Roommates can be a blessing and a curse. Although roommates can help you with bills and the overall cost of living, they can also bring about some problems. Almost all the problems between roommates involve bills and money, which can be a touchy subject. One of the most common problems among roommates is how to split utility bills. It may seem daunting, but following these easy steps will prevent any awkward situations when it comes to splitting the utility bills, and leave you and your roommates happy.
Establish Ground Rules and Guidelines
The most important thing you can do is to have an honest, open conversation about costs and bills, before you move in together and sign the lease. Be upfront about what needs to be paid and if each roommate can afford that. Next, you must establish who is in charge of what bill. Make sure the bills are organized – when and how the bills will be collected, how they will be paid, whose name is on the bill, etc. Once these ground rules are established, actually paying the bills will be easy.
Decide How to Split the Bills
This too requires an open and honest discussion between all roommates. There is no one right way to split utility bills between roommates, it just depends on personal situations and preferences. Some prefer to split the bills evenly, others like to split the bill depending on the income of each roommate. It is most important that all the roommates are on the same page and are in agreement. The most common and easiest way to split is to divide evenly, but as long as everyone involved is happy, you are free to split the bills any way you like.
Put it in Writing
Once you have all agreed on how to split the bills, it is crucial that someone places this decision in writing. It does not need to be a formal contract, just a quick email summarizing the conversation and the key points, i.e. who pays what and how that was decided. Putting this decision in writing will prevent any confusion down the road in addition to serving as a guide should a new roommate move in.
Discuss the Variables
Although this may seem unnecessary, it is important that you discuss every possible variable or scenario that may arise. For example, what if a roommate is on an extended vacation and decide to sublet their room? What if a roommate has a partner stay over often, should they pay more? All of these scenarios are realistic, and should be discussed in advance. That way, if one of these scenarios does happen, everyone is already in agreement on what actions will be taken.
Use Bill-Splitting Apps
Today, there is an app for just about everything, and that is true for splitting bills between roommates. Using apps can be very helpful in keeping track of bills and executing the payments. IOU is an app that helps you keep track of all your IOU’s that you have to your roommates. On IOU, you can upload different expenses, share them equally among roommates, and send each other email reminders of when they are due. Venmo is a free app that allows users to pay each other directly. Venmo is a quick and easy way to split utility bills. These apps can make the payment process easier, and keep you and your roommates on the same page.