I wrote an article the other day about living with roommates, focusing on splitting the grocery bill. Today I’m going to talk about splitting the rent.
If you live in residence than you don’t have to worry about collecting rent from your roommates, unless you have one living with you illegally. If that’s the case, you’re more clever than I am and don’t need to read this article. For those of you who do have roommates, whether you’re the landlord or the tenant, I hope this article can make things simpler for you.
If you are the landlord than you can either have a flat monthly rent fee, or you can charge basic rent, and have everyone split up the utilities. There are pros and cons to either method, but the simplest is a flat fee for a few reasons. A flat fee is the same every month, so whoever is paying it can expect what to pay each month without having any surprises. The only thing with that is if your utilities are expensive your roommates tend to overuse them, or not care how they use them.
Splitting up the utilities can be beneficial because everyone is aware of their bills and how much utilities actually cost, so when they live alone they aren’t shocked to see huge bills. This will also make sure that no one turns the oven on and leave the door open to heat the place. When splitting bills don’t forget about the water/garbage bill. Some cities and towns send the bill out every two or three months, so be sure to remember that if everyone moves out before the bill gets to you.
While living with roommates you might discover that only one guy watches TV. Nowadays TV and internet often come bundled up so getting the basic package is a no-brainer. Sometimes your roommate will pay the bulk of the bill if they realize that they are the only ones using it.
A great way for paying rent when living with roommates is to pay with Paypal. With Paypal you can transfer money for free from bank to bank without any fees. I like it a lot better than cheques because with Paypal I can see the money come out of my account and I don’t have to worry about a cheque bouncing. It’s also great because you don’t need to go and find your bank to cash the cheque, it’s almost instant and you can just continue on using your debit card. Unfortunately there aren’t too many apartments that let you pay with Paypal, but you can use it to pay whoever signed the lease no problem.
The best part about living with roommates is that you can experiment. Currently I have a 3 bedroom townhouse with just a buddy for a roommate. I have the big room as well as the parking spot seeing how he doesn’t have a car. Since I have a larger percentage of the value of the place, I pay slightly more than half.