Roommate Wanted...

I feel like I've written this post a hundred times before....well - this is actually the third time.

After I got home the night before last, Jordan and I got talking and realized roommate, B-rad, hadn't left a rent cheque.  Jordan called him to ask if he had left it somewhere we couldn't see.  He say's something to the effect of ...'umm... about that'

Apparently he and is on-again, off-again, girlfriend of 4 years are on - and are getting engaged/married this summer.  He and she are looking to find their own place.  Just like the last one he was here a month and is moving out the next month (for a total stay of two months).

It's a very stressful time, but just like before we will endeavor to find another roommate.

Rent for our 3 bedroom townhouse is $1350 (plus utilities).  We rent the room for $500 plus a third split of utilities (about $100 in the summer and about $150 in the winter).  Jordan and I split the remainder.  There are a few reasons why we charge a roommate a bit more then we pay ourselves:

  • the rent was set at $500 before we negotiated a rent decrease
  • $500 seems to be fair - market wise I checked out a few other places and it seems priced right based on the neighborhood etc.
  • jordan and i are ultimately responsible for the place
    • we are the only names on the lease at this time
  • we are in a month-to-month lease and cannot ask someone to sign an agreement
  • with paying less, i don't expect roommates to buy garbage bags, dishwasher soap and things like that
  • jordan and i are responsible for yard maintenance and thus must provide/repair the equipment used for yard maintenance
That said, with next roommate, we need to find a way to keep someone for a sustainable period of time.  My dad suggested a rent decrease if people pay a few months (say 6) upfront.  Another idea could be a rent decrease if they guarantee two months notice if they move or we hold back full damange deposit (have no idea if that's legal).

Do any of you folks have ideas on how to keep people around?

Another one of our problems has been that we don't get all the months utility bills until the fifth of the following month.  Our last roommate refused to give the key back until he got his damange deposit back, and I refused to give his damage deposit back until the utility bills came in.  I could understand his point, but I'm not really sure how to handle this going forward.

I thought perhaps if we rented the room for $650 all inclusive that could solve the problem (or thereabouts) - but my aunt suggested that people who don't have variable utilities may not care about them and that could drive utilities up (if they don't care it may mean leaving lights on, extra long showers, turning the furnace up...etc).

Does anyone have ideas on how to solve this gem?

Yes we could move,  yes we could just live by ourselves - but the current arrangement (with a roommate) enables us to save as much as we do towards a house down-payment ($150/week rotating b/w jordan and i).


  1. I'm moving into a spare room in someone's apartment just like you and Jordan are offering, and the arrangement is $550 including utilities. I see your aunt's point, but it was a big incentive for me to choose this place because I can budget for those four months exactly, and that was very appealing when I was looking for a temporary arrangement. The woman whose apartment I'll be staying in asked that I pay the last month's rent when I move in, and I suppose that gives me some incentive to stay the full duration of time I've agreed upon (May through August). Do you think something like this could help you?

  2. @ life - thanks for the commment! That's really good feedback, maybe that could work! Were you asked for a damange deposit and the last months rent - or just the last months rent?

  3. I would avoid getting a renter to agree to stay 6 months. When you are on a month to month lease this is simply unenforceable. Nice idea but when you aren't sure you are staying (your landlord could kick you out because of the lack of lease) it's hard to put in a stipulation that somebody else stays.

    I would also recommend including the utilities in the price. Honestly, if they left the lights on, how much would that cost you? I know when I was a renter I refused to rent places that would make me pay utilities because I was on a fixed income and couldn't handle any fluctuations.

    However, $650 sounds rather high for just a room in Calgary. I'm sure you know the rental market better than I do though.

  4. @ Financial - I agree! It was a good idea, but with being on a month-to-month agreement we cannot ask any potential roommate to agree to a set period of time.

    I'm struggling w/ how much is reasonable. $500 plus utilities is, but $650 sounds like a lot. Though, this month that's how much utilities will be (450/3=150).

    I should clarify that when I say utilities I'm including internet, phone, satellite TV, as well as the basics (electricity, gas, water etc.)

  5. have you considered signing your agreement with a clause stating that the renter must rent for X amount of months. this is usually how most leases are... if you don't, you'll likely find people who just want a few months.

  6. @ Asian Pear - As Jordan and I are on a month-to-month lease, we cannot ask that someone sign an agreement for a set amount of time.

    Having a month-to-month arrangement with our landlord works for us b/c we enjoy the flexibility, but for renting out a room it's troublesome.

  7. Jessie, the $550 for my last month's rent is being considered my "security deposit," so I assume I would owe extra for the last month if I caused any damages.


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