Whether you’re looking to reduce your monthly expenses or need a friend, there are tons of reasons why people look for a roommate. Having a roomie is great practice when it comes to living together. Not only does it help prepare you for living with a partner or spouse in the future, but oftentimes reveals pet peeves and habits you didn’t know you had.
I think most of us have lived with someone else for a period of time. I can recall sharing an apartment with a person I barely knew during my last years in college. Looking back, it’s pretty crazy to think how willing I was to share an address with a complete stranger. You can only hope you pick the right person…and they don’t turn out to be a serial killer.
Are you thinking about opening up your home? It’s a great way to reduce monthly expenses and help you save some cash. Here are a few things you might want to consider when renting out a room in your house.
List your ad on trusted sites. Craigslist is awesome for many things, but let’s be real, it does expose you to craziness. Research websites that cater to matching people seeking a home with ones who have them. Some might require you to create a profile or pay a small membership fee. As a trade off, you can create a profile that will hopefully tell you a little more about potential roommates’ wants and background.
Opt for a credit and background check. This will definitely help weed out a good amount of people. Some candidates aren’t going to want to have their credit run (for obvious reasons). While folks who have bad credit aren’t horrible people (life happens), it can reveal a history of poor money decisions. You should also pay for a company to do a background check (nothing over the top) that will help make your decision and easier one.
Make the interview process multiple steps. At the end of the day, you don’t know the people coming to look at your home. Before you willingly offer up your address, try speaking with them on the phone — or at the very least via email. Once you’re ready to have them come over, tell people you know about your intentions. There’s nothing wrong with having someone else present during the interview for safety reasons.
Make a security deposit mandatory. You need some financial security — typically one month’s rent — in the event something happens. People break leases all the time which is a major liability for you. Place their security deposit inside a savings account that’s hard to access for safe keeping. You don’t want to tempt yourself into spending it. Another option is to invest it in a short-term CD (e.g. three or six months) so it can increase in value.
Think wisely about your contract. There are too many examples of people heading to The People’s Courtdue to roommate issues. You can avoid a ton of these situations by drafting up a contract that covers your bases. Search the internet for examples, templates and other important items to include. Some people even add clauses about pets and overnight visitors.
No matter what you do, always trust your gut. Even if someone you know recommends a person, treat them the same way you would a stranger. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.