Renting? Tips on Choosing Your Roommates Wisely

When it comes to renting a place to live, tenants often find it easy to team up with a friend or roommate to share the cost of rent and expenses as well as have someone to talk with in the downtime spent at home.

Assuming that you have a full time job and no social life, you spend approximately 128 hours per week in your home.  Of those 128 hours, 56 are probably spent sleeping, leaving you with 72 hours of downtime spent in your home cooking, cleaning, watching television, surfing the Internet or just killing time chatting with your roommate.

Life is good until you find yourself at odds with your roomie because they won’t pay their share of the expenses.  Or maybe they pay their part of the rent late all of the time, hurting your good credit rating.  Or perhaps they are just downright annoying and leave a mess everywhere in the house.  This can leave you frustrated and ready to pack up and leave.  However, you need to think it through before you throw in the towel.

There are a few ways to avoid the roommate fallout if you plan ahead.

  • First, write out a pros and cons list of having a roommate vs. living alone.
  • If you decide to go ahead with pursuing a joint lease, then have a heart-to-heart chat with your potential roommate about how the bills will be paid and when.  Discuss who will take care of what household responsibilities and have a general understanding BEFORE signing the lease.
  • And last, understand that your landlord is not your referee, mediator, judge or jury if you end up having a dispute with your roommate.  Keep in mind that if you do have a parting of the ways, you may still be liable for the remainder of the lease and fulfilling the terms.  This includes any damages that are done to the property, whether or not you lived there.  If your name is still on the lease, you are still responsible for the rent being paid on time and the property being taken care of.

It may be best if you just suck it up and call a truce with your roommate until the lease is up.  After all, part of the security deposit refund is probably on the line and 72 hours of downtime a week is a lot of time.

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Jessica Hickok is a REALTOR® Broker and Property Manager/Landlord with Dizmang Properties, Inc. ( in Springfield, Missouri. She can also be found on Twitter as @SugarCube.

Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.