It is important you take the time to find a roommate(s) that will make living in your new rental property as enjoyable as possible. Finding a compatible roommate(s) is equally as important as finding that perfect rental property.
Talk to your prospective roommate(s) and discuss each other's expectations regarding living together. Sign a roommate(s) agreement regarding topics and issues listed below:
• Will there be specific quiet study hours?
• Will everyone share the cost of food or shop individually and have a hands-off policy?
• Who is responsible for washing dishes, throwing out the garbage, cleaning the rental unit, etc.?
• Will overnight guests be permitted? If so, what are the stipulations?
• What temperature should the thermostat be set at - winter and summer?
Discuss the Lease Terms
Regardless of whether or not you are living in the rental property all year round, you are responsible for paying your rent on time for the entire lease term. Make sure you and your roommate(s) are aware of one another's plans. You all should be in agreement on items such as:
Will each roommate be responsible for paying a share of the utilities, even if he/she is not residing in the property?
If a roommate wants to find a replacement for his/her room and the landlord permits this, is everyone comfortable with the arrangement?
Will the current roommates have a say in selecting the new/temporary roommate?
Some landlords require rent to be paid with one check, so make sure to create an agreement on how and who will pay the rent each month.
Unforeseen Circumstances and Dealing with Household Conflict
You can't predict everything in life, but you can certainly plan for the future. For example, a roommate may run into financial difficulties and be forced to move out without paying rent. This may leave the financial burden on you and the remaining roommate(s). Therefore, it is best to decide how the household will deal with a situation such as this, to help resolve potential conflict in the future.
It's nearly impossible to discuss every scenario that may come up during the lease term, but you can generally outline resolution procedures to help if and when conflict arises. For example, you and your roommate(s) can establish house meetings and a voting system to resolve problems. If you need another person's prospective, you can contact Tim Lewis, Director of Commuter Affairs, at 412.396.6660. He would be happy to talk with you.