A significant trend in Pakistan’s real estate industry is that now more people are looking for houses to rent, especially in Islamabad. Students and young professionals prefer renting apartments, which they tend to share with other flatmates as more affordable than solo living options.
Sharing an apartment can be a fulfilling experience, but it all depends on whether you live with the right person. While it may be tempting just to let the first available person move in to save time and hassle, it is important to delve into all the details with them first to avoid encountering any trouble afterwards. Of course, it is difficult to judge someone in just a single meeting. However, a preliminary interview can still give some insights on their personality, lifestyle, expectations, and whether their values align with yours.
Graana, Pakistan’s 1st Online Real Estate Marketplace, has prepared a list of questions that can help you screen potential flatmates.
- How was your previous experience of sharing a rental space?
Urge them to describe their past living situations. Pay attention to how they explain their problems and handle them. For example, did a falling out with their former flatmate cause them to move out abruptly? If most of them are expressed negatively or indulge in gossip about their previous flatmates, look for a pattern: the chances are that they might have been the source of the problem.
Even though your landlord may have already covered these bases, be sure to check if they have a history of late or unpaid payments – in which case, they might inadvertently put you in a position where you would have to pay for their share as well.
The reason why they left their previous rental can also be enlightening. For example, there is sufficient cause for concern if they got evicted.
If this is someone who has never cohabitated with anyone else before (apart from their family), they would probably have more difficulty sharing a space compared to someone who has already shared the same roof with strangers in the past. This does not necessarily mean that you should refuse such a person; just expect an adjustment period in the beginning where they get used to their new setting.
- How would you describe your cleaning habits?
Maintaining a tidy apartment is the most common source of conflict between flatmates. While no one will admit they are messy, it’s important to gauge their standards of cleanliness. Would they hire a professional cleaner to come in weekly? How do they feel about splitting chores?
- How do you feel about sharing expenses?
Some people look for flatmates to reduce the burden of the monthly rent, while others may want someone to contribute to the overall expense of living in the rental unit. This may include costs for repair/renovation, internet usage etc. You should ask this beforehand just in case there are any mismatched expectations. An important thing to remember is that not everything has to be divided equally – each person can contribute proportionally based on their usage. For example, if someone travels for work often, it wouldn’t be fair to that party to pay an equal share in the utility bills.
There are a lot of house for rent in E-11, Islamabad that are perfect for students, young couples and office going people.
- How often do you cook?
If your kitchen is small, you need to work out a cooking schedule to avoid stepping on each other’s toes. If you both plan on preparing your meals separately, you need to ensure enough space in the refrigerator and cupboards for everyone’s provisions. However, if there is a mutual desire to cook together, it could create a foundation for bonding and split the costs for staple groceries and kitchen appliances.
- What is your work schedule like?
Ideally, your work schedules should be compatible too. For example, if you both have to rush to the office in the morning, your morning routine should not cause any delay for the other. If they work from home, this could lead to a few potential issues that should be worked out in advance. For instance, if they have to hold meetings all day, this could pressure you to be quiet if you are at home too (especially if they are working in a communal area). Moreover, the utility bills would be higher if someone is at home most of the day – in which case, the division of bills should be defined appropriately.
- What is your policy on visitors?
Some people have an open-door policy and entertain friends or family often at their homes. You should be allowed to host your friends without invading your flatmate’s privacy, so boundaries should be established ahead of time. Are large groups allowed to gather? Will out-of-town visitors stay in the communal areas? What are their thoughts on social distancing in such cases? Knowing your flatmate’s social habits earlier can prevent clashes later, especially if you share an already cramped space.
- Do you smoke?
Smoking can be a deal-breaker for many people, so it should be addressed initially. If your landlord has a no-smoking policy, your flatmate should be made aware of it. Even if it is allowed, the other person may still be uncomfortable due to health concerns.
- Do you own any pets?
Similarly, your flatmate should be notified if pets are not allowed in your rental unit. If they are, some rules should be outlined. Are you allergic to any animals? Would your flatmate cover the cost of any damage caused by their pet? Who will watch their pet when they are at the office, or if they are travelling?
- What are your pet peeves?
It is just as essential to know how your habits may affect them. On the other hand, if they provide you with a long list, this can also be a warning sign because you would have to tiptoe around them.
- How long do you plan on staying?
If you are looking for a stable, long-term arrangement, you should communicate it to them. Even if it is for the short term, you need to put the duration of the period in writing to steer clear of any future conflict.
Don’t forget that the conversation should go both ways; give them a chance to share their expectations too. Discussing matters upfront before signing the dotted line with a stranger can lead to a healthy cohabitation in the long run.