Step One: Interviewing Roommates
“Interviewing” sounds formal but you need to uncover basic traits and quirks of potential roommates. Especially discovering or disclosing things like having pets, allergies, whether one smokes, guests such as boy/girlfriends who will frequent the place and basic cleaning habits/preferences are crucial. Learning potential roommates’ social habits will matter if one is a shy bookworm and the other is “Van Wilder.”
Also, review the next section. This may spark other important preferences. Most importantly, be up front and honest regarding yourself and your own preferences…the others have to live with you, too!
Step Two: Agreements Up Front
Basic things to discuss or set down in writing before moving in:
- Room/Bathroom assignments- Different sized rooms or sharing bed and bathrooms may cause issues if not discussed beforehand.
- Rent and fees- Discuss money amounts, especially if there’s not an equal share or if the lease doesn’t allow individual payment. Also, how the security deposit is going to be handled is vital right off the bat.
- Food- This may seem silly but deciding if food belongs to individuals or the community usually pops up.
- Cleaning and chores- Set expectations early and help everyone keep to their word. Make a plan about buying cleaning supplies and other household necessities.
- Utilities: Who will set up and pay utilities, internet and phone service?
- Guests- Guests of one roommate may irritate another and face it, it’s not the guest’s home. So drawing boundaries is best done early.
- Exam period- Don’t underestimate the added stress and needs during exams. Discuss special expectations about noise, chores and guests during exam time.
- Television and other amenities: Set out at least bare guidelines to amenity usage, such as TV and laundry facilities, to avoid conflict.
Step Three: Disputes (Optional and Avoidable)
Before disputes arise, discuss how you personally handle disagreements. This will give each of you insight into the personality of your new roommate. But it will also allow you to discuss and be aware of expectations and priorities each of you consider when handling problems.
When disputes do happen, it is wise to sit down with all roommates and discuss solutions when no one is emotional about the issue. Sometimes having an email ring with roommates allows for calmer discussions before they erupt into full blown disputes.
All of these hints may seem obvious if you’ve had roommates. But keeping them in mind with every new roommate situation may save you a few headaches during your law school career.