This is a guest post written by 5-year San Francisco resident (and current master tenant) Krysta Gahagen.
Interviewing roommates can be a tough and emotional process and it can be tempting to want to accept the first person you meet just to get it over with. However, the people you end up sharing a living space with will significantly impact your day-to-day life, so it is critical — and worth it — to choose a new roommate wisely. If you’re considering getting a new roommate who you haven’t met, you must do your homework. As someone who’s successfully been on both sides of this process multiple times, I’ve got three tips to help you weed out applicants who might not be the right fit for your household.
Clearly define your desired living situation
It’s easy to talk in hypotheticals when telling applicants what you’re looking for in a roommate. Many interviewees have heard phrases like “we enjoy each other’s company, but don’t always hang out together.” Get specific and be completely honest when interviewing potential roommates. Are you someone who wants to talk about your day when you get home or hang out in your room? Do you listen to music in the shower? Does it bother you when dishes are left overnight in the sink? Have a real conversation with applicants about the lifestyle and schedules that already exist for you and any other roommates. If you love an applicant’s personality, but can’t stand watching four hours of Chopped every night, you should pass and pursue friendship instead.
Ask to see where they currently live
Many roommates have lamented their decision to live with someone who verbally said they had similar living styles, only to find out the opposite was true. Roommates who are perpetually messy will have a harder time hiding this if you ask to see where they live. Pro-tip: don’t ask in advance, but if you’re interviewing applicants via video chat like Skype, FaceTime, or Messenger, it’s completely fair to ask for a tour of where they live. Communication must be honest and go both ways so all roommates can understand each other’s perceptions of topics like cleanliness and decor.
Do a background check
Before moving a new roommate into your apartment, it’s crucial that you collect a verified background check. Getting this kind of documentation protects lease holders (you!) by helping ensure that the new roommate will be able to pay rent on time and giving them the peace of mind to welcome their new roommates without hesitation. Many landlords and property managers require background checks and credit reports prior to adding a roommate to a new or existing lease. Once you collect this documentation, give a copy to your landlord and store the paperwork in a safe place for future reference.
Do you have other tips you’ve used to find the perfect roommate? We’d love to hear them! Or, you’re looking for some new interview candidates, post your pad on our mobile apps.