Roommates Requiring ID Verification & Background Checks at All-Time High

In a wold of anonymous twitter user names and spam bots there seems to be a growing sentiment on major platforms that users want some sort of validation that they are communicating with “real people”. Anonymity is valuable in certain circumstances but why is verification only reserved for famous people, if at all? Platforms that have offered verification tools at scale are having success because there is a growing thirst to for people to say “you can trust me because I am who I say I am!”

Nowhere is this more true on Roomi, where we’ve seen the number of users who voluntarily get verified and/or background checked steadily increase since launching the feature not too long ago. See the graph below for internal Roomi data on the number of users who purchased a verification product. In just the last 6 months we’ve seen an increase of 225% in the number of users purchasing ID verifications or background checks!

For some context, the amount of background checks that Roomi runs is a drop in the bucket for the overall industry. The Background Check Services industry is a $3.2B market growing at 4.8% per year!

How to Find a Roommate: The Complete Guide

Finding a roommate in a large city isn’t necessarily difficult–but finding the right roommate can be a tedious, seemingly never-ending process without the proper tools in place.

Thankfully, we’re now in an age where sophisticated roommate finders do exist and with them come the tools and resources to make this process a whole lot smoother. To show you how, we’ve put together a complete guide on the roommate finding process, with tips on what to know, what to avoid, and how to make the whole endeavor safer and easier for yourself and everyone else.

Sound good? Let’s do this.

 

Set the right expectations

The fastest way to find the wrong roommate is to have an unrealistic assessment of yourself. Make sure you have a real understanding of where you stand on things like:

  • Cleanliness
  • Weekly routine
  • Quiet hours / bed time
  • Partying / drinking / smoking
  • Financials
  • Visitors and guests
  • Pets

If you want your potential roommate to be honest about it, you need to make sure you are being honest as well.

Use Your Tools

You could drive around with a realtor and look at six apartments on a Sunday, or waste an entire Saturday hosting an open house, but what if a roommate finder website could do most of the work for you and provide verified listings in a verified community – all in one place?

As the modern sharing economy has made the way for several room and roommate finding websites. Some are great and some are not so great – and while we won’t go through every single one, we’ll let you know what to look out for and introduce some of the tools that you can take advantage of.

 Screen Shot 2018-10-01 at 4.36.46 PM

 

Compatibility Matching

Answer a series of questions about yourself including your likes, dislikes, and other pertinent information to living with someone, and then search for someone based on their answers to the same questions. Not only will you save time searching for a compatible roommate, but you’ll have a greater probability that you won’t be looking for a new roommate in a month. That’s a win-win.

Background Checks

While there are certain laws around employment and landlord background checks, for roommate checks, you are sort of on your own to find a service that is credible.

The good news is that some roommate finder websites include background check options. On Roomi, for example, many of your matches may already have completed background checks so you can be more confident in striking up a conversation.

Secure Chat

Most of us are pretty protective of our personal emails these days, so a secure chat feature can really go a long way.

Some roommate finder apps will provide a secure chat feature that not only allows you to get to know your potential roommates but allows you to do so without handing over your personal contact information—that way if it doesn’t work out, you have nothing to worry about.

Verified Community

Room rental scams are not new, and it is still important to follow your gut when something feels off. An added protection of reputable roommate finder sites is that they work diligently to ensure scam listings never make it on their site and all listings are verified.

Some sites like Roomi, for instance, utilize a combination of human verification and modern advancements in machine learning in order to quickly and accurately filter out fraudulent listings. In fact, on Roomi, roughly 18% of property listings don’t pass through. The AI, customer care and security teams also work 24/7 to respond to and monitor for any suspicious user behaviours on Roomi too – where the community can also flag suspicious profiles for further Roomi investigation.

 

Essential To-Do’s

This is such an important one. Even with verified info and a background check, a personality can be altered through text and email.

Make sure to meet a potential roommate in person before signing any paperwork. Try to meet them more than once, and shoot for a meeting both during the week and on the weekend. This will give you a better feel for their real schedule and lifestyle.

