You have rent to pay, but your student digz roommate just isn’t sticking to their end of the deal. Whether they have been unfortunate enough to lose their part-time job due to COVID or whether they simply aren’t taking their responsibilities seriously enough, there is no reason why you should ‘take the bullet’ on their behalf.
The good news is that there are ways in which to cover yourself in situations such as these and, ultimately, prevent a roommate from ruining your credit.
Chat to your landlord
It is always a good idea to ask a landlord to draw up separate leasing agreements for you and your student digz roommate right from the beginning. In this case, your living arrangement won’t be jeopardised if your roommate defaults on their share of the rent – as long as you have been paying yours diligently, of course!
Make a plan
If you have a shared lease and your roommate isn’t making the payments necessary despite talking to them about it, it is time to take action. It isn’t recommended to pay your roommate’s share of the rent because the chances are slim that they will pay you back, no matter how hard they try to reassure you on the contrary. Instead, chat to your landlord about possibly moving into a smaller unit without a roommate or see if you can terminate your lease early without incurring a significant penalty.
Having said all that, you need to be very careful about allowing your rent and/or utility bills to go unpaid, because this could hurt your credit score quite dramatically and have far-reaching consequences for you in the future.
Check your lease agreement
Be sure to refer to your lease agreement for details regarding your rights. In some instances, if you are the primary signer, you may have the right to evict your roommate for non-payment. Get your facts straight and have evidence handy before making any decisions, however.
Ultimately, the best course of action is to prevent winding up with an untrustworthy roommate in the first place. Avoid doing friends any ‘favours’ by giving them a place to stay, and conduct a thorough background check on anyone who applies to share your space. Consider working with a lawyer and the landlord to draw up an iron-tight contract that protects you in the event that your roommate doesn’t pull their weight financially right from the get-go. Take the extra precautions – you will be very glad that you did.