If you’re thinking about sharing an apartment with someone, whether that’s a new roommate, a friend, or your significant other, things must be going well with the relationship. But it’s not always as simple as “you bring your couch, I’ll bring my microwave,” and there are many things to consider.
Do the Paperwork
If you’re renting an apartment together, everyone who lives there should have their name on the lease. This is a legal requirement for most landlords, and protects everyone in the long run. For example, if your roommate or significant other causes damage but is not on the lease, you will be held responsible.
If you’re moving into someone else’s place, it may seem easier not to change the lease. It is better to change the lease for everyone’s protection, mainly because the leaseholder can make decisions that affect all the residents, and only the leaseholder needs to be notified of changes. You wouldn’t want the leaseholder to be able to change the locks or give notice to vacate without telling you!
Remember though, if one person moves out or fails to uphold the terms of the lease, everyone on the lease is legally responsible for paying the rent. Your landlord will not accept half the rent because your roommate ditched you or you kicked your boyfriend out; you will have to pay the rent in full.
You may also want to sign a roommate agreement. Though not required or generally recognized by your landlord, a roommate agreement can assist you if you ever have to take legal action against a former roommate if they cause damage or don’t pay rent.
Make a Clear Budget
Whether you’re a couple planning to share all your money and expenses equally, or new roommates keeping everything but rent and electricity separate, you’ll need to plan ahead and agree at the beginning who pays for what, and budget accordingly. Financial problems are the number one cause of friction between couples and roommates who cohabitate.
Does one person pay the full rent to the landlord, and the other person pays them back? What about utilities? Is everything split down the middle or does it depend how many showers you took that month? What about groceries? Laundry cards?
Living together means you spend a lot of time with one person, which can be amazing but can also be a bit too much sometimes. Even couples need alone time. Set boundaries about when you do not want to be disturbed, where your “personal space” is, and how you can best communicate your needs.
For example, maybe one person must watch Game of Thrones each week, and the other person knows that the TV is reserved at that time. Or if one roommate has an upcoming exam, the other keeps the music low. By communicating early and setting clear expectations, you can avoid getting on each other’s nerves.
Follow the Golden Rule
You’ve heard it a million times: “Treat people the way you would like to be treated.” Same applies to roommates. Would YOU like if someone ate YOUR yogurt? Or always left their dishes for YOU to wash? Or was late with the rent EVERY month? If you live with someone, you’re bound to have habits that annoy each other, but by treating each other with respect and consideration, you can avoid most arguments.