However, meeting with someone is not always possible due to time and distance constraints or other personal obligations for the two parties. In this case, it’s better to exchange phone numbers with a potential roommate and find a time to talk or video chat over the phone.

  1. Finances Up Front

Money can be difficult to discuss, but if you’re splitting rent and don’t want to get burned, you better talk turkey before moving any further.

A simple credit check can not only tell you if a potential roommate has a history of paying their debts, but can also uncover any prior evictions and mounting credit card debt – both of which may be red flags.

You may also want to get proof of employment to ensure your future roommate will have an income to pay rent. Do yourself a favor and request two pay stubs or, at the very least, an acceptance letter for a new job with the salary listed plain as day.

  1. References

Is your new prospective roommate looking for a new place because they got kicked out of their last apartment? Well wouldn’t you like to know…

It’s totally reasonable to ask for a few references from former roommates. Aim to get an email AND phone number for 2-3 references, and be sure it includes past roommates. People tend to divulge more in conversation, so try a phone call first.

And related to the finances section above, you should also consider using your prospective roommate’s employer as a reference.

  1. Clarify the Little Things

I know you’re in a hurry to move in or fill the empty room but if you don’t do it right, you may be going through the entire process again in just a few months. Make sure you get all the little things on the table so everyone is clear on whether or not you have a good mutual fit.

  • Exact cost of rent
  • Estimated cost of utilities
  • How long everyone is planning on staying
  • What furniture to bring/not bring (including silverware, plates, etc.)
  • Will any pets be moving in?
  • Food and how the refrigerator will be shared
  • Parking!
  • Significant others and sleepover frequency

 

  1. Ask for a Deposit

A deposit proves a roommate is serious and willing to put some skin in the game. It also protects everyone else if the roommate decides to flake out. Some sites like Roomi will help facilitate first months rent to provide some extra security to all parties.

 

Essential Don’t Do’s (and What to Look Out for)

  1. Don’t Wire Money

We all know the scam about the African prince who inherited a fortune, but Larry the conman from Greenwich Village is a lesser known evil, and he can be very convincing.

Under no circumstance should you be wiring money to pay rent. Period.

  1. Don’t Send Payment Before Meeting in Person

We’re in the age where it’s very common to buy things online site unseen, and exchanging money via Venmo, QuickPay, and the like are almost as common as buying breakfast.

However, there are too many scammers out there in the rental market to fork over your hard-earned cash without doing your homework and actually meeting them in person.

  1. If it Seems Too Good to Be True…

OK, so the apartment owner already moved overseas for a job and needs to rent the apartment ASAP so they are offering an incredible deal! You’re not in luck, you’re about to be scammed.

We all know the saying, so don’t be duped when it happens to you. Check similar listings in a neighborhood to get a feel for the market rent price. If you find a great deal, make sure to investigate it further and get to the bottom of why it is such a good deal.

If the renter dodges face to face meetings and phone calls, asks for quick wire transfer payment, wants to correspond via personal email, has very poor grammar, or any of the above – you should probably drop it and move on.

  1. Don’t Go to See a Place Alone

Even if you’ve done your homework and everything checks out, you should still take a friend with you to view the apartment. Meeting in a public place is one thing, (and we recommend it for a first meeting!) but meeting in an apartment alone is best avoided if possible.

  1. Don’t Give Out Personal Info

Sure, they should know your name, and it can be helpful to connect on social media so you can feel each other out. But don’t give out any information like bank account, social security number, PayPal account, etc.

It helps to use a platform like Roomi that will verify info for you as well as conduct background check on your behalf. This way both parties can create a trustworthy relationship without giving away any protected information. It’s the best of both worlds, as they say.

we might want to mention that not all scenarios is it possible to actually meet the new roommate in person (long distance moves).  We see a lot of users exchange numbers to video chat/call each other.

The One Thing Every New Yorker Needs… Renters Insurance

protect your belongs from fire with renters insurance

Guest Post about renters insurance by Alex Portera 

This is the image of a fire in the East Village of NYC three years ago.

