Having a whole apartment to yourself certainly is the ideal for many, but with the ever increasing cost of living, it has become necessary for some to have one or more roommates. There are many upsides to having roommates, with the most significant being a shared financial responsibility when it comes to paying for rent and other expenses in a rental unit, consequently allowing you to live more comfortably than if you had to live on your own. However, the perks of having a roommate or two entirely depend on whether the person you choose to live with is the right fit, as well as whether they are willing to comply with the terms of the lease and the ground rules you might have.
How many roommates is too many? The ideal number of roommates to have depends on your needs. Factors to consider:
- Your budget
- Number of rooms
- Your lifestyle and social needs
- Limitations set by your landlord
The number of people opting to move in with roommates in order to be able to afford to live in a given apartment is steadily on the rise. The more roommates you have, the lower your monthly rent will be, especially if you share housing expenses evenly. Given this fact, many people opt to seek more roommates just so they could save some money, but what is the limit when it comes to the number of roommates you can have?
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A. Factors to consider when it comes to making the decision on how many roommates to have
1. Your budget
One of the most important factors that typically determines the number of roommates you will have is your budget. You may want to upgrade from your tiny studio apartment to a one bedroom or even a two bedroom in a prime location but you simply can’t afford to due to your tight budget. One of the best solutions in such a scenario is getting a roommate. If you are able to afford half the rent and other expense, then one roommate should be enough. If the only way you can afford the expenses is by splitting it several ways, then get as many roommates as the apartment can accommodate. All in all, having a roommate or two might make the cost of living more manageable, and is a reasonable option to consider.
2. The number of rooms in the rental unit
The number of roommates you can live with also depends on the space available. A small space like a studio apartment can be shared by two people at most, and even then, it may turn out to be uncomfortable (unless you are living with your significant other). Ideally, each co-tenant should have their own room. While you will save more money when two or more people share a room, lack of personal space will inevitably cause friction between you and your roommates.
3. Your lifestyle and social needs
If you are value your personal space and you generally prefer not to share it, living with roommates will take an emotional toll on you in the long run. Despite the benefit roommates will have on your budget, you may be better off living alone or with only one roommate that you are comfortable with and who understands your need for boundaries.
4. Limitations set by your landlord
Some landlords may choose to put a limit to the number of tenants who can share an apartment based on housing laws. There are state codes and local health and safety codes in place that set restrictions on the number of tenants that may occupy a rental unit based on its size and the number of bedrooms and bathrooms it contains.
However, a landlord cannot limit the number of tenants simply because they want to reduce noise levels or potential damage to the apartment. In fact, according to the federal occupancy standards, landlords are required to allow two people per bedroom unless they have valid business reasons to set limits.
B. Disputes among roommates or with your landlord
Whether you live with one roommate or more, you are bound to disagree on one issue or another at some point of your tenancy. These differences may even involve your landlord, and they will generally affect the tenancy. Therefore, it is important to have an idea of how to go about potential disagreements when you have one or more roommates.
1. When one co-tenant does not pay rent
Splitting the housing expenses among co-tenants is typically the ideal. This means that each co-tenant is independently liable for their share of expenses. In the lease agreement, landlords usually include a statement that says that apartment occupants are “jointly and severally liable.” This simply means that if one of your roommates is unable to pay rent on time, all occupants of the unit will be held responsible. Similarly, if one of your roommates abruptly moves out, the landlord will expect you (and any other roommates you may have) to pay the full amount on their behalf.
2. When one roommate goes against the terms of the lease
If one of your co-tenants damage the apartment or violate the lease in any other way, the landlord has the legal right to hold you and other co-tenants responsible. For example, if one of your co-tenants causes serious damage to the property, the landlord may evict all of you as long as he/she provides the appropriate notice.
However, in most cases, if you and your other non-offending roommates are able to set yourselves apart from the irresponsible tenant in the eyes of the property manager, you may be able to avoid eviction.
3. When roommate arrangements don’t go as planned
Ideally, roommate arrangements should go smoothly, but in reality, that is rarely the case. Disagreements tend to occur over a range of issues, including late payment of rent, cleanliness of the unit, noise levels, guests, and many others. The only way you can keep conflict with your roommates from escalating is by collaboratively coming up with an informal agreement that requires you and your roommates to take your responsibilities seriously. Some issues that you can cover in such an agreement include:
- Rent and utilities – You will have to agree on the amount that every co-tenant should pay to the landlord for rent and utilities on a monthly basis. This amount should be equal to avoid any problems in the future.
If the landlord will only accept a check from one person, you should agree on who will write the check, and whether the other co-tenants will pay their share to the paying individual before or on the due date.
- Chores – It is important to come up with a cleaning schedule that fairly allocates duties to all the co-tenants.
- Noise – You should agree on when the TV or the stereo should be turned down low or completely off. This could be when one of the co-tenants has some schoolwork or a work assignment to do.
- Food – You will have to decide on whether you will be sharing food and grocery shopping expenses with your roommates. If you will be cooking collectively, come up with a schedule that delegates responsibilities appropriately.
- Space – It is important to agree on bedroom occupancy as well.
- Guests – Ensure that you discuss whether it is okay to have overnight guests over and set rules that you may deem necessary.
- Moving out – It is important to have an agreement regarding moving out in case one of your co-tenants decides to leave before the lease ends. As a result, the tenant moving out should give as much notice as they can, and if possible, they should find a suitable replacement tenant before the given date.
- Can a landlord prevent you from having guests? Your landlord cannot keep you from having guests. You have the right to invite whoever you want to your apartment without the landlord’s input. A guest to your home cannot be denied access to your home unless he or she went against the stipulations of the lease, or they broke federal, state, or local law. In such an instance, the landlord may inform your guest that they are not allowed on the property.
- When can a landlord raise your rent? Unless you live in a city where there is rent control, the legal right of your landlord to raise the monthly rent depends mostly on whether you have a month-to-month rental arrangement or a more long-term lease. If you have a month-to-month rental agreement with your landlord, he/she can raise your rent or make changes to the terms of your lease as long as he/she gives you a 30 days written notice. If you have a lease, your landlord can only raise the rent at the end of the lease period, or if there is an indication on the lease regarding the rent increase.