No Sex Please, We're (Just) Roomies

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RoommatesCan men and women just be friends? A new spate of mixed-gender dorm rooms and platonic mortgage partnerships say yes.

According to a recent story in the Los Angeles Times, the trend of collegiate men and women platonically rooming together is catching on at a handful of institutions across the US. Created as a way to accommodate gay, bisexual, transgender and transsexual students, mixed-gender dorm rooms are currently available at approximately 50 schools nationwide. Romantically involved couples, however, are discouraged from rooming together.

The increase in men and women cohabitating during their collegiate years could be viewed as preparation for their living situation years down the road. August W. Danowski, a commercial real estate attorney based in Lansing, Mich., says the trend is extending to larger real estate transactions as well.
"We are seeing more people buying homes as friends or [non-sexual] partners," says Danowski.

Whereas couples of both the married and divorced varieties have specific legal structures in place to answer questions about what occurs with real estate issues, laws aren't in place for the "just friends" set. There are definitely some major drawbacks. "The big problem for people who are not married is what happens if your mortgage partner dies? What if they lose their job and can't afford the mortgage? What if one party wants to sell, " the real estate attorney points out.

Danowski says that platonic friends who purchase homes together or are joint tenants need to plan an exit strategy before getting a mortgage.

"You can get into big trouble if you don't," he explains. "If, for example, two people buy a house together and decide that they don't want to be friends or partners anymore and neither can afford the house individually, there's no way to force a sale. The only option for the one who wants to get out of the house is to sue the other."

Whether living together in college will translate to more platonic mortgage partnerships down the road is yet to be seen. For now though, a college roommate -- man, woman or otherwise -- is still simply your partner in dining hall atrocities.
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