The building was home to the famous french fry shop, Pommes Frites, the sushi restaurant Sushi Park, and, unfortunately, my friend Sean’s apartment (his name has been changed to protect his privacy).

This is something you read about in the news but never, ever expect would happen to you, until it does. Fortunately, Sean wasn’t home when the fire was blazing. Unfortunately, all of his stuff was. Clothes, computers, cameras, and his bike were all lost in the fire. He heard about the fire through Twitter before ever seeing it for himself.

Like most New Yorkers, Sean wasn’t prepared for this situation. When writing this article, I asked him if he had renter’s insurance. “I didn’t even know renters insurance existed at the time.” In the perfect world, Sean would be an outlier. But the truth is, Sean is in the majority. Most young New Yorker’s don’t know about renters insurance, or if they do know about it, don’t have it.

And that’s a big problem because a fire, burglary, flood or any other devastating event can happen at any moment, to anyone. You never expect them. You never think they can happen to you. They’re always the types of events you look back on after they happen and say, “I never thought it could happen to me.”


The good news is, Sean learned his lesson.

And I say that’s good news because (and I’m not lying here) the next apartment he moved into burned down, too.

I’m not going to share an image of that fire, but this seemingly impossible scenario actually happened. He left his first apartment because it burned down, only to move to another apartment that burned down. Absolutely insane and unpredictable. The only difference is that the second time he had renters insurance which covered his losses.

A lot of people are people are living like old Sean, blissfully unaware of how important renter’s insurance is until it’s too late. But now is the opportunity to get ahead of the game and avoid being one of those people who says, “I never thought this could happen to me.” It seems extreme, but that’s exactly how Sean felt after ubering to his apartment when he got notified of the first fire, unable to get with 1,000 feet because the fire department had closed down the lock.

 

Don’t Be a Sean. Get Renters Insurance

Roomi was built to make renting as safe and easy as possible. To further that mission, they’ve teamed up with Lemonade, a tech-driven insurance company powered by artificial intelligence and behavioral economics. Lemonade offers instant, hassle-free insurance that protects your stuff from things like fire damage, flood damage, and burglary.

Getting a Lemonade policy to protect your stuff takes 90 seconds – there’s no brokers, paperwork or hassle! It’s ridiculously easy.

Please do it. Now. Go ahead. Your stuff will thank you.

To learn more about how Lemonade works, you can visit their FAQ.

How to Live With the Opposite Sex

How to Live With the Opposite Sex

Living with someone of the opposite sex and of no romantic interest? Let the good times roll! If you’ve ever been curious about the habits, thoughts, and lifestyle of your opposite sex- you’re about to find out. Obviously not every man or woman is alike but there are a few subtleties and living habits most of us share. Here is what to expect and how to live with the opposite sex.

Weird objects in the bathroom
You will find funny looking gadgets in the bathroom. You may even feel inclined to play with them! Don’t assume you know the purpose of each item- you’ve been warned! The massive cone shaped device with small prong protruding is actually not a medieval torture device, it’s a blow-out brush (that means she uses it for her hair). The weird buzzing tool that sits on a charger is to get rid of his nose hairs. The opposite sex is exposed to whole new world of bath and beauty products, it’s kind of intriguing.

Different health foods
Quinoa? Creatine? Your opposite sex roommate will have different concoctions they call health foods. You’ll still bond over pizza but it doesn’t hurt to ask her what a power bowl with acai and quinoa is. Or learning why he takes amino acids and creatine. The health pantry in your apartment will certainly be diverse.

Built in party
A guy and girl living together in a platonic situation makes having a little party easier and convenient. Both of you inviting a handful of friends makes for a perfect mix. He in charge of the dudes, she the dudettes. Double the hosts, double the fun.

Insight on the opposite sex
For those nights you make it to sitting down with a glass of Pinot and a Corona you’ll have the opportunity to learn about the each other struggles and successes. Both men and woman face societal, family, and work pressure but experience it differently. When you live with the opposite sex you gain insight to very contrasting perspective.

