Will Your Roommate Cost You a Bunch of Money?

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Sure, your roommate occasionally pees on the floor, but does he pay the rent? There’s a lot to consider when deciding to share living expenses with a housemate, and a new survey finds there’s probably more bad behavior than you might expect. In fact, “roommates from hell” can cost you money, your security deposit -- and even your reputation.

Loud sex for hours on end

Abodo, an apartment search app targeting college students and young professionals, surveyed 2,000 people with roommates and found the usual complaints: being messy, not doing the dishes and eating a roommate’s food. But the survey also revealed a few bigger issues, such as loud sex for hours on end -- and shameless nudity ("She would walk around naked in front of my boyfriend and my mother.")

Other roommates from hell included:

  • "His girlfriend ate all of my food."
  • "My roommate's boyfriend kicked the door in."
  • "[A roommate was] raging drunk and literally broke the tub."

One respondent said he "was arrested because a roommate was dealing drugs from our house." But according to the survey, female housemates seem to be the real wildcards.

“Almost nine out of ten confess to noisy sex sessions, nearly six out of ten have rearranged the furniture without checking if it’s O.K. and more than half invite their partners over all the time,” the report says.

The #1 reason to get tossed

The biggest reason to dump a roommate? One-quarter said just a single instance of a roomie peeing or throwing up on the floor would warrant getting the boot.

Nearly all (over 95%) said stealing is the worst roommate offense, though being messy was the most common. Not paying rent was the third-worst housemate offense.

But beyond the usual pranks -- such as hacking a roommate’s Facebook account – there can be much more at risk.

“What really surprised me about the survey was how many people talked about roommates stealing stuff from them," Alec Slocum, co-founder of Abodo, tells MainStreet. "There's so much theft. I've never even heard of that." Except maybe Dilly bars being lifted from the freezer, he admits.

The word “stole” was frequently mentioned by survey respondents, whether it was in reference to cars, cash, or clothing: "Stole one of our roommates' cars," "Stole cash I had hidden," and "She stole my clothes," were some typical comments.

Rob me blind but stop hitting on my friends

But roommate behavior may be tolerated differently, depending on where you live. The poll found West Virginians think a roommate hitting on their friends is even worse than stealing.

People in Indiana would prefer “you pee or puke on the floor than invade their space,” and Minnesotans “would rather you skip your rent payment than let your dog poop on the floor,” according to the study.

How to find a suitable roommate

Slocum recommends people vet their potential roommates -- and preferably hunt for candidates that can be readily vouched for.

"The best place to start is obviously on your social networks because you can find out a decent amount about a person right off social networks," Slocum said. "And if you have to go out of it, then just get to know the person a little bit more before you start sharing a home with them." And enduring their vociferous trysts.

"If we're going to help somebody find a roommate, if at all possible, we try to have them [provide] references,” Slocum adds. “Not in like a formal 'give me a reference sheet,' but find somebody they've lived with in the past... and also make sure they're not in some kind of public database."

Perhaps one public offense to look for: disturbing the peace.

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