Best Practices as a Roommate
Communicate your needs to your roommate
Be vocal about what your living styles are and what tools and preferences you have. These include what is intrinsic to feeling safe and at home in your new living situation. This must be mutual so your roommate also feels heard and comfortable in your shared space. It’s best to share your communication style before any conflict arises. Do you prefer to communicate in person, through text, or in a house meeting? It helps to ask each other this ahead of time.
Establish boundaries and respect your roommates
Everyone has their own comfort levels regarding their space and how others interact with it. It’s important to discuss matters with an open mindset and remember to be flexible and willing to compromise. Matters such as paying bills, cleanliness, having guests, and study space are some potential issues that should be talked about openly when first living together.
Always ask permission
If you are making a choice that could potentially impact your roommates such as inviting guests over or taking up an entire shared space, always ask first. College students need a quiet study space and having this interrupted by loud guests can cause problems with your roommates. Asking first can prevent conflict later and give your roommates an opportunity to voice their concerns and needs.
Be respectful of boundaries
When living with others you can sometimes feel pressured to always socialize with them, invite them to outings, or even become best friends. However, because you are also sharing space with them, it's important to remember that your friendships should never impact how you respect each other's boundaries. You should be friendly and pleasant with your roommates, but you don’t have to force a deeper relationship than what comes naturally.
Treat your roommate how you want to be treated
This age-old lesson is important to remember in your living situations as you cannot receive respect and consideration from your roommate if you do not offer it. While challenges may arise that are difficult to navigate, ask yourself how you would want to be treated in the reverse scenario. This will ensure that you are courteous of the other person and establish a mutually beneficial relationship of trust and respect in your living space.
Best Practices as a Tenant
Read Your Lease and Don’t Break it
Your lease contains important information that affects your day-to-day activities and what expectations are set for you as a tenant. Reading the contract will help you and your roommates avoid potential violations. If you are unsure about any terms or have any concerns regarding the lease, always consult your landlord first. It is always best to renegotiate the lease instead of breaking the terms. A landlord can evict a tenant for breaking any terms of a lease. Additionally, make sure that every agreement you and your landlord have is written into the lease, because verbal agreements do not hold weight unless they are written into a contract. Lastly, make sure the lease includes a move-in/out condition form detailing the exact condition of the property with photographs. This will be helpful when handling your security deposit.
Create a Move In and Move Out Video
It’s helpful to have this documented prior to moving in your furniture. Go room by room and record and note any markings or if something does not open or close properly. Here is a helpful resource that notes everything for you to document in each room.
Pay Your Rent & Utilities on Time
Before you sign your lease make sure you can afford your rent. It is recommended to have two months of rent saved in case of emergencies or financial hardship. Additionally, if your rent is paid by check or any method that takes a while to send, have it sent a few days ahead of time to ensure you are never marked late. Try to make sure each tenant has one utility bill in their name so one person isn’t responsible for all of them.
Treat Your Rental Like You Own it
Taking good care of your rental helps you maintain a good relationship with your landlord and avoid losing your deposit. While normal wear and tear is expected in rental properties avoid causing any significant damage to the property. By establishing a weekly cleaning checklist with your roommates you can maintain a clean space and keep the house in good condition.
Communicate Maintenance Issues Immediately
Maintenance problems can get worse over time if left unchecked. To avoid future more expensive damage tenants should communicate immediately when they notice an issue with the property. Regular maintenance keeps the property value up and is the responsibility of the landlord, so don’t hesitate to bring it to their attention.
Best Practices as a Landlord
Follow the Guidelines of Your Rental Lease
Be willing to walk through the lease with your tenants and provide clarification on any terms. Be flexible of tenants' wishes as they may ask to negotiate the terms of the lease. Communicate clearly about the rights and responsibilities that both you and your tenants have. Ensure your own protection as a landlord by obtaining the proper insurance and managing finances and taxes correctly.
Handle Problems Carefully and Efficiently
The rental process is sure to include issues with maintenance on the property as well as potential hiccups with tenants. It is important to address tenants' problems swiftly before they multiply and cause a larger issue. Good landlords are always performing routine maintenance and have trusted contractors to swiftly handle repairs. It’s best to set aside finances to handle unexpected repairs to not delay getting problems fixed. Remember to be flexible with tenants as it is common for problems to arise such as late payments due to unforeseen circumstances.
Be Accessible and Respond Promptly
Whenever a tenant calls, respond as soon as possible. As a landlord, you are running a business interaction that tries to ensure the best possible service for your tenants. If you are going to be away and unable to be reached make sure to inform your tenants in advance. Always provide alternate contact information in case of emergencies. If you are unable to fix the problem, swiftly communicate with your tenants and inform them of a timeline they can expect for repairs.
Be Firm But Fair
As a landlord, it is important to find a balance of being firm and fair. If renters are not meeting expectations and consistently fail to communicate it is fair to assume a firm stance. It is important to be consistent with your rules and regulations. There are times you may need to provide a tenant an opportunity to explain any unforeseen circumstances that require more understanding and compassion.