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Verella’s Round-Up: More Roommates, More Problems?


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As living expenses have increased, shared living arrangements have grown rapidly and are now at record levels, according to The Rental Housing Journal. More adult occupants per unit inherently cause more problems for property owners. Here are some of the primary issues that can impact landlords when renting to roommates.

  • More usage and increased cost of landlord-provided utilities, especially water
  • More “wear and tear” on the premises, laundry equipment, appliances, etc., resulting in increased maintenance and repairs
  • More potential for excessive noise emanating from the unit
  • More visitor traffic, causing complaints from other tenants
  • More complicated bookkeeping if each tenant pays separately
  • More roommate conflict which may or may not involve the landlord, e.g., when a landlord charges a late fee because one tenant did not pay his rent portion timely
  • More “broken” lease agreements, with one tenant vacating prior to lease termination and the remaining occupants unable to pay the full rent

A landlord may offset some of these inherent problems by charging more rent based on the number of occupants – as long as you do not discriminate against any of the protected categories, or “type” of occupants stipulated under fair housing laws. Additional language may also be added to the lease regarding method of rent payment, i.e., not allowing partial payments to be paid by separate tenants.

What if the vacating tenant claims he paid 50% or 100% of the security deposit and demands that it be refunded within 30 days of his move-out? A Multiple Lessee Security Deposit Addendum may be added to a lease in which each tenant stipulates their percentage ownership of the deposit and refund. This should also include a statement that the deposit shall not be refunded or allocated until possession of the premises is returned to the landlord by all tenants, and that no tenant shall be refunded his portion of the deposit unless all tenants vacate at lease termination or the deposit is made whole by the remaining tenants.

Hopefully, these tips will allow this type of rental situation to be more profitable and easier to manage.



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