Author Topic: Advice for looking for roommates.  (Read 4608 times)

Tempe

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Advice for looking for roommates.
« on: October 22, 2013, 10:38:30 PM »
So, the situation is my boyfriend and I decided renting with roommates is going to be cheaper, and I am currently looking for people searching in the area. Having roommates to share a place with will allow us to afford a place to live a mile from our jobs.  I have never searched for a place with roommates alongside for the search. I normally rented a room from one individual and that was it, so I'm a little unsure about how to find the 'right' roommates. Of course we will discuss rent, utilities, and pets but do roommates put agreements in writing between them?
Has anyone experienced applying for a place with someone with bad credit, high income, good credit low income, and a mix of that between 4 people? If you are a landlord, how would you treat applicants with that mix?
 Any pitfalls to watch out for besides someone skipping out on the lease and leaving you hanging?

Feel free to share stories of what worked, or what didn't when renting with roommates.
« Last Edit: October 22, 2013, 10:40:58 PM by Tempe »

chardog

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Re: Advice for looking for roommates.
« Reply #1 on: October 23, 2013, 07:43:22 AM »
I signed a lease with roommate before.  One thing I looked into and found out (at least under the standard lease terms here) is that if your name is on the lease, you can be responsible for the rent if the others flake out.

The other way of doing it is having just yourself on the lease and sub-leasing.  This may or may not be allowed on the lease.

I always prefered relationship-free roommate situations.  My roommates were just roommates and not friends or lovers.  It kept things less complicated and took a lot of the emotion out of the housing situation.

chardog

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Re: Advice for looking for roommates.
« Reply #2 on: October 23, 2013, 07:51:08 AM »
And yes on a written agreement, regardless of how you do it.  Any financial arrangement should have a written agreement so all parties are literally "on the same page"

Mae80s

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Re: Advice for looking for roommates.
« Reply #3 on: October 23, 2013, 10:52:03 AM »
  My roommates were just roommates and not friends or lovers.  It kept things less complicated and took a lot of the emotion out of the housing situation.

I second this. However I've had plenty of roommates who started as strangers/acquaintances then turn into friends. I do think it's best though to start out with no personal connection - it's a clear business arrangement. You meet, go through expectations, house rules, cleaning etc. Ideally when you're looking for potential roommates, you try to get a sense of who you could genuinely like as a person too (it is after all a living space and a home). A good roommate can greatly enhance your life, a shitty one can create complete havoc on it. Your home is your sanity and refuge from the world. 

I've had many roommates over the years and my number one thing is communication style. I'm a very easygoing and accommodating person, I genuinely want all the housemates to feel at home in the place, however I don't read minds. By that I mean, I absolutely have to live with people who are direct and can respectfully (and maturely) communicate. We all do annoying crap (spoons left in jam jars, leaving lights on, etc.) and things are much better when someone can just say: "can you please not do xyz, thanks" ... the worst is when the person says nothing about annoying habit or thing, lets it happen repeatedly, keeps it all in ... then explodes one day in some passive-aggressive way.

That's just me though. If you don't have experience having roommates, I think it's going to be a bit of trial and error to find out what kind of person works for you and what doesn't. Aside from someone paying rent on time and being generally considerate, there's a bunch of other subtle things that go into having a good roommate situation.
« Last Edit: October 23, 2013, 10:55:24 AM by Mae80s »

StarryC

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Re: Advice for looking for roommates.
« Reply #4 on: October 23, 2013, 12:55:11 PM »
For how often everyone talks about "just get roommates" as a solution to all financial problems, I think getting roommates is harder than it sounds. 

If you are looking for a place and for people, you need to find people who agree with you on key features of the place.  If you think no dishwasher, and coin laundry is A-OK, but they don't, you are going to spend more on an apartment or have conflict.  If they hate having upstairs neighbors, or are loud and hate having downstairs neighbors, you'll have to work that kind of thing out.  Also, working hours/ home time hours/ cooking would be a good thing to talk about.  (If I get home at 9pm and cook dinner, and my roommate has to be at work at 5AM, I might keep her up, while she wakes me up way too early. If we both get home at 5:30 and both want to cook in the same tiny kitchen at the same time, that is impossible.  It's nice to have an hour a day or a night each week you can expect to have the apartment to yourself.) 

