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How to Fairly Share Rent in a Multiple-Bedroom Apartment

So your San Francisco apartment has three bedrooms, all sized differently, and one bathroom. You have two roommates, one who is never home but has a cat, and one who uses the apartment kitchen constantly. Rent for the apartment is $2750. How do you divide it up?

This not that horrible recurring nightmare you have in which you have forgotten to take the SAT until the last minute and may not have graduated from high school after all (the author is plagued by this nightmare). This is one of those real life problems that are often more difficult to solve than the algebra kind.

We know San Francisco renters who have ended up in near-brawls with their roommates over whether the additional window in one room or the extra six inches of ceiling height in another justifies another $50 or $100 in rent. And we all know that the reality of who actually uses the apartment – aside from showering, perhaps – never quite jives with an even rent split arrangement.

The bottom line is that you can’t divide up the rent based on how the apartment is going to be used, especially if you are all living together for the first time. (If you have a history with your roommates and know that Roommate A is going to cook a five course meal every night but Roommates B and C are going to get to eat it, than that may mean that Roommate A deserves a decrease in their rent.)

If all the rooms in the apartment are about the same size, it’s fair to assume that you should all be well-behaved adults and split the rent into third. If you believe that the rooms are different enough to necessitate different valuations, you might consider using a rental price setter like The Rent is Too Damn Fair, which allows roommates to bid on the rooms in the apartment and establishes pricing based on a relative perceived value.

How have you negotiated rent ratios for a multi-bedroom SF apartment with your roommates?

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Amalia Otet
Amalia Otet is an online content developer and creative writer for RENTCafé. She loves all things real estate and strives to live beautifully, one green step at a time.

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