The Clash’s Should I Stay or Should I Go is an earworm for me this week. Why this song? Although it’s about a romantic relationship, it can also be associated with the issue of either remaining in a shared housing arrangement or simply ending it. Sometimes it’s time to move out.
The Power of Verbal and Written Communication
We’re big believers in the power of communication, both verbal and written. Before you enter any shared living arrangement, we strongly recommend having several “get-to-know-you” conversations with your potential housemate to see whether it’s a mutually good fit. We urge that once you both have agreed to share the home, a living arrangement agreement should be drawn and put in place. Why? This document will provide an added layer of understanding about the basics of the living arrangements that can cover each person’s understanding concerning practical items like furniture, food, chores, etc. Another part of the document could state the agreement made by the homeowner and the homemate regarding payment, repair, and what happens when it is time to move.
But is a Written Agreement Necessary?
Back in the day when I had flatmates, the idea of having a written agreement never entered my mind. I went with my gut feelings and was very fortunate to find two great flatmates, and if either one had asked me to write up an agreement, I think I would have been put off by it. But now that I’m older and wiser, I see the merit of a written agreement. If the living arrangement simply isn’t working out, you have guidelines to follow to make a graceful exit without any hard feelings.
Common Sense Prevails
If, on the other hand, you don’t have a written agreement in place and the topic of moving out never came up in your get-to-know-you conversations (as it did in my case), what guidelines should you follow? Common sense prevails when you decide it’s time to terminate the shared housing arrangement. In my case, both my flatmates gave me 30 days notice. The first one told me that it had been a great experience for him, but as a single man in his mid-30s he wanted the privacy of his own apartment. (I think his girlfriend most likely had a hand in that decision.) How could I argue with that? He left his room and bathroom immaculate and used his deposit as his last month’s rent. The second one moved back to Los Angeles because there were better employment opportunities. He also gave me 30 days notice, left the room and bathroom in pristine conditions. Both departures were friendly and we remained friends. There was no damage to the flat and there was no drama. I understood completely their reasons of why they needed to move on. Both arrangements ended on a gracious note.
Planning for Moving
In your agreement you might include items about what happens at the end of sharing. It doesn’t need to be complex, but you might consider these:
- Provide 30 days notice for moving out,
- Agree to remove personal property by moving day (you’d be surprised how many people think their former residences are storage units),
- Leave their private quarters clean
- Return all sets of keys and other entry devices such as garage openers
- Property left behind will be considered as abandoned and will be disposed
- Determine how the deposit is used. Is it for cleaning, repairs, or painting or is it the last months rent?
Terminating a home share arrangement is stressful for all parties. It’s wise to remember this and keep friendly lines of communication open during this time. That way you will keep your housemate as a friend and a reference for the future.
If you want more guidance on how to share your home, remember we offer many articles about the process, experiences from others who have shared their homes, our guidebook Sharing Housing: A Guidebook for Finding and Keeping Good Housemates, and educational videos.