Your hours were cut at work and maybe you need some help with the rent.

Or maybe your brother is going through a divorce and needs a place to stay. He promises to kick in for expenses, so you rent an apartment in NJ together.

Be careful.

Thoroughly screen applicants when you advertise for roommates. Get references and run a credit check. And rock-solid guarantees from your brother. Heck, threaten to tell Mom about what happened in third grade if you must. Because once a name goes on the lease, you’re jointly and individually responsible for the rent.

That means if your brother falls in love and moves out, or your new roommate decides to pack off for China, you’re stuck with both shares of the rent.

No exceptions, no excuses.

Nothing against your brother, of course. We hear he’s a lovely guy.

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