The Roommate

| August 15, 2011 | 0 Comments

Dear Chanel,

I’m writing you out of desperation. I have experienced the worst roommates ever – and it’s not getting any better! I’ve tried all the roommate websites, ads within local colleges/coffee shops and friends of mine or friends of friends. Im exhausted and upset. I need a roommate to be able to afford average rent costs. There’s no way around it – Im not lazy. Ive been working for years and I am a student. Ive been providing for myself for a long time. How do I find better roommates?! JUST ONE! They’ve got to be out there!

– Locked Away in My  Own Home


Dear Locked Away,

That’s upsetting just to know that stable roommates are so hard to come by. At the same time – that’s a strong belief I have had since I was in high school. I actually deterred away from going away for college for the sole reason of having a roommate. It freaked me out to think that my room, my belongings, my personal space would be shared with a stranger. Even the thought of sharing space with my sister or brother – gets deep under my skin. All in all – it’s a trust issue for me.

You didn’t mention why your roommates have been such a bother so I’ll cover the bases on finding a roommate and then send you the warning signs of a bad one.

Finding A Roommate:

  • Advertise – schools, newspaper, Facebook, Craigslist [be wary of course]
  • State ALL the facts
    • Rent Amount
    • Deposit Amount Required
    • State if there is a written lease [this is to cover yourself]
    • State if pets or additional occupants are allowed
    • Clear up if you want a smoker/nonsmoker
    • Clear up if you are seeking a female or male – * you may not advertise this because it’s illegal to base housing opportunities based on gender/age/status/religion/etc* but once an email/call is sent – you can use discretion.
    • State the Ages – without being specific – “young professionals” “middle aged” “college-level” and specify that you wish to find someone similar
    • Describe the general area of housing [id HIGHLY suggest against stating the address or cross roads in ad especially via Craigslist – until you schedule the interview] “By ____[landmark]” or “within 10 miles of the mall/college/Safeway/etc.”
    • Describe the room – provide dimensions, furnished or unfurnished, cable/WIFI access or not?, utilities included or not, other aspects of the house
    • Require copy of ID and paystub upon meeting
    • Introduce yourself – explain the living situation [is there a current roommate – who else lives there – are there any pets – do you own the place – are you renting it for a year or a couple months – etc]
    • Ask them as much as you would want to know before letting someone into your home and personal space
      • Why Do they Need a room?
      • Where are they from?
      • Do they know the area?
      • Do they smoke/drink/party?
      • Do they plan on having their significant other over a lot [this does pose a problem in most situations]
      • How do they intend to pay rent – can they provide proof of income?
      • Do they use drugs or any heavy Rx? [this can be a red flag – depending]
      • Do they own their own car? [you may THINK this won’t be an issue…but…I’ll explain]
      • Ask for full name, contact # and email address [I’ll explain]
    • So…what do you think?
      • The ball is in your court now. How are you feeling?
      • How was their tone?
      • Do you feel it was a bit sketchy?
      • Unsure….?
    • If you ARE uncomfortable:
      • Thank them for their time
      • State that you’ll go over what you guys have talked about and will get back within a couple days
      • You can either: not call/text or email or call/text/email and say you found someone else.
      • Intuition is MOST important – trust me.
    • If you are UNSURE:
      • Thank them for their time
      • Say that you would like to call them back once you decide a good day/time to have them over
      • Call a friend or speak to the other residents – ask their opinions.
      • Search their name/email on Facebook and Case Search for your state
        • This helped me discover a potential roommate had a history of abuse towards women!
        • This allows you to make your own judgement based on their profile photos or other photos – it may even show you that your person isn’t real or using someone else’s email!
      • If still feeling unsure – I would forget it and move on.
      • If feeling a bit better about it – take the following tips.


    • If you are COMFORTABLE
      • Schedule a time for them to come over
        • Aim for daytime – midday to ensure neighbors and other roommates are home
        • Most people do work during the day – so if it’s kind of late or early, ask a friend, relative or roommate to stay with you or by their phone.
      • Keep the house clean – make them want to be there.
      • Have all pets accessible – they need to know how many/what kind of pets they’ll be living with.
      • Print out a copy of the master lease and their own draft lease that covers all terms
        • Monthly Rent
        • Utility Policy
        • Pet Policy
        • Drug/Alcohol Policy
        • Deposit Rules – it is kept depending on lack of notice or failure of payment
  • Day of Meeting
    • Pay attention to details!
        • Are they attentive?
        • Is their car falling apart?
        • Do they look a mess?
        • Are they prepared for your questions/concerns?
        • Did they bring someone with them? If so – who and why?
    • Paperwork
        • Go over everything together.
        • Ask for their copy of ID and Paystub.
        • Make a copy for them and a copy for yourself.
    • Did it Work for you?
        • If so – make them a key, pick the date of move in
        • If not – tell them you’ll be in touch
          • Are you concerned of them knowing your address?
            • Keep doors locked. Keep place well lit and make a note of their tags.


  • My Top 10 RED FLAGS for Roommates:
    1. They drink over 4x a week – in mass quantities
    2. They are late paying rent on ANY of their first 3 months – if not all of them!
    3. They can’t afford a full deposit within 3 months
    4. They are borrowing money from you – and it’s not a friend of yours!
    5. Food/Dishes/Dirty Items are collecting and making mass piles
    6. Frequent yelling towards yourself, their guests/friends/family or yours. This includes mistreating PETS!
    7. Drug Use/Frequent Partying
    8. Lack of a Car – they’ll eventually be asking for rides or bus money at some point – at first it’s fine but let me tell you – it gets old, FAST!
    9. Stealing/”Borrowing” of toilet paper, supplies, FOOD! or anything else that is NOT theirs, that they have NOT paid for, that you have NOT made “community” on a frequent basis. Without replacing [but even if they do – its obnoxious]
    10. Needing to always know where you are, when you’ll be home or seems irritated if you have plans with other people

  • These are just my PERSONAL opinions – obviously there are more!


Category: OPINION

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A short and witty young professional with tons of advice for you to grasp onto. I can cover anything from relationships to small business management to modeling to photography to career changes to having babies. Bring it on!