Living With a Roommate
Your Dallas Apartment Locator at J. Ellis has helped you find the perfect townhome, loft, or apartment in Plano, Lewisville, Valley Ranch, Las Colinas, Grapevine, Bedford, Downtown Dallas, Uptown Dallas, or somewhere else in the DFW area. Now the next order of business- You want to find a roommate.
Some renters have found that by having a roommate to share the bills with, they can actually afford to live in a much nicer property than they could ever afford on their own. They may be able to upgrade to living in one of the newer Downtown Dallas Apartments, a Downtown Dallas loft, Uptown Dallas Apartments, or any other luxury apartments in Dallas Tx.
Whether your motivation for getting a roommate is to have someone to share the bills with, or to have a friend to come home to and hang out with, there are strong reasons to choose your roommate carefully.
Whether you have been best friends your entire life, or you just became friends recently, whenever you and a roommate decide to share an apartment, townhome or loft, it's important to sit down together and put some things in writing.
Most people can see the importance of doing this if the roommate is someone that you don't know very well, but when it comes to long-term friends or really close buddies, the tendency is to neglect this important step because both parties assume that they already know each other and get along SO well, that nothing could come between them. The truth is that you never truly know someone until you live with them. How many friendships have come to an end and even left some parties in financial hardship because of unnecessary conflicts and misunderstandings. A written agreement is there to prevent these misunderstandings, protect BOTH parties, AND your relationship. This way, everyone will know what is expected of them.
Here are some items that you will probably want to include in your Roommate Agreement. Write down the headings for each one, and what both of you agree upon. When you finish, then both parties should sign at the bottom.
Living Quarters- Which bedroom does each person get? Which bathroom? Will the living room and dining room be equally shared by both, or will one person get one of those spaces and the other person get the other space? Divide up each space of the townhome, loft or apartment as either belonging to one party or the other, or shared. Obviously, the kitchen would be shared. If any particular space is shared, then both parties should be free to put furniture, decorations, or belongings in that space.
Division of Rent- Now that you have a good idea of the space each roommate will have allocated, decide how you will split the rent and what percentage each of you will pay. If the space is split up about even, then a 50/50 split of rent might be in order. But if one person has taken noticeably more space for themselves, then they might be asked to pay a little bit more than 50% of the rent.
Paying the Deposit- Also decide what part of the deposit each person will pay. Usually this fee is split evenly, but whatever you and your roommate agree upon, it is a good idea to mention in the Roommate Agreement. Later, when the lease is up and one or more of you move out, hopefully the apartments will refund your deposit and each of you will get this money back. Rather than trying to remember back so many months ago how much each of you paid and how much you are each suppose to get back, you can just refer to your written agreement.
Paying the Utilities- Also decide what percentage each person will pay of the common utility bills each month....such as electricity and water. Decide what date each month the dollar amount must be collected from each person, and which person will ultimately be responsible for paying the bill. If both parties agree to other shared services, such as Internet or Cable, it also must be decided what percentage each person will pay, the date the money must be collected, and who will be paying those bills.
Furniture- Discuss who is bringing what furniture to the apartment, loft or apartment. If both parties have a washer/dryer, then obviously only one roommate will be able to bring theirs and the other roommate will have to store, sell, or give away their set. The same situation could apply to any shared rooms, such as the living room. If both parties have living room furniture, then ALL the furniture of both roommates will probably not fit together in the same living room, or may not even match. An agreement must be made as to what each person will or will not contribute to the furniture. It would greatly help if you could get a copy of the floor plan of the apartment, townhome or loft that you will be moving into. Your Dallas apartment locator at J. Ellis can get you such a floor plan. Just email or give them a call and request one.
The Kitchen- In the kitchen, if both parties have their own dishes, then decide which cabinets each person will be allowed to use for the storage of their own dishes. One Dallas apartment locator had a good idea for a fair and fun way to settle this issue. They advise their clients to toss a quarter to establish who goes first. The first person chooses ONE cabinet that they would like to claim and they stick a sticky note on the door of that cabinet with their initials. Then the other roommate gets to pick a cabinet and “claim it” with a sticky note. Take turns going back and forth choosing and marking with sticky notes until there are no more cabinets. Now write down who ended up getting which cabinets, and that issue is settled. Also, if there is a pantry, decide who gets what shelves in the pantry for storing their own food. Same thing with the refrigerator. Choose separate shelves for food in the pantry and fridge makes it easier to avoid accidentally eating someone else's food.
Noise and Sleeping Habits- What time do each of you normally go to bed on different days of the week? For the person who goes to bed the earliest, what is an acceptable level of noise? Would the tv bother them? Would noise from people visiting as guests bother them? This is good to discuss because if you have one roommate who has to be to work super early and normally must go to bed by 10 pm, but the other roommate is a night owl and just comes alive about that time, this could be a huge conflict. Limits might need to be set and respected by both parties so that noise is limited during certain blocks of time for both roommates.
Cleaning- For some people, leaving dishes dirty, not taking out the trash, or throwing clothes around is just their way of life. For others, this is completely unacceptable. It is a good idea, in order to prevent problems, to set some rules for cleanliness when it comes to the common areas of your townhome, apartment or loft. One fair rule is that at the end of the day, each person goes through those common areas and picks up everything that belongs to them that they left out of place. This way, those rooms stay tidy. Also, an agreement must be made as to actually cleaning the common spaces (vacuuming, mopping, dusting, sweeping, wiping down, dishes, etc). Most roommates take turns with the heavier cleaning, switching every other week. As far as the dishes go, each person should be responsible for washing their own. A rule could be made that each person's dishes must be washed by the end of the day. This way, they never accumulate and each person has a little flexibility when to wash them that day. The trash is also a task that can be alternated so that each roommate takes turns. Or, another option is to divide up specific tasks so that one person does all the trash and dishes, and another person does all the heavy cleaning each week. Whatever agreement you come to, put it in writing. The expense of cleaning supplies, trash bags, paper towels, and items used for the maintenance of common areas should be shared equally.
