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Roommate of the Year to Win $10,000 and Free Rent in July

Juliette Fairley

NEW YORK (MainStreet)—Filmmaker Sharod Bell lives in a four-bedroom house in McDonough, Georgia with his mother, two sisters and two brothers. At 25 years old, he's ready to launch his directing career and strike out on his own, but he doesn't have the money for a security deposit. Thus, he has entered a video contest sponsored by Apartments.com, which pays the winner $10,000 plus free rent for one year.

"I am currently staying with family paying rent, but I need my own place," said Bell, whose fictional crime-like video features dried nacho cheese and a secret package. "$5,000will be enough for me to pay for a place for half the year and the other $5,000 I'll use to buy equipment so that I can produce a documentary and comedy film."

In its fifth year, Apartments.com's Roommate of the Year contest asks America to vote to help determine which top candidate is the best roommate in five separate categories, including the Environmentalist, the All-Star and the Loveable Compulsive.

"My video entry is called 'Compulsive Noir,' because I am always going overboard to make sure the bills are paid and that the house is clean," said Bell.

According to a 2013 Apartments.com nationwide survey of more than 1,300 renters, 49.6% of renters live with family, 40% live alone and 10% live with roommates.

"There are all sorts of reasons why people who can afford to live alone choose instead to live with a roommate. Some people wish to keep their living expenses low while others like the companionship that living with someone offers. Another reason is that two incomes equals the ability to afford a more spacious or luxurious apartment or one located in a more expensive or desirable neighborhood," said Susan Bryant, vice president of marketing for Apartments.com.

The Roommate of the Year contest is open now through July 7, 2013 when votes will be tabulated and one outstanding roomie will win the grand prize. Four runners-up will each receive $500. View videos and cast your vote here. In the meantime, Apartments.com offers five tips for the eternal roommate who will never live alone:

--Written by Juliette Fairley for MainStreet

  • 1. Come up with house rules. By taking a few minutes to establish house rules before you move in, you can save time spent arguing over how loud late-night guests can be on a weeknight, who empties the trash or how many nights can that girl or boyfriend can sleep over in a row before owing rent.
  • 2. Clean up after yourself. If, every so often, you do a few extra dishes or sweep the floor, your roommate will probably let it slide the time you forget to clean before heading out of town for a weekend. That goes both ways.
  • 3. Pay your share of the bills in a timely fashion You might be scraping the bottom of the bank account this month to pay the rent, but don't hang your roommate out to dry to cover your share. Cut back on extra spending and make bills your first priority.
  • 4. Talk it out. Disagreements between roommates are bound to happen; it's human nature. When they do arise, cool off and discuss the situation with your roommate instead of letting the dispute fester for weeks on end.
  • 5. Alone time. The apartment is partly yours and you have every right to be there but it can be a little taxing to be in the same small space with someone for days on end. Take a walk, go get some coffee or just get out of the house to give your roommate a mental breather every now and then and they'll be likely to return the favor when you need a break.

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