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Roommate Responsibilities: Five Key Questions to Ask Before Moving In

By Lynda Sydney

Published February 1, 2017 • 3 Min Read

If you’re leaving for college or university, or have graduated and are searching for your first apartment, you may be planning on living with one (or several) roommates. This is an exciting time, but before moving in with your buddies, it’s important to get on the same page — not only to protect your sanity, but also to protect your financial future.

Here are five questions to start the conversation:

1) What is Your At-Home Lifestyle?

Sit down and discuss your ideal living arrangements before you go apartment hunting – some of your best friends may not make the best roomies. Are you a workout warrior or a couch potato? Do you prefer to hit the books on the weekend or throw parties? Do you keep your place neat or messy? These fundamental lifestyle differences can cause big problems, even for the closest friends.

2) Who Is On The Lease?

Whether you’re sharing an apartment with one friend or a house with five other students, include the names of all tenants on the lease. In case of damage to the property the person on the lease can be held financially accountable, and you want to be sure everyone shares equal responsibility.

3) Which Costs Will You Share?

To reduce expenses, it makes sense to share services like internet and cable – just include all names on the accounts. This is also a great opportunity to have the budget conversation with your roomie(s). Set up prepayments directly from your bank account to ensure you pay your bills on time and avoid late payments that can negatively impact your credit rating. The article “5 Smart Money Tips for Living Off Campus” provides additional insight into the best ways to share expenses and pay bills.

4) Do You Have Insurance Coverage?

When considering insurance, you may think about protecting yourself against theft or damage to personal property – your computer, cellphone and other items. But liability insurance is also important in case there is a fire, flood or a personal injury accident at your rented home. As a student, you can usually get a rider on your parent’s policy to cover your belongings. In terms of liability, check with your landlord as this cost is often covered in the lease. Contact an insurance professional to find out the best options for content and liability insurance.

5) Who Will Use Your Vehicle?

If you own a car, be aware of your responsibilities if you lend it to a friend or roommate. The insurance policy is for the car not the driver, and it is the owner of the vehicle who will be held accountable in the case of a collision or other incident. Even if it is your friend who has an accident, you will have to pay the deductible and your insurance premium could increase.

Making smart living choices can help you protect your credit rating and financial future which is necessary for securing a car loan, mortgage or other financing you may need after you’ve graduated.

This article is intended as general information only and is not to be relied upon as constituting legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. Information presented is believed to be factual and up-to-date but we do not guarantee its accuracy and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or any of its affiliates.

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