Renting with one or more roommates is a great way to score an appealing apartment or house at a relatively low price. When roommates are already friends, there's a degree of trust and you probably share a similar social circle, meaning you may already know one another's significant others and pals. Living with roommates is also a great way to save for a goalâ€”a new car, a home purchase, erasing student loans. But living with others carries it's challenges, too. Before moving in with one or more friends, discuss the following topics:
Who's on the lease? Generally, it makes sense for all renters to sign the lease, and most landlords will require this. This means all renters will need to fill out a rental application and account for their credit scores and background checks. If only one person will control the lease, he or she is ultimately responsible for making the monthly payments: This can be a difficult position if housemates display irresponsibility, fall on hard times, or chronically pay late, and if a landlord or management company initiates collection or other activity for back rent the leaseholder is solely responsible. That's why it's best for all renters to share the lease.
How will you share expenses? Aside from the lease, you may share cable, Internet, Netflix, utilities, newspaper subscriptions, and other expenses. Sit down and discuss which services are universally necessary (utilities) versus applicable to only a few of you (newspaper), and divide accounts accordingly. Keep in mind that, as with the lease, if your name is on the account, you're responsible for paying it.
How will you share the space? Does one renter want to pay a premium for a bigger bedroom? Does one like to stay up late, while another goes to bed early and rises with the sun? Will you divide chores, and, if so, who handles what? What are rules on the use of the kitchen and shared appliances? Discuss your schedules and habits and set fair "house rules" for quiet hours, cupboard real estate, use of laundry facilities and parking, etc., to avoid quarrels.
What happens if someone wants to move before the lease runs out? This is a common scenario among roommates. If you're young and changing jobs, or in college and suddenly decide to do a semester abroad, chances are you may need flexibility for your living arrangements. If one renter decides to move and the other wants to stay, is the departing renter responsible for finding a replacement roommate? Will you both approach the landlord about ending the lease early? Can you legally sublet to a new tenant for the duration of the lease, or will the departing renter be responsible for paying the remaining time?
Will you pay for renters insurance? Keep in mind that all renters need to include their names on insurance policies for them to effectively cover an apartment or house's contents.