3 min read

Vetting and Screening Housemates

What makes a good housemate is subjective and personal criteria. This article will help you think through your preferences and provide tips for determining if you and a potential housemate could be a good fit. 


In this article: 


How can I tell if a potential housemate and I would be compatible? 

“Opposites attract” is a saying for a reason—compatibility isn’t necessarily about being exactly like another person. It is about complementing one another and enjoying being together, whatever that means to you.  


The first step to figuring out if you and someone else would make good housemates is to get clear on what your preferences are and how strong each one is. Some will naturally be non-negotiable while others are more flexible. There’s no right or wrong answer—just be honest with yourself about how you want to homeshare. Here are some questions to ask yourself: 

  • Am I willing to live with a family/multiple housemates?
  • What financial arrangement am I looking for with a housemate?
  • Would I prefer a peer, someone older or someone younger?
  • Do I have a preference about my housemate’s gender? 
  • Would I want my housemate to provide any around-the-house help in exchange for reduced rent? (This might include help with home maintenance or yardwork, driving to doctor appointments, etc.) 
  • What do I want out of my personal relationship with my housemate? Would I prefer a strictly-business kind of relationship or more friendship/companionship? 
  • What are my expectations around smoking, drinking and/or drug use in and around the home? 
  • What are my pet peeves and personal quirks that could affect a housemate? 
  • How might my work, volunteer or social schedule affect a housemate? How would a housemate’s schedule affect me? 
  • What are my sleep schedule and habits? Is it important that my housemate have a similar sleep schedule and habits? 


Questions to ask a potential housemate to determine compatibility 

It can be hard to know where to start when vetting a potential housemate. Though it might feel awkward, asking lifestyle questions early on is a great way to get a feel for compatibility and prevent conflict later. Make sure you at least cover these basics: 

  • What is your daily routine like?
  • How often would you like to interact with your housemate?
  • How often do you clean the common areas (e.g. kitchen, bathroom, living room)?
  • How often do you home providers visits?
  • How often do you travel? 
  • How important is tidiness to you? 
  • Do you work from home or work outside the home? 


These questions are just some examples. If something else is important to you, ask about it! Learn more about preventing conflict in a shared home. 


What tools should I use to vet prospective housemates? 

Because choosing a housemate is such an important and personal decision, we recommend you use every tool at your disposal to help you make it. This includes: 


Within HomeShare Online 

  • Your ShareScore™: For each one of your HomeShare Online matches, you will see a ShareScore. Your ShareScore is a number (up to 100) that tells you how well your homesharing preferences align with those of your matches. Learn more about your ShareScore and browsing your matches. 
    Browse Renter Tab
  • ID verification: You’ve probably used identity verification before to open a bank account or renew your driver's license. In an identity verification process, a person enters some details that are then compared to public records. If they match, it’s a good sign that the person is who they say they are. If you’re interested in a potential housemate who hasn’t earned their ID verified profile badge, you can ask them to verify their identity. Learn more about ID verification on HomeShare Online.
  • Background checks: Background checks are one of the important tools at your disposal for vetting potential housemates, not to mention demonstrating your own trustworthiness and interest in homesharing. HomeShare Online uses an industry-leading background check processor, Checkr, to run background checks in compliance with all federal and state laws. Learn more about background checks. 


Outside of HomeShare Online 

  • Google: Search online for the person’s name. It may feel nosy, but it’s a simple way to check publicly available information, just in case. 
  • Income verification: Asking for proof of employment, recent pay stubs or a W2 is a common way to vet a potential housemate. This optional step can provide extra peace of mind that a prospective roommate will be able to make rent payments on time.
  • References: To get a better idea of who your housemate is, you can ask them for references. Consider asking to speak to 2-3 friends, colleagues and/or previous roommates.  


Remember: an individual’s online persona, income and relationships are only part of their story. If you have any questions about someone or their lifestyle, it’s always best to go to the source and ask them directly. 


What can I do to help a potential housemate who wants to vet ME? 

  • Verify your identity. Identity verification says you are who you say you are. Learn more about ID verification.
  • Get a background check. Background checks signal to other HomeShare Online users that you are committed to homesharing and may even increase your chances of finding a match. Learn more about background checks.
  • Provide references, if asked. Connecting a potential housemate with references can provide insight into what it’s like to live with you in a shared home. Just make sure you have permission to share your references’ contact information!
  • Don’t take it personally! If another HomeShare Online user asks you to take a background check, verify your identity or provide references, they aren’t accusing you of being dishonest or unscrupulous. Everyone’s just trying to protect themselves and make the best possible homesharing decision. 


🧠 Related articles

Safety Tips for Choosing a Home | Avoiding Scams and Keeping Your Information Secure

All About Background Checks | All About Identity Verification