Having a roommate can have great financial rewards. People can divide up the costs of rent, mortgages, electricity, heat, water, garbage, and cable television. Many individuals utilize roommate situations to reduce the cost of living in order to have more discretionary money to spend on things like college or vacations. Having a roommate to share expenses may also provide opportunities to be able to afford a larger place with more amenities or a better view. Two bedroom apartments not only have two bedrooms but also usually have more common area living space, while typically costing just a little over $100 more than the one bedroom apartment.
Here are several points to should consider when trying deciding to engage in a roommate situation:
- Many people with severe disabilities use roommates for the cost saving and because they need direct supports to meet their personal daily living needs. Many times a person needs 16 or 23 hours of direct support but only receive 8 hours of direct support hours from their personal budgets, such as Medicaid. To get the rest of the direct support hours they look for roommates to share living costs and staffing.
- Having a Roommate is probably the most common and popular way to obtain affordable housing. Most of us while in college or just out of school have had roommates. Many people have been successful finding roommates from the place they go to work or school or from local churches and other places that people gather together such as coffee shops and gyms.
- Most roommate arrangements last only one year but some last 10 to 20 years.
Here are two web sites where you can find potential roommates:
Once a potential roommate is identified, it is helpful to meet in person, preferably in a public place for safety considerations. Meeting and screening this individual for possibly sharing a living space with you will be a lot easier if you plan for the meeting ahead of time. Try generating a list of questions so that you can see if they have similar interests, traits and an idea of what a comfortable living environment should look like.
Questions may include things like:
- Do you smoke in your home? Are you a smoker?
- Do you have or enjoy pets?
- Do you have children living with you or that visit you?
- Do you have your own reliable form of transportation?
- What are your hobbies?
- Do you like a quieter home or a louder environment?
Having a compatible roommate is important but having a roommate that is responsible may prove to be more important. This is a business agreement and using a roommate agreement statement that you have put together or obtained from Community Housing Network is a good idea. This agreement will state who contributed to the security deposit and how much, who will pay the cable and utilities and it could even establish who is responsible for which home chores.
Conducting a background check on all potential roommates is highly recommended, especially if the individual is someone that you do not know very well. To get a background check the individual must give permission and personal information like name, birthday, address, and social security number.
Here are a few sites that may be helpful when conducting a background check:
http://www.michigan.gov/otis This is a free background check done for you by the Michigan Department of Corrections.
http://mi-mall.michigan.gov/ichat This site provides a criminal history for the minimal cost of $10.00.
http://www.mipsor.state.mi.us This is site provides a sex offender search at no charge.
Once you agree to be roommates, there will a lease that must be signed. Both of you may be asked to sign separate lease agreements and both will be held responsible for living up to the lease. Most landlords will have you sign a lease that says “tenants in common” somewhere on the lease. This term means if your roommate does not pay their portion of the rent you could be responsible for it.
Disadvantages of having a roommate are differences of opinions, negotiating chores and following through on assigned housekeeping tasks. Sharing most of the spaces of the home is another issue. Not only do you share the living space but you also share the refrigerator and this can become an issue if your roommate doesn’t respect your space and what belongs to you.
Spend time with a potential roommate before agreeing to live together; the more time potential roommates spend together the more likely this arrangement will be a success.