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Roommate rules to keep financial peace at home

Living in a shared apartment can be a great way to save money on rent. It is also an awesome way to kill boredom, especially for singles as it gives opportunity to make new friends and introduce yourself to family life.

Although the concept has been common among campus goers and new graduates, it can be a great stopgap arrangement until one marries or can afford his or her own place. Rising inflation in the country has triggered jump in the cost of commodities hence putting a strain in disposable income and taking away monies often channeled toward rent.

Most families have been pushed to the brink of poverty because of rising living costs and stagnating wages, bringing closer home the idea of sharing apartments to save cost. Sharing a house with a mate makes a lot sense especially if you don’t foresee marriage in your near future.

Anyway, why would you spend a chunk of your income on rent when you can have a decent roof over your head while cost -sharing with a roommate. You can save up to half the amount of cash you could have paid had you decided to live alone in your own apartment. However, since you are single it makes every sense to cost-share.

For example, if the apartment costs Sh50,000 in a good neighbourhood, you will only pay half the amount. While the idea seems appealing, those who have shared houses will tell you rules are necessary to keep things running smoothly.

Depending on how structured the arrangements are will depend on the people living in the house. It is important to find out as much as possible about the shared arrangement and whether it suits you before you move in.

PD Wikendi sought ways to enlighten you on the key considerations that will help bring harmony between you and your potential roommate. It is important to be realistic and know that flatmates will come and go and routines may change depending on the different stages of the year.

Everyone needs to be clear about what is expected, and be committed to ensuring that the house functions in a fair manner for everyone. This need not be a difficult task, but it should be discussed and agreed on from the outset.


Flatmates need to have a robust rent payment plan that ensures everyone holds their end of the stick. Rent payment and delays is what builds or breaks the sharing arrangement.

The golden rule is to always ask for or give receipts for any rent or by flatmates, and to keep them somewhere safe. That way, if confusion arises you can prove you have paid your share. Always get receipts from landlords and if you are the head tenant, you should give rent receipts to your flatmates when they pay their rent.


A major point of conflict in a share house is often about paying bills. It is vital to decide when you move in who is responsible for paying the bills and how they are to be divided.

Generally, bills such as gas, electricity and water are divided equally between all members of the household. However, if one person often has guest/s staying over, or has an appliance that uses a lot of electricity, then maybe they should pay extra.

You need to decide whose name the account will be in, because they are liable for payment of the bills. It is a good idea for different flatmates to organise different services in order to spread the financial responsibility around. This way no one person will be left responsible for all the bills if things go wrong in the house.

You may decide to put some money away weekly for bills, or you could arrange a pre-payment plan with some services. It is a good idea to buy a diary or exercise book, or use a calendar, so you can write down when bills are due and who has paid their share.


Even in the best share houses, relationship problems can happen, so it is best to do what you can to avoid problems arising, or to address them early, before they escalate into major conflict and the house falls apart.

Visitors and parties

Whether it is romantic attachments, mates or family members, you need to talk about when and how often people can stay over. – Seth Onyango

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