Many people opt to have a roommate because the cost of living is expensive in many areas. Of course, living alone has plenty of benefits, but many people are not lucky enough to enjoy that luxury.
Cities with various high-quality jobs and a thriving economy require their residents to pay a good chunk of their income in exchange for living in that booming area. This is probably what brought you here, searching for ways to rent with a roommate and how to compare home insurance policies when you have a roommate.
As a result of people choosing a high-quality city lifestyle, the occurrence of tenants having roommates has grown more common. Thus far, having a roommate can have a negative connotation, but if done correctly, your experience does not have to be one of the bad encounters.
Your Roommate Dealbreakers
Before you start considering potential roommates, you need first to write out what you absolutely cannot live with. After you have completed that list, take some time away from it, then come back and see if there is anything on your list that you are willing to compromise.
Once you have removed the things you are willing to compromise from the list, you can now use this list to decide if you can be roommates with a specific person.
Here is a list of things you should consider when making your list of deal-breakers:
- Your potential roommate’s credit score
- Your potential roommate’s financial habits
- Your potential roommate’s personal/criminal history
- Your cleaning preferences
- How often you prefer guests to be there
- Whether or not you will throw parties or small gatherings
- Your noise-level preferences
- If you will allow pets or not
- What kind of relationship you want with the roommate
- If you will split the cost of furniture (or anything else used in the house)
Once you have a substantial list of your deal-breakers, you can begin your search for an ideal roommate. Even if you have the world’s greatest best-friend as a roommate, if that person has qualities that are the same as your deal breakers, your experience will probably be disastrous.
The last place you want to find yourself is researching how to sue someone in court without a lawyer because your best friend checked every list on your dealbreaker.
Present Your Lease Options to Your Roommate
When you rent a property with one or more other people, you and those other people are protected by specific tenant rights after a lease is signed.
For example, the NYC Housing Preservation and Development department states that “in New York City, tenants have many rights relating to the safety and quality of their housing.”
Their tenants can expect to reside in a “safe, well-maintained building” and “laws protect tenants from harassment and discrimination.” So once a lease is signed, roommates can be confident that the court will back them with certain disputes.
The type of lease you and your roommate opt for may differ from others because of various circumstances and needs that people have. However, you need to make sure that you explore all your options to make sure your specific needs are covered.
Co-Signing a Lease with Your Roommate
Many landlords offer applications that give a tenant an option to include a co-signer or a co-borrower. This type of lease creates a joint-tenancy or co-tenancy agreement where everyone is responsible for making rent payments and maintaining the rental home.
This option is favorable with those who prefer not to manage their roommate’s money. This route ensures that your roommate has a direct connection to the landlord, and you don’t have to be a middle man.
Though the landlord identifies you and your roommate as both individuals bearing the responsibility of the lease agreement, you will still be held accountable for money owed if your roommate decides to leave early or without notice.
The same applies to the fees your roommate accumulates from failing to deal with neighbor disputes and any damage your roommate caused within the apartment.
Signing Your Individual Lease
Individual lease agreements are the most common lease agreements that are used when having a roommate. These agreements mean that each tenant has their own lease agreement with the landlord. This option takes the responsibility of the roommate’s actions off of you as the primary tenant. You would not have to worry about lease violations, disputes, lease-breaking, and significant damage caused by other tenants.
The downside with this type of lease is that those who offer it are the ones who choose your roommate. If the landlord allows you to have a say in your roommate, your opinion more than likely will not be a priority.
After all, the landlord’s ultimate goal is to keep money flowing in, so the landlord will be the final decision-maker.
Subletting with Your Roommate
Subletting is the process of obtaining a lease with a landlord and then being a landlord to another person who is sleeping in a specific area of that same rental unit.
Homeowners can even mimic this process if the owner of a property (with or without a mortgage) rents out a room to someone while they actively live there.
What to Do After You Have a Roommate
No matter the lease option you choose to use, if you are creating agreements with your tenant about chores, household bills like renters insurance, groceries, and other similar things, those are matters between you two and not your landlord.
If you were to create a roommate agreement outside of your lease selection, you could have a legally-binding contract that details the rights and responsibilities for each tenant and addresses any other potential issues.
To better cover all concerns, the agreement can even outline the rules about groceries, overnight guests, television usage, and how other household expenses will be split.
Having this agreement notarized at the time of signing makes it legally binding and enforceable by the court.
Here are other things to consider when drafting your roommate agreement:
- Set the ground rules about pets, cleanliness, etc.
- Detail who will be responsible for paying what
- Outline all roommates’ work schedules
- Describe how property/personal items are identified
- Create a chore schedule
- Create a flexible outline about having company
- Outline what steps to take after the home is broken into (will there be individual rental insurance?)
- Outline the best form of communication between roommates
Communication is Key to Having a Good Roommate
The most important thing to remember when looking into having a roommate is to do your best to keep open communication between all parties involved. Everyone should know what is covered by the lease agreement as well as any informal agreements made.
Keep these tips in mind when you’re considering if getting a roommate is the right thing to do for your personal situation, and you will be better prepared in order to make sure you are not taken advantage of.