Once you move into your first place, like clockwork, you will likely hear from a friend or a friend of a friend who asks if they can move in with you for a short time. Maybe they’re between jobs or almost have enough money to move into their first place, or are simply looking for some more freedom without getting their own place. Sometimes, it could be a great fit to let your friend or acquaintance move in with you. However, it’s a very big decision to make. More often than not, you’ll have to figure out how to reject a potential roommate because they won’t contribute much, they aren’t allowed, or you simply prefer to live alone.
If you’ve decided you need to say no to the potential roommates or roommate, here are a few talking points for when you break the news.
“My landlord doesn’t allow subleasing or long-term guests.”
This is the best response to a potential roommate if you are not interested in having them move into your apartment. Most contracts include a short clause that indicates your landlords’ stance on long-term guests… and the majority don’t allow them. Things can get especially tricky if the friend would like to move in off the record and not sign on with your leasing organization, because then you are technically subleasing which may not be allowed. Plus, if you position your friend as a guest, they do not have any responsibility for bills or damages to your apartment.
“We would need to split rent and bills 50/50.”
Depending on your contract, remind your friend that you cannot afford to have someone live in your apartment without significant and fair contribution to the monthly bills. If the friend was simply looking for a free or cheap place to stay, this statement could quite easily change their mind, while you are still bring fair. If they press you, remind them that they will also have to alert your landlord about their presence in your apartment and agree on how bills will be taken care of.
“There’s not extra space to add a roommate.”
Frankly, in most apartments, there is simply not the space to add an extra roommate! Even if they slept on the couch, they still need bathroom and storage space, which can cut into your living environment. Unless you have an extra bedroom, tight space is a great reason to share with a friend who wants to move in. If you do have extra space, remind them that you are already using it for something (office? home gym?) and thus still don’t have space for an extra roommate.
“I can’t afford a temporary roommate.”
If bills are a problem, let your friend know that you can’t afford a temporary roommate, and instead need to spend time finding someone to move in long-term and add them to your rental contract. Even if your friend could move in for a few months and contribute to bills, when they move out, you are suddenly saddled with their half of everything without a plan to find a new roommate.
“I’m not sure how long I will stay here.”
For friends looking for more long-term housing, let them know that you aren’t really sure how long you will stay in that apartment, and would prefer to stay flexible with your options to move out when you need to, instead of having to consider another roommate in your decision.
“I love you as a friend, but I prefer to live alone.”
Finally, if the potential roommate is a close friend and not an acquaintance, you have to lay it straight. In any case, be compassionate to your friend and if you are willing and able to help, do so, but make the terms very clear! Maybe a few days or couple of weeks is your limit. Just make sure before you agree to help out temporarily that you know what other options your friend has when the time is up. Otherwise, you might inadvertently slide into a longer term situation than you want. Let’s face it, if your friend’s other option is living in their car, you are not going to kick them out once they move in.
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