With a Conventional Lease, all roommates (assuming you have a roommate; if you don't want a roommate, you can of course live alone) are on the same lease and have joint and several liability, which means that everyone (including any guarantors) are ultimately responsible for the entire lease amount. So, be sure your roommates are trustworthy and responsible if you’re going to sign a conventional lease. This type of lease will allow for two people sharing a bedroom, and roommates are free to divide rent unevenly if they wish (for example, if the bedrooms are different sizes, the person with the largest room might agree to pay the highest rent). Another advantage with a Conventional Lease is that all roommate changes must be approved by all roommates, so everyone always gets a vote.
A By-the-Bed Lease (also known as an Individual Lease), which is commonly used by corporate apartments, limits your potential liability, because you are just signing a lease for your bedroom and you will be the only one on the lease. With a By-the-Bed Lease, you would not be liable for your roommate’s rent if they flaked out. There are a few downsides to this arrangement, though. First, you might someday be matched to live with a stranger who would occupy one of the other bedrooms – similar to the dorms. Also, if your roommate wanted to sublease their bedroom, they can without your permission. In almost all cases, a By-the-Bed Lease will prohibit two people from sharing a bedroom. And finally, as a general rule, properties that offer By-the-Bed Leases do not pro-rate the rent for partial months.
Condos and houses / duplexes typically always have Conventional Leases. Apartments vary, and some apartments even offer you a choice of Conventional or By-the-Bed.
Check out the roommate agreement to make sure you and your roommates are on the same page.
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