After you’ve given the “MTV Cribs” tour to a prospective roommate, you’ll most likely have an idea whether that person is a fit or not. In some cases, just to be certain, you may want to contact a few people on their reference list (if they provided one). With a reference list in hand, the questions running through the minds of a live-in landlord range from what kinds of questions should I ask? to should I even bother to contact them?
If you’re future roommate provided a list of names and contact information, it couldn’t hurt do a little leg work on your part to determine the validity of your future roommate.
When and if your future roommate provided a reference list, it should clearly state what that relation is to your future roommate. For instance, a person on the reference list could be a former roommate or landlord or employer, make sure the reference list specifically states who that person is.
Should I contact the person? – Most definitely, don’t be shy about making the initial phone or sending the e-mail. Asking questions will never hurt. It’s a lot like buying something in a retail store, asking questions to the sale associate will never hurt you it, if anything you’ll become a better informed consumer. Same goes with roommates, asking questions to reference will allow you to know the person better.
What should I ask? – Keep it to facts, don’t ask the person on the other end of the conversation opinionated questions. Ask questions along the lines of how long have you known the person or lived with the person. Was the person on time with paying rent or his/her share of the utilities? Ensure the answers fit with the story you’re new roommate is telling. Asking opinionated questions is just that, their opinions and subjective to their living style or personality. For instance, one person might consider one person a messy person while another might think differently.
Who should I ask? – This is just as important as what you ask. Try and keep it to two people, maybe three. Anything more, you’ll probably get repetitive information, you’ll most likely have an idea as to whether this person is reliable or not. Don’t ask their friends because you’ll most likely received a biased answer.
I’ve actually talked to a few homeowners that asked for a copy of their resumes to illustrate their work and school history. I don’t know exactly what kind of proof this provides, but thinking about it, it takes quite a bit of creativity to complete write a resume from scratch. The likelihood of receiving a false resume is unlikely, but it is possible. I’ve only received one resume during my time as a live-in landlord. I can’t decide whether to add that to my application process.
Although, there are no fool proof methods to verifying the validity of references, calling references and obtaining a resume can be substantial evidence in determining creditability. I can hear some arguments why friends or friends of friends make better roommates – you know a little bit of their background and they’re deemed credible. I absolutely agree, but if disagreements ever arise over rent prices, responsibilities, friendships can be damaged. Thus, my advise it to not rent to friends. Besides, it never hurts to meet new people. I’ve heard numerous stories where roommates found on craigslist turned out to be great friends.