for the University of Pittsburgh Community

Resources | Roommates

By the time you are looking to move off campus, you have probably already had experiences with roommates, but apartment living presents its own unique challenges. There are some big things that should be determined before signing the lease, and other issues that may just persist. From picking roommates to allocating space, here’s a few points to discuss with potential roommates before committing to living together.

Picking a roommate

Whether you decide to live with a best friend or a stranger, there are still things to consider, especially when it comes to living habits. What do they prefer in terms of cleanliness? Spit-spot Mary Poppins style clean or dirty clothes scattered all over the floor organization? Remember to communicate clearly with your roommates, using conflict resolution skills to mend disagreements. Conflicts will happen, but the earlier they are addressed and negotiated on, the more comfortable everyone will be. The temperature you prefer to live in may be different from your roommate’s, so try to find a happy medium.

If you are looking for a roommate, make sure to get to know them before committing to a year-long lease. Try class pages on Facebook or simply asking around. A friend of a friend may be looking for somewhere to live in the upcoming semester, and you don’t have to be the best of friends with your roommate.

Leasing options

When it comes to the lease, you should carefully consider who is on it. Some landlords offer the option to choose one roommate as the primary leaseholder, with all the other roommates as sublessees. Being the primary leaseholder means they have the sole responsibility for upholding the rules laid out in the lease.

On the other hand, all roommates may be listed on the lease as co-tenants, meaning they share responsibility for the lease. However, this means that if one roommate breaks a rule, all roommates can be evicted as a result.

Monthly costs

One of the first things to do when the lease is settled is determining a fair way to divide rent. Most roommates choose to divide rent evenly, but it gets complicated when rooms are not equal in size or placement, or there are extra amenities. Upon picking rooms of varying sizes, each roommate should make objective decisions in regard to the pro’s and con’s of each room. In the end, having one roommate in charge of collecting rent is a good idea. This way, it is a guarantee that all tenants are paying rent on time.

Along with rent, you should also discuss who will pay for utilities, or at least how it will be split. Utilities typically include water, electric or gas, cable and internet, all of which are expected to be covered independently from rent. Like rent, one person should be in charge of paying for the utilities, and the other tenants can Venmo or repay according to how the bill is split.