A roommate agreement template specifies the terms by which the bedrooms in a housing unit are leased, and the communal areas are shared under the same agreement.
The communal areas in a roommate agreement template include the kitchen, living room, and other areas that the residents need to share.
The roommate agreement template specifies that all individuals listed in the document are liable to each other for financial obligations on the living space, such as payment for services, bills, rent, and other charges specified on the roommate agreement. Furthermore, any damage in the communal areas of the living space is the responsibility of the individuals specified in the roommate agreement. However, bedroom damage is simply an individual liability.
A roommate agreement template is typically required by a tenant who wishes to share a bedroom or more with one or more individuals. These individuals are to become roommates with the original tenant and share the communal areas while having their private areas. The agreement is used to set the term by which the original tenant and the roommate(s) are to live by, as well as any obligations the original tenant and the roommate(s) are liable for.
A roommate agreement can be used in an apartment, college dormitory, house, or anywhere that qualifies as a shared living space and it can also be referred to as the following terms:
- Housemate agreement.
- Joint lease
- Rent a room agreement.
- Roommate contract.
Rental Lease VS Roommate Agreement
A rental lease differs significantly from a roommate agreement. While the rental lease agreement is between the landlord and one individual tenant, the roommate agreement is between the original tenant and the original tenant’s roommate. The agreement between the original tenant and the landlord is exclusive of the original tenant’s agreement with their roommate(s).
Furthermore, a room rental agreement is a legal document that is signed between the property owner and the original tenant; permitting the letter to rent out room(s) of the property to a third party. A room rental agreement can also work as a sublease and usually requires the landlord’s approval. It also incorporates elements of the original lease agreement. A roommate agreement, on the other hand, involves the permission of the original tenant to move in with the roommate and it does not involve the property owner’s specific approval.
Need for a Roommate Agreement Template
A roommate agreement template is needed when a roommate or more moves in with the original tenant. A situation like this would require all parties involved to set terms and agree upon roles and responsibilities for the cohabitation period. By doing so, all parties involved can prevent future conflicts in between.
Here are the typical reasons why you need a roommate agreement template:
To set boundaries
When two or more individuals share common spaces, it is crucial to set boundaries for all individuals involved to follow. By setting boundaries and making them clear, conflict can be avoided.
If, for instance, the original tenant rents a bedroom to a party who has a significant other, either a boyfriend or girlfriend, the roommate will likely have their significant other over for prolonged periods. In a situation such as this, the signed agreement can set boundaries and state when the roommate can have their significant other over and for how long.
To restrict the roommate’s guests
The living space is meant to be a quiet and undisturbed environment for all living within it. Hence, the roommate agreement template allows the original tenant to set times for the roommate to have company over or throw parties. This provision also helps to limit the living space expenses as constant guests would lead to higher consumption of utilities such as electricity and water.
To share household expenses and other costs
A roommate agreement template enables the original tenant to divide the household expenses and other essential costs with the roommate(s). The terms of it clearly state what portion of these expenses each party would be responsible for. By doing so, it prevents one party from solely bearing the financial burden of the household.
To divide essential maintenance duties
There are regular maintenance duties that must be handled at certain intervals in every household.
For instance, in an apartment, cleaning the communal areas of the living space such as cleaning, vacuuming, doing the dishes, or mowing the lawn, if there is one, should be divided among the roommates. Therefore, the roommate agreement must specify these maintenance duties assigned to each of the roommates.
To establish quiet hours
Quiet hours are quite important as noise is one of the most common concerns for roommates and prospective tenants. Therefore, the agreement enables the original tenant to set quiet hours during which the roommate(s) cannot engage in any activities that may constitute excessive noise. This will make cohabitation comfortable for all the parties involved.
7 Essentials When Writing a Roommate Agreement Template
A roommate agreement template sets the tone of the cohabitation between the original tenant and their roommate(s); hence it must be well written to cover all relevant bases to ensure a comfortable cohabitation for all parties involved.
The original tenant can follow the instructions below to craft it perfectly;
Section 1: Basic information
The first step to crafting a good roommate agreement template is to specify the basic information of all parties concerned as well as the information about the premises and the purpose of the agreement. This process sets the premise of establishing the agreement between the original tenant and the roommate(s).
The date on which the agreement was established must be specified. This will also serve as the start date from which the roommate agreement becomes valid.
The original tenant is known as the principal roommate. The original tenant needs to specify their full legal names and the complete address of the premises.
The basic information of the new roommate moving in with the original tenant must also be specified on the agreement. The basic information includes the roommate’s old address of residence and the full legal name of the roommate.
