For better or for worse, it’s time (once again, perhaps) for change. Your roommate has decided to up sticks and move on to pastures new. Whether you’re breathing a mild sigh of relief and looking forward to a fresh face about the place, or are already lamenting the loss of your former courteous and responsible roommate, it’s time to address what the practicalities and responsibilities of such a change will mean for you and your flat mates.
Replacing your roommate
The most obvious initial question will be your replacement tenant. In this regard there are two central questions: who and how? Who will the new flat mate be and how will you go about finding them? With regards to these two questions the ‘how’ of renting should perhaps come before the ‘who’.
Advertising the vacant room
First you’ll need to advertise, either through an estate agent, online or perhaps through friends (and friends of friends) to let people know that you’re letting once more, be it a room or flat. Of course you should have some idea of the profile of who you want to attract before you advertise, but there is no substitution for meeting people in person – people aren’t always what they seem ‘on paper’, or online.
2. Organising the viewings
Then comes the viewing and screening stage, which should enable you to whittle down a shortlist of prospective new tenants. As the existing flat mates you’ll obviously have a key idea of who you might want moving in with you. If you’re a live in landlord this might change things slightly, but all-in-all an obvious priority is that whoever you choose is compatible with you and your existing roommates. It is absolutely essential that you discuss, and if necessary negotiate, what it is you and your flat mates might want from the person sharing. When you and your flat mates can all agree that you’re in favour of the new guy or girl then that’s likely to mean a smoother and more harmonious journey for all involved.
3. Choosing the right roommate
Do not, however, allow any strange preferences for personality overshadow other practicalities about potential new living partners. Whilst this is also a responsibility of your landlord, it’s worth drawing up a set of additional criteria of what your tenants or flat mates would like to see beyond personality. Consider the background and work status of the new tenant when you interview your new roommate. Consider some form of check or assurance of their proof of income, some reliable references from employers/previous landlords (even if it’s informal) and consider the length of intended stay of your new tenant(s).
What should be in place between you and your roommate?
Once again, it makes good sense to have a checklist of sorts to know what you need to make sure to have in place.
First things first, once your former flat mate has moved out and the room has been inspected you can settle their deposit for the room. Before you go any further, however, this is the point in which you need to establish a new inventory which you need to have in place alongside the new contract. In short, the new contract is the safety-net which stipulates the deposit, and the deposit guarantees that the condition of the room or flat, as outlined in the inventory, is left exactly in the state it was found in (if or when your new flat mate should decide to move out at some point in the future).
Whilst you don’t want to be too cautious with your new roomie, you also don’t want to be caught out and end-up shelling out yourself for someone who’s not going to take good care of the place. This is another reason for deposits and inventories, which are there to protect you and your fellow roommates.
All-in-all this process shouldn’t be about being too cautious. You should take all the necessary precautions outlined above in order to protect yourself, but at the same time you should be relaxed enough in order to attract the right flat mate for you. That said, any precautions you take are also about the protection of you and your existing flat mates, and that’s something for which you can never be too careful.