FAQs For Apartment Sharing: Non-Columbia Housing

In addition to several commercial listing services, and internet services, you can list your information with the Off-Campus Housing Center.  It will be e-mailed to those looking for housing.

Whether you can have a roommate or not depends on a number of factors.  One may be what kind of lease you have, a rent stabilized lease, a sublease, or a lease for a non-stabilized apartment for example. Another factor is the size of the apartment.  The best place to check this information is the DHCR, Division of Housing & Community Renewal, a state agency with offices in lower Manhattan.

If you are allowed to have a roommate or even two, your landlord cannot object to this, but he/she does not have to add your roommates to the lease unless he/she chooses to do so. The only person who has to be added to a lease is the spouse or domestic partner.  If you decide to move out, then the roommates will also have to move, unless their names have been added to the lease.

If there are any spaces you wish to have out-of-bounds, you should incorporate all of them into the written agreement. If you do not wish to let the person sharing the apartment to  cook or use your kitchen implements, then say so up front. If you do not wish to have the roommate bring guests into the living room, this needs to be discussed beforehand. Some people feel that if they are paying their fair share of the rent, they should have full use of the common spaces, living room, kitchen, and bathroom.

If you are only renting out a bedroom and use of a bathroom, then structure your ads to reflect this. Make it clear that the other parts of the apartment, including all furniture, kitchen appliances, etc. are not included.

You do not have to provide any furniture or amenities if you do not wish.  Again, structure your ads to reflect that the room comes unfurnished. The person renting the room has to supply his/her own telephone/cable/internet account, should they desire.

Do not jump to rent your room to the first person who wants it.  Even though you may need the extra money this person's rent may bring, do all of your homework in order to assure yourself of the best possible match. A credit check, or at least a check of the person's references is wise. Have the person give you the name(s) of the last couple of places they lived and check with the management company or the tenant if the apartment was shared, as to the reliability of the person.

You should always have a written agreement in place before the person moves in. The written agreement should include:

  1. The length of the tenancy
  2. The rent to be paid, and in what form and when
  3. What is included in the rent
  4. What extras the person is expected to pay for
  5. What amenities the person is entitled to use
  6. Any restrictions on space access or guests
  7. Any other restrictions, like pets or smoking
  8. Security deposit amount and how/when it will be returned

You may also want to include a section on dispute resolution. If the person does not pay the rent, or the electric bill, what steps will be taken to resolve the issues?

You can contact a real estate attorney to answer those questions and explain the legal process to remove an individual from an apartment.