It may not always feel like the best scenes from the “New Girl” but living with the opposite sex provides a wide range of learning experiences and may cover all the emotions on the spectrum. You may gain the coolest wingman or a best pal, in any regard keep in mind the differences in bathroom etiquette, respect boundaries, and learn from each other.

Why You Should Never Live Alone in the City

Why You Should Never Live Alone in the City

If you’re thinking about living in NYC, then you should also think about getting a roommate. The truth is, that living alone in the city can be dangerous for several reasons which we’re going to get into in this post. Although some people may be nervous about getting a roommate, you may change your mind after reading this.

Here are 7 reasons why you should never live alone in the city:

  1. Increased Risk of Depression

Whether it’s a feeling of being disconnected from others or something else, this study shows that people who live alone tend to take 80% more antidepressants than those who live with other people. If you’re already prone to depression, then it’s especially important that you find yourself a roommate while living in NYC so you can avoid things getting worse.

  1. Difficult to Make New Friends

You’d think living in a big city like New York would keep you from needing a roommate in order to make friends, but despite the number of people living in NYC, it’s still hard to make new friends since so many people stick to their tight social circles. By having a roommate, you not only have at least one friend to count on, but you also have easy access to their social circles.

  1. Avoid Going Broke

It’s not a surprise that living in NYC is expensive, and even apartments in dangerous areas are usually out of most people’s price range. When you consider the added cost of utility bills, food, and everything else, it’s easy to see why it’s so hard to live in New York. Fortunately, by having a roommate, you can cut the rent and utilities in half so you can avoid going broke just to have a roof over your head.

  1. Greater Anxiety

When it comes to the Big Apple, there’s a lot of reasons to be anxious, especially if you’re new to the city and don’t know your way around. Although it’s generally safe to live in NYC as long as you’re smart about it, most people would agree that it’s much safer to live with a roommate. At the very least, having someone with you is a good way to ease anxiety, especially if you’re already an anxious person.

  1. No Help in Emergencies

Emergencies happen, whether you’re in need of medical attention or simply need to get across town as fast as possible. If you’re living in NYC without a roommate, chances are you won’t have anyone to rely on when facing an emergency, which will only make the situation worse. By having a roommate, you can breathe easy knowing that should you need help, you’ll have it.

  1. Harder to Get Around the City

If you find yourself a roommate that’s been living in NYC for a while, that makes it incredibly easy to find your way around the city. Even if your roommate is also new to the city, you can still get around much more safely and easily when you have someone with you. It also means saving money on cabs since you can split the cost, and makes all of your adventures that much more fun since you’ll have someone with you.

What NYC Has That Nowhere Else Does

What NYC Has That Nowhere Else Does

If it’s one thing you learn while living in NYC it’s that there are so many things that you can experience here that you simply can’t anywhere else in the world. A pizza place may say they have NYC-style pizza, but the truth is that nothing beats an authentic NYC pizza. We’re going to take a look at just a few of the things that NYC has that nowhere else does.

Broadway

Nothing beats a true Broadway show, and if you’re a New Yorker, it’s easy to take it for granted but be sure to check in often to see what’s showing. Broadway has seen some of the world’s biggest stars pass through it, including Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman, and Daniel Radcliffe, so you never know who you’re going to get a chance to see live.

The Statue of Liberty

Overlooking NYC from her post on Liberty Island is the Statue of Liberty. She’s a constant reminder for those living in NYC of the American way of life and the sacrifices that have been made to maintain that way of life. If you haven’t paid the Statue of Liberty a visit yet, be sure to do so as it’s certainly something that you can’t find anywhere else.

Central Park

More than just a green place where you can go on a picnic, NYC’s Central Park is 843 acres of land where you can find the Central Park Zoo and where a number of activities are held throughout the year, including fireworks displays, ice skating, concerts, and sporting events. No matter how long you’ve been living in NYC, there’s always something new and fun to do in Central Park.

Greenwich Village

Known by New Yorkers simply as “the Village,” this neighborhood has meant a lot of things to a lot of people throughout the years. In the 1960’s it was known for being the birthplace of counterculture movements, and now it is known for being the cradle of the LGBT movement. It’s also home to two NYC colleges, the New School and New York University (NYU).

