The Best Way to Pay Rent with Roommates

You’re finally moving out. You’ve got roommates. Now it’s time to figure out the best way to pay rent with roommates.

We both had roommates when we moved out for the first time and with things getting more and more expensive, having to move out with roommates to be able to afford ends meet is pretty much a necessity. 

When you have roommates, there’s a lot to figure out. How much rent will each person pay, what bills will each roommate pay, and who’s responsible for the chores, etc. When you have roommates, there are a lot of different ways to pay the rent. The best way to pay rent with roommates is going to depend on you, your landlord, your roommates, and your situation. 

The first thing you’re going to want to do is to figure out how you are all going to split the rent.

One of the most common ways to split the rent is to split rent based on room size.

In this example, the person with the biggest room would pay the largest portion of the rent, while the person with the smallest room would pay the least amount of rent.

Another common way to split the rent is based on any additional amenities.

Let’s say the master suite is the same size as the other rooms, but it has its own bathroom or a walk-in closet. In this example, the roommate with the extra amenities would pay the larger portion of the rent.

You can also split rent based on income. 

This is where the person that makes the most money each month pays the larger portion of the rent. Talking about monthly income can be a sensitive topic for even the closest of friends. If one of the roommates is making a lot more money each month than the others, they may be willing to take a larger portion of the rent. This method isn’t as common amongst friend group roommates but is a little more common in relationships. I know if I moved out with some buddies who didn’t make as much money, I wouldn’t pay more just to pick up the slack. I’d get different roommates who could afford to equally pay their fair share of the bills. But if I moved out with a girlfriend… that might be a different story.

The last method of splitting rent is by just splitting it evenly across the group.

This is going to be the easiest and most common way roommates split rent because it keeps everyone on an equal level in the house. Yeah. That’s how I always did it with roommates. Keep it equal for everyone.

After you figure out how to split the rent, you need to find out how your landlord accepts payments each month.

If your landlord allows separate payments for rent, that’s awesome!  This can be a great option if all the roommates have crazy schedules and they’re not at the house together very often. However, separate payments can be hard to track for both the roommates and the landlord.

Sometimes they will have an online Portal where each tenant can pay rent individually. All of the other tenants get a receipt to show that rent has been paid for that month. Some landlords also allow Apple pay, Venmo, Zelle, Samsung pay, or some other form of online payment. But I wouldn’t bank on that being a thing. Most landlords don’t allow that (yet). 

If the landlord does accept separate payments, but not from an online platform, they could accept individual checks or money orders/cashier’s checks from each individual roommate. Do people even use checks or money orders anymore? I don’t think I’ve written a check in over 5 years…

If the landlord doesn’t accept individual payments, a group of roommates can go create a joint bank account with everyone’s name on the account.

Each roommate can deposit their monthly portion of the bills to this account and the bills are automatically paid from this account each month. This can be a great option for long-term roommates or couples. This isn’t the best option because it can complicate things if a roommate has to move out early or isn’t trustworthy. Everyone on the account legally has access to deposit and withdrawal money from the account.

The last thing you need is somebody taking all of the rent money and bouncing. You think I’m kidding. It happens. Especially in relationships where people live together and things go south. You might get in a fight that morning, go to work, come home to an empty apartment and an empty bank account. It’s a real thing. 

Lastly, you can elect a “responsible” roommate who is responsible for collecting the rent and other utilities from all the roommates and then paying the rent to the landlord from their personal checking account.

This is the most common method people use, just because a lot of places don’t allow split payments for rent because it’s just harder to track. 

All of these methods carry some risk, but when you have roommates this is something you will have to figure out. We were able to take 2 checks to our landlords at the same time and they would allow that for rent. However, they wouldn’t allow us to pay at 2 separate times. Until you’re able to afford your own place, this is what you’re going to have to do!

Remember, deciding how to split rent and pay the bills will depend on your situation. 

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