You and your roommate might get along swimmingly during the period of your tenancy- you might even be the best of friends beyond your shared apartment. However, when it comes to moving out and deciding how you will split everything out in a fair manner, it is not uncommon to encounter problems. If you choose to share the costs of certain household items with a roommate, it is also important to have a plan on how you are going to go about the situation when one of you moves out.
What to do with shared items when moving out? Prior to one of you moving out, sit down and discuss how to go about splitting shared items, and when you come to an agreement, get it in writing. Decide who gets to keep the shared items as well as the amount to be reimbursed to the co-tenant who is giving up the items. An alternative option is to sell the shared items and split the money equally so that no one feels short-changed.
In order to avoid problems when you move out, consider making big purchases such as furniture and expensive electronics separately when you move in together.
Living with a roommate is a great way to save on rent and utilities since you can split these expenses equally and save some money. However, one of you will eventually have to move out at some point, whether you are childhood friends or college, or you found each other online. The process of moving out of a shared unit can be potentially messy, especially if you bought some of the household items together. In order to avoid problems, consider taking precautions prior to moving in and throughout your tenancy as you and your roommate buy various household items to make the rental unit feel like home. Here are some tips on how you can make moving out so much easier when you have shared items.
How to divide belongings with your roommates?
1. Come up with a comprehensive list of what you own
Prior to your move into the rental unit, come up with a list that details everything that belongs to you, especially household items that you plan to keep in common areas such as the living room and kitchen. Once you move in, keep adding to the list as you buy more items. Keep in mind that list should only contain things that specifically belong to you. This way, when the time comes for you to move out, there won’t be any disagreement with a roommate over who actually bought certain items.
2. If you can, make purchases separately
In order to avoid arguments in the future over the household items or paying your roommate a portion of the shared item that you want to take with you, then it is probably best to make purchases separately. This is especially important when you plan to buy items such as furniture, expensive kitchen appliances, and pricey electronics. Although you will save some money when you split the cost of the items you both need, you will have a hard time deciding who gets what when you are moving out.
During the trip to your local furniture or electronics store, make sure that you pay in full for one item, while your roommate covers the cost of another one. This way, you will know exactly what you are responsible for, and you will have an item that is fully your own when you move out.
Before you go shopping, make sure you come up with a list that clearly shows who will buy what and when.
3. Spread out the purchases evenly
When you are deciding on what to buy, make sure that you spread out who gets to buy what. For example, say that you and your roommate come to an agreement that you will buy all the items you will need for the living room- the electronics, the decorative knick-knacks, and a rug or two, and your roommate buys the kitchen necessities- utensils, coffee maker, blender, pots and pans, and hand towels. In this scenario, when the time comes to move out of the rental unit, you will discover that each of you will have to buy an entire room of items.
In order to avoid this, consider spreading out your purchases evenly. Try to buy a little of everything so that when you move out, you will have an easier time buying items in your new apartment.
4. Come up with ground rules for the shared items
What happens if your roommate’s cat scratches the living room sofa that you bought? In order to avoid disagreements, it is important for you and your roommate to come up with a list of expectations in such a scenario before it happens. In most cases, if someone causes damage to an item, the responsible thing to do is to replace it whether they bought it or not.
5. Paying a portion of the shared items
If you and your roommate decide to contribute cash to buy electronics, furniture, or any other household item, there are ways you can determine how to split it evenly.
To determine the current worth of a piece of furniture you bought together, consider using Splitwise’s Fairness Furniture Calculator. This app’s website works by taking into account the amount that you paid for the furniture, how long ago you bought the item, the condition of the item when you bought it, and its current condition. It will then calculate the value of the item- for example, a $1,500 couch that was purchased 3 years ago new and is currently in good condition is worth $525 according to the website- and you could give your roommate half of this amount in order for you to keep it, or vice versa. If you bought a number of items together, you could negotiate and come to an agreement that allows each one of you to get an equal value of furniture when you move out.
When it comes to inexpensive kitchenware such as glasses and plates, splitting whatever you have is relatively easy unless one of you is a gourmet chef. This is because these items tend to get damaged or lost over time, so whoever intends to hold onto these items should provide a price he/she is willing to pay in order to take all of it.
6. Selling or donating some of the items
There are items that you bought that you may not need when you move into your new place. In this case, ask your roommate if he/she wants whatever you don’t need, and if they do, agree upon a fair asking price. If they are not willing to buy any of the items, you can easily sell the items online.
If you and your roommate shared the cost of an item and you simply can’t agree on who gets to have it, then the best option might be to sell it and split the money equally.
Another way you can get rid of shared items is by donating them to an organization of your choosing. Some are willing to pick up the large items up for donation free of charge but make sure you inform them beforehand. For smaller items, you or your roommate can easily drop them off whenever you can.
7. Tossing out what you don’t need
If neither you nor your roommate(s) is willing to take that old armchair you bought together to your new address, opt to get rid of it. However, you just can’t dump the stuff you don’t need on the sidewalk without consequences. There are rules in place on how you can get rid of furniture and any other household items you may not need. These rules usually vary from one building to another. In some apartment buildings, you can simply put everything that you don’t need in a disposal bag and leave it on the curb on trash day for pick up, while other buildings don’t allow this, and you may be charged a fee for removal.
- Does each roommate need to be on the lease? Technically, your roommate who is not on the lease can live in the rental unit, but a landlord typically requires everyone who lives in the apartment to be on the lease agreement- whether the roommate is a tenant or just an occupant. Depending on the landlord, he/she may opt to either turn a blind eye or require the unauthorized roommate to vacate the rental unit within a given period.
- How do you evict a roommate who is not on the lease? When you want a roommate who did not sign the lease to leave, the simplest step to take is to ask them to do so. If your relationship is civil, this shouldn’t be so hard to do, especially if you give them enough time to move out. However, there are instances where your roommate may refuse to evacuate the unit. In such cases, you may have to involve your landlord, who may then file a complaint about trespassing in order to evict the unwanted occupant.