# What do you think is a fair way to split the rent?

Asked by EmpressPixie (14721) June 9th, 2009

I just found a set of roommates for graduate school and they should be great, I’m super excited. It’s an engaged couple, so we’re looking for a two bedroom apartment. What do you think is the fairest way to split the rent and why?

They also have a small dog. If that matters. I have no pets. (The one I’m always calling mine is my boyfriend’s really.)

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The rent gets split 2 ways – you pay 50%, they as a unit pay 50%. The bills get split 3 ways, each paying 33%.

You are each paying for living in a room of the house. You are getting one full room. They are each getting half a room. That’s the rent. The bills, however, cover things that the two of them cannot consolidate. You’re all using one third of the electricity, the water, the heat, the cable, the internet, etc.

(I don’t see the dog factoring into the equation at all)

MrItty (17366)

I don’t know. It’s an interesting question.

I think you might have a problem splitting it in three, especially if your boyfriend will be spending nights there.

I agree with @MrItty. It’s a good answer.

oratio (8905)

I like @MrItty‘s reply. Smart call on the bill split.

I might make a distinction if their private square footage is significantly larger than yours. In which case, do the calc based on square footage. 55/45 or some such. But only if it’s a substantial difference. No sense nickel and diming on that.

robmandu (21242)

I agree with @MrItty. I believe that the division of rent should be related to the number of rooms, not the number of people occupying them. However things that are consumed by all people (heat, water, electricity, etc) should be paid for by all people, in this case divided by three.

dynamicduo (14317)

I disagree with @MrItty. Rent isn’t just about bedroom space and utilities- it’s about TV time, fridge space, dishes to unload from the washer, parking space, etc. The two of them will take up more than 50% of that.

even though I disagree, I see everyone’s points and don’t have any better suggestions. :)

@Likeradar I respect your disagreement of me, but let me try to address each of those issues:
* Fridge Space – I may be weird, but I can’t really see the fridge being packed to capacity to the point where one person has to have stuff eliminated. If there’s room in the fridge, I don’t see why it can’t be used by whomever wants it.
* Dishes to unload – Don’t see your point on this one. Everyone should be doing their own dishes. I don’t understand why the couple would pay more for this. Can you explain?
* Parking Space – In the case where it’s a two car garage or driveway, I would expect that the couple is only allowed one of the two available spaces. In any other circumstance – it’s on-street parking, there’s room for one only, or there’s room for more than two, I can’t see how it would matter.
* TV Time – In college I lived in an apt with 4 other people. We had one TV. We never had a problem with who got to watch it when. It just was never an issue, never a conflict. I can’t imagine three people having this problem. If they did, I guess an arrangement would have to be drawn up.

MrItty (17366)

No one has mentioned the dog. It should be a 55/45 split. The couple with the dog paying the 55. If the dog ruins the carpet or chews a door. They should not have to cover an equal expense. Besides the lack of privacy because the dog will bark, the dog will need to go out when the couple is not home. Jut the basic responsibility of looking out for it.
As far at TV time goes. There would be a TV in the living room. And, one in each bedroom. So every one can watch what they want when they want.

CMaz (26203)

The most important tissue is agreement. You need to sit down and talk to them, not us. There is nothing worse than living in a domestic situation with resentment. Basically, fifty fifty would seem normal, the dog should not be a factor. Everyone loves dogs, or if not, then you shouldn’t be thinking about the arrangement. Car parking etc., is up to the individuals if there is not sufficient room, as long as at least two spaces are available, if not, a roster.

DarkScribe (15450)

@DarkScribe: Yes, I agree the most important issue is agreement. But I’m also curious about what the collective thinks because it’s not necessarily clear cut.

EmpressPixie (14721)

Hmm, I have to think on this.

But, with the pet issue…if there’s any form of pet deposit or fee, that should solely be on them (obviously) and if any of the damage is done by the dog, and the landlord wants to keep some secuirty deposit, it should come from their portion, not yours.

casheroo (18071)

@ChazMaz The dog destroying furniture or a carpet has nothing to do with monthly rent and bills. That’s a one-time expendature and is the sole responsibility of the dog owners. So is taking the dog for a walk.

MrItty (17366)

“the dog should not be a factor. Everyone loves dogs, or if not, then you shouldn’t be thinking about the arrangement. ” ?

I do not get that? I love dogs, but if I have to clean up their dogs pee, or poop and what have you. This is a business transaction. It is not personal. I love my dog, I tolerated the “issues’” that come with him and dogs because he is my dog.

