Living full-time with someone you know well is a completely different situation than just hanging out or spending time together. There are many things to consider when you live with someone, whether that person is a good friend or a stranger. Roommates’ contracts go beyond a lease. They list out the terms of daily living and include information on the responsibilities of each individual in the rental.
There are many technicalities that need to be worked out when you live with a roommate. Some issues that can be considered are personal while others involve the legal aspect of sharing a living space with someone.
Renting space with a close friend may seem fun and may cause you to resist creating an official and legally binding document on the terms of your roommate agreement, but this isn’t wise. Living with a friend is a completely different situation, which is why renters should always create a valid roommate agreement.
A Roommate Agreement is a document that outlines the agreed-upon terms by housemates.
This is also especially true when renting a space with someone you don’t know. A good roommate agreement will outline the terms of rental, provide information on agreed-upon rules, and give you a legal document in case there are any disagreements in the future.
A binding roommate agreement doesn’t have to be complicated, but it should include some basic information to be legal. Read on to learn about what you should and should not include in your roommate agreement.
It differs from a lease in many ways, which will be further explained below. A roommate agreement, or room rental agreement, lists the terms for those living together who are leasing bedrooms and sharing common spaces like the kitchen, bathrooms, laundry room, etc. in the rental property.
The agreement can also list who is responsible for rent, utilities, and other costs. Information about responsibility for damages should also be included in the roommate agreement. Roommate agreements can be used by those living in an apartment, dorm, house, or other shared living space.
A roommate agreement may also be called by the following alternative names:
- Housemate agreement
- Roommate contract
- Roommate living agreement
- Contract between roommates
- Rent a room agreement
- Joint Lease
Free Roommate Agreement Templates
Types of Roommate Agreement
When you’re moving in with close friends, it can seem like an unnecessary hassle to sit down and write out a comprehensive roommate agreement. But, taking this extra step, can save a lot of headaches in the future and can actually prevent conflicts between friends.
Following are the major types of the roommate agreement along with their samples and description:
Roommate Agreement by State
Roommate agreements can vary by state. It’s important for those interested in making a roommate agreement to understand the state laws and regulations based on the state in which the rental unit is located to ensure that the agreement is binding.
It’s important to always include the state in the rental agreement to prevent issues and to be sure that everyone understands the terms based on state laws. The following states have specific regulations that should be considered when creating a roommate agreement.
Why do I Need a Roommate Agreement?
Some people assume that if they are moving in with close friends, a roommate agreement is not needed. But this assumption is false, and it can cause disagreements and misunderstandings
. A roommate agreement gives everyone in the rental a specific idea about the expectations of the other roommates. It provides a list of the rules in writing, so everyone understands the expectations of others living under the same roof.
By taking the time to create a roommate agreement, those living in the home can have a document to refer to in case of questions or disagreements. Moreover, the roommate agreement can provide some legal protection and can help prevent squabbles between roommates when rules aren’t followed.
A roommate agreement should be agreed upon and put into writing before signing a lease if possible. If it’s not possible to sign the agreement before moving into the rental, then the roommate agreement should be dealt with ASAP once everyone has moved in.
Lease Vs. Roommate Agreement
A lease is a legal document between renters and landlords. The lease will likely be signed by all roommates separately, although there are some exceptions to this rule especially in the case of sublets and other special circumstances. The difference between the lease and the roommate agreement is that the roommate agreement does not involve the landlord or property manager.
It’s completely up to the housemates to decide the terms of the roommate agreement. Like leases, roommate agreements are usually legally binding to an extent. The roommate agreement may have parts that aren’t enforceable in a court of law, whereas most leases are enforceable as long as they follow the state regulations.
Roommate Template Samples
What is a Roommate Agreement Template?
A roommate agreement template is a form document that provides guidelines for the information that should be included in a roommate agreement. When you use a template, you have a standardized guide to help you write out exactly what needs to be included to make a document legal and binding. The template can be customized based on the legal requirements of your state.
Be sure to choose terms that are appropriate based on the state laws and include the state name in your agreement. Roommates should reach an agreement on which law will contribute to and support the agreement. In this step, it’s helpful to consult an attorney.
It’s essential to write out a roommate agreement as one of the first steps when deciding to live with roommates. This helps everyone understand the rules and expectations of their housemates. A binding roommate agreement can also help to reduce a legal dispute in the future between roommates.
Following are a few examples of roommate templates:
Sections of Roommate Agreement
Following are a few sections of a roommate agreement:
Date: It’s essential to include the date of the agreement. You should also include the rental/lease dates if applicable.
Information related to parties and property: List the address of the property and the names of all roommates. It can also be helpful to include information on who is renting each bedroom/space in the house.
Renter 1 is renting the master bedroom with access to shared rooms in the house. Renter 2 is renting the basement bedroom with access to shared rooms in the house.
Purpose: Include information on the rights and powers of each roommate. This may include the obligations to pay rent, the rights to quiet time, or other promises made during the creation of the agreement. You can also include roommate obligations in this section.
Governing or choice of firm/law: In this step of the agreement, it’s important for all roommates to law according to the requirements of their state and how it will contribute to the agreement. Courts in each state vary on if and how they will enforce roommate agreements. It can be helpful to speak to an attorney to ensure that the document is legal and binding.
Security deposit: Specify who paid the security deposit and who will get the deposit back if it’s returned once the lease is over. Be sure to include the amounts each person contributed if applicable. Also include specifics on the timeline of when the deposit will be returned based on the lease.
