The Recession Roommate-Hunting Guide - TheStreet

As the economy putters along, plenty of people find themselves saddled with exepensive apartments they can no longer afford. Some people will have to find cheaper places or negotiate down their rents. Other’s however, will find a roommate.

Craigslist says that roommate postings on the site are up 63% over the last 12 months. BloggingStocks reports that increasing numbers of renters are looking for roommates as concerns about the economy cause many to rethink their living situations in the name of frugality. This means that there is no shortage of potential candidates. But what you really need to know is how to find a good roommate. Here are a few tips for those of you who haven’t had to do this for a while… or ever:

1. The Search. Finding a good roommate requires a degree of diligence and effort. Community boards often provide names and numbers of those looking for roommates, so you can start your search there. Additionally, there are online matching services like that provide help in locating potential boarders. You can also ask friends and relatives whether they know someone looking for a roommate.

2. Don’t Settle. When you are the one asking someone to move in, whether you rent a room out of your home or ask for another person to move into an apartment, it’s okay to be picky. After all, it’s your place. You don’t want it trashed. If you are moving in with someone else, you want to make sure it’s going to work out before you commit to anything.

3. Make it Formal. Ensure everyone’s legal protection by preparing and signing a formal lease. If you have a landlord, make sure that your roommate signs a lease as well. That way, your roommate is partially responsible for the rental property. You don’t want to be stuck with no recourse if your roommate suddenly decides to leave. If you are renting out a room in your home, it becomes especially important that you provide a lease for your tenant to sign. There are a number of sites online that can provide you with sample lease agreements that you can tailor to your needs. Make sure landlord and tenant responsibilities are clearly spelled out.

4. Due Diligence. You can also protect yourself by asking for references, and then checking up on them. Requiring proof of income is another way to protect yourself in a roommate situation. You don’t want to discover that your “roommie” can’t pay the rent. Encourage open communication so that problems can be addressed before they become crises.

You’re always taking a chance when you decide to live with someone else, but when you do your homework ahead of time, you are more likely to have a better experience.

Bonus: If getting a roommate is an absolutely foreign concept to you, offers these sensible tips every Recession Roommate Hunter should remember:

• Have an idea of what you expect in a roommate. Figure out how much of the rent, utilities and other expenses you expect him or her to cover. Decide how you prefer to split chores and other household duties.

• Prepare a list of questions prior to contacting potential roommates. Information you should ask for includes late-night habits, smoking, drinking and other personal activities that might prove disruptive. Two people who like to party a little are more likely to have a reasonably good experience than a homebody paired with a night owl.

• Understand that you will have to answer these questions, too. Be honest about your own personal habits and activities.

• Know the legality of having a roommate. Some landlords do not allow sub-letting or apartment move-ins. Additionally, know the rules in your residential area; in some places, only family members (immediate or extended) can live in a single residence.

Related Stories:

Apartment Hunting When You’re Out of Work

Negotiate A Lower Rent

Are Lease Options a Good Idea?

Eviction: What are Your Rights?

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