A roommate agreement is a legal document used to create a binding contract between people who are collectively renting a property. This document will serve to protect these individuals in the event of a dispute by having all the expectations clearly outlined in a legal contract. This agreement should be put in place before the individuals move in together.
Different aspects of the rental agreement should be discussed, including how the monthly rent will be split and paid between the roommates. The contract should also outline who is responsible for various expenses such as utilities, maintenance, and upkeep. If this is clearly outlined, legal disputes can be avoided, since all parties involved with know their obligations. All parties should sign and date the form to demonstrate their understanding and agreement.
Roommate Agreement Form
A roommate agreement is different from a lease agreement because a lease agreement is an agreement between tenants and a landlord, while a roommate agreement is between the people who choose to live together.
A roommate agreement may discuss things such as rent and utilities, but will also often include other details such as who is responsible for cleaning and how they plan to use the shared spaces.
You should have a roommate contract if:
You are moving in with a new roommate
A new roommate is moving in with you
Your college or university requires you to have one
This agreement will provide you with an opportunity to discuss individual financial responsibilities, house rules, and how to resolve any disputes.
Financial - An important part of the roommate agreement is the agreement regarding any financial obligations. The roommate agreement can cover rent, security deposit, and utilities.
Rent - Some roommates will choose to divide rent evenly, while others will divide rent by the size of the room.
Security Deposit - Security deposit can be divided equally or by room size. If one roommate decides to leave early, you will have to decide how the deposit refund will be handled.
Utilities - You need to decide who is responsible for which utility bill and how you will divide the costs (electricity, cable bill, water bill, internet). Many decide to split the costs equally.
Food - Will you keep separate food or agree to share everything including shopping and costs?
Non Financial - A roommate agreement may also cover acceptable roommate behavior. If you have any special concerns about health, allergies, or use of personal property, those are good things to include in the agreement.
Overnight guests - It is okay for boyfriends and girlfriends to stay over every night?
Cleaning - Who is responsible for the clean up of the common areas (kitchen, dining room, living room, bathroom)?
Smoking and Alcohol - Will smoking and alcohol be permitted in the residence?
Noise - Often times roommates may have different work and school schedules and may need quiet times for study and sleep. It may be good to define volume limits and hours for quiet time before any issues arise.
Temperature - Roommates may disagree on comfortable temperatures. It’s best to agree on appropriate temperatures ahead of time.
Termination - If one particular roommate wants to leave the rental unit early, does the departing roommate have an obligation to help the remaining roommates find a replacement tenant?
You can take a look at a sample roommate agreement online to get an idea of what the final product should look like.
Sit down with your roommate to draft the agreement together. It is best to set aside a couple of hours before your moving day to do this.
Include important details: Each roommates name, the full address of the residence, the name of the landlord, name on the lease, length of lease.
Agree on rent division. Choose to divide rent equally, by room size, or by some other method that all parties agree to.
Note what happens if one roommate wants to terminate the lease early.
Specify who will pay for each utility bill and how the bills will be split.
Outline the living arrangements. Note how common spaces will be divided.
Agree to a policy for overnight guests.
Divide household chores and cleaning duties. Many choose to set a cleaning schedule.
Decide on a policy about alcohol, smoking, and parties in the residence.
Add any special rules regarding parking, allergies, pets, or any other special concerns.
Sign the agreement. Each party should sign the agreement and keep a signed copy.
There are no laws that specify what must be put into a roommate agreement. The parties may be subject to the laws of their individual state regarding the lease and general contract principles.
Some aspects of the roommate agreement, such as cleaning duties, are unlikely to be enforced in court. However, a court will generally uphold any financial agreement regarding rent due, damages caused, or early termination of a lease.
A roommate agreement is a contract roommates draft/agree upon and sign, before or when they begin to live together in the same dwelling; it is a private agreement between co-tenants/residents of the rental property/unit and does not involve the landlord. In contrast, a lease is a legally binding contract between the tenants in a rental unit and the landlord/property manager (company).
In signing a lease agreement, tenants agree to pay rent and comply with all the terms of the lease agreement, including an eviction provision that is in compliance with applicable law. If one roommate vacates, the remaining tenants/renters are still legally bound by the lease and must continue to pay the full amount of the rent owed.
Unlike a lease agreement between a tenant and landlord, a roommate agreement in its entirety is not necessarily legally binding. Only certain provisions of a roommate agreement are likely legally binding; a roommate can be held responsible for a failure to meet financial commitments (e.g., rent, utility payments), but not for not for failure to comply with house rules (e.g., not following the kitchen cleaning schedule). Despite the fact that a roommate agreement is not the same thing as a legally binding lease agreement between the tenants and the landlord/property manager (company) or a sublet agreement between an original tenant/sublessor and a subtenant/sublessee, there may be some duplication in the items included in a roommate agreement and the lease or sublease in question.
Roommates have equal claim to shared spaces in the unit in question; as renters, they have a reasonable expectation to be able to use the space they are renting. As roommate relationships involve sharing, a roommate agreement should be drafted and signed by roommates before they actually live together -- to ensure that expectations and rules are clear and set, and that disputes will be resolved in an appropriate manner.
Common issues that can be covered and settled with a written roommate agreement are:
Being loud (partying)
Different sleep schedules
Generally not getting along
Issues with guests
Disagreements over bills
Lack of respect
Even if a potential roommate is a best friend and will likely be a good roommate, a written roommate agreement will create an environment/living situation in which each roommate has a clear understanding of their financial obligations each month, such as rent and utilities, as well as their personal obligations as a co-tenant, including household duties and house rules, assuring that the roommate relationship will work.
The items that should be included in a good roommate agreement are:
Rent Payment -- the rent amount/the respective amounts each co-tenant will pay and how the amounts have been determined, as well as how the rent will be paid to the landlord/the payment process.
Splitting Bills -- who will pay what/how shared bills will be paid/split (bills can only be in one tenant's name); how the heat, electricity, internet and other utilities will be divided and when those bills must be paid.
Moving Out Early -- how much notice must be given, if a replacement roommate must be found before moving out, and when/how the security deposit will be returned.
Security Deposit -- how will it be handled if the lease term ends and all the tenants decide to move out/if the landlord does not return all of the security deposit/if one or more of the roommates are responsible for some damage in the unit (any damage should be documented).
Roommates with Pets/Future Pets -- if pets are allowed in the unit/pet fees the pet owner must pay/if pets will be allowed in the future/if any types of pets will be prohibited.
Outline and Post Schedules -- preferably on paper, somewhere visible.
Private Time/Quiet Hours -- write out and post the times that must pay be respected.
Guest Policy/Significant Other Policy -- how often guests or a significant other can visit and stay over.
Schedule for Household Duties/Cleaning and Chores -- agree on a cleaning schedule for each living space in the unit and how each living space should be kept/the definition of "clean."
Bathroom and Kitchen Schedule -- devise a schedule that outlines daily routines/when each roommate will cook and when each roommate will use the bathroom.
Food Sharing -- if the food, grocery shopping, and cooking responsibilities will be shared/split or if each roommate will do their own shopping/have their own food storage areas in the refrigerator/kitchen.
Set Temperature Expectations -- agree on a summer and winter temperature that all roommates are comfortable with.
How Conflicts/Disputes will be Resolved -- agree how items not included in the written rental agreement will be handled and how communication will take place (meeting, phone, or text).
External Roommate Agreement Resources