Living with roommates can be a great cost-saving measure, especially if you live in a larger city. If you are looking to chip away at student debt or save more money to cash-in during retirement, the prospect of splitting rent can seem pretty appealing. However, you can sabotage any of your potential savings on rent or a mortgage if you do not take the time to properly vet a new roommate. Running background checks on new roommates can drum up information from their social media accounts, any criminal record they might have, and some financial history.
Learn about their habits
Taking a look at a roommate’s social media accounts is a great idea if you want to get to know them a little better before they move in. You could see whether you align ideologically, or if you have some friends in common. Social media can also be a great way to see how a person acts in their private life. For instance, if they post lots of photos of crazy nights out or wild parties, and you are more of a homebody, you know that the two of you may not gel when it comes to lifestyle. Social media could also connect you to someone’s friends or to someone’s current employment. Friends and employers can serve as references for a potential roommate’s character or can attest to their level of responsibility.
Make sure they are safe
When you are choosing someone to live in your home or apartment, you will definitely want to make sure that person is safe and lacks any criminal arrest record. Running a background check on someone may cost a little money up front, but it is worth it in the long run for the peace of mind. Sleeping in the same house as someone with a few speeding tickets is fairly tame, but it can be very unsettling if you find out someone you live with is a convicted arsonist.
Not only will you feel unsafe if your new roommate has a violent offense on his or her record, but any record can actually make it very difficult for that roommate to find work. And, if your new roomie was ever incarcerated, he or she could be making 40 percent less income annually. In turn, they may struggle to make rent payments. Those rent payments would then be your responsibility, depending on whose names are on the lease.
Make sure they have never declared bankruptcy
An online background check won’t always include a credit report– though it’s a great idea to ask a new roommate for one if a landlord has not already– but many will include any history of bankruptcies. Knowing whether your new roommate has ever filed for bankruptcy is vital when you are thinking about future rent or mortgage payments. Make sure whomever is living in your house or apartment is financially sound and able to pay rent. Otherwise, you are worse off than if you had lived alone.
When you conduct a background check on your new roommates, it’s also a great idea to run one on yourself, as well. As a matter of fact, it can pay to do so. Some state governments and financial institutions have missing money and unclaimed property listed online to which you may be entitled. If you find that you’re a match for any of that money, you could be a little closer to your financial goals, and eventually may not even need a roommate!
Running background checks on your roommates could seem extreme in the abstract, but doing so can save you a lot of time, money, and headaches in the future. While background checks won’t tell you if your potential roommates leave their dishes in the sink too long, they can keep you from wondering about your safety and financial future.