Making Room for a Roommate

The reality of high rent costs in NYC means that many of us can’t afford to live alone, and often you’ll need to split rent with another person or several people. Roommates can offer cost and space efficiency and become great friends, or they can be messy, unreliable and noisy. So, before you enter a semi-long-term, committed relationship with a complete stranger, here are some screening tips.

 

1cd092b0-77ed-0132-1d4f-0a2c89e5f2f5Bills, Bills, Bills
People often say that one of the biggest sources of stress in marriage is money. The same can be said for roommates. Money conversations can be awkward but are best discussed first up. It’s a good idea to establish, before you move in or someone moves into your place – obviously, can they afford rent? Do they have a steady job or is their rent paid for by someone else? How will the bills be paid each month? Who is responsible for paying them? Who will be paying who back for what? It’s also a good idea to establish an expected timeline for payments. If you pay the full rent every first of the month, do you expect your roommate to pay you back that day? A day or two before? Or is a few days later ok?

 

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Just like hiring someone for a job, you want to find a roommate who has been there, done that. Ask the potential candidate about the best and worst roommate experiences that they’ve had. You can learn a lot about a person by hearing about the troubles they’ve encountered and how they dealt with them. The more you talk with the potential roommate, the more you’ll get a feel for whether or not you actually get along. Do you enjoy their company? Or can you just not wait to get out of the situation? Taking the time to talk to the person and discovering if they’re the right person, could be the difference between a friend for life that you look forward to seeing at the end of the day, or horror stories that you’ll tell at dinner parties for years to come.

 

61324c703423de5f59050915a700d9b615cf1d81Shared Space
Consider the space you’ll be sharing. Apartments where autonomy is possible (e.g. having large bedrooms or two common spaces) work best in roommate situations, however this is not always possible. If you’re moving in with a friend or your roommate will never be home, it may not matter that the space is small and intimate. Think about if the space will work with your respective lifestyles. Do they have a pet? Like being alone? Watch a lot of TV? Determine how you’re going to decorate. Who will be responsible for contributing which items to the common areas? If you or they are particular about décor, let it be known up front. Talk about things you might be confronted with within your shared space – bedbugs, bad neighbors or an unresponsive superintendent for example, and how you would deal with these together.


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Once you’ve found the perfect roommate, it’s a good idea to come up with some rules together. Talk about how often you like to have friends over, if you expect the house to be spotless and tidy all the time, if they plan on getting a pet or how often a significant other is allowed to sleep over before they have to start paying rent. Even though it’s early days and these conversations may seem premature, it’s better to have an open discussion and maybe even put the decision in writing, that way if there are problems down the line, you can refer back to what you both once agreed upon.

 

While we can help you find the perfect home in Brooklyn, check out the below services to help you find the perfect soul/roommate!

 

The Lord of the Residence

Being in NYC, we know finding great housing can be a challenge to say the least. When you finally do find that perfect apartment (in Brooklyn, naturally), you don’t want to ever let it go! You might feel like the king of the (Boerum) hill, but the real lord of this land is the person you pay rent to, and if they are your best bud, you could be home sweet home forever. Here are some tips for fostering a flourishing landlord-tenant relationship.

 

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This should go without saying, but pile the smile! Be friendly, be honest and be reasonable. Wave hi or stop for a quick chat when you see your landlord. Come holiday time, send your landlord a small gift. Report any problems as soon as possible, because small problems can turn into catastrophic ones if ignored. For minor stuff, DIY! Replace the light bulb or batteries in the smoke detector yourself. Be clean and respectful – be the kind of neighbor you would want to live next to, and the kind of tenant you would want to rent to.

 

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How do you behave in the workplace? Are you courteous, efficient, a good communicator? Your relationship with your landlord is an investment, and you should consider your interactions in a professional context. Respect the rules set out in your lease and treat your landlord’s property with care. As with important business interactions, get everything in writing. Try to correspond via email when possible – this will protect both of you and reduce the risk of miscommunication. In the event that something goes wrong, be aware of your rights. There is legislation in place nationwide to protect tenants from discrimination, negligence and other issues that may arise.

 

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Rent Well Spent
A day late really is a dollar short if you get in the habit of paying rent late. Just as a homeowner needs to pay a monthly mortgage, many landlords depend on rental income to fund their mortgages. Late rent is not only disrespectful but can result in late fees, or even eviction. Of course there are legitimate reasons for late rent, and having a positive relationship may mean your landlord is open to negotiation. It is essential to discuss any concerns regarding rent with your landlord ASAP. Always strive to pay your rent on time, if not early!

 

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The Company You Keep
If you have a bad track record with landlords, it might be time to consider a building with a management company. Generally these companies have a good reputation and they require good reviews and positive ratings to stay afloat. Although this means living in a larger complex or building with more tenants, management companies usually have more organized and professional systems in place for maintaining and fixing your apartment. Oftentimes they’ll even give you a checklist when you move-in to make sure everything is satisfactory.