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My housing experience has been me and my roommates signing leases with our landlord together. I am going to move soon, and am interested in a 2br apartment with $850 rent. The landlord of that apartment requires only one tenant to sign the lease with him. Suppose I will find someone to be my roommate, and I wonder what I need to consider in order to protect my interest, in case of me not finding a roommate for some month(s), and/or my future roommate turning out to be irresponsible?

  1. Shall I ask my future roommate to pay more than what his/her bedroom is worth (e.g. more than half of the apartment's rent), or we just pay half to half?

    Do I need to let my future roommate know the actual rent I pay to the landlord?

  2. Can I ask my future roommate for security deposit for both rent and utility?

  3. Is it better that I ask my future roommate to sign a lease with me?

  4. What else do I need to consider?

Thanks and regards!

  • Do you live in a jurisdiction such as San Francisco where they've got a fancy-schmancy Rent Board or similar government agency which enjoys sticking its nose into all those sorts of arrangements? (Actually, with that rent, there's no way you're in SF, but the point stands.) San Francisco's rent board has definitely expressed a variety of opinions on how you can (and can't) split rent among roommates... – fennec Jul 13 '12 at 20:57
  • @fennec: Do you mean there are some cities where their local laws have the requirement of pricing the rent of roommates? I don't know about my city (Baltimore). How can I find out the information? (BTW: the apartment is the third floor of a row house, and that is why the rent is 850). – Tim Jul 13 '12 at 20:59
  • $850 won't buy you 2 bedrooms in San Francisco. It might buy you a studio or in-law in the part of town with an elevated risk of stabbing... IF you're lucky. ;) As for Baltimore, see if these people have anything: baltimorehousing.org + whatever else google turns up for 'baltimore rental law' or the like – fennec Jul 13 '12 at 21:05
  • See this question about guest and subletting for a discussion about the issues from the landlords view. – mhoran_psprep Jul 13 '12 at 22:38
  • See this blog post about San Francisco rental politics for things that a certain jurisdiction might possibly conceive of regulating, sfcitizen.com/blog/2010/01/14/… – fennec Jul 16 '12 at 15:42
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I assume that you do not have a current roommate. If this is case and you have the monies to pay the security, rent and utilities hookups then I recommend singing the lease alone. The reason is most locations treat the people on the lease as the owner in cases of having to remove a roommate or sue a roommate for damages to the apartment. Of course the landlord has ultimate rights and can choose to overrule you. However everyone I have dealt with that I had roommate issues, if you present them with documentation of the issues they will side with you.

Another overall thing to consider is a contact with the roommate stating when rent and other bills need to be paid, how resources will be split up (i.e. food, water, electrical outlets etc.. etc..), how household chores will be spilt up. How conflicts are to resolved etc.. etc..

Now for your questions

  1. Pretty much half the rent, bills and food unless their is some reason to raise or lower the amount. Such as asking them to pay more if they have a animal or less if they other a service that is valuable to you (example charged a roommate less because he knew how to fix and maintain cars)

1a. Yes, let your future roommate know what the rent and bills are in advance so they know how much money they will need to pay

  1. IMHO No for the reason I outlined above, however if you feel the roommate will be long term or if you want you can have them pay half even thought you have already paid

  2. IMHO No for the reasons I outlined above.

  3. Not that I can think off let me mull it over. If I do think of something I will add it

  • Thanks! (1) Are you saying if person A tries to sublease the apt or room he has rented to person B, A cannot ask for security deposit from B? (2) And is it correct that the landlord can ask for security deposit from A, but not from B? – Tim Jul 14 '12 at 8:01
  • 1 - No, I am saying you can ask for a security deposit from B even if you have paid it, also you probably will have to pay a additional one if B brings a pet (if A has not already). – OrionDarkwood Jul 15 '12 at 1:38
  • 2 - Once the security deposit is paid a landlord can not ask for another unless there is a reason such as a pet. – OrionDarkwood Jul 15 '12 at 1:39
  • @OrionDarkwood - Asking for half of the security deposit is a really good idea. – Ramhound Jul 16 '12 at 14:27
  • @Ramhound I am not saying its a bad idea, just IMHO if one can have the lease in thier name alone it makes it easy to boot roommates if it comes to that. Which in this case it sounds like the roommate is a unknown. Even if they do pay all the security deposit asking for the future roommate for some help on it would be a good idea. – OrionDarkwood Jul 16 '12 at 14:56

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