Protecting Yourself Against Roommates: Using a Roommate Expense Tracker and 8 Other Important Tips
Can you really trust the person you share an apartment with? Unfortunately, even close friends sometimes disappoint—even hurt—each other, so it’s smart to plan for the worst that can happen.
Strategies like using a roommate expense tracker and having contracts in place are key to safeguarding your future and Enzo can help too.
It may sound alarming that you need to protect yourself against those living with you in the same house or apartment, but don’t underestimate the importance of this task. From protecting your mental health, to ensuring your roommates don’t ruin you financially, you need to make decisions that keep you safe. That’s why roommate agreements and tech like roommate expense tracker apps have become so valuable.
Scroll down and find the information you need to help safeguard yourself and make wise decisions going forward.
Living with Roommates—Pros and Cons
One way to make better—wiser—decisions is to have a better understanding of what can go wrong when sharing a living space with others. Of course, the downside to having roommates shouldn’t keep you from choosing these living arrangements. After all, there are many advantages too.
Consider all of it so others don’t take advantage of your naivety and you can make decisions that protect your interests.
Benefits of Living with Roommates
There are financial and personal benefits to living with others. The most important are:
- Saving money since two or more people help cover the mortgage or rent, as well as other monthly expenses.
- You can buy in bulk when shopping for groceries or cleaning products, which often saves money.
- Having companionship instead of experiencing loneliness is good for most people’s mental health.
- It can be safer living with others.
- Sharing the responsibility of chores lightens the load of the home maintenance to do list.
Drawbacks and Risks of Living with Roommates
Whether you live with people you know or complete strangers, you should mentally prepare for some challenges:
- Different personalities and opinions can lead to conflict.
- You may not like living with someone because you’re too different, but only realize it later on.
- Roommates must ask each other before making changes to rooms, such as décor or furniture.
- You’re reliant on others to cover rent or mortgage payments, and they may not pay on time.
- With more people around, rooms tend to be messier.
- Less privacy.
- More noise.
- Even if someone doesn’t pay, you may not have legal rights to evict them.
- Risk of damage to your property by others.
- If they conduct criminal acts, your connection as roommates could affect your reputation, or require you to prove your innocence.
How to Safeguard Your Interests when Living with Roommates
You can see the list of risks is quite long, but don’t let that discourage you from getting a roommate. There’s a lot you can do to stay in control of situations and avoid some of the problems mentioned above.
Follow Strict Procedures Before Accepting a New Roommate
One of the most important ways to safeguard yourself is to be very picky when selecting a roommate. If you’re sharing space with a friend, be honest with yourself about how their lifestyle choices will affect your life. If they’re bad at managing money, they won’t necessarily change that habit just to help pay the rent, so only move in with friends who you know will respect your wellbeing.
You can also have a stranger as a roommate and the following will help you pick the best one:
- Ask family and friends for references first.
- For absolute strangers, research their social media profiles to determine habits, personalities and lifestyle that could affect you.
- Request information on their income sources to confirm that they can afford the rental amount. Also verify their employment.
- Ask if there’s a previous roommate or landlord you can call as a reference.
- Ask questions on topics that matter to you, such as whether they listen to music loudly, often invite friends over or have issues with cleaning the bathroom.
Discuss Lease Options
Explore different lease options and pick one that protects your interests if possible. For example, you can be co-tenants in which case you carry the same responsibilities. Instead of one person taking on the lease and another paying them part of the rent, both will be legally responsible to pay rent to the landlord.
So, one person doesn’t carry the burden of making sure everyone’s rent is paid—it’s up to the landlord to follow up. Also, because all tenants are eligible for damages, they’re more likely to respect the property and take care of it with you.
Compile House Rules
Have an in-depth discussion about the rules of the house, covering all topics that will affect your day-to-day lives, such as guidelines about:
- Cleaning chores
- General maintenance
- Times that no loud noise will be allowed
- Rules for hosting parties
- Friends or family sleeping over
- Usage of communal spaces like the kitchen and bathroom
- Hygiene standards everyone must adhere to
- Taking out the trash
Creating something like a chore calendar is as important as ensuring everyone pays rent, because living in a cluttered, dirty space could affect your mental health. Therefore, all these aspects of apartment living warrant clear rules.
When a new roommate joins the house, give them a chance to voice their opinions, and maybe add more rules to accommodate them. You’ll get their buy-in easier if they’re part of the planning process.
Discuss Bill Sharing and Bill Payments
An important part of the house rules and living arrangements is guidelines about financial management. How will you share bills, such as utility expenses, ordering takeout or the month’s groceries?
Have a Contract in Place
Once all details about payments, chores and house rules have been discussed, get signed copies of a house agreement and contract. Use it as legal proof of what everyone agreed to and also a guideline if anyone oversteps a boundary. Instead of having an uncomfortable debate, you can simply refer them to the documents and state that everyone must keep to what was agreed.
Use a Roommate Expense Tracker
Effective management of roommate living arrangements doesn’t stop at creating house rules. You also need an efficient way to monitor and enforce certain rules, such as tracking which expenses roommates have and organizing how each person will pay his or her share. This is relevant for regular expenses like buying groceries, but also unique purchases, such as buying a new couch that everyone must pay a share of.
There are manual roommate expense tracker methods, such as creating a spreadsheet. However, it’s worth looking into apps that automate processes and allow you to add information on the go. It will be easier to keep figures up to date and with an app like Enzo it’s super easy to share information with housemates.
A risk of living with others is that they—or their guests—may damage or take your valuables. But they can easily deny it if you accuse them. If you have a list of everyone’s valuable items, along with photographs, there will at least never be a dispute about whether a family heirloom or collectible existed.
Also note which piece of furniture was bought or brought by which roommate. You can use your roommate expense tracker or create a spreadsheet that you share with everyone. If someone moves out there won’t be disputes about which items belong to him or her.
Tip: If you all purchase an item together, apart from sharing the information on a roommate expense tracker system, also discuss how you’ll reimburse each other if someone wants to take it with when moving out.
Upgrade Security Features and Remember to Use it
Security features aren’t only to protect you form criminals outside the house, but also anyone with ill intent inside. To have better internal security, consider the following:
- Locks: Make sure all room doors’ locks work well and lock your door whenever you leave your room.
- Safe: Invest in a quality safe for your room and keep your most valuable possessions inside, even your wallet if you’re busy elsewhere in the house.
- Cameras: Having security cameras inside the house will record footage of intruders, but will also deter roommates or their visitors from damaging anything, breaking into someone’s room or taking anything that doesn’t belong to them that’s lying on the kitchen counter.
- Visitors: Invest in access control features, such as someone not being able to enter unless you buzz them in by releasing an electronic lock at the front door. This reduces the risk of roommates’ acquaintances trespassing and causing havoc if none of you are at home.
- Moving out: When someone moves out, ensure you get back all keys and change the locks for in case they made copies.
For peace of mind, it’s worth getting insurance to cover possible loss or damage.
Rules Protect All Parties
Does it seem too strict to create so many rules and guidelines, even when living with someone you know? There are many people that would tell you they wish they were more proactive in maintaining order and protecting their own interests while sharing living space with others. Luckily, these days it’s easy to manage these circumstances with apps like Enzo. So, download it to see how it helps with everything from being a roommate expense tracker to assigning chores.