Then, I've always put everyone on the lease and had everyone pay the landlord individually if that works for the landlord.  That way, if someone bounces a check, the landlord will come after you instead of you as the sublessor paying the bank fees, etc.  Yes, other roommates might have to deal with the late fee/ pay the amount missing.  But, I think roommates are less willing to short the landlord, knowing there will be notices etc. than to short their apparently rich roommate.

Think about how safe you feel about your stuff.  Do you want locks on the inside of bedroom doors?  I think 4 adults probably would need 2 bathrooms, especially if you don't yet know the showering, getting ready, and bathroom habits of 2 of them. 

In my experience, different landlords and companies deal with income and credit scores differently.  I think the usual case is that your combined income must exceed 3x the total rent.  I've often had to provide the name and number of my previous landlord to verify how we left, and I'm sure they always check for prior evictions. 

Once, when I was looking with 4 people total, one house rejected us because one person had a low credit score.  But several other places didn't mind.  As long as one or two of us had a good credit score, no one had evictions, and our income was sufficient, they were willing to take the risk.  I think the priorities are usually: 1) Sufficient income (and possibly history with employer) 2) No prior evictions 3) Prior rental history that appears stable and non-risky 4) Credit scores.

Tempe

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Re: Advice for looking for roommates.
« Reply #5 on: October 24, 2013, 12:24:07 PM »


Then, I've always put everyone on the lease and had everyone pay the landlord individually if that works for the landlord.  That way, if someone bounces a check, the landlord will come after you instead of you as the sublessor paying the bank fees, etc.  Yes, other roommates might have to deal with the late fee/ pay the amount missing.  But, I think roommates are less willing to short the landlord, knowing there will be notices etc. than to short their apparently rich roommate.




I really like this idea if the landlord will accept it.
Thank you everyone for your thoughts. I have had roommates before, but we didn't rent together so if someone didn't pay rent they were out the door. We just happened to rent rooms in the same house so I had to tolerate the annoying ones. (Using metal spatula on my non stick pan, grrrr and other cooking related thoughtlessness that damaged my things) I would love to find some decent roommates
« Last Edit: October 24, 2013, 12:25:51 PM by Tempe »

CommonCents

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Re: Advice for looking for roommates.
« Reply #6 on: October 24, 2013, 12:30:37 PM »
I've had roommates before.  I would actively avoid those who are already coupled up, so you likely will have a much smaller pool of potential roommates than otherwise.  I felt it would increase the drama substantially, be risky if the relationship fell through, be awkward if only 3 people, and mean 2 v. 1 for issues.  You might try to look for another couple rather than 1-2 singles. 

I found them through craigslist.  Although we were all on the lease, we didn't have a separate roommate agreement.  We worked through issues as they came up and just discussed general expectations beforehand.  It was pretty smooth sailing.

Tempe

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Re: Advice for looking for roommates.
« Reply #7 on: October 24, 2013, 12:39:54 PM »
I've had roommates before.  I would actively avoid those who are already coupled up, so you likely will have a much smaller pool of potential roommates than otherwise.  I felt it would increase the drama substantially, be risky if the relationship fell through, be awkward if only 3 people, and mean 2 v. 1 for issues.  You might try to look for another couple rather than 1-2 singles. 

I found them through craigslist.  Although we were all on the lease, we didn't have a separate roommate agreement.  We worked through issues as they came up and just discussed general expectations beforehand.  It was pretty smooth sailing.

 I do feel it would be unbalanced with us and 1 single roommate if issues came up so that is a good point, people might avoid us. I am talking to a couple I contacted through craigslist, and they could work out if we can find a place that accepts their cats (and if we meet and get along) . Emails are still ongoing.