The Risks Of Living With A Stranger: Ensuring Your Safety

by Tanya January 18, 2024

The rising cost of living has forced many people to opt for shared accommodation.

Having a housemate is not just good for your wallet. It could be lots of fun, too.

However, it is not without risks.

If you are living with a roommate, knowing everything about them is critical for your safety. Here’s why.

The risks of co-living: what you should know

Sharing a house or apartment with a total stranger has some inherent risks you should be aware of.

It is not as simple as a roommate borrowing your clothes or skipping their cleaning chores. Shared living arrangements could have far more critical consequences that could endanger your personal and financial security, sometimes even putting your life at risk.

Here are some of the potential troubles you could experience.

* Theft of valuables – roommates could steal your jewelry, watches, electronic equipment, and personal data while you are away.

* Property damage – they could cause intentional harm to the property, the cost of which you might need to bear if the lease is under your name.

* Defaulting on rental payments – when they fail to meet their rental obligations, you could end up shouldering the entire burden of the lease payments.

* Unsavory guests – they could invite over seedy acquaintances who could damage the property, steal, or cause physical harm to others.

* Criminal conduct – your roommate could be involved in scams, drugs, and other unlawful activities that could incriminate you and those around you. For instance, they can use the address of your shared home for various deceptive schemes or store stolen goods on your property without your knowledge. If you leave your laptop around, they could even use it to carry out cybercrime.

Ultimately, such activities could be traced back to you, making you seem an accomplice to a crime you knew nothing about.

Ensuring your safety when living with a roommate

It is easy to think you know someone after a few pleasantries.

However, people could be exceptionally deceptive.

Remember, someone with a shady past will do everything possible to hide it.

This is why taking precautions is essential for avoiding unnecessary trouble later on.

1. Learn more about your roommate

A few random interactions are not enough to get to know a stranger. A deceptive person could easily lie to win your trust.

So, it is impossible to rely on what they say to make an informed decision.

To find out more about them:

✔️ Browse their social media profiles

Review their profile descriptions, posts, comments, and connections. Look for red flags such as offensive remarks, inappropriate content, and short account histories.

✔️ Run a background check

You can use Nuwber, a people search website, to run a background check on your potential roommate to learn about their personal information, professional details, and prior addresses based on verified public data.

✔️ Ask for references

Speak to the potential roommate’s landlord, housemates, employers, or anyone else who could provide an unbiased reference. If you find any mutual connections on their social media profiles, reaching out to them would be a good idea, too.

✔️ Watch out for behavioral cues

Remain alert for telltale signs that may hint at their true character and motives. Have you caught them lying or providing inaccurate information? Are they avoiding certain questions? Do they seem nervous when discussing their work or current residence? All these could signal that they are hiding something.

✔️ Listen to your instinct

Use your best judgment when making your final selection while interviewing people to share a house with. If you feel uneasy or are not entirely comfortable in someone’s presence, move on to the next person.

2. Take a security deposit

A deposit could safeguard you from property damage, loss of valuables, missing rent payments, and similar causes of extra expenses.

3. Put things in writing

When you have full ownership of the property, using a lease agreement is essential before allowing a stranger into your home. However, if you have rented the house under your name, you could use a subletting agreement for your new roommate with the landlord’s consent.

Either way, having a legally binding document has several advantages. It could clear out ambiguities and put extra pressure on the roommate to be on their best behavior. Importantly, it safeguards you from future financial burdens and may also help with the eviction process in a worst-case scenario.

The agreement you use should explicitly mention expectations and obligations, rent amount and payment due dates, what is allowed and prohibited, repercussions of damage or loss, and other areas important for your safety.

4. Keep your belongings safe

When living in a shared household, you must take adequate measures to protect what belongs to you.

〰️ Before the roommate arrives, take an inventory of all the valuables and other regular items in the house. Take clear photos and note down their value.

〰️ Install an electronic lock to control access. This could help you avoid the hassles of changing locks in the event the roommate loses the house keys. Once they move out, you can simply change the passcode to prevent them from entering the property without your permission.

〰️ Keep important documents and items in locked drawers and cupboards. Things of high value should be stored in a secure safe.

〰️ Set up a security camera in your room to detect intruders.

〰️ Lock your bedroom before leaving the house. In addition, ensure all windows and doors that open outside are tightly locked.

To conclude

Finding a close friend to share a house or apartment with is often challenging. Naturally, many people are forced to co-live with strangers they know little about. While this practice has notable perks, it could also pose a few serious risks.

For instance, your new roommate could steal your valuables, cause damage to the property, forego rent payments, bring shady guests, or even be involved in unlawful activities, implicating you as well.

To find a safe, reliable, and compatible roommate, you must invest enough time to learn more about them. As extra precautions, put things in writing with a legally binding document, ask for a security deposit, and take adequate steps to keep your belongings safe.

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