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Renting With Roommates: Strategies for Successful Co-Living in a House for Rent

by Andra Hopulele
5 min. read

While it’s common for detached, single-family homes to be rented by families or couples, a growing number of other types of renters are emerging. Indeed, those looking to rent a larger space with more amenities might very well consider a single-family house.

From friends looking to split the cost of rent to students looking for affordable digs in a nice location, the concept of co-living is on the rise. But they say you never truly know someone until you’ve lived with them. So, how can you make sure your co-living endeavors are a success?

Let’s take a look.

What Exactly Is Co-Living?

Co-living is simply a housing arrangement in which several tenants live together in one rental unit. It comes with several benefits, most importantly lower, shared utility bills and rent costs. By reducing these costs, tenants in a co-living arrangement can typically get more bang for their buck, enjoying more spacious homes with better amenities in a desirable location.

The Rise of Co-Living

Since the costs are split, co-living has become increasingly attractive for renters in both the U.S. and Canada where the cost of living is ever on the rise and house prices become unobtainable for many. Indeed, the number of young adults struggling to move out of the family home has more than doubled over the last few decades. Co-living offers an affordable alternative to going it alone or waiting to move in with a partner. What’s more, moving with friends or family in a larger house for rent would mean more space, more amenities and possibly a better location.

On top of lower costs, co-living also offers flexibility, which can support a more modern and dynamic work schedule. As such, it’s a popular choice for young professionals who work remotely or on a hybrid schedule.

How To Make Co-Living Work for You

Despite the benefits of co-living, living with someone, whether they’re an old friend or a complete stranger, can be challenging. With that in mind, here are 5 ways to ensure your co-living experience is a positive one.

1.     Seek Out a Compatible Roommate

Whether you’re planning to join an existing co-living house for rent or invite someone to rent your current home with you, it’s important to do your due diligence when choosing a future roommate. The best thing to remember is that you’re not trying to make friends here, so take a more formal, business-like approach.

Try to arrange an “interview” with anyone you’re considering living with, ideally in the place they currently live. This lets you peek into their living habits, which may raise some red flags. When meeting with a potential roommate, be prepared with a list of things you’d like to discuss.

  • What is their daily routine? Are they a morning or night person? Does their work schedule match yours or would it clash, possibly disturbing your sleep?
  • Are they a social creature? Will they regularly have friends around for parties or are they in a relationship with someone who may visit regularly? Alternatively, do they crave absolute peace and quiet at all times?
  • What are their cleaning habits like? Are they a clean freak or will they be happy to let the dishes pile up for days on end?
  • Who would be their ideal roommate? Do they have any pet peeves or things that’d drive them mad? What do they look for in a roommate? Do they play a loud musical instrument, or would they be upset if you do?

All of these questions go both ways and it’s important to be open and honest when you’re discussing your needs and desires. If you have certain habits that might upset your potential roommate, it’s best to get it out in the open from the get-go. Essentially, there are no right or wrong answers here, you just need to be on the same page about things.

2.     Talk Money Early On

When seeking out a roommate, don’t be shy about talking about money. Remember, treat this as business rather than a friendly discussion. In the best-case scenario, your roommate should be in steady employment with a decent sum of savings put aside for emergencies.

If possible, it’s worth asking if they’re able to provide a credit check, and expect to do the same. Finally, talk about what the exact costs are going to be each month, including rent and utilities. The more accurate you can be here, the better.

3.     Discuss the Logistics and House Rules

Before you move in with anyone, it’s important to be clear about the logistics of what living together will entail. For example, you need to be clear about who is responsible for what each month. It’s worth discussing the following:

  • What’s an acceptable cleaning rota?
  • Who will pay the utility bills?
  • Will you share food or do your own things?
  • Who is responsible for buying communal items such as salt, oil, or even furniture?
  • How do you manage the shared spaces and commodities? For example, what is allowed in shared spaces, are guests or pets allowed, etc.

Be very clear on every point to ensure you’re on the same page with your roommate.

4.     Make Plans for Future Scenarios

Thinking ahead is also a great way to ensure smooth sailing when deciding to go the co-living way in a house for rent. Common scenarios that can cause problems if they arise include:

  • One tenant is unable to pay rent or bills,
  • One tenant gets into a relationship and their partner spends a lot of time at the house, or moves in altogether,
  • One tenant neglects their responsibilities or regularly breaks the house rules,
  • One tenant needs to move out earlier than planned.

Discuss these situations, and any others that may occur, with your roommate in advance to try and create a plan of action that works for everyone.

5.     Draw up a Roommate Agreement

A roommate agreement puts everything you’ve discussed down on paper in an attempt to clarify every point. While it’s not legally binding, it can be extremely helpful to put down the house rules and ensure that everyone is happy with them at the start. It can also be referred to in case of disputes and should ideally assist with resolving the issue.

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