What Is a Roommate Agreement?

What answer pops into your mind when asked about why you need a roommate? The answer often goes to sharing the rental fee or lease. And saving money comes off easily. Indeed, a room rental agreement deals with the tenant’s responsibilities to observe which the landlord requires. However, that legally binding contract with the property owner does not tackle the relationships between roommates. This reason is why a roommate agreement comes to play; therefore, it is the official form signed by people who decide to live together. More so, this document contains what flatmates expect from each other, the general rules, and the full outline of their roles and rights while sharing space.

The Pew Research Center confirmed that approximately one in three American adults live with flatmates.

Based on a 2017 study, 79 million adults in the U.S. lived in a shared space or household.

In addition to that, around 18% of such adults live with flatmates who are not their relatives.

Roommate Agreements: Why Are They Important?

Having roomies sign the roommate contract or agreement is partly an etiquette; however, its importance often lies in ensuring that conflicts and issues get handled accordingly. Thanks to the responsibilities and expectations mentioned in the sheet, flatmates know these matters before even living together. A Boise State University research warned us about the typical problems faced by roommates. Examples include noise, stealing, privacy, bill disagreement, dirtiness, and lack of respect. If the agreement discusses and explains these topics, then roomies would not have such problems with each other.

The Resident Elements in a Roommate Agreement

While we now know how roommate agreements memorialize the different expectations between roomies, let us delve further into recognizing the resident factors found inside the document. Aside from knowing the form’s importance and purpose, it is essential to be more specific in identifying everything covered inside. Here are twelve basic elements found in a flatmate agreement:

Rental Fee: Begin the agreement with the rental price. Of course, every roomie should be aware of the total payment. That way, nobody gets confused about how much to pay when the landlord asks for it. To be fair, dividing the payment is recommended. But, splitting it even may not be the case if someone uses a bigger space in the room. Next, decide whether you both pay at the same time or individually. Payment Schedule: Agree on the payment date, so every side is well-prepared with their budget during the expected schedule. Aside from the rental amount, costs also go for the bills. Keep in mind that all parties would use electricity and water, which entails paying bills. List down these factors in the sheet from the HVAC, internet, and other examples to pay and divide. Be sure both you and your roomie stay responsible with finances to settle this.General Schedule: Another schedule to be concerned with is what you all do most of the time per day. Being aware of one another’s schedules is a way to show courtesy. For example, someone might wake up at 6 AM to go to college while the other wakes up at 2 PM for work. This way, there will be fewer questions regarding a flatmate’s whereabouts and what he or she does daily, particularly when to use the bathroom and kitchen.Moving Out: Prepare everyone about the possibility of moving out. At a certain point, your flatmate might leave due to transferring at a new job, or the person just wants to live somewhere else. Agree first about when to give notice so that one party does not get surprised when the other party leaves. Giving a few days to announce before leaving is better.Security Deposit: A security deposit is usually given to the landlord as a way of initial payment. And it can be refundable depending on the binding agreement signed. One factor to discuss is what if the landlord would not return the deposit? Others would return but not the entire amount. Also, check if any roomie has caused damages to the unit as that often affects these fees. Nobody wants to get blamed for damage you did not commit, so the one who did it must report to the landlord.Pets: There is nothing wrong with being pet-friendly, but not all flatmates want to have animals in their personal space. Or maybe that person who does not like having furry friends in the bedroom or unit is you. Keep in mind that having pets entails responsibilities like cleaning. The apartment may even charge pet fees, so it is vital to include that deal inside the document.Privacy: Everyone deserves their own space sometimes. And someone like you might be comfortable to be alone at least once in a while. Whoever prefers that alone time, be sure to agree on the preferred time to be left alone. That way, respecting privacy commences.Guests: Sometimes a roommate may bring a friend or family member. Perhaps, you might bring your boyfriend or girlfriend as well. While having frequent visits is okay, some roommates want their guests to sleep for the night. And you might not be comfortable with that. Therefore, inform the expected guests about it and if you all allow guests for a sleepover or not.Chores: A well-known complaint about some flatmates is having dirty dormitories and rooms. Be sure to inform about cleaning one another’s mess, so nobody has to deal with bad odor and smelly trash in their space. To manage this, assign the cleaning duties since it will be tiring for only one person to do all the chores. Divide the tasks until it is doable for everyone.Food: Do you and your roommate share food? Also, who does the cooking and shopping with a grocery list? The agreement needs to answer such questions. Also, food is even part of budgeting, so nobody has to reside in their room hungry all the time. Maybe it upsets you if your roomie eats the meals you bought, so make sure to discuss that situation here.Conflict Resolution: Another concern is how to handle typical conflicts. Knowing your flatmate is essential because people have different approaches to resolve issues. The point is there is a way for you both to communicate well and ensure that an emergency meeting gets set when needed. Thus, share your problems and aim to solve everything to stay in good terms.Temperature: Another minor issue, which may turn out big if not discussed, is the temperature setup. Some prefer sleeping with the heater on while others prefer it cool. Instead of battling it out with your roomie by switching on and off the AC unit, learn to adjust on what you are both comfortable with. Or perhaps, take turns in setting the temperature.