Expense breakdown/rent: There are many expenses that go along with renting a space that is separate from rent. Coming up with the breakdown of rent is usually easier than deciding who pays what part of the utilities.
This section of the agreement should include very specific information on who pays for gas, electricity, internet, water, trash pickup, and other household expenses. Also include specifics on whether rent is paid directly to the landlord by each roommate or paid to one roommate who then pays the landlord.
Shared /private rooms: Include information on access to shared rooms. These rooms include laundry, non-private bathrooms, the kitchen, and the living room. How you plan to share these rooms, as well as how you plan to deal with parties, or other special events can be written into this part of the agreement.
Utilities: Be sure to consider all utilities and costs. With most roommate agreements, everyone buys their own groceries and essentials. But when it comes to deciding who pays for water, internet usage, or cable, it can be much more challenging. Some roommates decide to split those costs evenly, while others may come up with a better plan that works based on their circumstances.
Guests: Agreeing to a guest policy is very important. Keeping a good relationship with your roommates depends on the comfortable feeling to be in your own home. Be sure to talk about boundaries and expectations when it comes to guests, especially those who will be staying overnight.
Pets: In some cases, the rental may not allow pets at all which makes this a non-issue. But for pet-friendly places, it’s important for the roommates to understand the preferences of others in the home. It may seem like a minimal concern until someone brings home a pet unexpectedly and the other roommates aren’t prepared for the responsibilities that come with living with a pet.
House chores: Roommates have several ways to go about assigning chores. You may want to assign weekly chores or just have someone responsible for specific chores. Be sure to include chores for cleaning the shared spaces as well as outside maintenance like mowing the lawn. You may also want to include a laundry schedule.
Quiet hours: Everyone has different expectations of when a house should be quiet. You may need to study or may have a work schedule where you sleep at different times than those you live with. Be sure to include the hours when quiet times are expected for weekdays and weekends.
Early move out: Include the terms for an early move out if one roommate leaves before their lease is up. This may include information on the money they will owe upon moving out as well as how much notice they are supposed to provide before leaving.
Sharing /borrowing items: It’s always a good idea to have a policy in print about sharing and using roommates’ personal items. It may be a simple “ask before you use it” policy, but writing it down prevents misunderstandings.
Smoking /alcohol/drugs: Different lifestyles can come together and live cohesively as long as terms for drug, alcohol, and tobacco usage are discussed beforehand. It can be a difficult topic to bring up, but it’s an important one as disagreements over these issues can lead to big problems between roommates.
Additional agreement/any other household rules: You can include any other important rules or information the roommates have agreed on.
Authorization /signatures: Be sure that each roommate signs, prints their name, and dates the form.
Pros and Cons of Adding a Roommate to Lease
It’s a big decision on whether to add a roommate to your lease. There are many things to consider. Adding a roommate can be a good thing, but there are also cons that go along with it. Consider the following list when deciding whether you should add a roommate to your lease or not.
- You have someone to split the bills with. Adding a roommate can significantly reduce the amount you have to pay on rent and utilities.
- Adding a roommate to the official lease, rather than allowing them to live with you without official documentation, can provide extra protection for you in the case of non-payment on their behalf.
- The tenant has the power to control who is allowed to live in the rental. This makes it easy to decide who is the best fit when it comes to compatible roommates.
- When a roommate is added to the lease, it provides extra protection for the other tenants in the form of official documents with the landlord or property manager.
- When a roommate doesn’t pay rent, the initial tenant can face repercussions. This type of situation can be very pricey if it ends up in court.
- An eviction may be at the cost of the tenant rather than the landlord. Evicting a roommate can be a long and expensive process. In the meantime, you may be forced to live with someone under uncomfortable conditions.
- If you want to add a roommate to your lease, you may have to file an addendum to your lease with the landlord. This may come with added costs.
How to Evict a Roommate?
Living with strangers, or even good friends doesn’t always work out. Sometimes, you may come to the realization that one of your roommates isn’t living up to their parts of the agreement. Talk to your roommate first, before acting. This can help you resolve the situation without turmoil between the housemates.
If you decide that a roommate needs to be evicted, it’s best to speak with your landlord. They can provide guidance on the best way to get that person out if it’s possible. Keep in mind, however, that unless they actually break the lease, it may be impossible to legally evict them. Not following the chore rules or keeping quiet hours is not necessarily an evictable offense.
If these tips don’t work, one may have to choose to void the entire lease. When a roommate is delinquent on rent and/or refuses to obey the rules of the agreement, the worst-case scenario comes into play. Be sure to understand the legalities of leaving and the repercussions that come with voiding your lease early.
Frequently Asked Questions
A roommate agreement can be legally binding. The issue is that only certain parts are enforceable. In most circumstances, the only parts of the roommate agreement that will be considered in court are the parts that involve money. Someone not doing their assigned chores or not keeping quiet hours is not going to be dealt with in a court of law.
The roommate agreement should include everything needed to keep all roommates comfortable in the rental. It’s helpful to include a chore list, a guest policy, agreed-upon quiet hours, and information on who is supposed to pay rent and utilities each month, along with the amount each person would owe.
If you notice a roommate isn’t keeping up with their part of the agreement, you should first have a conversation with them. There’s always a chance that they didn’t understand the expectations of everyone in the house. If nothing changes, you may have to pursue eviction.
Once your agreement is created and signed by everyone, be sure that each roommate has a copy. You may even want to hang a copy on the rental refrigerator so everyone can refer to it as needed.