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Renting With Roommates Tips

Read these 22 Renting With Roommates Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Room Mates tips and hundreds of other topics.

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Split the Bill Tip: Before you begin your roommate search, consider how you want to split expenses. Some people decide to divide only the cost of rent, while others divide food, utilities, and other household expenses. By deciding such things in advance, you can give potential roommates a clear view of your expectations.

What should I know about sharing an apartment with a roommate?

Sharing an Apartment with a Roommate

Sharing an apartment with a roommate has many benefits, but it can also be problematic if not managed correctly. Before moving in with a roommate or allowing a roommate to move in with you, there should be an honest discussion about a number of different aspects of living together.

Some of the aspects of living together which can cause problems include cleaning of common areas, accounting for food items, having visitors to the apartment and quiet hours. In many cases, these areas will not be a cause for concern unless the roommates have very different opinions on these matters. Therefore, it is important to discuss these issues before they become problems. Bathrooms, kitchens and family rooms are typically common areas in an apartment. If the roommates will share these rooms, they should also share the responsibility for keeping these rooms clean.

Roommates also typically share a refrigerator. Some roommates shop together for groceries while others prefer to shop separately and consume only what they purchase. Understanding and agreeing upon these expectations will help to avoid conflict.

Visitors to the apartment and quiet hours can also be a cause for concern in a roommate situation. If one of the roommates has frequent visitors or keeps odd hours this can result in resentment by the other roommate. Setting ground rules for when visitors can be present and when the apartment must be relatively quiet is a good idea in these situations. Roommates who have schedules which do not match may not be ideal partners for sharing an apartment. Specifically if one roommate works nights and sleeps during the day this can cause problems if the other roommate works traditional hours.

Should I talk to potential roommates about sleeping habits?

Bedtime Bliss

What kind of a sleeper are you? Do you like to go to bed early or are you more of a night owl? Are you a light sleeper or able to snooze through anything short of an explosion? These things are important to consider as you search for an apartment roommate. Discuss your preferences and habits with potential roommates before you make a choice.

Sleeping habits are particularly important in an apartment. Apartments tend to offer less overall space than most homes. Often, walls are thin and televisions, music, and even friendly chats can echo down the hall to disturb others. To avoid conflict, choose an apartment roommate with sleeping habits similar to yours or start looking into soundproofing.

Should I choose a friend as a roommate?

Friends or Not?

You've found the perfect rental and roommate hunting is your next step. Be careful considering friends as roommates. Even the best of friendships can perish as the result of a roommate arrangement gone bad.

Before deciding to ask a friend to be your roommate, consider whether or not your friend is reliable and pays bills on time. Will he or she be respectful of your wishes? Do you share the same or similar living habits and expectations? Will you feel comfortable asking for your friend's portion of the rent, even if he or she is struggling with finances? If the answer to these questions is no, choose someone else for an optimal rental and roommate arrangement.

Should I ask my roommate for a deposit?

Get Money Down

Paying your rent on time, every time is of extreme importance. Landlords can and do evict tenants who fail to pay. In most cases, evictions become a part of a person's credit history file and can make renting a new property much more difficult. Depending on the details of your lease, you could be held responsible for the entire rent if your roomate fails to pay.

Once you've found a person you'd like as a roomate, be sure to ask for a deposit. Depending on the laws in your area, you may want to ask for a deposit equal to one or two times the monthly amount of your roommate's rent. In the event that your roomate loses his or her job or moves out without notice, you can use that deposit money to avoid being evicted.

Should I choose another neatnik?

Neatness Counts

Be honest with potential roommates about your level of housekeeping skill. Are you a Martha Stewart type or more carefree? If you're a neatnik, you may drive a messy roommate crazy and vice versa. Talk this out with your roomate before you move in.

Though it's not necessary to choose a roommate who shares a love for your level of tidiness, doing so may make matters more comfortable. However, if you and your roommate are polar opposites when it comes to neatness, laying some simple ground rules may help to keep things tolerable. For example, you and your roommate may agree to keep one or two rooms neat and leave the rest of the rental looking lived-in.

