot of back and forth ensued and eventually I found out that the county is self-insured and my own homeowner’s insurance would indeed have been first on the hook if anyone were injured.
Our precinct is a small one, and many of those who vote do so by U.S. Mail. Only the poll workers would have had access to the interior of my home, but all counted, some hundreds of people complete with bicycles, baby strollers, walkers and so on would have cast their votes in my garage. The risk was just too big a worry, so again — and this time without regrets — I said no.
The registrar’s representative took off to find another house with a civic-minded owner and near-empty garage. And that, again, was that.
Together, the two incidents brought me to the conclusion that perhaps my house just isn’t for rent, not even for a day.
So, can we use yours?
Marcie Geffner is a veteran real estate reporter and former managing editor of Inman News. Her news stories, feature articles and columns about home buying, home selling, homeownership and mortgage financing have been published by a long list of real estate Web sites and newspapers. "House Keys," a weekly column about homeownership, is syndicated in print and on the Web by Inman News. Readers are cordially invited to "friend" the author on Facebook.
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