Renting with a housemate can be a tricky proposition if the person you intend to live with is not a close friend or family member. And even at that, it is easy to quickly become enemies if housemates are not on the same page. Before you agree to live with someone on a long-term basis, be sure to take the necessary steps to protect yourself. Those steps include interviewing any and all potential candidates.

Here are five questions to ask every potential housemate:

1. What is your current housing situation and why are you planning to move?

Most people looking to move are doing so because of work or life changes that are completely legitimate. Others are moving under less desirable circumstances: they are unemployed, they were forced to leave their previous housing arrangement, they could not pay the mortgage, etc. It is always a good idea to know as much as possible about the housing history of potential candidates so that you don’t end up supporting a stranger. It is no different than getting typical flat inventory in the UK.

2. What is your current employment situation and history?

Anyone you choose as a housemate should have steady employment that pays well enough for that person to cover his or her share of the rent and common expenses. Be wary of potential candidates who seem to change jobs every four or five months. Hopefully, you can find someone with a stable employment history and fairly dependable income. Otherwise, you would again have the potential of supporting a complete stranger in the future.

3. Will you agree to check-in and check-out?

Local property inventories are commonplace among landlords with large property portfolios. If you are renting from a landlord with a smaller portfolio, a property inventory may not be included. Ask any future housemates whether they are willing to agree to a check-in and check-out at both ends of the tenancy. An inventory check of all shared spaces and the potential housemate’s room would be the minimum.

4. What is your current relationship status?

Just like a check-in inventory is necessary to protect your deposit, a relationship inventory might be needed to preserve your sanity. It’s important to know if any potential housemates are involved in long-term relationships that could result in romantic partners spending enough time at your flat to actually become residents. There is room for partners staying over now and then, but having them live with you without being actual tenants is a no.

5. Do you have any health issues or personal idiosyncrasies?

Every potential housemate has his or her own way of doing things. Most of these things can be accommodated. However, some candidates may have particular health issues that could be problematic. For example, food allergies can be very serious. And, of course, there are some people with strange idiosyncrasies that could lead to unnecessary fighting and bickering. As uncomfortable as it is, you need to ask about such things.

Renting with a housemate is one way to reduce your living expenses and enjoy some company every now and again. But choose your housemates wisely. A poor choice could come back on you in ways you never imagined.

If you’re a tenant, landlord or agency dealing with the stresses of inventories, you’re not alone. Find out how No Letting Go can help.

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