Sharing a rental property can either be easy and smooth, or an experience you’d rather forget. There are many advantages to having a roommate; however, there are also disadvantages.
When the disadvantages result in an uncomfortable living environment, it causes a domino effect of problems. But, there are a couple of ways a renter can protect himself/herself when sharing a rental property with a roommate. Screening the potential roommate carefully and including the roommate on the rental agreement are two very important things to do before committing to a lease.
The Advantages and Disadvantages of Having a Roommate
The primary advantage of having a roommate is financial. Renters who choose to have a roommate can cut the rent in half. If there are more than 2 people sharing an apartment, the rent can be cut in thirds or more. Though, it’s important to check with the property management as to what the rules are for sharing an apartment. This situation is ideal for renters who would like to have a larger apartment, but who would otherwise not be able to afford such an apartment alone.
A second advantage to having a roommate is the opportunity to share household responsibilities. Of course, this is only an advantage when both roommates stick to the agreed plan and do their share, regularly.
A significant disadvantage to having a roommate is a lack of consistent privacy. When a renter has a roommate, there is no guarantee the renter will ever have any time to him/herself while in the apartment. Boundaries and respect for privacy and space are key to the successful agreement.
Another big disadvantage to having a roommate is that the distribution of household responsibilities may not seem fair or get done on a regular basis. Roommates should have a discussion regarding the household responsibilities ahead of time, maybe even create a ‘contract’ of sorts so that everything is spelled out from the start. When one or both parties don’t hold up their end of the bargain, it can create conflict and resentment.
Include the Roommate on the Rental Agreement
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 and 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. Check with the rental property management as to what their policies are before assuming that shared rentals are allowed.