What’s The Best Way to Split Rent?


When I was in college, I lived in a unicorn of a house with four roommates. It was close to public transportation, it had copious storage space, and it possessed every appliance a college gal could ask for (deep fryer included).

Figuring out how to split rent can be challenging, but there are solutions available to help tackle the task efficiently.

My room was in the attic. It was huge. It was gloriously sunny. It was also floored with particle board, had little insulation, and required a climb up a somewhat sketchy staircase.

My roomies defaulted to splitting according to square footage. Using this system, I’d be left paying $800 while the other housemates (who each had reasonably sized, heated, and hardwood-floored rooms) would be paying $350. The moment of awkward silence that followed was my rent-splitting awakening.

Splitting the rent fairly is a hefty task and one that doesn’t always end with a round of high-fives and a game of Cards Against Humanity. To avoid household tension right off the bat, here are a few solutions:

1. Divide the square footage

Though this method didn’t work for my crew, it can be an easy and simple way to split rent. To get an accurate breakdown, take the square footage of each bedroom and divide by the total square footage of the apartment. This gives you the percentage of space each room occupies. Take each individual percentage and apply it to the total cost of rent. This breaks down the cost according to percentage of total space occupied.

2. Take the “Perks” approach

What exactly do you get with your room? For instance, do you have a private bathroom? That’ll be extra. Assign a cost to each amenity or “extra” and tack it onto an evenly divided room price. (Tip: Closet space, windows, balconies, etc. are also perks to be considered.)

3. Consider per-person calculations

Think about your daily habits: how much water you use, how often you switch the light on/off, etc. Now double it. Therein lies the logic behind splitting on a per person basis. If you rent a room to a single occupant, you can expect a certain usage of energy. But rent out the same space to two people, and you can expect expenses to increase. You can also expect a heightened degree of wear and tear, plus storage space in common areas (refrigerator shelves, anyone?) to decrease.

If an apartment with two rooms is rented to three people (with two sharing one room, the other remaining single occupancy), rent can be split 50/50 between the roommates sharing a room, while each of the three housemates pays an equal sum for the common areas.

  1. Example:

    Total rent of two-bedroom apartment: $1,400

    Common area is assigned a value (let’s say $300). That cost is then divided evenly among all housemates: $100 per person.

    Housemate #1 (single) pays $500 for the bedroom, plus $100 for the common area. Total: $600.

    Housemates #2 & #3 split the cost of their $600 shared room. Beside this they each pay an additional $100. Total: $400 per person.

Figured out your rent? Great! Now get it down in writing.

To guard against future roommate pricing disputes, get it down in writing and make copies for each tenant. A roommate agreement is a stellar way to get your details on file so you’re not left wondering the terms in the future.

So what did I end up paying for my attic room? After making the case for my large yet ill-heated and rickety space, I shaved off 200 bucks from the initial proposed cost. My rent came out to $600, while the others paid $400 per month.

Article Courtesy of Claire Murdough, trulia.com

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