Moving girlfriend into share?
October 26, 2008 8:07 AM   Subscribe

Manhattan rental share, what's a reasonable fee for an extra room mate?

In a shared rental space there are three bedrooms, but only one bathroom and kitchen. If one room mate pays $1400 month to month, and is not on the lease, and wants his girlfriend to move in with him, how much should she pay?

I know that one answer is whatever the market will bear, but I'm looking for what might be considered reasonable in the Manhattan market.
posted by StickyCarpet to Home & Garden (8 answers total)
One way is with a % of floor space. Let's presume space is divided as such: 15% BR1; 15% BR2; 15%BR3; 55% shared space with $1400/person and $4,200 for the apartment. 55% of $4,200 is $2,310, divided by 4 is $578/person shared space (plus $822 for each BR). $822+578(2)=$1,978 - or rounded up to $2,000 for inconvenience of less bathroom and kitchen time. That's $1000 from each of the couple sharing the bedroom and $1,100 from each of the roommates with their own bedrooms. Adjust accordingly based on actual rent and square footages.

I'm not saying that's the best way in your circumstance, but it seems pretty fair to me.
posted by yeti at 8:34 AM on October 26, 2008

The easiest thing to do would be to just split the rent evenly amongst all people in the apartment rather than all bedrooms, no? So just split the total rent four ways instead of three.

But if people balk at that, it may be worth an all-in meeting to negotiate from that as a starting point. I did something like that when my new roommate moved in -- I have a two-bedroom, but one bedroom is markedly bigger than the other, and I had the bigger room. My old roommate had the smaller, but made up for it by claiming exclusive use of the spare room off the living room to use as her office. I gave my new roommate the choice of that same setup, or a discount on the rent; he went with the office. But, that's an example of the kind of thing you can negotiate (maybe there's an extra closet or something that someone could take over in exchange for having to pay full rent or something, etc.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:37 AM on October 26, 2008

You all (including girlfriend) need to sit down and discuss it. There are loads of ways to divide it up, and you need to agree on a way that you are all happy with.

In my flat, which is 3 bedrooms and a shared kitchen, living room and bathroom, the couple have the biggest bedroom (a coincidence, that was the just the way it was before the boyfriend was ever on the scene). We split the total rent 30% each for the 2 single people and 20% each for the couple, but we split all the bills 4 ways equally. This was important for us, as the boyfriend was a student when he moved in, so in theory didn't have to pay any share of the council tax. Any other way of splitting the rent would have resulted in complicated half-percentages which would have led to complicated maths, but because he paid towards the Council Tax me and the other singleton felt it balanced out.

But that was us. Other people may feel differently, which is why you all need to discuss it together.
posted by Helga-woo at 8:51 AM on October 26, 2008

$400 on top of his $1400.

Warning: this is totally mathematical BS and probably has nothing to do with your actual situation, but I liked the numbers because they worked out so round.

Let us assume that your rent is currently split equally, 3 bedrooms, 3 people, each at $1400/month, or $4200 total.

If you were to charge on a person+room basis, that is count "1" for each person and "1" for each room, then each of the three of you pays 2/6th of the rent, because each of you is 1 person + 1 room = 2.

If your roommate adds his girlfriend, the equation changes. The base becomes 7 (4 people+3 rooms). You now pay (2/7)*$4200 or $1200. They pay 2 people+1 room (3/7)*$4200 = $1800.
posted by fings at 9:38 AM on October 26, 2008

I was in a 2-bedroom apartment, each roommate paying $1400, and my girlfriend came to live with me for the summer. My roommate and I decided that I should pay an extra $233, with the following rationale:

We assumed that our rent was paying 1/2 for the bedrooms, 1/2 for the common space. While we each still got full use of our respective bedrooms, there was now an extra person sharing the common space. Thus, each person should only be paying 1/3 of the common space. This means that my roommate was paying 1/4 of the total rent for the common space, but he should only have been paying 1/6. 1/4 - 1/6 = 1/12 of the total rent (of $2800) = $233.33.

So in your case, assuming your common space is worth 50%, each of your 2 roommates is going from 1/6 to 1/8. So in total, you would owe an extra 2/6 - 2/8 = 1/12 of total rent.

The point is, anyway, that it's not about market prices, or at least it wasn't in my case; it's about what we considered to be fair, so that nobody felt they were being treated badly. The right way to make that happen depends entirely on you and your roommates. I know many of my friends would not have asked for any extra money if they were my roommate in this situation; others would have asked for a full third. So talk it over and agree on something that everyone can live with.
posted by goingonit at 10:29 AM on October 26, 2008

All these people with numbers are silly as fuck.

What you do is split the rent per # bedrooms; If one guy with two girlfriends had 3 rooms, he pays for all 3 out of 5 available rooms. Then you split the utilities by # people occupying the apartment.

This is the _only_ fair way to do it. If you are looking for a "deposit" fee make it a function of living space + utilities / total cost of living per month.

Common space is common space. You don't generally parse it out 2/3 to one guy and 1/3 to another because guy #1 is fat. You all basically use that space equally. Gas, electricity, cable, etc., is not so equal and should be the main concern.
posted by shownomercy at 1:27 PM on October 26, 2008

I don't think it is fair to assess a couple's usage based only on the number of bedrooms. You won't be able to use the common space at the same level if there are now two other people using it instead of only one. You're more likely to have to wait for the bathroom or kitchen, will have less room to store your stuff in both, will be less likely to use the common living space without conflict, etc. The roommate bringing his girlfriend in is reducing the value of the apartment for the others, and it's fair for the two of them to pay for that.

I don't think an assessment based on square footage is fair either, because the bedroom-sharers would have to pay more if there is more common space, but the more common space there is, the less your enjoyment of it is decreased by additional users.

If it were me, I would probably start by breaking the rent in half as goingonit describes. Half of the rent is for the bedrooms, split three ways, and the other half is for common space, split four ways. Utilities should also be split four ways.
posted by grouse at 1:58 PM on October 26, 2008

Not asked, but make sure your lease will accommodate this extra person. If one person's share is $1400 you might be in a tony enough building where the landlord is going to care passionate about how many people are there, because it's increasing his water and waste bills.

Also it's hard for me to imagine a true three bedroom with only one bathroom. So this is probably a 2 bedroom that's been split with an artificial wall to create a third room, which means the common space is already pretty small.

Do you want this girlfriend moving in? That's FOUR PEOPLE. You think it won't matter, but, oh, it will.
posted by micawber at 5:46 PM on October 26, 2008

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