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How to Approach Asking Your Adult Child to Pay Rent

Q: My son is graduating in June and has just informed us that he plans to work for a year or two before going to college. We have money set aside for his education, but now that he plans to work instead of going to school I think he should pay rent. My wife isn’t sure; can you help us solve this dilemma?

A: Living at home rent free is a privilege our teenagers enjoy for most of their young lives. As they get older, many start spreading their wings and making adult decisions. This is when parents often struggle with deciding if charging them rent is a reasonable next step. Every family is different though. Many parents believe that as long as their kids are going to school they can live at home rent free. However, just as many parents believe in charging adult children rent.

Benefits of Charging Your Child Rent

The real world isn’t easy, or cheap. Helping a child grow and become a financially independent adult is one of the greatest gifts we can give our children. Having your child pay rent can help them along this path, as well as teach them responsibility. It will increase their awareness of how much everything costs and the value of a good education.

How to Approach the Subject

Before sitting down with your son, consider:

  • The reasons why you want your son to pay rent. Helping your son understand your rationale and intent will make it easier for him to accept.
  • The amount of rent you intend to charge and what this is based upon. Don’t forget to take any existing financial obligations your son may have into account before setting a monthly amount. This is new territory for you and your son; keeping the amount reasonable will make it easier for him to adjust to.
  • Decide together when he will need to start paying you rent. Working with him will give him time to think it through and make it easier to accept.
  • What you intend to do with the rent he pays you. Some parents need these funds to offset household expenses; others set the funds aside for their children so they have money on hand to move out on their own later. Whatever your intentions, be open and honest with your son.

Facilitate Your Child's Financial Independence

Charging your son rent might mean that he starts planning to move out sooner than later. However, if your goal is to help him become financially independent, then supporting him as he makes his choices will help him soar.

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