Looking for Roommates: Must-Ask Questions

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So, you’re looking for roommates? Whether you are looking to sublet part of your apartment, or simply find roommates to split the rent with, it is important to find the right people. The following are must-ask questions when looking for roommates:

1.  How Should the Security Deposit be Handled?

You must decide if you are going to split the security deposit. This is the simplest course of action. Each person contributes an equal share, and when the balance of the security deposit is returned, each person receives an equal share back. However, when you are looking for roommates to sublet part of your apartment, you are the one that is responsible for the security deposit. It is advisable to have a rental agreement with your roommates when you sublet, and address the security deposit in it. Perhaps you want your roommates to post a security deposit with you. Be sure to consult local laws regarding collecting security deposits.

2. How Should the Utilities be Handled?

It is important to be clear with your roommates on the amount of the utilities that they must pay, and when the payments are due. This should be made clear when you are looking for roommates, and in the rental contract you may have with your roommates. Also be clear about the consequences of lack of payment, or late payment, so this is not an issue later.

3. How Should the Groceries be Handled?

This question may sound silly at first, but when you are looking for roommates, it is important to find out if they are the type to simply split the bill, or if they intend to shop for themselves. If you run out of peanut butter and want to use some of theirs, is that allowed?

4. Personal Living Habits?

This includes:

  • Cleanliness level and expections- Are you a neat freak while your roommate is an organized mess? Are you ok with mess just as long as the common area is clean? Are you ok with dishes being left in the sink for a day?
  • Smoker or non-smoker – If you are a non-smoker, it is important that your roommates not smoke in the apartment. If you are a smoker and you smoke in your apartment, then you want to select roommates that are comfortable with this.
  • Social expectations – Do you usually keep to yourself or do you want to be friends with your roommates? Do you like having people over all the time? Does your roommate? Partier? Student? Work-a-holic?

The more aligned your personal living habits are to your roommate’s, the less issues you’ll have to deal with.

5. Do You Have Any Pets?

Make sure that when you are looking for roommates, you find out if they have a pet (or have any intentions of getting a pet). If you have a pet, you also need to be sure that they will be comfortable around your pet.

6. Why are You Looking for a Roommate?

When you are looking for roommates, it is important to find out why each of your candidates is looking for a roommate themselves. You already know why you are. If they were evicted from their last apartment, you would want to know. If they were asked to leave by previous roommates, you would want to know why. You should be aware of any issues, before they become issues for you.

Once you have selected your roommates, and gotten all of the paperwork straightened out, go out for dinner with them, and get to know each other. You may find that you become fast friends.

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Emily Gojko: I am a writer, marketer, and manager with a strong background in real estate development and management. I am also a native New Yorker with an obsession for home design shows, so I have personal and professional experience making the most of small spaces, and dealing with good and bad living situations.

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