The roommate agreement template must specify the premises in which the original tenant and the new tenant would be cohabiting. In addition, details such as the full address, including apartment number where applicable, must also be written down.
Purpose of the agreement
The purpose of a roommate agreement is to specify the power, rights, and responsibilities between the specified parties on the agreement. Therefore, the original tenant needs to clearly state the purpose of the roommate agreement in order to clarify confusion and avoid conflicts in the future.
Section 2: Choice of firm or law
The original tenant should agree with the new tenant on which law firm should support and contribute to the agreement they are about to enter. The purpose of this section of the roommate agreement is to elaborate on the court in the state upholding the terms of the roommate agreement. The original tenant can seek guidance from their attorney when choosing a firm or law in this situation.
Section 3: Division of rent
The terms of a roommate agreement template stipulate that the original tenant and the roommate(s) will share a living space. Hence the expenses incurred to secure and maintain the living space must be divided amongst the parties involved.
These expenses should be specified as the following:
Total rent required
The total amount of money to be paid as rent for the living space by all the inhabitants must be stipulated in the roommate agreement template. By establishing that a fixed amount is paid as rent on the roommate agreement, the original tenants can create a premise for division of the rent among the roommates.
New tenant’s monthly rent
The most commonly practiced way to establish a fixed amount for the new tenants to pay monthly rent is to divide the total rent equally among the roommates. However, the roommates may agree to pay a different amount in certain situations depending on certain factors like room size. For example, when the original tenant has a bigger room than the new tenant, the original tenant pays a higher rent than the new tenant.
Rent payment recipient
The rent payment receipt verifies the payment of the rent at the end of the month by the new tenant. The rent payment received must specify the phone in which the rent is to be paid by the roommate to the original tenant.
Section 4: Utilities
The fees due for payment by the new tenant are not limited only to the rent. The utilities in the living space should also be equally paid by both the original tenant and the new tenant or, in fairness, according to usage. In this section, the roommate agreement template should specify the monthly amount for the utilities charged, which includes but is not limited to electricity, gas, and water. The original tenant and the new tenant should decide how the utility bills should be split.
Charges for electricity, water, and gas
The roommate agreement template should stipulate the sharing ratio for electricity charges, water bills, and gas charges. While it is the norm where the new tenant splits the bills equally with the original tenant, it is best to stipulate this term in the agreement. This way, both the original tenant and the new tenant will know the exact amount owed by them at the end of the month.
Local phone service charges
The charges for the telephone facilities in the living space should also be shared equally among the occupants of the living space. The charges, as well as the sharing ratio, should be stipulated in the roommate agreement template.
Charges for cable television
The charges for cable television services provided in the living space should be divided equally among the occupants of the living space. This charge should be specified in the roommate agreement template allowing both the original tenant and the new tenant to know how much money they have to pool in the total cost at the end of the month.
Lawn service charges
In a living space attached to a lawn, the care and maintenance of it are the responsibility of the occupants of the living space. Hence, the cost of servicing the lawn should also be divided among the occupant of the living space, and this cost should be specified in the roommate agreement template.
Trash pickup charges
The garbage produced in the living space is the responsibility of the occupants of the living space. Therefore, the trash pickup service must be paid for by both the original tenant and the new tenant and included in the roommate agreement template.
Internet service charges
Both the original tenants and the new tenants are responsible for providing and using the internet service in the living space. As a result, internet service charges should be shared equally among all parties involved in the roommate agreement.
Section 5: Additional agreements
Depending on the unique nature of your living space and your personal lifestyle requirements, there may be a need to consider some essential factors pertinent to the potential roommate’s lifestyle before adding additional agreements/clauses between you as the principal tenant and the new tenant into the roommate agreement template. This section will typically specify additional clauses or agreements that may not be covered in the broad scope of the agreement.
For instance, if the living space is located in a building where there are special expenses or specific rules, the roommate agreement template should contain these expenses or rules stipulating the obligation of the new tenant.
Section 6: House rules
The house rules section of the roommate agreement should contain the rules and regulations of occupying the living space in question.
The house rules should typically include the following;
Designated quiet times
A designated quiet time should be specified in the roommate agreement to create a system for the compatibility of all occupants of the living space.
Cleanliness of the living space
The living space must be kept in pristine condition and as clean as possible at all times. This responsibility falls on both the original tenant and the new tenant.
