Deciding to share your space with others, especially strangers, is a topic that deserves careful thought and should not be taken lightly. The saying, “You do not really know someone until you live with them” has been proven true, over and over again.
It is important to write down the pros and cons of having a roommate (s) and to brainstorm questions to ask so you can increase the chance of finding a good fit.
It is also important to be firm about what you can offer someone, in the terms of rental price, furnished or unfurnished room (s), how utilities are divided, chores, etc. It is understandable, if down the road, some terms of the agreement have to be adjusted, but if you start raising the rent within the first two to three months for no good reason or start taking furniture out of their room, you are going to come across as flaky and a user.
A good reason to raise the rent or utilities is if your roommate is using more power, water, or gas then you thought they would and the bill has jumped considerably. Show them the bill from when they first moved in until the present. A bad reason to raise the rent is because you took on more debt, your family is expanding, or you lost your job, and now you need/want more money and plan on taking it out of your roommate. People recognize greed when they see it and know when they are being used. If you operate this way, you will have a hard time finding and keeping dependable, respectful roommates. Most people agree to a shared living space that benefits all parties, not so they can be used, taken advantage of, and abused.
Pros and Cons List
To start your list:
Pros- Shared expenses, companionship, and division of chores.
Cons- Loss of privacy, certain inconveniences like having to wait your turn for the bathroom or kitchen, and putting up with others annoying habits.
Questions to ask:
Always ask for at least three references, proof of income, and what might show up on a criminal background check. Tell them you will complete a background check, whether you plan to or not. People are less likely to lie if they feel there is a chance they will be exposed. Ask about smoking, drinking, drugs, and weapons usage and paraphernalia. Allergies and pets, yours and/or theirs, are also essential issues to discuss.
If you have firm, set rules in your house like no pets, guns, parties, or smoking, make sure potential roommates know and understand these rules are not debatable and may be grounds for eviction.
Make sure you have a written contract that spells out the basic agreements and behavior for tenancy. Document behaviors that support non-compliance with written contract so if you end up in court, you have your evidence, not just hearsay.
The most important questions you should ask yourself before finding a roommate are:
“Can you live with someone else who is not a friend or family member?” “Do you have a personality and/or personal habits that mesh well with others when living in a shared space?”