Need help finding a roommate? Check the posts on the BG News Housing Guide.
Choosing a Roommate
Choosing a compatible and responsible roommate is as important as choosing the apartment in which you will live. This is a BIG decision and needs to be given careful consideration. There are legal, financial, and personal implications that affect people living together. Even if your best friend appears to be the perfect roommate, she or he may not live up to your expectations. If you shared a room in the dorms you already know that the person you live with can make your life fun or miserable. Living with someone off-campus can be more complicated because you will have financial and legal responsibilities to each other and no residence hall coordinator to help negotiate the rough spots. Enter into a lease with someone only after you have a clear understanding of each other’s expectations, and then remember to respect those expectations once you are living together.
Joint and Several Liability
Each tenant is individually responsible for all of the rent and all of the damages regardless of how the tenants have divided up the rent between themselves and regardless of who actually causes the damage. If one roommate does not pay the rent, the other roommates are liable for payment of that person’s share. Nonpayment of a portion of the rent will put ALL roommates in jeopardy of being evicted. It is up to the other tenants, not the landlord, to collect from the non-paying tenant.
Roommate Rental Agreement
One way to get some of the basic issues of sharing an apartment clarified is to create a rental agreement with your roommate/s. The purpose of a rental agreement is to set up basic guidelines at the beginning of a lease that determine the responsibilities of all roommates. You can keep disagreements to a minimum if each tenant understands his/her basic responsibilities. It is best if all roommates have signed and dated copies of the agreement.
While a roommate agreement is not binding on the landlord, it is binding on the tenants who sign it. A roommate agreement should include the following:
- The agreed dollar amount that each tenant is responsible to pay for rent. Rent may be split equally or may vary if the size and convenience of bedrooms differ.
- How utility bills will be paid and who will pay them.
- Responsibility for the security deposit or how it will be divided
- How repairs for any damage to the property will be taken care of as well as how it will be paid.
- Expectations regarding guests, academics, and study time.