Sure, you’re friends. You have a lot in common: music, culinary choices, clothes, and people you hang out with. You can trust them, and they seem to be a safe choice. Selecting a roommate is a daunting task, because you both want to make sure that it will be a good situation for all involved. But should you live with a friend?
One of the best ways to ruin a friendship is by moving in with one another. Even the absolute best of friendships are put to the test once you live together. There are small things about your bestie that you may have never noticed before … things that can slowly, but surely, wear on your nerves … like leaving toothpaste in the sink, leaving lights on all over the house, clipping their toenails on the couch, or not cleaning up after themselves in the common areas. In the grand scheme of things this may not seem like a big deal, however, when it comes down to day-to-day living, these little pet peeves can certainly grate at your nerves. How would you feel if you were always doing the dishes and cleaning, even though you didn’t cause the mess, and your roommate never offers to clean? Resentment builds, and if things aren’t set in place prior to living together, you may soon find your friendship on the rocks.
And then there are the big things. For example, your roommate is short on rent, or paid rent late and you paid in full on time. Why and how does this affect you? You both entered into a legal agreement and what you may realize is that even though you paid your portion on time and your roommate didn’t, you both are equally responsible for the rent and ensuring it’s paid on time.
And what about those unresolvable issues? They have company over too late at night. There is a stranger sleeping on the couch. They are smoking in the apartment after you agreed not to. These are issues that roommates face every day, and the fact of the matter is unless it boils down to a lease violation, the property manager cannot intervene on your behalf. Before you sign the lease, ensure that there is a lease break or lease buy-out option. If there is, you can have this as your Plan B in case things don’t work out, or if one of you gets a job offer where living there can no longer be an option.
What I have always told my renters is that signing a lease together is a lot like being married: Easy to get into, hard to get out of. Once that paper is signed, you are in it for the long haul. Before you agree to jump into any living arrangement with your friend, make sure that ground rules are set and discuss possible issues and how you both can handle them constructively and effectively. Most importantly, ALWAYS…ALWAYS agree on a back-up plan.