Choosing a Roommate
When you enter into a legal agreement with roommates, you have committed yourself to working extensively with those roommates for the duration of the lease. It is important that you know you can work with them and that they will respectfully uphold their end of the lease.
Remember, almost all leases are jointly and severally liable. THIS MEANS THAT IF YOUR ROOMMATES DEFAULT ON RENT, YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR COVERING THEIR SHARE! If that happens, you may sue your roommates for the rent they owe, but you first have to pay the landlord for their share. Don’t room with people you don’t trust to pay!
To help avoid issues with your roommates, here are a few qualities to look for:
- Sometimes people have different standards of living; be certain you know these differences and can live with them for the lease term. One way to find out is by asking questions, even if your roommate is someone you consider a friend, it never hurts to ask. Here are a few questions we suggest:
- What do you consider to be good and bad qualities of a roommate?
- How much do you drink/party?
- How often and when are boyfriends or girlfriends allowed to come over?
- What types of problems have you had with previous roommates?
- How clean are you?
- How often are you home?
Remember, there are no right or wrong answers to these questions, but the more answers you have in common, the more likely you are to get along as roommates.
- Make certain they pay their bills on time. If they do not pay their rent and utility payments on time, this can cause you some serious legal issues, not to mention destroy friendships. One tool that can help you avoid these issues is simplebills.com. You and your roommates contract with Simple Bills and they contract with your utility companies, so they split the payments amongst you and you don’t have to worry about remembering to pay your roommates.
- Make certain they are respectful of the property. If they have a history of causing extensive damage or just not maintaining the property they live in, you may be responsible for their negligence.
Working with a Roommate
After you decide whom you would like to live with, discussing how your household will run can help avoid conflict in the future.
- Discuss who is in charge of paying rent and utilities- when payments are due and how they are to be handled. Again, Simple Bills is a great resource to help with this conversation.
- Discuss the option of subleasing if you get a summer internship - what are the other roommates' requirements.
- If you leave for the summer, do you expect one another to pay utilities?
- What about boyfriends/girlfriends, friends, and parties? Do you want them to be in the house, how often, and how late?
- How are chores handled, and food?
We know you probably rent with friends and think this is unnecessary, but sometimes it is helpful to write all this down and to sign it. This helps get everyone on the same page and sets some parameters for the house. E-mail the director of Off-Campus Housing Support for sample roommate agreements if you are interested.
If you are having relational issues with your roommate, if you are not getting along or you are having problems communicating with one another, we suggest contacting the Assistant Dean of Student Life. The Assistant Deans of Student Life are trained to work as advocates for students, and to assist students in resolving issues with one another. They can be contacted at 785-532-6432.
If you are having contractual or financial issues with your roommate, make an appointment with the Director of Off-Campus Housing Support.