Renting a Room

Determine How Much Rent You Can Afford

  • List all your income and expenses.  
  • Review a sample income and expense sheet.
  • Call a Coordinated Services Specialist at 703-222-0880, to assess your income needs for renting a room.
  • Use tools from the Virginia Housing Development Authority ( to calculate what you can afford to rent.  

Identify and Research Neighborhoods

  • Look for neighborhoods convenient to places you go to regularly such as work, visiting family, friends, shopping, or medical appointments.
  • To calculate the trip time for some of your favorite destinations, contact the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority at 202-637-7000 for information about public transportation options.
  • Visit prospective neighborhoods at different times of the day and night to get an idea of how it might feel coming in late at night or leaving early in the morning.
  • Contact the police district station in the neighborhood you are considering for crime and safety information.
  • Review Police Department Incident Reports or call 703-246-2253.  

Search for a Room

  • Ask friends, family, and your support networks for leads about available housing.
  • Search legitimate websites for rental listings and only deal with landlords who are willing to meet with you in person.
  • Link to various search sites at
  • Contact or call 1-877-428-8844.
  • Affordable housing publications are available from the Fairfax County Department of Housing and Community Development at 703-246-5010.

Hold on to Your Money

  • Not all rental advertisements or offers to rent a room actually provide housing. Some are scams.
  • When responding to an ad, don’t give out personal information, such as social security, bank account, or credit card numbers. 
  • Never wire money and don’t pay with cash or a money order unless you get a receipt. 
  • Be sure the person renting the room is who they say they are and that they have permission to rent the room if they do not own the property.  
  • To find out who owns a property, contact Real Estate Assessments at 703-222-8234.
  • Ask the landlord for the names of previous tenants and if possible, talk to them to find out about their rental experience.
  • Contact Consumer Affairs at 703-222-8435 to find out if there are rental complaints on file about the prospective landlord.

Inspect Properties Offering Rooms for Rent

  • Take a look at several properties.
  • Visit the property before you commit to renting to make sure it is what you expected and that the room is what you really need and want.
  • Meet and talk to potential roommates. Can you see yourself living with them?
  • Does the lifestyle of those you will be living with meet your requirements for cleanliness, noise levels, house rules, room temperatures, smoking, pets, guest rules, shared bathroom, kitchen privileges, laundry facilities, parking, Internet, cable and other things that matter to you?
  • Is the property well maintained?
  • Are appliances, electrical sources, and plumbing in good working order?
  • Are common areas free of trash and in good condition? Are there any signs of rodents or insects?
  • Find out who is responsible for cleaning shared areas and how repairs and maintenance of the dwelling will be provided.
  • Will you have privacy and a way to protect your belongings? Can you lock your door? Who else has keys to your room? When can the landlord come into your room?
  • Never rent a room that has no safe and quick exit, such as a basement with no door or window to the outside.
  • The zoning ordinance limits how many people can live in a single residence. In general, no more than four unrelated people may live in one house.
  • Report overcrowding to the Department of Code Compliance at 703-324-1300. 
  • To find out about property maintenance, and fire and health codes, contact the Department of Code Compliance at 703-324-1300.

Get It in Writing

  • It is important to have a written lease agreement because a verbal agreement may be hard to enforce if there is a problem or disagreement. 
  • The lease should include the beginning and ending date of the tenancy, amount of rent, and all other costs such as utilities, cable or Internet.
  • This agreement should include all the rights and responsibilities of the tenant and landlord.
  • Read the lease and make sure you agree with all of the terms before you pay rent to the landlord or move into the room.

Additional Information:

lease agreements

security deposits

repair and maintenance issues

tenant-landlord laws

renter’s insurance

fair housing laws

mediation services

request a presentation


NEED ADVICE? Contact Us!
Office: 703-222-8435 (8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday)
Fax: 703-653-1384

Contact Fairfax County: Phone, Email or Twitter | Main Address: 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, VA 22035
Technical Questions: Web Administrator

ADA Accessibility | Website Accessibility
Awards | FOIA | Mobile | Using this Site | Web Disclaimer & Privacy Policy | Get Adobe Reader
Official site of the County of Fairfax, Virginia, © Copyright 2015

Website Feedback Website Feedback    Globe with various flags representing Web site language translations   Language Translations

Return to Graphic Version