One of the many hardships of living in an apartment space with other people is the idea of employing strategies to protect property that you own, or things that you have bought in common with roommates. In most cases, a good technique for safeguarding items is necessary for the entire duration of your stay in a group house or apartment, but times when your roommates are moving away are prime times for items or objects to go missing. Some basic tactics can help you make sure your stuff doesn’t go away along with your outgoing roommate.
Under Lock and Key: Keeping Personal Property Safe
In general, it’s a good idea for things that you don’t be kept in your own personal room, with a lock on the door. Lots of apartments and common spaces don’t have locks on the doors, but in most cases, you can find a way to padlock your own personal space, even if it means using a bike lock chain or other creative solution. This is a good way to protect your CD collection, computer and lots of other goodies that can easily “walk away” from the apartment. Instead of keeping your collections in common in the living room, stash yours in your own secured space and offer your roommates a look whenever you’re around.
Labeling Common Space Objects
Another basic strategy involves making it clear who owns what at the time of the move. Sometimes, roommates pick up items because they are mistaken about who bought them and who owns them. Bright colored tape can be an effective solution, where a specific color-coded means “yours” and another means “mine.” Honest misunderstandings can be avoided this way, but if you don’t thrust your roommate further than you can throw him or her, you’ll have to go back to the drawing board.
Don’t go AWOL
The weekend that your roommate is moving out is not a good time to be on vacation. You can avoid a lot of lost items by discreetly hanging around and taking a look during the moving process. Otherwise, when you return home after a lengthy absence, it might be too late to try to sort out what’s missing and why.
Have Discussions Prior to the Move
You can also avoid some lost items situations by being proactive about sorting out ownership days before the move. If you think there is an object it’s going to be controversial, sit down with the other person and talk it out so that there is a common understanding before the moving truck arrives, and many hands sweep up everything that’s not nailed down.
“Buy Out” Common Items
This tactic doesn’t work for everything, and it’s unlikely that you’ll want to convene a meeting over ownership of a spatula, but for larger items that remains bought in common, a buying out strategy can be a good solution. How does this work? The value of the item is split up among those who bought it (crafty individuals will lobby for applying depreciation if it’s in their interest). Then the person who wants to keep the item pays others who invested some money in it. This takes care of that situation where nobody wants to part with their share of that awesome rug or the flat-screen you all chipped in for.
These basic ideas are just a start when it comes to making sure your property stays with you, but in many cases, one or more of these tips can effectively keep your stuff from disappearing when you least expect it.