Policies for smoking and alcohol use
The original tenants can also specify their preference concerning smoking and the use of alcohol. If the original tenant does not tolerate smoking or alcohol use within the living space, this rule can be mentioned in the roommate agreement template. The original tenant can also specify all the extracurricular courses allowed or prohibited within the living space in it.
The roommate agreement template should clearly state the obligations of the occupants of the living space concerning communal bathrooms and their cleanliness. If the living space has a communal bathroom, cleaning the bathroom is the responsibility of both the original tenant and the new tenant.
The kitchen is a communal space and is often a joint facility shared by both the original tenant and the new tenant. Therefore, the roommate agreement template should contain terms governing the kitchen duties that should be split between the original tenant and the new tenant.
Other rooms’ duties
The agreement must also specify other duties that the inhabitants must consider in terms of the other rooms of the living space apart from the bedrooms and how these duties are split between the occupants of the living space.
Living spaces with an adjoining yard, a house, for instance, would require some work to keep the yard in good condition. Hence, keeping the yard in good condition falls on both the original tenant and the new tenant. Therefore, the roommate agreement should contain terms of splitting this responsibility and a schedule for doing the work required.
Removal of the garbage generated in the living space is the responsibility of the occupants of the living space. The roommate agreement should contain a schedule for the removal of the garbage in the living space.
Policy for guests
The policy for the guests entering the living space should be specified in the roommate agreement template. This policy may include hours during which guests are welcome and hours during which guests are not allowed. The guest policy may also specify the maximum number of people the occupant of the living space is allowed to invite to the living space.
The roommate agreement template should also specify whether or not pets are allowed in the living space. This will prevent future conflict in the event if one roommate wants a pet while the other is against the idea.
Section 7: Finalize and Sign
This section of the roommate agreement template involves finalizing all the terms stipulated in the agreement in its previous sections.
It typically includes:
The state under which the property falls dictates the laws binding the roommates when living on the property through the roommate agreement. As a result, the state’s name must be recorded on the roommate agreement for proper execution when signed.
The last section of the roommate agreement template requires the signature of the original tenant and the signature of the new tenant. The signature date, i.e., when the roommate agreement between the new tenant and the original tenant is to be signed, must be included to finalize the agreement. The names and signatures of the principal roommate and the new roommate should be included at the end of the roommate agreement template finalizing the entire document.
Free Roommate Agreement Templates
Following are some free roommate agreement downloadable templates for you.
Consequences of Not Using a Roommate Agreement
A roommate agreement template is an essential document that specifies what is expected of both the roommate and the original tenant, and as such, not using a roommate agreement when renting a room to a tenant may bring inevitable consequences, some of which are stated below:
The original tenant may lose money if the new tenant fails to handle their part of the responsibility of the living space. By using a roommate agreement, the original tenant can enforce the due responsibilities on the new tenant. The original tenant may end up paying more rent than is their obligation.
In addition, the original tenant may forfeit their security deposit due to damages caused by the new tenant in case there is no roommate agreement signed. The original tenant may also have to pay for the damage done by the new tenant without the binding document specifying whose liability damages are. If the original tenant or new tenant moves out early without notice, the other party could also be stuck with paying for damages personally.
Conflicts and conflict resolutions are time-consuming endeavors. Suppose the principal tenant fails to provide a roommate agreement to the new tenant. In that case, there will likely be a conflict either by failure to take responsibility for some of the expenses of the living space or acts that disrupt the comfortability and serenity of the living space. The time spent resolving this conflict could have been avoided if an agreement was provided.
When the principal tenant fails to outline the new tenant’s basic rights and obligations under a roommate agreement, the resulting conflict, which may range from late payment of rent to inadequate maintenance of facilities, may result in strained relationships between the new tenants and the principal tenant or the landlord and the principal tenant.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are roommate agreements legally binding?
When a roommate agreement legal hold is subject to the jurisdiction and whether or not the roommate agreement is a subordinate of the original lease signed with the landlord, writing, dating, and signing an agreement, especially when a witness is present, makes the argument more credible.
What if your roommate does not abide by the agreement?
Actions to be taken if the roommate does not abide by the agreement depend on the legal status of the roommate agreement. Also, eviction can be a cumbersome process, as well as finding a new roommate. The best way to ensure that the roommate abides by the agreement is by scheduling periodic roommate meetings specified in the original roommate agreement. During these meetings, conflicts and lapses can be discussed and resolved.
Can I execute a week-to-week or month-to-month roommate agreement?
The roommate agreement should be subordinated by the original lease signed with the landlord. Hence if the original lease signed with the landlord is a week-to-week or month-to-month lease, the roommate agreement can follow suit.