Having a roommate can potentially be a great asset. It not only lowers your living expenses by having someone with whom to share the cost of your home, but there is always the potential to make a great friend in the process. Meeting with each potential roommate individually is important to get a feel for his personality and lifestyle. Equally important is checking with references that can vouch for his previous rental history and behavior. This process is especially important if the potential roommate is a complete stranger.
Refer to the list of references your potential roommate offered on her lease application. If the roommate did not include this list, ask her to give you the names of three to five people you can contact regarding information needed for lease approval. Each name should have contact information including phone number, address, email address, or fax number, if applicable.
Brainstorm any questions you want to ask of the references. Assemble these questions into a list so you can get as much information as possible from each reference without forgetting any important details. This makes calling, writing, faxing, or emailing each person on the list of references a simpler and more organized process.
Verify your references’ names, relationship to the potential roommate, and the length of time each reference has known your potential roommate. Take notes on these details for ease of reference when making the final decision on whether a roommate will be a good fit.
Pay special attention to previous roommates or landlords listed as a reference. These people will have the best idea as to what kind of tenant your potential roommate really is. For instance, ask about the type of hours he keeps, whether he consistently pays rent on time, whether he is loud or disruptive to neighbors, or has caused any issues as a tenant or roommate in the past. Also important is to ask how the roommate left the home: what condition was it in, did he receive his security deposit in full, and did he give proper notice upon moving out.
Check other non-landlord references to get a feel for the potential roommate’s personality. Ask questions about how the roommate lived, his work history, and any other information you might need to get a feel for your potential roommate. You might even consider running a third party background and credit check on your roommate.