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roommatesWith colleges gearing up for the fall semester, and the economy forcing more renters to pair up and share housing costs, it’s safe to say that roommates are a common fixture in today’s rental market.

Renting to roommates can cause some legal tangles for unsuspecting landlords, so now’s a good time for a crash course in renting to roommates.

Here are some traps to avoid:

Lesson #1Avoid the scenario of renting to the appointed leader of the pack, who will in turn sublet to the roomies.  Meet and screen all of the proposed occupants.

Lesson #2Make each occupant sign the lease.  Have only one lease per rental property.  Don’t make separate agreements with separate roommates.  It’s better if each roommate is responsible for the rent, and for any damage that occurs.  One for all, and all for one!

Lesson #3Know your local occupancy standards.  Some college towns are enforcing new restrictions on the number of unrelated occupants per bedroom, so make sure you are up to speed.  Make sure your lease requires your tenants to notify you before anyone new moves in, or stays for an extended period.

Lesson #4Rein in noise and partying right away before your neighbors go ballistic.  Make sure each tenant knows that bad behavior from any one tenant will result in everyone being evicted.

Lesson #5Don’t agree to an individual walk through or return a prorated share of the security deposit before the end of the lease term–unless you speak with a lawyer first and understand what that might mean down the road.

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