A Roommate Agreement is a contract between tenants living in the same home that outlines shared expenses and house rules.
Unlike a lease agreement, there is no landlord involved in a roommate agreement. By signing a roommate agreement, tenants agree to abide by the rules and pay their rent, utilities, and other expenses on time.
What is a Roommate Agreement?
A roommate agreement is considered a legally binding document that roommates can use to enforce financial obligations (like if another roommate doesn’t pay rent).
But, it is less likely that roommates can legally enforce the other aspects of the agreement (such as chores).
Try approaching a roommate situation with the intention of going the extra mile to make sure everything is clear, and remember — house rules can be as strict or flexible as you want them to be.
Why Do I Need a Roommate Agreement?
Roommate agreements prevent disagreements among housemates, whether renters move in with strangers or close friends.
Many universities require students living on campus to fill out a dorm roommate agreement. Getting a set of roommate rules on paper in the beginning goes a long way in preventing disputes and keeping roommate relationships amicable.
What Should a Roommate Agreement Include?
You should include the following in your roommate agreement:
Every roommate agreement needs a breakdown of each tenant’s contribution toward shared expenses, including rent, security deposit, utilities, and shared supplies/groceries.
Shared and private rooms
Indicate which parts of the house are common areas and which rooms are private to one or more tenants.
Guests and parties
Roommates should unanimously decide what situations having guests over needs prior approval from other roommates. Set limits on how frequently roommates can have visitors and set guidelines for parties and larger groups of guests.
If your lease allows, consider whether you are okay with having a pet in the house, even if none of your housemates currently have plans to get one.
Specify in writing what will happen if the pet owner is out of town or the pet causes any damage to the property.
Roommates should all contribute to regular maintenance and deep cleaning for shared areas like the kitchen, bathroom, and living space. We recommend creating a rotating schedule for daily, weekly, and monthly chores.
It is good to communicate each tenant’s schedule so roommates can be respectful of each other’s rest or study routines.
Designate quiet hours (for example, between 12 AM and 7 AM) where roommates agree to make little to no noise.
One of the biggest concerns of sharing a lease with roommates is what will happen if a roommate moves out before the lease period ends.
Generally, if roommates move out early, they are still required to pay their portion of the rent. But, some leases allow a tenant to sublet their room or find someone to take over their spot on the lease.
Include any necessary guidelines for early move-out in your roommate agreement so tenants know what options they have if their situation requires them to move out early.
To prevent one of the most common disagreements among roommates, ensure everyone is on the same page about if/when it is acceptable to borrow another tenant’s belongings.
Also, consider how these rules apply to shared items like cooking supplies.
Any other house rules agreed upon by roommates
It is impossible to prepare for every situation. Still, you might want to think through potential argument-starters like the ideal temperature for the house, shared parking space, or shower times.
If necessary, write down any extra stipulations after all roommates agree.
You may run into disagreements over situations not covered in your roommate agreement, so be prepared to add to the house rules in the future.
Steps to Create a Roommate Agreement and Samples
Writing a good roommate agreement is essential in preventing conflict among roommates.
Step 1: Download a free roommate agreement template
Download a roommate agreement form and have each house member fill in their information.
As an alternative, use our easy document builder to get step-by-step assistance in creating your roommate agreement.
Step 2: Sit down with roommates and discuss house rules
Using the template as a guide, discuss the terms of your roommate agreement with your housemates. Do not rush through, especially if there is an issue your roommates disagree on.
It is better to pause and come back to the agreement later than to hastily set a rule that not all roommates are happy about.
Step 3: Complete and sign the document
Once housemates have agreed to all terms, sign and date the document together.
Make sure you discuss how to communicate about issues in the future. And, keep in mind, you can always revise the contract with another written agreement if needed.
How to Write a Roommate Agreement
Before you fill out your roommate agreement, make sure you note the state you are contracting in.
Step 1 – Write Effective Date and Roommate Names
1. Effective Date of Agreement. Provide the effective date of the roommate agreement.
2. Roommate Names. Fill in the full name of each roommate in the residence.
Step 2 – Enter Purpose Details
3. Property Address. Write the street (physical) address of the property being shared. Included any unit or apartment number, if applicable.
4. Term Length. This is the term or length of the lease for the property the roommates are sharing. Provide the start date of the lease and either the end date (if a standard fixed-term lease) or language that states the lease continues on a month-to-month basis.
5. Landlord Name and Date of Agreement. Enter the full name of the landlord and the date of the lease agreement that the landlord entered into with one of the roommates.
Step 3 – Describe Rent Details
6. Roommate Name and Amount of Rent. Fill in the full name of each roommate and the amount of rent that roommate is responsible for.
7. Rent Due Date. State the day of the month that the rent is due (i.e. 5th day of the month).
8. Common Areas. Select the common living areas (shared living space) that each roommate has the right to access. You can write in any other areas not on the list.
Step 4 – Note Security Deposit Details
9. Roommate Name and Security Deposit Amount. Provide the full name of each roommate and the amount of security deposit that roommate is responsible for.
Step 5 – Select Utilities
10. Shared Utilities. Choose the utilities that the roommates will equally share. You can write any other utilities not on the list. Also, you may include additional details regarding the division of payment (e.g. Jane Smith will solely be responsible for paying for electricity).
Step 6 – Enter Condition and Maintenance Details
11. Maintenance Responsibilities. Select the cleaning and maintenance items the roommates will share responsibility for. You can write any other items not on the list.
12. Maintenance Schedule. Provide the schedule that the roommates will follow for cleaning and maintaining the shared living space (e.g. weekly basis, on Saturdays, alternate between roommates every other week).
Step 7 – Choose Pet Option
13. Pets. Specify whether or not the roommates may have pets on the property.
Step 8 – Pick Smoking Option
14. Smoking. Choose whether or not smoking is prohibited on the premises or allowed with the consent of other roommates.
Step 9 – Choose Alcohol Option
15. Alcohol. State whether or not roommates may consume and store alcohol on the property.
Step 10 – Specify Firearms Policy
16. Firearms. Choose whether or not roommates may possess firearms on the property.
Step 11 – Address Personal Property
17. Personal Property. Check this box if roommates agree not to borrow personal property from any other roommate without getting approval.
Step 12 – Enter Quiet Hours
18. Quiet Hours. Note whether or not you want to include quiet hours. If yes, provide the start and end times and the days of the week.
Step 13 – Fill in Guests and Parties Details
19. Guests and Parties. Specify whether or not you want to restrict each roommate to one overnight guest at a time unless all other roommates agree. Also, you can choose the maximum number of nights per week a guest may stay without permission from all other roommates. Specify the number of guests allowed at a party before a roommate needs to get approval from the other roommates.
Step 14 – Address Mediation
20. Mediation. State whether or not you want to include a provision on dispute resolution. If yes, the roommates agree to resolve disputes through mediation first.
Step 15 – Note Governing Law
21. State Law. Fill in the state’s laws that will govern the construction of the roommate agreement.
Step 16 – Write Additional Provisions
22. Additional Provisions. You can write any additional provisions here (e.g. use of storage or parking space).