Browse by Category

Add your Article

How to Find & Have Good Roommates
20 May 18 - By TheRazzLine - Compilation

How to Find & Have Good Roommates

A survey was done to determine how best to find good roommates and then how to peacefully co-exist in the same household.

How to Find & Have Good Roommates


Oh boy...are you in for an adventure.
I've owned a house for ten years and have had roommates for most of that time. I have "House Rules" that have been developed over time as situations arose.  The rules include items like paying on time, how utilities are split, cleaning, basic household supplies, use of different areas in the house, parking, noise, guests, personal property, etc.
I would say the biggest mistake as a landlord is not interviewing prospective roommates thoroughly enough and /or getting reasonable because you want to rent a room fast. I think it is most important to stick to your standards and really see the person in front of you.
Make sure any prospective roommate is working or has a source of income and can pay the rent and utilities. When interviewing, ask them to show you a couple months of bank statements so you can see if they're paying their bills. Ask for references and call them.

If you decide to rent to them, have them read your rules and policies and sign it in front of you. Emphasize the important points like paying on time etc.

Remember, you're the boss. They're living in your house. Demand respect. Remember the old adage..."If you give 'em an inch, they'll take a mile". On the other hand, you can't be a Nazi-hard ass all the time.

Lots of communication. If they do something you don't like and it violates your agreed upon policy, handle it fast.


I choose some mature room mates, gave them a "hat" or write-up that includes the household policies and then seldom mention it. I figure this is their life not their prison sentence. Try to develop a sense of tolerance while maintaining standards. I know that sometimes people get over-loaded and I cut them a little slack. It has worked pretty well for a couple of years and I have steady roommates.

I have a written page of rules and policies that I go over with anyone who moves in. It is very important that you have the pay agreement in writing, including when the rent is due, and late fees. You must must must have an exit clause for yourself too.  I have my renters then sign the agreement and date it.

I hate to say it but there are those in who pay the 1st month's rent and then do not pay again. I put in writing that after 10 days of non payment they will be evicted and have them sign it.  Most of our people are wonderful and there is no problem. Just be sure you are covered and there is no doubt what you are offering.


I can offer what I have learned over the last 3 years...


1. Never barter for rent. If a tenant can afford to live there, he has to go.
2. Rent is never late. I always gave a 5 day grace or a $20 late.

Common rules:

1. Respect personal spaces. Their room is sacred.
2. Separate the fridge. Label shelves Bob, Mary, Joe, etc. Don't get involved with squabbles over food.
3. Use good manners at all times.
4. Work out shower schedules and after you use the shower, clean up so the next person has a clean space to use.
5. If needed, ask for cooperation on use of  hot water in the morning. Females usually take longer showers than males. Have a separate towel hanger for each tenant. No overlapping of towels.
6. Work out cleaning stations if need be. Sally takes the kitchen floor, you take out the trash, etc. Common goal is clean and orderly.
7. Sometimes a tenant wants to cook for an outside family member. That is ok but check with housemates and respect their decisions if their decisions are reasonable.
8 Abide by parking rules.
9. Be tolerant.

Laundry:  Some like scented detergent and others object.... This came up once last year between two females and WWIII nearly broke out. Again, manners and tolerance applies.

I hope this helps you get started.


I have been a professional roommate for longer than I care to consider. A few things make all the difference in the world as a roommate. If I were renting to people in a home I owned, there would be these simple, hard and fast rules. Everyone would know, before signing on, that those are the agreements and if they are routinely broken and/or generally disrespected, they would be terminated. I would make this warmly, pleasantly, but genuinely known before taking on any boarders at all.

1. This is YOUR home but it's MY home too. I keep my home neat, orderly and clean. I respect the rights of everyone in my home. See below.

2. Common areas: kitchen, bathroom, living room. Hallways, entry ways, yard, garage. Any place that is not within the confines of your private paid room is a common area. These are to be kept neat and clean--just the way you see them now (If I'm a slob, I guess that's the level of neatness I expect. I'm not--but you can't expect someone to clean up your mess if you keep a messy home. If you keep a messy home, you will get roommates who will keep it the same way).

3. Kitchens: If you use the common dining utensils, plates, stove, refrigerator, etc, you keep your portion of it neat and clean and you clean up after yourself immediately after you prepare meals. This doesn't mean cooking all morning, going off into your room for a three hour absence during which the meal is being consumed, and then emerging around midnight to begin cleaning up the solidified crud from counter tops, sink, stovetop, spatulas, pots and pans. (Where I live, I prepare a meal and wash all my pots, pans etc and clean up before I eat my meal. This takes about 5 minutes of earnest cleaning--my food is still warm. The next guy in after me comes in to a clean kitchen, not to the upset of a big mess he has to work around and clean up to some degree himself.

It's a huge morale killer to live with people who won't clean up a kitchen. I'd have this one made known with the reminder hanging from the window as long as it's needed.
3. Bathrooms: It's horrible to share a bathroom with someone who has no respect for others and personal hygiene. Same thing as above with kitchens: You use the bathroom, you don't leave until it's completely restored to order. You wash out the tub and get all your body particles, soap and hair cleaned out of the tub. And the sink after you shave, trim your beard or whatever hairy body part you regularly manicure. No dirty underwear in corners. No shampoo bottles on their sides, tops off. No soap bars in the corner of the tub. No dirty towels on the shower curtains or in the corners on top of the dirty underwear. You enter a clean and neat restroom, you leave it the same way. If it's a common bathroom, this is vital. If they rent their own, then it's up to them and their own ways, but not ever if the mess enters a single common area.

These three areas of having the tenant understand that he's living in his home but it's my home too and how it looks is how I want it to look, use of the kitchen and use of the bathroom are so important that if you can get agreement on these areas, everything else will work out.

Regarding rent: Take no one in you don't honestly believe can easily and regularly make their rent and have a sense of pride about not being late--particularly if you're going to rely on it for your own mortgage or overall rent payment.

I recommend references from past landlords and other rooms where the person has lived. Taking time to put the household you want into existence is well worth the effort. Good luck...

Good roomies are gold. Bad ones are a nightmare. I found that agreement to rules before one moves in is key. If they can't live with a policy, it won't work.

© 2013. All Rights Reserved