Renting a House: How to Live with a Roommate


For most people, the first step to renting a home is to find a roommate. While renting a home with a roommate can be an unforgettable experience, it also comes with its own set of challenges. Especially if you’ve never lived with this person before. As such, it’s important to proceed into the rental process carefully, and to take all the needed steps to protect yourself and your roommate.

7 Smart Tips for Renting with Roommates

Whether your roommate-to-be is an old friend or a Craigslist stranger, these seven tips will make the living situation more positive for both of you.

1. Put Both Names on All Utilities Accounts

You don’t have to talk to experienced renters for very long before you find at least one who’s been stuck with a massive utilities bill after a roommate moved out. To prevent this from happening to you, be sure that you’re putting both names on all utilities accounts you open. This keeps your financial wellbeing intact if your roommate decides to break his or her lease and move across the country, without paying his share of the utilities for the last six months.

2. Set Some Ground Rules

Common space is critical in a roommate housing environment. To ensure it’s treated respectfully, set some ground rules before you move in. Simple things, like agreeing that there will be no friends sleeping on the couch or making it clear that dishes need to be cleared from shared spaces, can make communal living happier for both of you.

3. Set Some House Rules for Significant Others

Most renters have experienced the unique brand of frustration that crops up when a roommate has his or her significant other sleep over every night for eight months, but insists that they shouldn’t have to split the bills because they “don’t live there.” Even if you’re not assuming this will be an issue you’ll face, discuss it as a hypothetical before you move in. That way, you’ll have some ground rules to refer to should it become a reality.

4. Communicate with Your Landlord

If you’re renting with a roommate, whoever owns or manages the property needs to have all relevant information for each of you. This may include references, background checks, credit checks, personal information, and more. Keeping in touch with your landlord about who is living in the house at any given moment prevents friction or, worse, eviction.

5. Put Both Names on the Lease

Even if you have an unconcerned landlord who doesn’t care whether you’re both on the lease, add both names anyway. This prevents you from being the only one on the lease (and the sole party responsible for the rent) on a three-bedroom house after all your roommates abandon you suddenly.

6. Keep the Line of Communication Open

If you’re frustrated with the way your roommate keeps his or her space, talk about it before it festers into an ongoing issue. The more openly you can communicate, the happier your living situation will be.

7. Agree on Pets

If one or both of you wants to get a pet, it’s critical to agree on what the pet will be and who is responsible for caring for it. This prevents one person from getting saddled with the burden.

Renting the Right Way

While renting with roommates is an unforgettable experience, it shouldn’t be a stressful one. These seven tips can keep it fun, carefree, and memorable in the best possible way.