How should I split expenses with a roomate?

Split the Bill

With living expenses on the rise, many individuals find themselves looking for ways to make ends meet. Taking on a roommate can be a good way to cut your household expenses. A roommate can help you to pay your rent or mortgage, freeing up more of your income for other, more exciting things.

Should I find a roommate or a rental first?

What Comes First?

Finding the right apartment rental and roommate can be challenging. You may find the perfect rent and have difficulty finding someone to help you to pay the rent. In such a situation, you may be tempted to rent the apartment on your own now and look for a roommate later.

It is not imperative that secure a great rental and roommate at the same time. However, if you plan to rent on your own while looking for a roommate, make sure you can afford to carry the rent and bills all on your own. You need to be prepared in case your roommate search takes longer than you expect. If you can't pay the bills in the meantime, you'll be risking eviction. In most cases, it's simply not worth the risk.

Should I ask potential apartment roommates about pets?

Dog Gone

Be sure to ask about pets when looking for an apartment roommate. Problems can arise if the roommate you choose has pets to which you are allergic. You don't want information like this to come as a surprise on move-in day. Let potential roommates know about any pets you own as well.

Many apartments don't allow pets at all. Read the terms of your lease to determine what pets, if any, are allowed. Don't break pet rules, even for the most compatible apartment roommate. Breaking the rules of your lease can have serious consequences.

Should I do roommate reference checks?

Have References?

Many people feel they are good judges of character. As such, they often make decisions about others without checking references. If the first impression is good, they don't feel the need to look further. Don't fall into this trap. You're looking for someone to share the costs of living with, but also someone who will become a trusted friend and living mate. Ask potential roommates for references and check them thoroughly. You may uncover information that could save you from big trouble down the line.

Should I choose a roomate who's very different from me?

Choose the Perfect Roommate

It's said that opposites attract, but that's not always the case when it comes to roommates. Sometimes roommates who are too different simply get on each other's nerves. Think carefully before you choose a roommate. Butting heads with another person can make home seem anything but homey.

Putting time and thought into considering the type of person you want for a roommate could save you frustration in the future. Consider whether you want a smoker or non-smoker, carefree party person, or someone more mellow. Be upfront with potential roommates during the interview process. Be clear about what you desire in a roommate and where you are willing to compromise.

What are the legal ramifications of having a roommate?

Understanding the Law when You Have Roommates

It is imperative for you to understand the law when you have roommates. This is important because failure to do so can have serious consequences. Specifically your living situation could be jeopardized by the actions of your roommate. It is always important to have the name of all residents of the housing unit listed on the rental agreement. This is important because it can help to protect you if your roommate is not fulfilling the obligations of the rental agreement or is violating the law.

When your roommates do not pay their portion of the rent, it can have serious consequences for you. In these case you may still be evicted because the rent was not paid completely. You should work with your roommates to ensure their portion of the rent is being paid. The easiest way to do this is to collect the money for the rent and pay the entire portion yourself.

You roommate may jeopardize his living situation by violating the law. You will not likely be held accountable in these instances unless you participated in the illegal activities. However, even if you are not held accountable for these actions, the situation can affect you adversely. Specifically, if your roommate is forced to vacate the housing unit, you will have to find another way to cover his portion of the rent. If you cannot find another roommate and cannot afford to pay the additional portion you may have to break your rental agreement.

Is it hard to find an apartment when you already have a roommate?

Searching for an Apartment with Roommates

While many people wind up with roommates because they have an extra room in their apartment and are seeking assistance with rent there are others who already have a potential roommate and are looking for an apartment with a roommate. When seeking an apartment with a potential roommate it is important to consider a number of factors including size and price of apartment and credit history.

Ideally, if you are looking for an apartment you and your roommate will be available to view available apartments. This is important because it will help to prevent one of the roommates for being responsible for finding options and selecting an apartment. If both roommates are available to participate in the apartment search, this is less potential for problems resulting from one roommate not liking the apartment. The roommates can search together to ensure they select an apartment which is the appropriate size, within the desired price range, located ideally and aesthetically appealing to both roommates.

