Looking for a Roommate? Here are 5 Tips for Maximum Cashflow
Has your guest room been gathering dust for the months and years sans any visitors? Have you considered renting it out to generate some extra income? Not a bad idea, eh?
Before you start looking for a roommate, don't forget the flatmate horror stories you've heard from friends and colleagues. From the roomie who smells like a wet dog and likes to willingly use people's stuff, to the lady who noisily hooks up with a different guy every night, or the classic favorite chatty Cathy who simply won't zip it.
While those cringe-worthy roommate nightmares gave you second-hand anxiety, don't let them deter you from earning some supplemental cash—and who knows, even a spanking new cool friend along the way! But first, here are 5 tips to help you find the right roommate:
Crowdsource from Friends
Looking for a roommate is no easy feat. Sure, you can opt for Craigslist or roommate-matching sites but only after you've reached out to your personal network.
You don't necessarily have to live with a friend, A great one isn't always synonymous to a great roommate. Besides, no one wants to spoil a perfectly functioning friendship over something as ridiculous as forgetting to take out the trash. If you do decide, however, to move in with a friend, be sure to sign a roommate prenup.
And no, it doesn't mean you're left with living with a total stranger. Simply ask recommendations from friends and family. You might get amazed by how many come back with, "I know my colleague's lease is ending and looking for a new place to live."
Lots of people are searching for a place to rent—around 2,654 are joining the rental market daily going by the statistics. Since your friends pretty much know your lifestyles and quirks, they'd most likely suggest a compatible candidate.
Conduct Several Interviews
Never agree to anything until you've talked to multiple potential roomies. Meet up again with shortlisted candidates who seem trustworthy and promising. Grab coffee or drinks and chat for a bit. Get to know them further.
Watch out for any kinks and red flags that suddenly slip. Yes, it's just like going on a second date. Only less awkward. You need to gauge the interest.
This is also a perfect time to talk about your personal living habits and expectations. When looking for a roommate, it's important that you and your would-be tenant share common interests. You won't be at each other's throats too often. Win-win!
Just a few topics to discuss include:
- Lifestyle and personality: Is your potential roomie the chill and zen type or more into blaring music at ungodly hours? Introvert or extrovert?
- Hobbies and activities: Does he/she enjoy watching cable TV a lot? How about having people over and hosting parties?
- Pets: Do you have one/some? How about your likely roommate? Do you two even care?
- Deal-breakers: Smoking? Sangria Saturdays? Serial snoozers?
Be Straightforward About Costs
Looking for a roommate who can afford the cost is the next step to finding someone you're compatible with. Aside from dirty dishes and bathroom cleaning, monetary issues can usually ruin an otherwise pleasant roommate situation. As such, sit down with your potential roomie and discuss the financial requirements. Be comprehensive and specific.
First, ensure your probable roommate has a stable job and decent income. Can he or she afford his or her part of the rent and other miscellaneous bills? Working a contractual job, for instance, might pose problems down the line when the roomie can no longer pay the rent.
You need someone who can cover their share of rent and other costs every month.
Estimate the monthly bills and communicate your expectations about splitting the bills. Lay out all the cards on the table so you can reach a clear agreement. This eliminates and minimizes any future conflicts regarding payments.
Perform a Background Check
Too much crime dramas, you say? I say it's better to be safe than sorry. Because you don't know whether or not you're dealing with a murderer or a con artist. No need to be as meticulous as Sherlock Holmes - a simple credit report and criminal background check should suffice. You just want to make sure you're not moving in with a shady character.
While you're at it, ask for references from previous landlords and roommates. Get in touch with these people and verify if your potential tenant was respectful, tidy, paid bills on time, etc.
If your prospective roommate objects to references, a credit check, or a background check, that's a red flag. Save yourself the trouble now and ditch him or her. Move on to the next candidate.
Have Everything in Black and White
Once you decide on someone you think you can live with, put everything down on paper. On top of financial accountabilities - as far as rent and bills, prepare terms regarding chores, parties, having significant others and or friends over, etc.
Include all the terms you can think of and put it in writing to avoid ambiguity. The "roommate agreement" minimizes arguments when a particular situation arises. Winging it or crossing the bridge when "we get there" approach is big no.
Be smart about it; draw up a contract and sign it both. It should save you lots of sleepless nights down the line.
To sum up:
- Look among friends
- Conduct several interviews
- Be straightforward about costs
- Perform a background check
- Put everything down on paper
There are more renters now more than ever since 1965. Looking for a roommate to earn additional revenue shouldn't be a pain. Keep in mind the guidelines above and you should find a compatible roomie in no time.