You’ve finally found the ideal apartment. It’s got two bedrooms, in a convenient location, secure, clean, and it even has on-site parking. Your roommate likes it just as much as you do and all the move-in costs are covered, but the second you’re ready to go out and celebrate, you realize there’s one caveat to your new home: it only comes with one parking spot, and you and your roommate both own cars.
In the midst of your excitement over the new place, that single parking space might seem insignificant, or like a minor detail that’ll work itself out. But further down the road (and not that much further, if rain and snow are around the corner), it could easily become a major point of contention.
There are several types of roommates out there. There are those people you’ve been best friends with since elementary school, great friends of several years that you’ve lived with before, people you’ve known for just a few months but like and trust a lot, and innumerable variations thereof.
No matter what your relationship with your roommate might be, one or more of these parking spot sharing options is bound to work for you. If one doesn’t pan out, don’t hesitate to try out another. Open-mindedness and maturity are key to successful negotiations on most issues.
Straightforward and simple, you and your roommate can simply try alternating who gets the space on a weekly or monthly basis (let’s face it, daily rotation is just too hectic to keep straight). Tenants in rural and suburban neighborhoods will have the luxury of enjoying the ample street parking around them during the weeks when their roommates have dibs on the space.
You can also negotiate the length that each roommate gets the spot based on the season. During the brutal winter months, for instance, it’s probably best to go with weekly rotations to fairly minimize the amount that everyone has to trudge through ice and snow to just to access their cars.
If both parties are in agreement, one roommate can simply pay a larger portion of the rent for the luxury of claiming the on-site parking space. After all, if you share a space that has one regular bedroom and one considerably larger master bedroom, it’s pretty much assumed that the person who sleeps in the latter will pitch in a bit more rent for the extra wiggle room. This can also be helpful to the roommate who has less cash flow and needs every break they can get on monthly rental fees.
Best friends frequently play games to add an element of fun to doling out household chores. For that reason, a simple coin flip can be great for determining who takes out the trash, cleans the tub, or claims that on-site parking space. To make things more interesting, you can swap out the coin flip for a winner-take-all game of poker, backgammon, dominoes, etc. Whoever wins gets the coveted parking spot for a week, month, or whatever other stakes you agree on.
If you’re tired and not in the mood for competition, just draw straws! Shortest straw parks on the street.
Additional Off-Site (or On-Site) Parking
Commercial long-term parking rates are out of the question for most apartment dwellers, with some costing as much as $1,000 a month. However, there are much more economical options out there you might not know about. Odds are there are several renters in your neighborhood without cars that sublet their on-site spaces to non-tenants, so be sure to check the deals posted on sites like CraigsList and inside local coffee shops. In some cases, tenants in your own building might even have parking spaces they don’t use, so you should always make an effort to ask around for those, too.
A lot of people would rather sever a limb than do household chores, making them the ideal candidates to bargain with for several things, including that prized parking spot. If your roommate is one of these people, you’ll definitely want to make the most of it. Offer to take out the trash, clean the bathroom, mop the floor, and dust the whole apartment once a week in exchange for 100-percent use of the on-site space. If you fail to perform, you’ll probably just (temporarily) lose the space and incur the wrath of your roommate.
Other Important Considerations
Whatever deal you strike with your roommate, make sure to put it in writing, because lord knows people tend to forget the finer points of verbal agreements. If you’re both trustworthy and honest, a simple one-page document outlining the agreed-upon terms and signed by both parties will prevent any and all misunderstandings that spring up down the road.
Be flexible. What sounds good and looks fair on paper sometimes just doesn’t work out. Start with a two-to-three-month agreement, and if everyone is happy with the arrangement after that period of time, extend it out for a few more months. Renegotiation should always be on the table.
Finally, consider exchanging car keys. There are a myriad of situations that may necessitate you or your roommate needing access to the other’s vehicle, including hit-and-run accidents, locking your keys in your car, and access needed by emergency service vehicles. Keep both sets of keys in a central location (top of the fridge, kitchen silverware drawer, etc.) for fast and easy access.