Cure a splitting (rent) headache

by Christine Whitman, Senior Staff Writer

Attending college is a unique experience filled with late-night studying, spontaneous midnight outings and constant spending on food. Moving out of the freshmen dorms and into an apartment with a few newly found best friends is an experience all on its own. Unfortunately, sharing an apartment is not all fun and games, as a new apartment comes with several new responsibilities.

One such responsibility is rent and how to split it. Money is always a touchy subject especially between broke college students, but talking through the process is a must.

There are several ways to split the rent, but sadly, there’s no one-size-fits-all method. Several considerations are made when deciding what each person should pay, including the size of each room, the size of shared spaces, any amenities and the condition of each space. According to Kiplinger, roommates can “sidestep any big blowups by discussing how you’ll address potential problems with your roommate(s) before you even sign a lease.”

When the time comes to sit down and discuss the cost of rent per person, consider these tips to make the process go by more smoothly.

Consider splitting the cost of rent by size. If each room is approximately the same size then this should not be a problem. But if there’s a dramatic difference in size between two of the rooms, this money-splitting strategy should come into play. To figure out the cost of each room, figure out the square footage of each bedroom in the apartment. The rooms with more square footage cost more. If two people share a bedroom, the cost of that room would be split in half.

Consider sharing a bedroom. Sharing a room dramatically reduces the cost per person but may come with other hassles, especially if that other person’s schedule conflicts with yours. If the cost per person is the largest concern, then sharing a room is the best option for a price reduction. If for any reason sharing a bedroom is out of the question, be prepared for a spike in price because privacy comes with an added cost.

Consider the amenities. It goes without saying that the whole process of splitting the rent should be as fair as possible. According to Brick Underground, “The easiest way to determine whose room should be the most expensive is who has the most space, right?”

There is always a chance that each person may not agree on what is considered an amenity — everyone has personal preferences. For the most part, an en suite, balcony or walk-in closet is considered an amenity by realtors and renting professionals. If, however, one member of the group does not consider an en suite an amenity, adjustments may be made in price.

Consider payment methods. If at all possible, try to hold each person accountable for paying his or her own share of the rent. Ask the landlord or realtor if each person can pay his or her pre-decided share separately. That way each person is held accountable, and one person out of the group isn’t dealing with the stress of making sure everyone pays.

Consider a compromise. Sit down and talk with all of the roommates together. Try to develop a plan for expenses and put it in writing as it has the ability to stop arguments before they’re started. If one person makes more money a year and kindly offers to pay more, let them.

Figuring out how to split the rent is one of the hardest aspects of living in a shared apartment or house with other people. If there has been no consensus on cost, consider speaking with a realtor as they’re professionals and can help you with specific problems. Or consider using an online application such as Splitwise or RoomieCalc, which will calculate the rent per person automatically.