Borrowing- It may seem obvious, but it's a good idea to put a rule in writing that states nothing can be borrowed or taken from one roommate (such as their food, toothpaste, clothing, etc) without FIRST asking that roommate.
Assurance of Financial Responsibility- One of the worst things that a roommate can do is abandon you, move out early, and leave you stuck with paying the entire rent on your own for the rest of the lease. This happens because of various reasons....perhaps there was a disagreement and they left in anger or frustration. Maybe they suddenly lost their job or found themselves in a financial hardship. Whatever the reason, they really are hurting themselves as much as they are hurting you. Why do we say that? Because if you are not able to pay the entire rent amount on your own, and you are forced to also abandon the apartment, then both of you will now have a “Broken Lease” on your record. Broken leases leave marks on your credit, but even worse, they make it very challenging to find another apartment that will qualify you. This mark on your rental history will affect BOTH of you from being able to find another apartment for YEARS. Therefore, it is very important to take steps to avoid this scenario. So, be sure that the Roommate Agreement stipulates that if a roommate does move out early, they will continue to pay the rent until another roommate is found (if another roommate CAN be found) or until the end of the lease, whichever occurs first. There should also be included the information for a party who would be responsible financially if, for whatever reason, a roommate is not able to pay their part of the rent any longer (such as a parent). Contact each party to make sure they realize that they are being listed as a back up on this Agreement, and that they agree to the terms. Just knowing that another party is involved is often deterrent enough to dissuade a roommate from abandoning his responsibilities and leaving the other person in the lurch. If a potential roommate says that they don't have any back up if something happens, and there isn't anyone that would be able to help them in an emergency to cover their part of the rent, then they are a very high risk unless they have a really nice size savings account that they could dip into. Consider this carefully.
Pets- Are there going to be any pets involved? What limits do there need to be in place regarding the pets? For example, how would the roommate without the pet feel if that pet got on their furniture? Are they okay with that? Would there need to be certain parts of the loft, apartment or townhome that would be off-limits to the pet? If the pet is a cat, where would the litter box go? If the pet is a dog, will the roommate who is the owner be home during the day so they can be responsible for letting the pet out to do his “business”? Will they be responsible for cleaning up after the pet any messes he or she may make in the apartment? Also, the pet owner would obviously need to be responsible for reporting the pet to the leasing office and paying any necessary pet deposits. When the time comes to move out of the apartment, if the pet has caused any damage to the apartment, then not only will the pet deposit not be refunded, but sometimes they also will hold back part of the regular apartment deposit. If this is the case, then the pet owner needs to compensate the other roommate whatever portion they lost of their refund. Perhaps neither party has pets right now, but do either of the roommates plan to get a pet in the near future? If so, how does the other person feel about animals?
House Rules- Finally, there should be outlined in the Roommate Agreement any particular house rules that the two of you agree upon. What is unacceptable? What will each of you allow or disallow to go on in the apartment? Some common house rules might involve issues such as parties, guests that spend the night, visiting family members, etc.
In addition to being armed with your Roommate Agreement, another way to avoid problems is to remember to calmly work through any issues that may arise. Try to leave emotion out of it, and discuss in a mature manner any concerns. When tempers flare and emotion takes over, reason usually goes right out the window and neither party wins. Try to see the issue through the eyes of the other person and put yourself in their place. Work towards a solution that makes both parties happy. If you still can't come to an agreement, you might ask your leasing office if they have anyone available to assist with resident relations so they can help mediate a dispute. Some communities may have such help available.
Your Dallas Apartment Locator at J. Ellis is standing by ready to help you find that perfect apartment for you and your roommate. Whether you want a 2 bedroom with a split floorplan, or a 3 bedroom apartment so that you can both share an office or a guest room space in the third bedroom, J. Ellis will save you countless hours and help you get exactly what you are looking for.
It's important to reveal to your Apartment Locator upfront if you are going to have a roommate. Both parties will have to be written on the lease and both parties will have to fill out an Application. Your Apartment Locator will need to be written on BOTH Applications as the name of your locator who helped you find the apartment. If one renter lists the help of the apartment locator, and the other renter writes down that they found the apartment themselves, then there could be a conflict later when your Dallas apartment locator turns in the Invoice to the apartments to be compensated. So to make sure that everyone is on the same page, give the Apartment Locator the name of the roommate and phone number so that he or she can introduce themselves to your friend and explain how it works to use the services of a professional apartment finder in Dallas. Also, this way, the Locator can find out from the other renter what he or she is looking for in an apartment, townhome, or loft.
At J. Ellis Apartment Locators we are dedicated to helping you locate that perfect apartment, loft or townhome in Uptown Dallas, Downtown Dallas, Grapevine, Valley Ranch, Lewisville, Plano Bedford, Las Colinas, and every other area in DFW. We work with ALL 3000 plus properties in the Metropolis. Whether you are searching for luxury apartments in Dallas Tx, an uptown Dallas apartment, a downtown Dallas loft, or the most affordable rental community in a nice area that you can find, contact us today for professional and fast assistance.