Sharing an apartment, a necessary step for single people in large cities?

Single, With Roommates, And Looking

In many large cities, affordable housing is becoming increasingly scarce. It’s not quite the Industrial Revolution but living quarters in cities like New York City, San Francisco and Portland (on both coasts!) are getting tight. In the face of this reality, singles living in the city have to get creative – but are there legal consequences to their quick fixes?

Sharing an Apartment Meant for One…with Many

It’s a smart move: take the cost of an entire house, have a single person occupy each room, have them pay rent for occupying the space and keep the kitchen, living room and dining room “communal” areas. Share the cost of utilities and maybe even Internet. It’s the perfect living situation – on the surface. You have the luxury of privacy but also get to feel like you’re part of a bigger group. But sharing an apartment as a group of singles brings up bigger questions: who’s liable for damages? Has the property been properly zoned or designated as a rental? Is everyone protected with a separate lease term or is there only a “good-faith” agreement? Singles should think carefully about these before sharing an apartment and consider drawing up a roommate agreement.

The Benefits of Having Roommates

For many singles, sharing a living space or entire house helps with their monthly living expenses. This means that they may be able to put money towards rent and utilities while still saving for their own places at some point. Living in the city can definitely get lonely and, with those who work high-pressure jobs, with work hours spanning 50-80 hours a week, having a friendly face at home can really help boost morale. Yet, the issue of finding a roommate who has a similar work-and-life routine, shared interests, values or even outlook is a tricky one. There is also the issue of payment. If a shared apartment is in the name of a single leaseholder, will the roommate who is renting out the “spare room” be paying via a cash (an otherwise “untraceable” method, for tax purposes) or via cheque? These are viable questions that are worth thinking through prior to a move.

Many singles must go through three or four roommates before they find “The One”. It’s always a good idea to vet people applying for the room thoroughly. Singles who want to co-habit should be prepared to have references who will speak to their good payment habits or cleanliness and have rented previously.