10 Awful Ways That Bad Roommates can Ruin Your Home

Taking on a roommate could help pay the mortgage, but it could cost you more than you expect.
Updated April 3, 2023
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High housing prices may inspire you to get a roommate to help you cover your mortgage and bills each month, but there could be some drawbacks.

A good roommate can take care of some of the costs as well as part of the utility bills for a home. But a bad roommate can cause problems that can affect you and your living situation as well as your home investment.

So, before you take on a roommate, here are some things to consider about what a bad roommate can do to ruin your home.

Messy and unsanitary

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A roommate may not have the same cleanliness level that you do, but that could cause more than just a difference of opinion. An unclean house could lead to issues with bugs and other pests as well as create a potentially unsafe living area.

You may want to think about setting up a chore chart or creating a plan with your roommate to keep your place in good condition instead of letting dirt and dishes stack up.


Prostock-studio/Adobe two angry friends arguing in the living room at home

You have to accept that a roommate may have a different style than you and will want to decorate their space or add things to your shared spaces to make it feel more like home for both of you.

But there are some redecorating issues that could cause problems like bold or dark paint colors, holes in the walls, or structural changes that might affect your home.

Not paying their share of bills

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When you take on a roommate, it’s a good idea to have an upfront agreement about sharing bills like utilities, including water, gas, and cable or internet service.

If your roommate fails to pay their fair share, it could cause issues with your credit score depending on whose name is on the bills. And unpaid utilities might even cause damage to your home if they’re shut off due to non-payment.

Not paying rent

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It may be a good idea to take on a roommate to help you cover your monthly mortgage payments. But if they don’t pay their share, that could cause you problems with your mortgage lender.

It could hurt your credit score or potentially lead to you losing your home depending on how much of your mortgage is covered by your roommate.

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They invite friends to stay

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You may have approved of a roommate, but what happens if they have a significant other staying in your home all the time? Or they may invite friends to stick around on the weekends.

Those extra uninvited roommates could cause additional wear and tear on your home as well as increase some of your utilities like water, for example. It may be a good idea to set out rules about guests in your lease to help alleviate that issue.

Noise issues

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Excessive noise could cause a lack of sleep and mental anguish, and you may have neighbors report your home to the police for noise violations.

Loud noises could also cause structural issues depending on the noise and how it affects your home. Loud bass music, for example, may rattle walls and ceilings, causing issues with drywall or plaster that will need to be repaired.

Illegal acts

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Roommates may try to run illegal businesses out of their space in your home or use it to store illegal goods. Issues like this could hurt your home itself as well as its value if potential buyers do research on the house before buying it.

It may be a good idea to run a background check on potential roommates to see if they have been accused of criminal activities in the past and eliminate potential applicants with issues.

They don’t lock doors

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A simple way to protect you and your home is to make sure doors are locked regularly, particularly at night. So you may have issues with your home or possessions if your roommate has trouble remembering to lock doors or purposely doesn’t lock them.

One way to fix this may be to get a door handle that automatically locks when you close the door. You also might want to look into different options like a lock with a keypad and codes that can be changed so you don’t have to give potential roommates a key.

They want extras

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Your roommate may want satellite television instead of basic cable and internet. That could mean you have to install a satellite on your home, which may cause structural issues to your house.

Or perhaps they want a separate entrance to their space, requiring major construction to add doors or stairs. It’s a good idea to be clear with your roommate that they can’t ask for changes to be made to the outside of your home.

Invading your space

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Sometimes, a roommate can be overbearing and potentially even toxic, discouraging you from wanting to use the space that you pay for with your mortgage. It may be a sign that it’s time to move on and you need to ask your roommate to move out.

After all, if you bought the home and are paying for it, you shouldn’t be afraid to enjoy it.

Bottom line

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It may be a good idea to take on a roommate if you’re trying to save money, but be aware that there could be complications depending on who you choose to live with you.

Consider interviewing potential roommates before you agree to share your place.

You can also consider other ways to make money like a side hustle to keep your living space to yourself.

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Author Details

Jenny Cohen Jenny Cohen is a freelance writer who has covered a bit of everything, from finance to sports to her favorite TV shows. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and FoxSports.com.

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