Most college students can’t afford to rent an apartment or house independently, but they find a roommate to share the financial responsibility instead.

Finding that perfect roommate can be a challenge though, especially if you have to find a stranger to live with.

Use these tips to take the stress away from finding and living with your college roommate.

Related documents: Roommate Agreement, Residential Lease Agreement, Lease Amendment

Screen potential roommates carefully

Whether you’re looking for a roommate to share your space or seeking someone to move in with, make sure that you learn enough about the person to make an informed decision.

Post an ad that highlights your ideal qualities for a roommate. For instance, you may prefer someone who is tidy, has similar interests as you, and has a stable income. Interview any applicants and consider asking similar questions that a landlord asks during the tenant screening process.

If you’ve signed a lease, it’s important that your roommate complies with the terms of your lease agreement. Go over the existing contract with them and inform your landlord of the new occupant on the premises. If your roommate plans to pay the landlord for their share of the rent directly, you may need to amend the lease to list your roommate as a tenant. In this case, your roommate will have the same tenant rights and obligations as you.

Benefits of having common personality traits as your roommate

Having similar personality traits as your roommate helps avoid tension and conflict during your time together.

Living with someone who is the complete opposite of you may be fun for a time. But if you’re an introvert and your roomie is an extrovert, you may have trouble sleeping or studying when your roommate brings loud guests over.

In addition to asking applicants about their ability to pay rent and comply with lease terms, ask about their class schedule, cleaning habits, and personal boundaries. These questions will give you an idea of the type of roommate they’ll be.

5 Types of Roommates to Avoid:
1. The Mooch: Someone who often eats your food, uses your shampoo, and borrows cash quickly becomes a problem. Typically, you should only have to worry about supporting yourself. Make sure your roommate is consistently employed or is good at budgeting so that you don’t have to cover their bills.
2. Your Schedule Twin: If your schedules are too similar, you may fight over who showers first, who gets to use the kitchen, who has dibs on the remote, and everything else. Basically, you’ll be in each other’s way and it’ll wear on both of you. Avoid daily bickering and look for someone who’s work and school schedule differs from yours. Different schedules may be more important to you when sharing a small living space.
3. The One With Commitment Issues: Does your potential roomie cringe when asked to sign a Roommate or Lease Agreement? Without their name on a contract, you may be solely responsible for rent payments, bills, and property damage liabilities. Help ensure roommate accountability by finding someone who agrees to sign a written contract. 
4. Your Exact Opposite: It’s great to have differences with your roommate because you can learn something from them. But if your personalities clash over important things, you may experience a lot of friction. Finding a roommate with personality traits in common helps avoid conflict. 
5. The Clean Freak or Slob: You may be super tidy, super messy, or somewhere in the middle. Whatever you are, make sure your roommate doesn’t have cleaning habits that conflict with yours. Not everyone is going to have the same standards as you, but the ideal roommate should know what to expect and how to compromise on cleaning duties.

Read more: Are Verbal Agreements Legally Binding?

Clearly define rules and expectations

It’s important to set house rules so that everyone is clear on personal boundaries and responsibilities.

A Roommate Agreement can include house rules about:

  • Private time and quiet hours
  • Guests and significant others
  • Cleaning and chores
  • Bathroom and kitchen schedules
  • Thermostat expectations
  • Conflict resolution

Discuss all of the terms before signing the agreement. Everyone should agree to the rules for the contract to be valid. It might seem formal to have a written contract, but it’s the best way to keep roommates on the same page and avoid future conflicts.

Establish expectations with a Roommate Agreement

Customize LawDepot’s Roommate Agreement template to suit your needs

Survive and thrive with your college roommate

A roommate not only helps when times are tight with money, but they can also be a great companion to have while struggling through your college years. Ensure you find the perfect roommate by screening applicants carefully and setting up a solid Roommate Agreement.

Posted by LawDepot

The LawDepot Team consists of professional writers and editors with years of experience researching and writing about a variety of legal topics. LawDepot’s in-house legal team reviews all law-related content to ensure the information we provide is as accurate and up-to-date as possible.