Moving in with a roommate has many benefits, like sharing financial responsibilities, having an added feeling of safety and companionship. A roommate may allow you to rent a larger place or afford a more desirable part of town. Whether you are moving in with a best friend or someone you found through an online roommate search, there are many important factors to consider. Perhaps the most crucial one to remember is to put everything in writing. Even day-to-day things could cause disagreements, so if you lay out all of your “house rules” ahead of time, you can avoid unnecessary conflicts in the future. Below are ten tips that you may find helpful.
It’s who you know. If you are in the initial stages of searching for a roommate, consider using a roommate finder service. You can find many of these companies online, and one of the many benefits is that much of the legwork is already done for you. You can be automatically matched up with someone who has similar needs (wants to begin a lease at the same time, is a non-smoker, needs to live in a particular area, etc.).
Also, a background check should have already been completed for each candidate. In the event that you find a potential roommate on your own, be sure to do an internet search under the person’s name. You never know if you’ll find that you have a mutual friend in common when you look him or her up on a social networking site.
-Create a rental agreement. Though both of your names should be on your official lease, it’s smart to have a separate document between the roommates clearly spelling out that you are each liable for the rent throughout the term of your lease. Also, determine how much notice you each must give should one of you needs to leave.
-Splitting the utilities. Decide whether you will divide each utility equally or if there is some other division that might make sense. For example, if one of you wants a land line, and the other only uses his or her cell, it doesn’t make sense for both roommates to share this expense. It is also a good idea for each roommate to have at least one utility in his or her name.
-Grocery shopping and household chores. This may sound petty, but it is best to decide whether the groceries and paper products will be shared or whether you will each shop for yourselves. Lastly, keeping your place clean is not a fun job for anyone, but be sure to map out who is responsible for cleaning the common areas when.
-Variable rental expenses. Though you are each equally responsible for the rent in your landlord’s eyes, you may come up with some more creative ways to divide the rent based on who’s bedroom is larger, who has his or her own bathroom, etc.
-Pets. Neither of you may be pet owners when you begin sharing a residence, but that could change over time. Be up front if you have a strong feeling against pets or have an animal allergy. This could cause huge problems down the road if one of you wants a pet during the term of your lease.
-Is smoking allowed? Be sure to set clear guidelines when it comes to smoking inside your place.
-Guests. Make a pact to be considerate of one another when having friends over for a meal or for the week. Since your residence belongs to both of you, it is wise to at least inform one another when you are planning to have people over.
-Division of joint property. It is not uncommon for roommates to make large purchases together, like appliances or furniture. Decide ahead of time how you will go about splitting these up if you part ways. Perhaps one roommate will buy another out for a previously discussed cost. Maybe you can figure out a way to divide these possessions equally among you. The both of you should also look into splitting renters insurance in case of fire, flood or theft.
-Plan your moving day. Assuming you and your perspective roommate are a match, map out your moving day together. Who gets picks up the keys? Which of you will wait around for the moving company or for the cable company to arrive?
A roommate relationship can be wonderful and harmonious as long as you are each clear about your expectations up front.