Can I make my landlord show me my roommates’ leases?
I’m about to move into a rental. I’ll have my own room but will share the common areas with two tenants who have lived there for a couple of years and who I know through some friends. My rent seems steep, and we each have a separate lease, so I want to make sure that I’m paying the same amount as my roommates and that utilities, which are included in the rent, are split evenly among us. Does he have to show me their leases if I ask?
—Lease of My Worries, Little Portugal
If all you want to do is make sure you’re not getting gouged, your best bet is to just ask your future roomies how much they pay. Keep in mind that, while utilities should probably be a three-way split, rent might not be that simple: you might have a bigger room or better view, or they may have a lower rate from moving in before the area gentrified. If they won’t tell you what they pay, politely ask the landlord—not to see their leases (which he’s not legally obligated to share), but to specify the percentage of the house’s total rent and utility costs you’ll be responsible for. He’s not required to tell you that, either, but you’re more likely to get that info than the paperwork you’re after.