I have had the worst luck when it comes to roommates. My first roommate let her friend clean my stuff up. This included going through cabinets and my drawers. If she had asked me to clean up I totally would have. But it had been an extremely hot week and we didn't have AC. So I just hadn't yet. My next roommate was my boyfriend and his best friend. This situation led to my boyfriend having fewer friends by the end of the lease.
I've dealt with roommates refusing to pay utilities to roommates who never clean. These unfortunate, stressful, uncomfortable, and at times extremely upsetting experiences have been some of the worst in my life, but they've left me with plenty of knowledge that I am eager to share with others.
Hopefully, these 13 tips will prevent you from being in the same situations I've been through:
1. Have a roommate agreement
Make sure you list everything on there. From rules for guests, personal belongings, who is paying what, food, cleaning, and also some information on how disputes will be settled and what if someone pays late.
2. Establish open communication early on
I wish I had paid more attention to my roommate's ability to communicate and follow through because I would've never lived with them if I had and had prioritized that more.
3. Keep track of all furniture purchased
Definitely bought furniture or helped pay for it only for that roommate to later say I hadn't and it was there's.
4. Keep a record of all bills paid
Make sure you have some sort of proof you paid your share of rent or utilities. And if someone is paying you keep track of their payments.
5. Make sure you understand the lease you are signing
Some leases don't have a way to just remove one person and you have to be prepared for that.
6. Understand that if you choose to move in with a friend there’s a risk you could lose them
Living with them can completely change your relationship. Either it'll strengthen that friendship or tear it apart. In my experience, it has been the latter.
7. Make sure everyone has a steady income and savings
If something happens and they or you suddenly don't have a job anymore, bills still have to paid. And it's not the others responsibility to be responsible for that lack of income.
8. Keep records of all communication
You never know when someone will go against there word and if so having proof is completely necessary.
9. Have a Plan B
I've definitely had people decide not to do a lease last minute and that's put me in the bad situation of trying to scramble and figure something out to ensure I have a place to live.
10. Learn about each others' personal lives
Do they want to have their SO stay over? Do they like to have friends over or throw parties? Do they want to adopt any animals? Do they hate any music? How early do they go to bed/wake up? Make sure you two are compatible to live together.
11. Decide who is contributing what
Figure out who is going to bring the TV, the furniture, the shower curtain, etc. Also, make sure to list this on the roommate agreement.
12. If pets are involved make sure to have the other meet them before signing a lease together
This goes both ways. It's important for all on the lease and their pets to get along and feel comfortable with each other.
13. Don’t do it
Personally, every experience I have with signing a lease with someone has been awful. It's been the most stressful times of my life. If you do choose to have a roommate choose to rent a place that has individual leases instead of everyone being on one and take my advice above.