How to Make a Roommate Agreement

As stated in Bustle.com, via Pew Research Center’s research survey, 79 million Americans, particularly adults, share a room. If having a flatmate is that common, imagine how many written roommate agreements are there. Moreover, not every roomie is a member of the family. According to the same study, 18% of those tenants are not related to their roommates. When you are about to move in with a roommate or perhaps, in great need of settling terms with your new roomie, be sure to come up with an agreement. To do that, follow these steps in creating a standard roommate agreement:

Step 1: Identify the Basic Information between Parties

Legally binding contracts and forms generally identify the parties involved first. With this, ask about your roomie’s full name, contact details, and other factors to know him or her. As a roommate, never forget to include your necessary information too. This identification formally starts the written agreement. With these details, one can easily recognize who becomes accountable or liable for particular circumstances, in the long run.

Step 2: Recognize the House Rules

After inputting the parties’ information, coming up with the house rules is next. Remember that in a mutual agreement, not only one of you should make the regulations. Every party must have a say regarding every rule to implement. From having guests, playing loud music, smoking, inviting pets, and more, there should be clear instructions regarding what is allowed or prohibited between you two. Also, everyone must already be introduced to the landlord’s rules ahead as that property owner gives the heads-up first. In a roommate agreement, focus more on the regulations not mentioned by the landlord since this is between roomies only.

Step 3: Note the Responsibilities

In the household, there are duties to observe. Responsibilities include paying the rental costs or bills and doing the chores. To handle this, list down every task or role to fulfill until everyone is aware of what to observe while living in the same area. And can you recall those elements in a flatmate agreement discussed before? Insert those in the form. Things would not get any more comfortable when you download our editable and printable templates since you only need to fill out the document. The rest of the parts in a template are prepared for you already.

Step 4: Insert the Dispute and Termination Clause

To end this document, ensure that the termination and dispute clause is already noted. With this, there will be clearer measures whenever someone decides to proceed with the termination of the contract. The same goes if a roommate fails to adhere to the corresponding terms in the agreement. Because of not following the rules, consequences must apply. Meanwhile, anyone who wishes to move out should inform early. That way, there is still time to look for a flatmate replacement. Reporting is excellent instead of immediately giving all the responsibilities to one party. Having the roommate to leave abruptly without even notifying through a letter is discouraged.

FAQs

What benefits fall under making a roommate agreement?

Expect many benefits in forming and using a flatmate agreement. A known benefit is how living with your roomie becomes less stressful. By coming up with arrangements and ways to resolve issues while residing in a room together, comfortable living happens. It is much better when everyone is aware of what to expect anyway for lesser disagreement.

How often should roommates have guests?

Having a visitor per day is okay. However, having those guests to sleep with the roommate should undergo an agreement already. To be fair, giving one to two overnight visitors per roommate once a week is good. But if both parties have no problem with it, then there is nothing to worry about.

Is it necessary for a roommate agreement to be notarized?

No, notarizing the roommate agreement or contract is unnecessary. Even without a witness while signing the form, it can still be considered a valid deal. But if you wish to have strong evidence on this matter, then signing with a witness in front is fine to prove that signatures are legitimate.

Even when a basic rental agreement informs you about a possible roommate, it still does not fully cover what rules, responsibilities, and relationships roommates would have while living in one room. Thankfully, a roommate agreement brings that opportunity to promote a pleasant experience while living with others in a house, apartment, condominium, or any room rental. Without such a document, imagine living with someone you keep on disagreeing with every single day. Tragic, isn’t it?