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Finding a Compatible Roommate

If you are considering sharing your space with a roommate, here is a brief guide to help you find your best match.

Please understand that we do not intend to seem paternal here. Unfortunately, most roommate disasters are the result of a desperate, sloppy or naïve selection.

Throughout this website Lee Street Management has tried to maintain a professional approach to our style of writing. We make a slight exception here to illustrate how casual and intimate living with another person can become. For everyoneís sake, you must ask those awkward questions. You must establish mutually agreeable expectations and you must be prepared to say no.

The Bare Minimum

Roommates cannot really know each other until they become roommates. You can however, exchange some important information before you make the leap. Meet your candidate at least a few times before you decide. Allow plenty of time for a relaxed, candid conversation. The more you talk, the better you will understand each otherís basic nature, habits and lifestyle. The time you invest here will go a long way toward helping avoid unpleasant surprises.

The Interview

  • The first meeting should be in a public place. Both of you will feel more comfortable and you can exit more easily if you sense incompatibility.
  • Daytime meetings are preferable, especially if your candidate is the opposite sex.
  • Allow plenty of time and try to have an agenda. Small talk is helpful, but you want to be sure to cover mutual expectations and pragmatic arrangements.
  • Exchange former roommate or other references and check them carefully.
  • At least one meeting should be at their place. Seeing how someone lives today will tell you what your apartment will look like when they live with you.
  • Obey your instincts. A marriage is much easier than a divorce.
  • Do not worry about a credit report. Part of Lee Street Managementís approval process is to perform a complete review of your candidateís formal application.
  • Together, try to create a list of agreeable rules, pet peeves and accommodations. This might help avoid a later debate over what you thought he said.

Basic Terms

  • Term: We recommend a trial period of 30 to 90 days. This is not a practical alternative in most cases but arrange it if you are able.
  • Rent: You will be jointly and severally liable for rent. Lee Street Management will reserve the right to collect any unpaid rent or damages from either party.
  • Lease: Your roommate must agree to abide by all the terms of the lease. You will both bear responsibility for problems your roommate may create. Your roommate will not be added to the lease until you renew for another term.
  • Security Deposit: Pro-rate his security deposit and get it in advance. Lee Street Management will make any security deposit refunds only to you.
  • Move-Outs: Agree in advance how, when and if the relationship will end.

The Joy of Living Together

Where do you draw the line... Whose space is whose? Is it my turn in the bathroom? I did not make those calls to Spain! Have you paid the bills this month? Should we mix laundry? Can I borrow your car again? Hey, thatís my toothbrush! My girlfriend is coming over tonight; can you find somewhere else to sleep? Fine then, Iíll buy my own milk. Stop walking around naked; itís kind of weird. I lost my job. What smells? Did I ask for your opinion? But you didnít pay me back the last time. Are you still mad about the litter-box thing? Yeah I know I promised but ...

When it comes to bathrooms, phones, clothes, food and TV, the less shared the better.

  • Housekeeping: Will you share cleaning responsibilities? Will you hire a maid?
  • Guests: Are overnight guests allowed? Where are guests entitled to hang out? What if you donít like your roommateís friend? What if you really like your roommateís friend?
  • Smoking/Drinking/Drugs: Be very clear about these items, and be clear that guests must also abide by the rules.
  • Kitchen Rights and Responsibilities: With pizza and pretzels, come cleaning chores, garbage removal and old-fashioned consideration.
  • Bathroom: Who gets it, when and for how long? Can she brush her teeth while you're in the tub?
  • Peace and Quiet: If you let your roommate get a good night's sleep, they'll wake up happy.  Happy roommates have enormous staying power.
  • Trust: This is absolutely essential. Be careful to keep things such as checking accounts, credit cards and PIN numbers, etc., separate.
  • Don't be nosey, either by snooping around or by expecting an explanation of personal matters. Respect your roommate's privacy.
  • Do not wait to be asked. Volunteer to carry the household burden. A good roommate will reciprocate.

Put it in Writing

Try to prepare a modest Roommate Agreement. It is not realistic to cover every possibility, but seeing the rules in black and white will help each of you tell the other how seriously you take this arrangement.

Listen to your little voice, make your most sincere effort and be worthy. You might make a friend for life.


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