Sharing a rental property, whether it is an apartment or a house, can be either a dream come true or a living nightmare. There are many advantages to having a roommate; however, there are also disadvantages. When these disadvantages are severe they can result in an uncomfortable living environment in some situations and even a dangerous living environment in other situations. There are a couple of ways a renter can protect themselves when sharing their rental property with a roommate. This includes screening the potential roommate carefully and including the roommate on the rental agreement.
The Advantages and Disadvantages to Having a Roommate
Having a roommate can certainly be advantageous in some situations. The primary advantage is financial. Renters who opt to have a roommate, essentially cut their rent in half if they opt to have one roommate or in thirds if they opt to have two roommates. This is ideal for renters who would like to have a larger apartment but would not be able to afford such an apartment without the assistance of a roommate.
Another advantage to having a roommate is the opportunity to share household responsibilities with the roommate. Of course this is only an advantage when the roommate is willing to do his share of the work on a regular basis. If this is not the case, it may result in a huge disadvantage which will be covered briefly in the section on disadvantages.
One of the most significant disadvantages to having a roommate is a lack of privacy. Those who live alone do not ever have to worry about not having time to themselves while they are in their apartment. However, when a renter has a roommate, there is no guarantee the renter will ever have any time to himself while he is in the apartment.
Another disadvantage to having a roommate is the distribution of household responsibilities may not always be even. Roommates should have a discussion regarding the household responsibilities such as cleaning the common areas but there is always the possibility that one roommate may not do his share of the work. When this happens it can create conflict and resentment among the roommates. This conflict can make the living situation quite uncomfortable.
Select a Compatible Roommate
When selecting a roommate, the renter should be careful to select a compatible roommate. In the previous section we discussed how conflicts can arise when one roommate does not do his share of the cleaning. However, incompatible cleaning styles are only a small portion of the compatibility issues roommates may face. One important issue is entertaining. If one roommate has visitors at the apartment often, it can cause problems if the other roommate is not comfortable with this.
Even the times in which the roommates normally sleep can cause problems. If one roommate goes to bed early and wakes up at 4:00 am, it can be problematic if the other roommate likes to stay up late and not wake up until 9:00 am. In this case the roommates may not only begin to get on each other’s nerves but they may also begin to adversely affect the other’s job or social life.
Include the Roommate on the Rental Agreement
Finally, renters should be sure to include their roommate or roommates on the rental agreement. This is very important because it helps to protect all of the roommates. Inclusion of all of the roommates prevents one roommate from being able to ask another to leave unjustly. This may occur when conflicts arise but inclusion on the rental agreement ensures each of the roommates has a right to live on the property. Placing each of the roommates’ names on the rental agreement also prevents one roommate from not making their rent payments in a timely manner. It will also help to prevent one roommate from being held legally responsible for not paying the rent on time by the leasing agent.