This is sometimes a breeze and sometimes one of the worst parts of a student’s life. Some blame this on the roommate they end up with, but sometimes it is your own fault. Therefore, the first piece of advice you should consider is to stick to the rules. Lay out rules with your roommate and make sure that you always hold up your end of the bargain, because the second you let yourself slip, you give your roommate excusable permission to do the same. With that now known, here are a few ways to manage your bills with your roommate.
1. Keep as Many Money Aspects as Separate as Possible
In a student’s excitement, he or she may start spitting the cost of everything from toilet tissue to the water bill. Try to keep as many money aspects as separate as possible. If only one of you wants cable TV then only one should pay for it. Things such as gas money, food money, and household items money should not be split. You should pay for your own. Only the utilities and rent should be split evenly.
However, do remember that you are both in a tight money situation, so do not get upset if the other uses some of your toilet tissue or milk. If only one of you drives, then the other should offer gas money when he/she is driven somewhere. A little bit of give and take will make living together easier and will ease the occasional difficult periods.
2. Keep All of Your Payments Online so You Have Electronic Proof
Do not make the mistake of both of you adding money to a pot which is taken at the end of the month for bills. You need to have electronic proof that you have paid every bill that you say you have. If you do not then the time may come where you are asked to pay the other half of the bill because you cannot prove that you paid your half.
3. Split Bills and do Not Have One Paying One Whilst Another Pays Another
For example, you may make the mistake of one person paying the water bill whilst the other pays for power. This leads to both resenting the other for their use of each utility, and one of them will invariably end up costing more than the other.
4. A Reliable Roommate is Better than Money in the Bank
Choose very carefully the people that you live with. The bookworm may make the very worst person to have dorm parties with, but the reliable and sensible person is not going to give you excuses why he/she cannot pay the rent. You will also not have to deal with his/her rowdy girlfriend/boyfriend, as the meek tend to attract the meek. As a side note, the more meek/sensible your roommate is, then the less likely they are to appreciate any rowdy or unreliable behavior on your part.
5. Have a Contract Written up for Important Bills
If you are going to be left with the responsibility of the rent, then you need some sort of legal assurance. Do not be fooled into thinking that just because all the tenants' names are on the rental agreement that all are responsible for paying. It may all fall down to one person, and the chances are that person will be you unless you have some sort of legal contract written up between you and the landlord (unlikely) or you and the other tenants.
6. Create Deal-breaker Rules
These are rules that no tenant should break, such as moving other people into the rental accommodation. Obviously, some of these rules should involve money, as you do not want to run the risk of allowing lots of bills to pile up.
7. Have a Backup Plan to Take Action in Case Your Roommate Gives Excuses
If you start hearing excuses then you are guaranteed to end up lumbered with all of the bills and responsibility. A good backup plan is having a way of getting rid of the tenant and replacing him or her with someone else (but this is often tricky). A place for you to go if you want to leave also helps. Your choices are limited, but find out what people have done before you and get some ideas for backup plans for when things start going wrong.
8. Getting out is Better than Chucking out
This is tied to the tip above. If you are having trouble where you are paying the bills but the other person is not, then getting out is sometimes easier than trying to evict the other person. Go to the landlord and explain that even though you are paying your share, the other person is not. The landlord may be able to evict the other person. If the landlord is uncooperative then make it clear that you are no longer going to pay, and that you will disappear.
Offer to pay a fee for taking your name off of the rental agreement, or negotiate a way where you are not the only person paying rent. The landlord will appreciate this more than you simply running, but if the landlord tells you that the non-paying housemate is your problem, then do a runner (back to your parents probably) and leave your mobile phone number but no forwarding address. There are also advice and rental dispute services you may consult, some of which may be free and some of which will provide you with a free mediation service.
9. Agree to Pay All Bills 9 Days in Advance
This will make it clear who can and cannot pay before the final deadline. If the other tenant(s) start saying they will be able to pay, but closer to the time then you may take this as a warning sign of trouble ahead.
10. If You Cannot Get out then Get Legal
It costs money to start getting legal with it, but the cost of a lawyer’s services may end up being cheaper than being landed with having to pay all of the bills. Try a few mediation services first and get as much free help and advice as you can before you start getting a lawyer involved.