the pros and cons of a roommate
Sharing accommodation may make apartment rentals more affordable; however, it can pose many problems. People in shared living space must communicate about how they expect to live together. Set out guidelines in advance to avoid any problems that might occur. Talk about responsibilities for household chores, personal property, keys and privacy. Discuss who will take care of paying the rent, phone bills, utilities, and other shared expenses.
How do your roommates view additional roommates, overnight guests, smoking, food, drug and alcohol usage, will you share an Internet connection and, what type, and quiet time? If private space (such as bedrooms) are different in some way (such as size or view), discuss who will take which one and at what, if any, additional cost.
Beyond the need to respect each other’s living area, at least one roommate needs to assume some legal obligations. Someone must take responsibility for damages to the property and for paying the rent on time. Rights and responsibilities vary somewhat across the country and they are defined in the provincial and territorial laws that apply to landlords and tenants.
Usually the person or persons who sign(s) the lease or make(s) a verbal agreement with the landlord become legally responsible for the actions of the other roommates. If two or more tenants are on (i.e. sign) the same lease each is responsible for the whole rent. The guarantor’s liability will depend on the agreement with the landlord. Likewise the renter listed on the utility and telephone bills must ensure payment.
Remember, you will be responsible for your roommates’ actions if they are not on (i.e. have not signed) the lease. If each of you holds separate leases, you are only responsible for what is in your written agreement. If you both sign the same lease, you are both equally responsible and the landlord can choose to enforce the lease terms against either, or both of you.
— CMHC, www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca