Your BFF and roomie is jetting off to Europe for the semester so you’re going to have to share your apartment with a complete stranger.¬† Your current roommate may be more interested in covering her share of the rent than making sure that you are safe and have a good roommate.
While this could be the making of a good Hollywood thriller,¬† avoid the drama by asking the candidate a few not-so-simple questions.¬† After all, isn’t this situation somewhat like a job interview?¬† It’s not eight hours a day – it’s 24/7 and in your home.¬† Don’t ignore the warning signs or you could become a roommate horror story.
- What is your means of support? Even if your old roommate is still on the hook for her portion of the rent, you are, too.¬† (There’s this annoying legal theory called joint and several liability that most leases have, making each roommate responsible for the full rent – and other financial obligations under the lease.)¬† Rent aside, there are utilities, food and other household expenses that this person will be responsible for.
- Can I confirm it? If the persons means of support is a job, ask to call his boss.¬† After all, wouldn’t a landlord?¬† If parents will be supporting your new roommate, call them to confirm.¬† If there is hesitation, think twice.
- Do you smoke/drink/do drugs? If these things matter to you, ask.¬† Don’t shy away because you are afraid of being perceived as ‘not cool.’¬† And, listen to the answer – if it’s “oh, a little” – follow up by asking what that means.¬† After all, this is your home.
- Why are you looking for a place now? Find out why the person is looking for a place – is there a roommate issue lurking?¬† Did she not pay her rent?¬† If it is a weird time to be looking for a place to live – with total strangers, find out why.
- Will you sign this? Get a roommate agreement and sublease, if necessary.¬† The roommate agreement, which addresses every thing from financial issues to house rules, will make things a lot smoother and can help ferret out whether you can (and should) live with this person.
- Where’s your security deposit? Make sure that you (or your vacating roommate) receives a security deposit from the new roommate.¬† If someone isn’t willing to pay and/or be on the hook, they you should really think twice about whether this is the person for you.
Having a new roommate can be stressful, but it can also be a great way to make a new friend.¬† Just make sure that you are smart about it.