A roommate is a person with whom you share the same room. This could be a fellow student, colleague or acquaintance usually in a university, college, or work setting. Roommates typically share the same amenities as televisions, lounges, kitchen, and dining rooms that exist in the same facility.
Generally speaking, each roommate is responsible for his share of the cost of rentals, food supplies, and the other utility expenses that arise out of the use of the facilities concerned. They nonetheless spend the same time and make use of the facilities jointly.
A Roommate Rental Agreement is a legal contract between tenants occupying the same rental space documenting and stating their mutual consensus amongst each other in terms of agreed house rules, payment of utilities, and other expenses involved.
The landlord is not involved in this rental agreement and it exists only between the tenants, unlike the roommate rental lease agreement, as the subtenant/new roommate is generally treated as the first tenant’s responsibility and liability.
Roommate rental agreement is also known as:
- Roommate Contract
- Joint lease
- Rent a Room Agreement
Knowing Roommate Rental Agreement
A roommate rental agreement is a pact that is entered into while leasing out the rooms and units. It is signed by the two parties concerned and plays the role of spelling out the terms under which the two parties shall relate while at the same time utilizing the amenities provided for.
Examples of these terms are the house rules, financial arrangements, rules of engagements, and the settlements of bills. It is also referred to as a ‘roommate contract,’ ‘rent a room agreement’ or ‘joint lease.’
Following a few common questions about roommate rental agreement:
Why use a rental lease agreement?
Identifying the uses of the roommate rental agreement can relieve some stresses the tenant and their roommate may have during their residency. Some of the valuable uses of this agreement include:
- Preventing disputes between roommates who are either friends or strangers
- Creating amicable living stipulations for students in universities
- Creating settlements for unspoken expectations by the tenant and their roommate
- Formulate mutually agreeable house rules that are either strict or flexible
- A settlement in case of any damage to the rented area, signed on behalf of all the roommates as a whole
What a roommate agreement outlines?
As hinted above, a roommate agreement outlines the terms of references under which the two occupants of the room shall abide by. These include but are certainly not limited to:
- Responsibility of the settlement of rent and utility expenses. These are the answers to such questions as the amounts allocated for each person, the due date for the rental pays, the manner in which the dues are settled, and so on.
- Security deposit chargeable and the other incidentals.
- Cleanliness and maintenance schedules. They are accompanied by a breakdown of the responsibilities held by each party — alternatively, the cleaning company to be contracted for the job.
- Quiet times set aside, overnight guests, noise emission levels, and parties.
- The way in which space is shared out plus the décor.
- Defining the rules regarding smoking, drinking and other extra-curricular activities.
- Relocation notice and the associated deadlines.
- Dispute resolution mechanisms and approaches.
Here are free templates to be customized as per need:
Roommate rental agreements (by State)
Roommate rental agreement templates
How to Find a Roommate and Sign Agreement?
Writing and using a roommate agreement requires both the tenant and their roommate to follow a very comprehensive process. To get started:
Make sure you have space
The first objective of the tenant should be a review of their lease to find out the rules concerning having a roommate. The landlord should be consulted if no rules are stipulated on the lease. The tenant must ensure that the space they are renting is enough to accommodate them and the number of roommates they hope to have. As a resident, the tenant may consider:
- Co-tenant: A co-tenant is an individual listed on the rental lease along with the tenant. They may be two or more individuals.
Before a room is leased, the tenant goes through meticulous screening by the landlord. As a condition to be a co-tenant, the landlord may demand that the potential roommate be included on the lease and undergo the same screening level as the tenant.
- Sub-tenant: A sub-tenant is an individual in an agreement with the tenant to pay part or all the rent in a specific period; they, however, have no relationship with the landlord.
- An occupant: This is a person living in a space, property, or house. The landlord may require that the tenant’s roommate be listed simply as an occupant for the purpose of knowing the person living in the property.
Reach out to people you know
Finding a roommate can be difficult for tenants. Approaching a familiar face is easier as the rapport is already there. Someone that’s the right fit may require the tenant to consider:
- Close friends and family: The time spent with family and friends can help a tenant identify a roommate who needs a new living situation along with any contacts they may have who are in search of co-tenancy.
- Post on social media: If the tenant wants an easy and fast way to get the word out, social media spaces such as Facebook and Instagram can do that. These pages will allow them to reach out to family, friends, coworkers, or even acquaintances who may be among their follows.
- Post online: If the tenant’s close social circle doesn’t provide any viable options, finding a credible, highly rated website to post their commercial listing is a great next step. As scary as this may be, the option makes it easier to find someone whose employment history, criminal and credit history are suitable to the tenant.
Meet potential candidates
The rent price, along with the suitability and security of the neighborhood, will be factors that will contribute to how much responses the tenant will receive in their inbox. Meeting the short-listed potential roommates will help the tenant discern the most acceptable candidate.
The tenant should ensure that they:
- Meet at public places: The internet is no stranger to scammers. Meeting at a public venue will make the tenant feel safe, especially if the person they anticipate interviewing is a stranger to them.
- Prepare questions: At the meeting, it is recommended that the tenant have already written questions to help them get to know the candidate more and ensure they cover all the basics. Questions on their work, school, and interests are just some of the information that should be covered. Candidates who have similar interests with the tenant may probably rank higher on the list.
- Address the standard: The tenant should be straightforward in discussing their expectations about the tenancy. They should also ensure they ask the candidate his/ her expectations. Doing this will ensure the two parties are on the same page with one another.
