It’s important to first identify and agree to the major terms of the rental arrangement between roommates, in writing. If, for example, one or more roommates each sign a lease, then each is jointly and severally liable. This means that if one can’t come up with his or her share of the rent, the other(s) is (are) on the hook. And if neither (none) of you can pay, then the landlord may evict you.
It may work better for one roommate (Felix) to take the lead and be the one to sign the lease. Felix would then sublet space in the apartment to the other roommate (Oscar). Felix would be responsible for collecting Oscar’s share of the rent each month, adding it to his share and paying the landlord. While this setup doesn’t ensure that Oscar will pay on time and in full, it does give Felix the option of evicting Oscar for non-payment while still retaining the apartment himself if he’s able, and replacing Oscar with a more reliable roommate.
In the alternative, two or more roommates may draw up their own agreement. Whatever arrangement you make, it’s very important to be clear as to your responsibilities and liabilities.
Got Ground Rules?
If you want to establish a successful shared living arrangement, it’s a good idea to put the ground rules in writing. While it may feel uncomfortable at the outset, it will go a long way to averting misunderstandings later on.
Lay out the basics: What belongs to whom? Are you sharing food costs? Taking turns cleaning the bathroom? Who takes out the trash? What’s the deal with overnight guests? Smoking? Banned substances? Duplication of keys for friends? Firearms? Parties? Practicing musical instruments?
From chores to recreational preferences, you need to understand each other. Above all, communicate with each other. Talk to each other and don’t let a problem fester. And know when to part company; there is no sense in letting a relationship deteriorate to the point of ugliness. Finally and perhaps most importantly, recognize when it’s time to move on….