A few months ago a friend of mine was laid off from her job and needed to find a roommate to help cover some of her bills, but we didn't know anyone who was looking for a place to live at the time. So I suggested that she find a roommate outside of her social circle. We made a checklist of ways to make sure the person she found would work out and started looking. My friend did find a roommate pretty quickly and the relationship has been going great. Here is how we did it.
Ask for Referrals
When you decide to take on a roommate, your obvious first choice is someone you already know like a friend or a coworker. If no one is looking for a new living space, the next best thing is to ask for referrals. My friend asked her coworkers and people she knew around town if they knew anyone who was looking for an apartment to rent. She was given a few names and some great referrals.
Ask for Rental History
How someone managed renting in the past can be a good indicator of how responsible they'll be while living with you. My friend asked any prospective roommates to give her a list of their previous landlords. Then she called the landlords and asked what kind of tenant the potential roommate had been. Most landlords were happy to provide the information and it was a good insight into the person.
Get a Security Deposit
When you moved into your apartment, you likely paid a security deposit to cover any damages that might happen. Now that another person is living in the apartment, you'll be responsible for their damages too. It is better to play it on the safe side and ask for half of the security deposit from your new roommate. When the lease is up, you can return it to them if they didn't make any damages.
Add the Roommate to the Lease
My friend played it safe and asked her landlord to add her new roommate to the lease. This way both she and her roommate are equally responsible for the apartment and the lease. If her roommate hadn't been on the lease, she wouldn't be legally obligated to follow the rules, pay the rent, or keep living there through the lease agreement. That could have caused problems for my friend.
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