When searching for an apartment with a roommate, it is also important to remember you will both likely be required to provide credit information. This is because you will both be financially responsible for paying the rent. If your roommate does not have a solid credit history or job it may affect your ability to secure an apartment.

What can I do if I can’t resolve a conflict with my roommate?

Conflict Resolution for Roommates

Conflicts are inevitable in any shared living situation. While some roommate squabbles may be relatively benign such as arguments over who left crumbs on the counter and who drank the last of the milk, some conflicts between roommates can become more serious. Issues such as failure to pay rent, frequent late night guests and disrespect can result in conflicts which are significantly more difficult to resolve. In these instances mediation may be worthwhile and breaking the rental agreement may also be necessary.

As long as roommates do not feel threatened, it is always a good idea to attempt to resolve conflicts without the intervention of a third party. However, in cases where the roommates are not willing to compromise or are not able to understand their roommate's viewpoint a neutral mediator can help to facilitate a conflict resolution. A mediator will likely speak to each of the roommates individually to assess the situations and then oversee a meeting with all of the roommates present. During this meeting the mediator will ask questions, offer comments and attempt to clarify his understanding of the conflict. The mediator can also offer potential solutions.

In the event that mediation is unsuccessful it may be in the best interest for one of the roommates to vacate the housing unit. This can be a difficult situation but many roommates will find this is the only viable solution to the problem. Deciding which roommate will move out and how the rent will be covered until the roommate can be replaced will have to be determined. Legal counsel may be required to make these determinations.

How can I keep my roommate situation running smoothly?

Schedule Roommate Meetings Regularly

Regularly scheduled roommate meetings can help to avoid conflicts or quickly resolve conflicts if they develop. Roommate living situations are notoriously problematic. Conflicts tend to arise in all types of roommate situations. This includes friends who decide to live together as well as strangers who meet online or through an advertisement and enter a rental agreement together. Roommates tend to fight over a number of different issues. Some of these issues include paying rent, visitors, cleaning and noise levels.

Roommate meetings do not have to be held very often. In fact meeting held too frequently can result in resentment among the roommates. Monthly meetings are usually sufficient. These meetings can be supplemented with interim meetings if issues which need to be dealt with immediately arise between regularly scheduled meetings. Monthly meetings provide the roommate with sufficient time between meetings to evaluate whether or not progress has been made since the last meeting on issues discussed during the meetings. It also provides a an opportunity for roommates to discuss time sensitive issues which arise during the course of the rental agreement.

How can I be safe when selecting roommates?

Exercise Caution when Selecting Roommates

Caution should always be exercised when selecting roommates. This is especially important when the potential roommate is a stranger or acquaintance as opposed to a known friend. Some of the precautions you can take when selecting a roommate include arranging initial meetings in public locations, verifying references and even performing a background check.

When meeting a potential roommate for the first time it is ideal to have this meeting in a public location such as a coffee shop. This will help to discourage those who have malicious intent and are not legitimately looking for a roommate. A public location will help to put you at ease by minimizing the risk for foul play.

It is also extremely important to verify references when selecting a roommate. Call each reference and speak to them about the individual you are considering. If the reference is a previous roommate, ask for specific information about living with the individual. This will help you to make an informed decision.

Finally, it may be worthwhile to pay for a background check before selecting a roommate. There are many companies which offer this service for a fee. Information such as previous convictions, work history and even credit information may be obtained through this background check.

How should I present myself when interviewing potential roommates?

Be Honest with Your Roommate and Yourself

It is important to be honest about your expectations as well as your personal characteristics when seeking a roommate. Before you even begin the search for a roommate you should carefully evaluate what you are looking for in a roommate. You should consider factors such as gender, race, age, sexual orientation, personal habits, tidiness, leisure activities and sleeping patterns. It is important to evaluate yourself carefully and build a list of your attributes as well as the attributes you are seeking in a potential roommate.

