Tips on Negotiating Rent Prices with Roommates

By Kaitlin Hurtado on August 2, 2019

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There are plenty of topics that can cause arguments between roommates but do not let negotiating rent prices on different size rooms be one of them. Not every apartment or house you live in is going to come with rooms that are the same size. Some will have larger closets, bigger windows, more floor space, or even its own attached bathroom. These different features will have each room bringing its own value to your roommates. Not all rooms are created equal, which makes it more difficult to split the rent evenly when every roommate will get a different sized room with varying features.

Avoid one more argument with your roommates by considering the following tips when it comes time for negotiating rent prices for different sized rooms with your roommates.

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Acknowledge the value of each room

While the actual size of the room is the main factor in deciding the price of a room when negotiating, there are plenty of other factors that can come into conversation when negotiating rent prices. The easiest thing to start out with is to list out the qualities of each room: the size of the room, A/C, windows, closet space, proximity to the bathroom and other amenities, flooring type, and so on. When all of the features of each of room are listed out, it is much easier to compare each room and its value.

Do not focus on just the room size, because some people will truly value having an attached bathroom or a bigger closet over having a larger room. Ultimately, deciding what features bring the most value to each room is what will be the deciding factor when it comes to negotiating rent prices because it will help reflect what each roommate will be willing to pay more money to have to their own rooms.

Rely on the square footage of each room

When negotiating rent prices, it may look bleak when you come to a standstill with your roommates in the middle of negotiating. When the biggest reason for your negotiating issue really is the size of the room, keep negotiating simple by relying on the square footage of each room.

Take the total area of each room into account (the actual room, closet/storage space, and attached bathroom). Add up the total square footage of all the rooms and figure out what percentage of total bedroom space each roommate will have. Apply the percentage you calculate to the total rent of the apartment and you will end up with each roommate’s rent share. Common areas do not have to factor into this equation under the assumption that every roommate will have an equal right to those areas.

All of this math can be avoided with the use of online rent calculators, which are easy to find and use when you can just punch in the necessary numbers and let the online rent calculator do all the hard work for you and your roommates.

Type up and sign a roommate agreement 

You and your roommates may think of this tip as unnecessary or just busywork, but it can prove helpful in many situations. Imagine you and your roommates go through all of the trouble of going through negotiating rent prices, live and pay rent for a few months, and then come to find one roommate requesting a change in rent price because they no longer agree with the price they are paying for (their room is no longer worth the price, they want another room for the price, and so on).

Creating a roommate agreement where everyone’s rent prices are listed properly and paired with everyone’s signatures will help you avoid future arguments regarding rent. There should not be an “Oh I don’t remember paying that much” when everyone can refer to the nicely typed up roommate agreement whenever there’s an issue. If you are already working on a roommate agreement, try putting any house rules (guest policies, cleaning schedules) so that your roommate agreement can be more efficient.

Don’t leave the negotiation with anyone feeling upset

You do not want to go through negotiating rent prices with your roommates and end the conversation with one roommate feeling upset or left unheard. Make sure that when negotiating rent prices with your roommates, you assure everyone that the conversation is supposed to be one of honesty. Encourage everyone to speak their mind throughout the conversation, and make sure that everyone is on the same page when you decide to move forward through each step.

If one roommate feels that they are being cheated with your final decision, do not just brush them off. Instead, try seeing if there is anything left that you can negotiate with them so that they can be fully satisfied with the end result. If you and your other roommates are dead set on rent prices, try talking through your thought process once more to justify why the final decisions were made. You do not want to leave a small issue to create a larger problem in the future.

Negotiating rent prices may seem bleak, but hopefully, it will go more smoothly with the help of these tips.

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By Kaitlin Hurtado

Uloop Writer
Hello! I'm Kaitlin, a fourth year Literary Journalism major at UC Irvine. I'm a writer on Uloop's national team and a campus editor for UCI.

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