Choosing a roommate is an important part of renting an apartment. Often you may begin living with someone and be great friends, but the stress of being incompatible can drive your relationship to dissolution. The Austin Tenants’ Council helps you make sure you and your roommate are compatible housemates.
First, it’s important that the person you choose can be trusted to live up to their financial commitments, such as paying rent and bills, as well as their commitment to assume equal responsibility for taking care of the shared living space. Being afraid to come home because you are in a fight with your roommate is a very unpleasant situation. By discussing things such as expectations on the amount of noise in the apartment, acceptable hours for guests, and acceptable level of cleanliness for the apartment before you sign a lease with someone can prevent you from winding up in an untenable situation. These sorts of things can be clarified in a roommate agreement.
As far as financial responsibilities, your landlord and utility companies only care that they are paid, they do not care where the money comes from. If you do not come up with the complete rent or utility money, all inhabitants of the house are responsible and will have their credit dinged for any late or missing payments. When it comes to utilities, one person will have to write the check and collect payment from the other roommates. If one roommate wants cable and another doesn’t, perhaps that bill can’t be split down the middle. That is another item to be discussed in advance.
The Austin Tenants’ Council has a Renting Together Contract that provides a useful way for all roommates to agree to their responsibilities, as well as laying out the procedure if a roommate wants to move out.