As a landlord, I, Mark Roemer, know that moving in with a roommate can help you save on rent and utilities. Although roommates are expected to help each other with rent and other expenditures, you may run into conflicts with money and how to distribute it equitably so that no one feels overburdened. One of the most typical roommate disputes is splitting bills to please both parties.
Before moving in together, explore the numerous expenditures and bills that come with sharing an apartment with a roommate(s). It’s crucial to be clear about what bills need to be paid and if each roommate can afford it. The next step is to share the bills fairly. You may use reputable roommate applications like Splitwise and Venmo to handle your costs. Consider a formal agreement that explains how you plan to split the bills to avoid future problems and to assist a new roommate who may move in.
Renting an apartment isn’t easy. Aside from rent, you must also pay utilities (electric, water, internet) which can quickly deplete your budget. Getting a roommate or two is one of the easiest methods to reduce these costs. The more roommates you have, the better the apartment you can afford. But talking about money with a roommate might be tricky. One of the issues will be splitting the utility bills and determining who pays what. Continue reading to learn how to split bills with roommates and avoid disputes properly.
How to split bills properly with roommates
Setting the Ground Rules
Establishing ground rules and boundaries should always be the first step when it comes to apartment living expenses. Before you move in or sign the lease:
- Have an open and honest discussion with your housemates about the bills.
- Be clear about what needs to be paid.
- Determine when and how bills will be collected, paid, and whose name will be on the bill.
Determine Who Will Collect the Bills
Having separate persons in charge of different bills may seem like a good idea, but it can lead to chaos and confusion. Instead, assign the responsibility of paying the bills to one individual. The chosen individual will be responsible for reminding everyone of their debts and collecting money/checks on schedule. This technique simplifies payment management, especially if you share a room.
Fairly Dividing the Rent
Some rooms include an ensuite bathroom, while others are barely big enough for a single bed. Paying the same rent may not be altogether fair in this situation. When there is a considerable variation in living space, it is only reasonable that each person’s monthly rent reflects the benefits or drawbacks of their room.
Splitting the rent payment more precisely, making the rent directly proportional to each roommate’s private area, might be the way to go. Calculate the square footage of each bedroom, divide it by the overall bedroom size, then multiply the result by the monthly rent owed. A two-bedroom rental home with one bedroom that is 190 square feet and the other 230 square feet costs $3,000 per month. Whoever gets the larger room pays 55% of the total rent, while the other roommate pays 45%.
Accounting for Luxuries
In addition to the square footage, it is better to utilize standard rules of thumb to determine the differences.
Add 2% for a room with an ensuite bathroom. This would add $60 per month to a $3,000 apartment. For walk-in closets, simply double the total square footage of each bedroom by the total square footage of all bedrooms. Other things to consider for each private room include a fireplace, a view, and exposed masonry. Add 1% to these figures. This is $30 if the rental unit is $3,000 per month.
The Security Deposit
In order to manage the security deposit, each roommate should contribute the same amount before or at the lease signing. When it’s time to leave, this money should be redistributed equitably. This technique may become complex if the landlord decides to retain a portion of the security deposit due to one roommate’s damages or if one person moves out and the other finds a new roommate. If your roommate caused damage to the apartment, you have the right to ask them to reimburse you for half of the security deposit.
Consider sharing the utility bills equally. This is the most common choice because it is difficult to distinguish between roommates’ utility usage. Some homes opt to split utility costs based on each roommate’s income. In this instance, the roommate who earns more is expected to give slightly more. Another possibility is for the roommate with the larger room to offset some of the utility bills. So they pay a bit more for the benefits of a nicer bedroom.
Get It in Writing
Once you’ve agreed on how to share the bills, make sure you get it in writing. A formal contract is desirable, but an email can also work. A written agreement prevents future miscommunication and serves as a guide for a new roommate.
Identify Potential Variables
When splitting bills with roommates, it is necessary to examine all possible eventualities. What if one of your roommates takes an extended vacation and sublets their room? It’s critical to discuss such circumstances and agree on what to do if they emerge.
Use Roommate Apps to Track Spending
Apps can help you and your roommates manage the bills that come with living in a rental home. A few possible apps could be, Zently, SettleUp, IOU, Homeslice, Venmo, or Splitwise.
While roommate expenses can save you a lot of money, there are some goods you will want to buy separately:
Furniture and other household things: Sharing the expense of a new couch may seem easy, but when it comes time to move out, it may be challenging to decide who gets it. It would be best if you also bought TVs, appliances, gadgets, and utensils separately to avoid ownership concerns when you move out.
Grocery shopping: If your roommates have diverse food patterns, shopping alone or using two separate carts is easier.
Apartment sharing isn’t always straightforward, but it has its advantages. It allows you to save money and live in a nicer place than living alone. However, it is crucial to split the rent, utilities, and other expenditures reasonably to keep your roommates happy. You can either create a formal agreement or utilize one of the various applications available to share the bills among you.