The Metropolitan Art Museum

Most often referred to as “the Met,” this massive museum was first established back in 1870 and has since housed artwork from around the world going back over 5,000 years. Their exhibits can be found in three distinct locations and as they’re always bringing in new exhibits, there’s always something new to see. If you’re living in NYC, getting a membership will let you in for free as often as you want.

Empire State Building

Don’t worry. We didn’t forget this one; we were just saving it for last. After all, it is one of the 7 wonders of the world, and certainly one of the first things that comes to mind when thinking about NYC. This 102-story building is primarily made up of office spaces, but the top 16 levels are the Art Deco towers. If you’re living in NYC and haven’t gone up to the observatory at the top of the Empire State Building by now, what are you waiting for?

Your Ideal Roommate Match Based on Your Zodiac

your Ideal Roommate Match Based on Your Zodiac

Your sun star can tell you a lot more than about your personality traits. Delve a little deeper to discover which sign would make the best roommate for you and why.

Aries– Being a fire sign you may drawn to other strong willed minds like a Leo or Sagittarius. But when it comes to roommates you’re going to need someone who can offset your stubbornness. An easy going Gemini can balance you out while an Aquarius is best suited to deal with your impatience.

Taurus– Many would be lucky to have a reliable roommate like you, Taurus. A Capricorn would make a great housemate as long as you don’t get too possessive.

Gemini– You need someone not too uptight but still orderly. Ideally they could keep up with both sides of your personality. If you like to party and be social Gemini is your best bet. If you like a stylish apartment and late night chats make a Libra your roommate.

Cancer– Being an introvert you prefer a roommate who won’t pry into your everyday where-abouts. A Scorpio would respect your space and enjoy your company.

Leo– The loyal lion will always make friends with their roommate, even accidentally. A Sagittarius would love your energy and sociability, but a Libra would join you on any late night adventure.

Virgo– You may be reserved at first but when you have a strong opinion you present it accordingly. A Capricorn would take the time to get to know you and your lifestyle, while a Taurus would quickly appreciate your creative a sensitive nature. Both signs would make compatible roommates with you, Virgo.

Libra– You  get along with everyone. Your laid back nature is best accepted by other air signs Aquarius and Gemini but if you want a strong bond with your roommate pair up with the social Leo.

Scorpio– You’re a bit secretive and intense, Scorpio but that won’t phase a Pisces roommate. What other signs might consider passive aggressive, a Pisces will accept and appreciate.

Sagittarius– You may be drawn to room with a Libra because you both share an open and talkative nature. But only an Aries can keep up with you and even join you on your excursions through the city.

Capricorn– As a roommate you may come off like a parent at times, even though you only have good intentions. A Virgo is often willing to listen to you. Even though they may not take your advice or direction they are a great match.

Aquarius– Much like your fellow air sign Libra, you get along with everyone so any sign is for the choosing. Lucky you! But if you really want a roommate you can also call friend, go for a Sagittarius. They’re non judgmental and will enjoy peeling back the layers to get to know the real you.

Pisces– You are one of the most giving roommates. A Cancer would never take advantage of your thoughtful nature and would always seek you return the favor. You two make dependable roommates.

The stars are aligned. Next time you find a potential roomie be sure to ask “what’s your sign?”

Underrated NYC Neighborhoods

nyc neighborhooods

Getting acquainted with NYC is a lot like the first day of school. You find where you fit-in and you tend to stick to it. If terrible frat parties didn’t teach you, cliques never work out. Branching out beyond what is familiar and comfortable is what New York’s about. Here a list of underrated NYC neighborhoods that deserve your attention. I know you’ve lived in your spot for longest but I’m willing to bet you’ll want to give a few of these places a chance. Take a look!

Yorkville

I know, the upper east side gets a stuffy rap. This neighborhood doesn’t score particularly high on the “cool radar” but Yorkville has virtually no violent crime and overall an extremely low crime index. If you have little ones to keep in mind, this place should be on your radar. If you’re will to pay more for your sense of safety, Yorkville is number one.