Screen the roommate
Doing a background check will help verify all the information that the tenant already has on the candidate. Having the candidate submit a rental application will help conduct the background investigation. Credit scores, past rental agreements, job history, criminal background, and references of contacts who can vouch for the applicant will all culminate into making the final decision on accepting the roommate. The tenant can also utilize websites available on the internet to run background checks.
Create the agreement
Creating the roommate rental agreement requires both the tenant and their roommate(s) to engage in the process together. Having the new roommate pay the security deposit, if any, and the first month’s rent at the signing and before they move in is standard practice. Doing this ensures that the roommate is not using the tenant to freeload on free housing for a short-term period. Adding the roommate to the lease is a matter to be discussed with the landlord.
Creating the agreement starts with:
Add basic Information
To create an agreement that is comprehensive and clear, certain pieces of information are expected on the agreement. The following primary section of the contract should include:
- Identity of the parties: This includes all the names of the individuals involved in the shared residence.
- Date of tenancy: The length of time the new occupant is expected to stay.
- Expense information: The portion of the rent, security deposit, and expenses the roommate is expected to pay.
- Guidelines: An attachment of the house rules and any duties or chores expected to be done by roommates.
List down the rules with your roommate
A comprehensive least that outlines the rules a tenant has with their roommate ensures clarity between them. The agreement should include:
- Expense breakdown: The landlord is expected to break down any expenses that the tenant on the lease will cater to financially. With this breakdown, the tenant and their roommate can then include how they will divide the rent, security deposit, and groceries /shared supplies
- Shared and private rooms: The privacy of the individual spaces for the tenant and their roommate(s) should be outlined in the agreement. Shared rooms like the dining room and the living room, among other areas, should be indicated.
- Guests and parties: Having constant guests in one’s home can be inconvenient and cause bad blood between roommates. The agreement should outline situations when having guests would require unanimous approval. Limits on the frequency of having visitors over and guidelines for parties or large group gatherings should be established between roommates.
- Pets: If the lease allows the tenant or their roommate to have pets, they should talk it over among themselves and create guidelines. Indicating how the animal will be cared for when the pet owner is out of town or if it causes any damage to the property should be specified in writing.
- Chores: Creating a daily, weekly, or monthly rotating chore schedule will ensure no one feels taken advantage of. The kitchen, bathroom, and living room should be the responsibility of both parties as they are considered shared.
- Quiet hours: Communicating on schedules to establish respect for work hours or study routines can help designate quiet time in which the roommates agree to make little or noise.
- Early move-out: Creating guidelines in the agreement for early move-out can alleviate any concerns that come with subleasing property. These guidelines will ensure the tenant has enough time to figure out their living situation or start looking for a new roommate.
- Sharing/borrowing items: The common root cause of conflict between roommates is the unauthorized borrowing of items. Creating acceptable rules and guidelines in this area will prevent a lot of arguments. Shared items like cooking supplies should also be taken into account.
- Any other house rules agreed upon by roommates: As prepared as the tenant may attempt to be, covering every conflict starter is nearly impossible. Shower times, ideal temperatures for the house and shared parking space are just a few additional areas they may cover on the agreement. Constantly updating it as time goes on will be convenient for all roommates.
Sign the document
With the tenant and their new roommate satisfied with the agreement after a review, signing can take place. Having a witness present will ensure the process is tethered to credibility.
Pros and Cons of Having an Agreement
Deciding to have a roommate can be difficult as it involves allowing someone else into one’s private living space. Adding a roommate to a rental lease is dependent upon how the roommate agreement is structured. The lease commonly has one or more people on it as a resident with the landlord. The landlord must approve a tenant’s request to sublease to allow them the opportunity to draft a second agreement with a roommate. It, therefore, makes it important to consider the pros and cons of having a roommate so as to come up with an agreement that works for the involved parties.
One pro of having a roommate is that the tenant is entirely in control of the person(s) coming in and leaving. The tenant can also set the price for rent.
The cons range from the tenant being responsible for the payment of rent even when the roommate fails to pay their share and the fact that any eviction of a roommate will come at the cost of the tenant and not the landlord.
Roommates who decide that they want to be on the lease will require that an Addendum be authorized. Any additional roommate agreement that lists the responsibilities of the tenant is optional and not required.
Evicting a Roommate
It is recommended that the roommate rental agreement address eviction. The decision to evict a roommate must be made after consideration of whether they are listed in the rental lease agreement and their inability to keep to the roommate rental agreement.
In the first case where a roommate is listed as a co-tenant on the rental lease, consider the option of contacting the landlord to inform them of the violation of the lease by the roommate explaining why they deserve to be evicted. The landlord will also want to know how the rent payment will be met upon the roommate’s absence.
Even in scenarios where the roommate is not listed on the rental lease agreement, it is recommended that the landlord be enlisted in the roommate rental agreement, especially when a lone tenant is unable to enforce eviction. This is because of the intimidation factor that property owners are credited for.
In the extreme situation where a roommate refuses to leave as well as the landlord finding no justifiable violation of the rental lease agreement, a tenant may weigh the option of:
- Leaving voluntarily
- Canceling the entire lease and the eviction of all tenants.
Therefore, it is critical that before a tenant decides to evict their roommate to ensure they have exhausted all avenues to solve whatever dispute that may lay between them to avoid a long ugly eviction process.
Frequently Asked Questions
It depends as any roommate agreement is subordinated by the master lease signed with the landlord. Jurisdiction also affects the enforceability of the roommate agreement. However, writing, signing and dating agreements lends to their credibility.
This solely depends on the legal statutes of the agreement. Though eviction is a viable option, it requires a lot more work than finding a new roommate. Finding a way to solve the dispute in a recommended weekly or monthly roommate meeting forum can help deal with any issues either parties may have.