Otherwise it is, they are just shoes in the middle of the floor. They are just dishes still in the sink. Nothing wrong with shoes and dishes.

CMaz (26203)

Ok, you are right there. I can see that. I guess it comes down to a percentage of bartering.

CMaz (26203)

@ChazMaz but if I have to clean up their dogs pee, or poop and what have you.

Why would you? If it really worried you, then their dog, their mess. I have yet to have a dog that wasn’t house trained, but I know they do exist.

DarkScribe (15450)

RIght!

CMaz (26203)

I back what @MrItty has written but want to suggest you talk to the landlord about what they want as far as the pet goes and then have the couple agree to take full responsibility for it.

I’m with @MrItty, but whether or not there is a special pet deposit, I think they should pay a higher percentage of the security deposit because of the dog.

augustlan (47258)

@augustlan I don’t necessarily disagree with that, but I think if you can’t trust the people you’re agreeing to live with enough to do the right thing if/when their dog causes damage, you should perhaps reconsider living with them…

MrItty (17366)

I totally disagree – I think they need to be paying more than you. I rent out my spare bedroom and I would definitely charge more for two people. Another body just makes things that much more difficult. I had some friends do this. The couple took \$100 off the other room’s rent. Still cheap for each of them, and more fair. It can sometimes be hard to live with a couple.

LC_Beta (1878)

The reason I didn’t add in a pet condition was because of @EmpressPixie‘s line, “The [pet] I’m always calling mine is my boyfriend’s really.” This implied she has a pet of her own residing in the apartment for some period of time, and thus it is not fair to charge one tenant a pet deposit but for her to not have to pay one as well. However, I do agree that there should be some arrangement made in advance about who pays for fixing any pet damage, if it is impossible to know whose pet did the damage.

dynamicduo (14317)

Oh! No, I was just trying to clear up confusion because I often talking about having a cat around these parts when actually I am pet-free. There will be no pet of mine there. Ever.

EmpressPixie (14721)

We’re not talking about an apartment here with separate bedrooms, we’re talking about a shared home with plenty of common living space. Even if the bedrooms are equal in size, there is a difference between everything else being used and shared by three people vs. two people. I agree with @Likeradar – the couple should pay a little more.

There’s been no mention of the bathroom. Is there one or two main ones? Are they shared or separate? If they are shared, I’m even more clear that the couple should certainly pay more.

In my experience when I lived in house with four people, I had a girlfriend at the time. When she started sleeping over, she paid a small part of the rent each month. I think it was something like \$100 in a \$2,000 house. And maybe my percentage of the rent was upped slightly? I can’t quite remember; this is years ago. It was something like that. In this situation, it was once or twice a week, not every single day. Her paying a small portion felt fair to everyone.

I’ll put it this way… if I were part of the couple, I would feel I would be getting an absolute steal if the third person offered to pay half. That means my fiancee and I would each be paying literally half as much as the third person. I’d feel right about paying 60/40. 55/45 would still feel generous to me. But certainly, talk with them about it, and listen for how sticky it feels to them, and how tight money is for you. Good luck.

Trustinglife (6601)

I agree with @Trustinglife that 50/50 is a steal for the couple as they would each be paying half of what you pay in rent. Would you really be ok paying twice as much as either of them even though they share a room? All common areas would be shared by 3 people.

I think a good compromise is right in the middle of 1/2 and 1/3 per bedroom.

Supacase (14513)

@MrItty I think @LC_Beta put it more simply than I did “Another body just makes things that much more difficult.”

I’ve shared 2 homes with my own bedroom and 2 people sharing another one. Co-habitation with people is about more than bedroom space. It’s extra bodies making messes (even just day-to-day dirt on the floor that may not be obvious until someone sweeps), extra people leaving stuff around (even if everyone is decently neat), extra guests, extra people playing music you may not want to listen to… Maybe I’m biased in this area due to my own previous roomie situations though.
And as @trustinglife brought up, what’s the bathroom situation?
As far as the dishes go though- yes, everyone should be doing their own. But if there’s a dishwasher someone is going to be unloading everyone’s.

@EmpressPixie Before you go measuring things with a ruler and a calculator, remember that you are gonna have to live with these people as well. Fighting for nickles and dimes is not worth much, if you don’t get on well from the beginning. I would easily go with @MrItty‘s suggestion. It’s fair enough, and not complicated.

oratio (8905)

It doesn’t matter who sleeps where. When I was living with three other people, but sharing a room with one of them, we all paid the same rent. It was never a question. A couple is exactly that: a couple. Every one pays equal shares of rent, and every other household expense. If one person uses much more electricity or gas or whatever, you can deal with that later.