Flushing

In contrast, Flushing is definitely cooler. Besides being more affordable than the UES Flushing has a great nightlife, bar scene, and food. You can do it all and not be broke come Monday. The entire neighborhood has a sort of hole in the wall feel adding to its mysterious personality.

St.George

Located in Staten Island, this beach front neighborhood keeps you close to a free ferry ride to the city. If you need to be near water St.George offer beach vibes with food stands along  with biking and jogging trails that line the waterfront.

Artists’ Colony (West 67th Street)

So Artist’s Colony isn’t really a neighborhood, more like a district but its housing and living attributes are worth mentioning. As named, this area is well suited for artists especially those in need of some inspiration. The area has an historic feel as the architecture is pre-war. It’s perfectly adjacent to Central Park and their are plenty of studios and spaces for an artist to refine their craft.

Hamilton Heights

I have a few friends who live on Hamilton Heights and I can’t stopped them from bragging about their humble neighborhood. The housing structure is historical and elegant without the nail biting upper east side rent. Nightlife is poppin especially the bar scene. The area isn’t overwhelming and it’s easy to get comfortable while living in Hamilton Heights. The neighborhood is safe (parent approved) and has a ton of access to the trains and buses. Hamilton Heights is gaining attention so get in while the prices are good!

Manhattan Valley

While Manhattan Valley isn’t the actual name, that’s what people call this diverse neighborhood that borders Central Park. The area is peaceful and a hotspot for foodies. On one street you’ll find food from Vietnam, Italy, and Ethiopia. If you’re looking for a calm area that still offers the variety of a tourist hotspot, Manhattan Valley will tempt you.

Look between the cracks

You’ll find places that will make you wonder how you’ve never heard of them. For these six underrated NYC neighborhoods you now have no excuse. Continue your hunt for your slice of the city.

Are You Too Old to Have Roommates?

too old to have roommates

Late twenties to mid thirties,  decent job with livable salary, you’re single and having the time of your life. You’ve brought a new friend home from the cocktail party and whilst getting to know each other your roommate is coming through the front door complaining about the lack of Corona in the fridge. With a dash toward her jacket your new friend scoffs “aren’t you a little old to have a roommate!?” and makes a run for it.

An expectation for the steps in life have been proposed as follows-college, career, marriage, family. But it’s in between those huge milestones where life actually happens.

College years, even for a fourth time senior is relatively acceptable age and phase in life to have roommates. People are usually always expecting you not to live alone. Thirty year old professionals have it pretty bad. Being a bachelor or bachelorette doesn’t help either. If people aren’t wondering why you’re not married they are assuming you party nonstop with your roommates.

Are you too old to be making fiscally responsible decisions in the most expensive city?

Regardless of age, if you’ve moved to NYC you are clearly comfortable coloring outside of the lines and live by your own standards. Let’s face it,  New Yorkers don’t take smack from anyone. So,  while the thick skin develops, trust your decisions. There is nothing wrong with having a roommate at any age.

What is admirable about living alone?  If you must defend your independence point out all your other life decisions. Whether they were made according to societies box,  they were yours.

The skinny?  There is nothing admirable about living alone. Having a roommate,  at any age,  is more than acceptable even recommended.

If you’ve recently made a  big life shift, a break up, graduation, new job,  or felt it was time to move to the city, you can expect in a population of 8.5 million others in a similar position. Having roommates after thirty doesn’t require a transitionary period or the relieve a financial burden, simply wanting one is good enough reason to do so.

Having roommates while older proves your financial responsibility, openness for non romantic companions,  and a big f-you to societies prescriptions.

Roommates & Room Rentals: What Were The Trends of 2017?

A lot happened on Roomi in 2017 but we’re really excited about growing to over 1 million registered users (thanks everyone!). That’s a lot of people looking for a room rental or roommate. From East to West, the shared housing marketplace is growing as people look for more flexible housing options that match their lifestyle preferences and needs.

So, what were the room rental and roommate trends of 2017? Read the full report and check out a few sneak peeks below.

Read the Roomi 2017 Room and Rental Trend Report