5 Money Questions You Should Ask Potential Roommates To Avoid Financial Trouble
Getting a roommate can be a good idea if you’re looking to reduce your housing expenses, but not thoroughly screening candidates leaves room for disaster. Less-than-reliable housemates or apartment dwellers can leave you on the hook for unexpected bills – or even possible eviction, if things get too far out of hand. Whether you’re considering living with a stranger, your first cousin, or the person who shares your cubicle at work, screening a potential roommate is smart – and easier than you think. Here are some questions that can help you find the right roomie…
Do You Have A Stable Job History?
Although neither you nor your potential roommate can predict an unexpected layoff, looking into their job history can offer some important information. Frequent periods of unemployment, chronic job hopping, or a reticence to discuss employment are all red flags. You might also want to assess whether your potential roommate works in a struggling industry or for a company that’s significantly downsizing.
What’s Your Credit Score?
A credit score can help paint a picture of your potential roommate’s financial health, especially if they’re overburdened with debt and can’t pay their bills on time. Knowing your roomie’s credit score (or credit score range) will help you determine whether they’re fiscally responsible and able to assume the responsibilities that come with sharing a house or apartment. Be aware that if a roommate bails on you and you’re financially unable to pay their share of the bills, your credit could be damaged as well.
What Do You Feel Comfortable Sharing?
There’s no doubt that sharing items can help you save money; however, disagreements and arguments can erupt when everyone’s not on the same page about what belongs to whom. You can avoid dissension by establishing some ground rules right from the get-go. Ask a potential roommate what they consider shared property and what’s not going in the household-costs mix. If you and your roommate plan to split the cost of communal products, such as paper towels, toilet paper, or household cleaners, save your receipts so you can get reimbursed.
How Would You Want To Split The Bills?
Nothing can split up a roommate relationship faster than disagreements over how to split the bills. Mark Bauer, a law professor at Stetson University, recommends that each roommate has their name added to any shared bills, such as those for utilities. That way, if your roommate suddenly moves out, you won’t have to foot the bill or deal with a power shutoff.
Are You Planning Any Alterations To The Apartment?
Painting walls, putting up permanent shelving, and nailing up artwork can make your home, well, homier. However, any alterations made to the apartment or house without your landlord’s approval could result in fines when you’re ready to leave for new digs. Recommend that you and your new roomie use temporary wallpaper and peel-and-stick wall hooks that don’t cause permanent damage. Be aware that if your roommate has an eye for decor changes that are more permanent, you could be on the hook for financial consequences when you’re ready to move out and move on.