Treating a couple as one person is ridiculous. It’s people we’re talking about, not space. The whole reason you are together is to share costs—amongst all the people living there.

wundayatta (58492)

Speaking as a landlord, I would charge per person. Each person uses the bathroom, the kitchen, all of the other space. Each person opens the refrigerator a certain number of times, and uses the stove. Every single use subtracts from the life of the house.

If one person walks into the house, that is one set of feet tracking/walking on the carpet, with each additional person, the wear use increases. This includes the dog to a lesser extent. He drinks the water, and contributes to the overall wear and tear on the carpet, the drapes, etc.

To people who aren’t aware of the expense of owning, ever time a door opens or closes, it wears on the hinges, the door handles and the door frame, and such. I know this, because I recently had to have them all changed in my rental.

@YARNLADY speaking as a tenant, i would never rent from you. you sound neurotic, and probably would put cameras in my smoke detectors. thanks no.

@YARNLADY do you really rent according to the number of renters, and not just set a price for the home?

edited to add: I totally understand landlords who set a limit, like no more than 4 people on the lease in a 2 bedroom, or something like that.

@likeradar: We were totally told that a rental we liked was off limits to us because they didn’t want to rent to three people as it was a smaller place, but they’d be happy to rent us their (much more expensive) bigger place.

EmpressPixie (14721)

@eponymoushipster Come back some day when you are an owner about that I resent the part about the cameras
@Likeradar The house is currently rented to my son, but he sublets to roommates and chages per person.

@EmpressPixie So EP, what are you thinking you’ll do? Bottom line seems to me to be about how generous an arrangement you can afford to make. I wonder how important the money is to you. Curious where you’re at, and if this discussion helped you clarify things.

Trustinglife (6601)

At this point my plan is to see what they have to say. Our landlord may also have an opinion apparently. Beyond that I’m not sure. I came into it thinking that something like 60–40 would be fair—you know, not a perfectly even divide among two OR among three. I’m still thinking about it though.

EmpressPixie (14721)

It gets tricky, too. Like whose name goes on the lease? One person, or all of them? If it’s one person, they’re responsible for the total rent, but they can also kick the others out. The landlord could also kick the others out, if the rules are that only the lessee can live there. If all three sign the lease, then they all have security in that they can’t be kicked out by the landlord. They may all be individually responsible for the entire rent, should the others bail out, unless the landlord allows the lease to be amended.

In the group house I lived in, people came and went. I don’t remember the deal we had with the landlord, but he was a pot-smoking wimp who couldn’t stand up for what he wanted without lying. He refused to renew the lease because he claimed he was moving back in. What he did was double the rent and get new renters. I think he had to do that because of NYC rules about how much you can raise the rent. He was pretty slimy, despite his supposed coolness (he lived in Woodstock).

wundayatta (58492)

Actually, right now we’re looking at a place that rents for \$900 which is an amount that really lends itself to something like a 45–55 split. That comes out to basically 400–500, which seems completely fair. I’m going to suggest it and see how it goes.

EmpressPixie (14721)

@EmpressPixie You’d be paying \$400 and they would each be paying \$250?

Yes.

EmpressPixie (14721)

\$350 and \$550 might be more fair to you. That would put each of them at \$275. You would be paying \$75 more than each of them for the privacy of having your own room, which would be a little easier for me to swallow if I were in your situation. Everything else is shared space and they will actually be taking up more of it than you will since there are two of them and only one of you.

disclaimer: my math sucks, errors likely

Supacase (14513)

I like your math, @Supacase. EP, got an update yet?

Trustinglife (6601)

We’ve decided to go with 280–280-340 as the 900 place is an awesome 3BR. But they agreed to the 400–500 split if we were only three.

EmpressPixie (14721)

Three what?

wundayatta (58492)

I didn’t understand that either. If you’re only three? I thought you were three people.

Trustinglife (6601)

We’ve added a fourth roommate to the mix because it is a 3BR and there is really no reason we need that last room. Accordingly we’re splitting it 280–280-340. But they did agree to split it 400–500 if it was only the three of us.

EmpressPixie (14721)

Ahh, that sounds great!

Trustinglife (6601)

Yeah—I’m really pleased with how things have turned out (and are still evolving). THANKS EVERYONE!!

EmpressPixie (14721)

or