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Roommate Interview Questions

Updated on September 23, 2014

This is a list of questions to ask potential roommates before moving in together. You can use them to set up house rules with friends, or for interviewing prospective room renters as you show them around. Robert Frost wrote, "Good fences make good neighbors.". This is true of roommates too. It's a good idea to clarify boundaries at the start of a roommate relationship with some sort of written roommate agreement.

What's your schedule?

When do you think you'll be at home?

What hours do you sleep?

When do you need to use the bathroom in the morning?

These are important questions for a potential roommate. Staggered schedules are ideal if the bathroom is shared between 3 or more people, but light sleepers might have trouble living with someone on the swing shift due to noise.

What's the policy on smoking, drinking and drugs?

Smoking inside ?

Smoking outside?

Drinking ?

Other drugs?

If you are not OK with any of these, you need to be clear about it from the start. If you are placing an ad, include your rules in print.

What's your financial situation?

Do you have a job?

Do you have another source of income?

Low income roommates can be very reliable, but it's a good idea to verify employment, and know a person's situation before moving in together.

How will utilities be split?

Everything split evenly?

Exceptions?

Who will pay which bills?

Which bills will be in who's name?

Does anyone object to meat or any other food?

Allergies?

Strict vegan beliefs?

Will food be seperate or communal?

Will pots, pans, and dishes be shared? - This is recommended in most situations due to storage constraints.

If food is separate, how will food be marked or separated in the fridge and cabinets?

What consumable items will be shared?

For example: Toilet paper, cleaning products, spices, condaments.

Will the cost of these items be split evenly?

What's the policy on pets?

Are pets allowed?

If so, what kind?

How big?

How many?

How do you feel about scented products?

Are you OK with scented candles, air fresheners, incense?

How much?

(You may think this isn't a big deal, but you should discuss. Some people burn scented candles around the clock, and some can't handle much at all due to asthma.)

What's the overnight guest policy?

Romantic guests allowed?

Long term romantic guests only?

How many nights per year?

Can you increase your guest nights by sleeping away?

Where will guests sleep?

How do you feel about significant others moving in?

If the other roommates OK a move in, what rent would the significant other pay?

A boyfriend or girlfriend moving in without asking is a common roommate horror story. They sleep over more and more, and the next thing you know they are there every day. Living with a couple isn't necessarily a bad thing. A couple will share a room, but should pay more rent than a single person using the same room, so if money is tight, your rent may be lowered. The trouble is that some couples are fine to live with, and some aren't. This should be discussed in advance, but it should really be handled on a case by case basis with permission being asked of all roommates before moving in a significant other. This is a big part of the reason you need a clear overnight policy.

How will new roommates be found?

Are you OK with posting an ad?

Opposite sex OK?

Split the missing roommate's rent until lease end?

Most roommates move out eventually. You need to have a plan for when it happens especially if you can't afford the rent without the missing roommate. A high percentage of cases I've seen on court shows involving roommates could have been solved if the roommate left behind had been willing to post an ad looking for a new roommate.

What will you bring to the common areas?

Furniture, electronics, kitchen tools?

How much notice before move out?

How many days?

If notice isn't given, the deposit will be held to cover rent to 30 days from move out or until another roommate is found?

30 days notice is pretty standard. If however you have a longer term lease and are not comfortable placing an ad to search for another roommate, you will need to agree on more notice.

How will deposits be returned?

In a revolving roommate household it's easy to lose track of deposits. You should keep a written record of deposits paid. There should also be an agreement about how deposits will be returned when one roommate moves out. Most landlords will not re-write the lease, do an inspection and return a deposit until the last original roommate moves out. Unfortunately this can leave the last batch in the lurch if the landlord holds the deposit and the deposit has been paid back in full to departing roommates. You could agree to keep in touch and split any losses at final move out, the trouble is with a long running household people tend to drop off the radar, and what the split is can get complicated. If you want to split the deposit loss you need to get it all in writing. Keep in mind that your last college roommate might still be in the apartment in 25 years if the rent is good.

What's the party policy?

Frequency?

Specific days not OK?

How many people invited?

What kind of parties? Wild, mild or sedate?

Clear with roommates first?

What kind of music, movies, video games, TV do you like?

These are all things you are likely to do with your roommates, even if you don't hang out much otherwise. It's nice to have similar tastes, but not required. This topic of conversation is also useful for getting an idea of a potential roommate's personality during a roommate interview. If you find your tastes don't match, invest in some headphones.

What do You Ask Potential Roommates?

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