As you meet with potential roommates you should keep your list of attributes in mind. During the interview, ask questions to determine whether or not the prospective roommate will be an ideal match. It is also extremely important to be honest about yourself during this interview. This is important because the individual you are interviewing is also trying to determine if you are a suitable match for him. It is not possible to make this determination without accurate information. Therefore, if you tell the other person you do not smoke, and they are allergic to smoke, they will likely be disappointed if they move in and find out you were dishonest. They may also be eligible to break the rental agreement in this situation.

Should I screen potential roomates by phone?

Listen Carefully

Often, you can tell a lot about a person from a simple phone call. The same goes for potential roommates. As such, it makes sense to screen potential roomates by phone before you meet with them in person.

Prepare a list of questions to ask potential roommates and keep your list by the phone as you set up interviews. Pay attention to voice tones and your first impression of the person on the line. If you don't feel comfortable with the person on the phone, don't bother setting up a face-to-face meeting.

Is it important to choose roommates with whom I want to party?

Compatibilty Rules

When it comes to searching for roommates, you may think it imperative to choose roommates you like. While liking your roommates is a plus, it is not necessary for a comfortable roommate arrangement. Instead, look for roommates with whom you are compatible.

There is a vast difference between getting along with someone and being able to live with them. You can love partying with a friend, yet hate the way she leaves her dirty clothes on the kitchen table. Likewise, you may want to hang out with your buddy, but not want to deal with his disgusting bathroom habits. Choosing roomates based on compatibility, rather than liability can ensure your living arrangement is and remains comfortable.

How will my landlord view my roommate?

Check Your Lease

A roommate may help you to save on living expenses, but may not please your landlord. Some landlords frown upon taking on a roommate, while others couldn't care less. Some will allow a roommate as long as you provide certain information about the person you choose.

Read the terms of your lease to determine your landlord's rules for roomates. Some leases may be silent on this issue. If your landlord includes rules applicable to roommates in your lease, be sure to follow the rules completely. In some locations, failure to follow a lease in its entirety could lead to eviction.

Should I set criteria for selecting a roommate?

Criteria for Potential Roommates

Developing a set list of criteria before selecting a roommate can help to make the process much simpler. This list can be used to interview potential roommates and quickly eliminate those who are not likely to be good fits for a shared living situation. Creating this list does not have to be difficult. The individual simply has to compile a list of qualities which are important to him and prioritize this list.

Examples of some of the criteria you may want to consider in selecting roommates may include:

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Race
  • Religious Affiliation
  • Political Affiliation
  • Working Hours
  • Leisure Activities
  • Salary
  • Taste in Music
  • Smoking
  • Pets
  • Children
  • Cleaning Ethic
  • Personal Hygiene

Some or all of the above criteria may be important to you in selecting a roommate. Determine which, if any, are important and then decide which criteria are most important. For example, if you are adamant about having a roommate of the same gender who does not smoke you might want to put gender and smoking at the top of the list. However, if you prefer a roommate who participates in the same types of leisure activities as you but would not want to rule out a roommate who does not share these interests you may put this item lower on your list.

What should be included on a chore lists for roommates?

Chore List for Roommates

Arguments over household chores are one of the most common causes of concern in a shared living situation. Roommates may argue over who is responsible for certain chores and may also argue over whether or not chores are being completed in a satisfactory manner. One of the easiest ways to avoid these arguments is to create a chore list for each of the roommates and to have the roommates cross of each chore as it is completed.

To create a chore list for roommates, it is important to make one master list of all of the necessary chores. This list can then be divided up equally in terms of number of chores as well as difficulty among the roommates. The roommates should be responsible for completing these chores for a specific time period and after this time period the roommates can trade lists so they are not always performing the same chores.

The necessary chores in a roommate situation which will depend on the type of housing unit. For example, mowing the lawn will be necessary when roommates are sharing a house but not necessary in an apartment living situation. The list below contains some of the common chores which apply to apartment living:

  • Cleaning the kitchen
  • Cleaning the bathroom
  • Cleaning the living room
  • Taking out the trash
  • Cleaning out the refrigerator
  • Washing blinds and window
  • Bringing in mail

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Guru Spotlight
Christina Chan