5 things to consider before renting with a housemate

by Chris Lang on August 18, 2011

Angry note When people live under one roof, all sorts of things happen, good and bad. And while we always hope for the best, it makes sense to try and predict the worst in advance, and if the potential for trouble is high… re-think it before committing.

Even living at home with your parents, siblings and the rest of the family can be unpleasant when personalities collide. But when strangers spend a lot of time together, each with different habits, or even a different cultural background, this may become a potentially explosive situation – if housemates are wrong for one another.

“But wait,” you say, “aren’t you exaggerating, Chris?”

What could possibly go wrong?

1. Cleaning roster.

Everyone requires a different level of cleanliness in a house. Some people are clean freaks, and others think tidying up is highly overrated. Unless there is a cleaning roster that is agreeable on everyone in the house, and everyone is sticking to it, expect trouble.

2. Late rent.

Even though every housemate has their own share of rent to pay, when someone doesn’t pay on time, everyone is in trouble. Many rental agreements hold all the renters in the house responsible for the rent, and it may happen that to avoid eviction other housemates will have to cover for the person who’s late with rent.

3. Owing money for damages / expenses.

Suppose you are renting with 2 housemates. One of them decides to throw a party, which goes haywire, and his guests break a couple of windows. The housemate refuses to pay and moves out. Since all co-renters are responsible for the house in common, you and the remaining housemate are stuck with payment for damages and his unpaid rent.

Considering a less dramatic scenario, there always are household bills (electricity, gas, water, phone, internet) that need to get paid on time. Here again, if a particular housemate is not cooperating, it becomes everyone’s problem.

4. Eating habits.

Some people eat less, some people eat more. Some people have the appalling habit of eating all the food in the house. If there’s no policy in the household about sharing of food (or not sharing the food), a conflict is only a matter of time.

5. Different personalities.

No policy will ever work for incompatible personalities. If one housemate likes solitude and the other is a big talker, if one wants to be left alone, and the other is clingy and constantly needs a pair of ears for his stories, there simply is no policy that will rectify the situation. So when you choose a housemate, choose wisely.

Have you ever had a housemate from hell? Share your story here.

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