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The Rules

I have some simple, easy to follow ground rules that I tell any potential roommate before they move in.  I don’t make specific rules on what time they can come through the front door and such.  I don’t like to micro manage.  It’s just not my thing.

However, here are my ground rules(no particular order) I tell potential roommates:

1.  Don’t Piss off the Neighbors – My neighbors and I get along fine.  They don’t seem to mind that I rent out (both) my spare rooms to roommates.  If my roommates have a problem with my neighbors (hard to believe), I tell them to come talk to me before antagonizing them.  It’s very difficult to get rid of them, but it’s much easier to get rid of my roommates.

2.  Take out the trash/get the mail – We all have to pitch in to keep the place running.  Meaning if you see the kitchen trash or recycle bins full, take them to the dumpster and empty them.  The same goes with the mail, if you have time to get the mail(ie sitting around watching TV or facebooking away on the computer), please get the mail.  It takes less than 3 minutes.

3.  Don’t burn down the place – Don’t be an idiot and forget to turn the oven off or worse yet, leave the iron plugged in.  I recently seen a hockey pro shop catch on fire because someone accidently left the heat gun on.  They now have an outlet on a timer to avoid having the heat gun being left on accidently.  I’m serious debating having outlets on timers to dummy proof appliances that be the source of fires.

So far, I have yet to find any potential roommate to consider these ground rules too restrictive to enjoy their time while renting a room from me.  As far as cleaning goes, it’s up to the responsibility of the roommate to keep their room clean.  We each take an hour out of lives every month and clean each of the common areas(bathroom, kitchen, and living room).  I’ve also never met a person that opposed to cleaning especially since everyone is doing their fair share.

Ideas for Making Ground Rules

Keep them simple and to the point.  Don’t be overly specific that it feels restrictive to the roommate.   Make it known that you’re easy going, but you want someone responsible.

Lastly, be upfront about your ground rules before your roommate moves in and not after.  I wouldn’t want my roommate to be in for a rude awakening about these ground rules after they already committed to moving into your house.

Like I said, I’ve never found any roommate that thought my ground rules were overbearing on their freedom.  I made the rules to say “these are the important things I want you to follow when you live here.”  If you’re considering renting out a room, consider setting guidelines like I have done.  If you can other ground rules or have comments, let me know in the comments section.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Jinx!

  • Charles October 7, 2010, 5:01 pm

    I currently have a roommate but getting married in March. Not sure if I should keep him or throw him out. He wants to stay because i’m giving him a good rate, but I rather have privacy in my new married life. I’m going to miss the rent money though.

    • Mike October 7, 2010, 10:38 pm


      Thanks for stopping by. I checked out your blog and read more on your situation. My suggestion is to ask why you initially started to rent out your spare room? Was it to pay off debt or to simply save the extra income? Have you met that goal and don’t need the extra income anymore? If you have not met your goals, perhaps you can talk to wife and rent out the spare room until you reach the financial goal you initially started out on.

      Also, It sounds like your roommate has been living with you for quite sometime and so you have some built up trust in him. With that said, perhaps you and your new wife can take cheap weekend trips, thus gaining the privacy you value while renting out the spare room.

      Lastly, if you decide to ask your roommate to leave and realize your budget is too tight without the roommate, you’ll be playing the roommate roulette again. Let me know what you decide – I’m curious

  • Charles October 8, 2010, 11:51 am

    We’re leaning towards kicking him out and the rent money will definitely be missed. We were 50/50 until my fiance said something like she feels that we’re renting a room from my roommate. It’s because he basically took over the kitchen and the basement, on top of the room he rents out. If you look in the fridge, it’s piled with his food. He has no problem cleaning after himself, but only after I say something. It always eventually goes back to being not as clean. He’s been living with me two years now and I guess I didn’t set my ground rules as firmly as I should have.

    Although money will be tight, I have enough savings piled up to help us live paycheck to paycheck for 1-2 years.

  • Khaleef @ KNS Financial October 8, 2010, 9:51 pm

    Those sound like good rules to me. How do you handle other arrangements – like sharing toothpaste and other things like that. Also, how do you deal with groceries and cooking?

    • Mike October 9, 2010, 8:54 pm

      Everyone buys their own groceries and does their own cooking. The only common items we share are, paper towels, toilet paper, dish soap and trash bags. We take turns buying those. If a roommate is not living here long enough, I usually end up buying it, which I don’t mind because I’m still netting a profit.


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