Finding a Good Roommate

A common method of reducing living costs is to have a roommate share the cost of your home or apartment. Not only is having a roommate great for sharing the costs of living, but it can also provide individuals with company. This a good idea for post-secondary students, those leaving home for the first time, and those who are new to a city.

When planning to have a roommate who will share expenses, how do you first decide who the lucky person is? Even if you are friends with, related to, or know of this person, do your homework before they move in. You make think you know them, but living with a person is a very different situation.

Choose a reliable person who will be financially and ethically responsible. Can they pay their share of the costs? Do they have a regular income? Will they respect the property and share maintenance? Who will do what household chores? How will space be used and divided? Thinking about a “day in the life” situation to help you consider all the implications of that individual living with you is imperative. Don’t assume anything. Talk about all the important details before choosing.

If your intention when renting/leasing a home is to have a roommate to share the costs, make sure your landlord has authorized having another person in their rental unit before signing the rental agreement or a roommate agreement. Landlords will require the details and have the right to know all persons who will inhabit the rental unit. You should ensure that the roommate’s name is on the rental agreement or lease so that they are responsible for the payment of rent and repairs. Go into a roommate arrangement knowing the facts.

In Alberta, the Residential Tenancies Act does not include tenants’ obligations to each other. It has to do with the landlord and the tenant signing the Rental Agreement. Unless you and your roommate are both signing the Rental Agreement, a Roommate Agreement should be implemented between you, and your new roommate. Included in this agreement are items such as:

  • The split of the rental cost paid to the landlord – Who pays how much?
  • Division of costs related to the rental home (utilities, repairs, furnishings, etc)
  • Duration of the agreement (staying one month or one year?)
  • If the roommate paid a sum of money towards the security deposit, how much comes back to the roommate and when is it to be returned after the roommate leaves.
  • How are the living arrangements split? Who does what chores? What arrangements if the roommate has others staying or visiting the living space?

A good way to break up a relationship is to NOT have a Roommate Agreement. Don’t assume all will work out. Download a sample Roommate Agreement from the CPLEA website. If there are items and arrangements important to you which are missed on the sample agreement, add these in before having the agreement signed.

There are other shared living arrangements, such as living with your landlord, which are not covered under the Residential Tenancies Act. In each case, it is still important to make sure you have a written agreement or contract in place. It is not a legal requirement but is recommended for your protection.

Using a reliable, trusted rental service such as Rentfaster.ca, to help find you a roommate.