For those living with roommates, the key to financial stability is often maintaining a harmonious home life arrangement. But sometimes, roommates move out. Unfortunately, they don’t always give ample notice before they pack their bags and leave your shared living expenses behind.
If you think this could happen to you or they’ve already given notice, don’t fret. Handling your living expenses is possible without them. But whether you want to stay where you’re at or move, it’s crucial to be prepared. So without further ado, here are some tips for surviving your lease and managing living costs if and when your roommate decides to move out.
Don’t Break The Rules of Your Lease
First things first, talk to your landlord. If you want to stay in the lease, you’ll need to know what your options are. Plus, you likely have more than you realize. Your landlord may even be willing to annul the current lease completely if your roommate broke the terms, but you did not.
Whatever you do, check with your landlord before just letting a new roommate move in. This will allow your landlord a chance to draw up a new lease that covers both of you, and it’ll keep you from breaking any rules. When your roommate moves out it, it helps to have the person you’re renting from on your side. So take the proper steps before taking matters into your own hands.
If your landlord is willing to work with you, they may also let you carry the lease on your own and/or give you a little time to secure help paying the rent. The last thing you want is to be evicted, so if you think you’re going to have a hard time covering their portion: it’s better to make that known ASAP so there are no unfortunate surprises for anyone involved.
On the bright side, most landlords just want what they’re owed and aren’t very concerned with where that money comes from. Chances are, your landlord will not have a problem with you finding a new roommate, and that could very well be your best option if you’re being bailed on. But always talk to them first.
If You Want to Stay, Find a Reliable Roommate
If your landlord gives the go-ahead, finding someone new is one of your best (and perhaps most obvious) options. By splitting your living costs, a new roommate can help you get back on your feet, so don’t waste time on your hunt. This transition will undoubtedly come with some bumps. Still, finding someone to pick up the slack left behind by your former roommate is a great way to gradually stabilize your situation.
Look for someone who is reliable and agreeable. You don’t need to be best friends. The goal should be amicably co-existing and paying the bills on time. Whether you wish to stay or go, finding a roommate who can sublet the space occupied by your previous roommate is always a viable solution. Do a little online research right now. You’ll quickly discover there’s no shortage of people looking for places to live, at all times.
When you start interviewing prospective roommates, ask critical and practical questions. Learn what type of home life vibe they prefer. Do they like throwing parties or prefer a consistently quiet atmosphere? Are they tidy? Do they have pets? It’s important that you are compatible as roommates, even if you’d never hang out.
If You Want to Leave, Know The Costs
If you think your best option is to leave, give your landlord notice right away. The last thing you need is to watch your bills stack up and get hit with overdue notices. Let them know you are planning to move out because you can no longer afford to be here. The more transparent you are, the more likely they’ll be able to work with you.
Some landlords may not show very much mercy when you tell them what happened. But others will be more accommodating. Either way, tell the truth, be professional, and keep your cool. Remember, your landlord is not to blame for your roommate bailing on you. It’s not their responsibility to sort it out.
At the end of the day, we are all just human and unfortunately, things like this happen to people all the time. Your landlords are aware of that fact and maybe even able to offer a little guidance. They may even have another property that falls into your adjusted price range. Not to mention, asking for their “landlord thoughts” on the matter may prove to work in your favor. It’s always better to be on your landlord’s good side, after all.
Rebuild Your Budget (Without Your Credit Cards)
If your roommate just left or plans to leave, your budget will undoubtedly have to shift with this change. It might be tempting to let credit card debt pile up, but with unpaid credit cards comes hiked-up interest rates. And in the end, it’s not worth falling behind.
While you’re rearranging your budget, look to your credit cards and make a manageable payment plan. It might be wise to consider getting a loan and paying off what you owe. Or, you may want to consolidate all credit debt into one payment.
Have Something to Fall Back On
Consolidating your debt is definitely a good idea. However, don’t leave yourself without a lifeline. While you might be ready to cut up every credit card you have, hold onto one in case of emergencies.
Is your emergency fund running low? If your roommate is moving out, have you saved up for an especially rainy day like this one? One line of credit can predict you when you need it most. It’ll also allow time to rebuild your budget and prepare for future expenses, whilst avoiding penalties.
Looking out for yourself is important. So this is also a good time to consider stabilizing and/or building your credit. Even if your credit score needs work, there are cards out there that can help you do it. Having better credit is good for your financial health. And when it comes to lenders and potential future landlords, they’ll be looking at your score more often than not.
So if you think you’ll need some help, start by helping yourself get to a better financial place. Check out our 5 easy ways to boost your credit score in a flash.
If your roommate says they’re leaving before the lease is up, plan ahead. While you may think you’re on the same page, you’ll need to take more than their word on things like covering the remaining rent or utilities after they’re gone.
Consider drawing up a documented agreement that states what they intend to pay. The amount to be paid should be based on what’s stated in the terms of the lease. If they’re unwilling to pay, tell them it’s time to find another roommate ASAP. They should be on the hunt for their own replacement if they’re serious about leaving.
And let them know that changing their mind is not an option once they’re gone. In your agreement, clearly lay out that they’ve not only given up the responsibility for your living situation, but they’ve also given up all privileges too. You deserve a stable living situation and a roommate you can rely on. If they no longer wish to live there, have them sign something that says they’re giving up their claim.
Then have your new roommate sign something that gives you the security you need so that they won’t also bail with little warning. If they’re willing, involve your landlord as a witness.
Not all roommates follow through on what they promise. Unfortunately, some people will do whatever they can to get out of paying what they owe, and there is little we can do about it, especially if they move out of state. However, if they remain in the area, it might be smart to take the matter to small claims court.
If your roommate is on the lease, you may very well catch a lucky break. The small claims process can be simpler than you might think when you can show that they were just as responsible as you to pay via the terms of the lease. If this is the case, bring the document with you. In contrast, if they’re not on the lease, small claims court may prove to be a difficult process.
It’s always a good idea to protect yourself going in. If your departing roommate didn’t sign the lease, you can’t undo mistakes of the past. But moving forward, you can learn from it. Always be sure you have more than a verbal agreement between you and the person you choose to live with. Get their promises to pay in writing. You’ll both be better protected that way.