Written roommate agreements are an excellent way to avoid future problems when more than one person is on a lease agreement. A written agreement involving all parties to the lease is a tool to determine each roommate's responsibilities if a conflict arises. The roommate agreement is separate from the tenants' lease with the landlord.
This article will explore different elements of a roommate agreement.
The Roommate Agreement
A roommate agreement should cover everything important to you as a roommate and a tenant. Consider the conflicts that often occur in a co-living situation, and discuss how you want to handle them. Consider, for example, food. Some roommates wish to share groceries; others prefer to keep their food separate. Writing this down can help to resolve future conflicts and preserve the roommate relationship.
One major category many roommates include in their agreements is "house rules." You can spell out those rules for everyone in the home, including visitors.
Examples of house rules include:
- Limits for overnight guests
- Upkeep of shared living spaces, like the kitchen or living room
- Rules about pets and guests' pets
- Respecting personal property
- Maintaining shared property
- Replacing supplies such as toilet paper and cleaning supplies
- Noise levels and quiet hours
- Use of parking spaces
Another common category of roommate agreements focuses on the maintenance of the rental unit. Having a cleaning schedule during the lease term is good to avoid any conflict over household duties.
A cleaning schedule can break down key chores, including:
- Who cleans common areas (each roommate should clean their private room)
- Times to clean common areas
- Schedule to take out garbage/recycling
Roommate agreements should also cover financial responsibilities. All roommates to the original lease signed a binding contract with the landlord or property manager and agreed to a set monthly rent. When you sign a lease with others, you are often liable for each other's obligations to the landlord. If your co-tenant does something that violates the rental agreement, it negatively affects you.
Each roommate must understand their financial responsibilities during the tenancy. A roommate contract can clarify the consequences of financial irresponsibility.
The agreement should contain the following:
- Due dates for rent and utilities
- Where and how to send rent payments
- Amount of rent and utility bills for each roommate
- The process for early termination of the lease
- Move-in and end dates for each roommate
- The distribution date for the returned security deposit
- Actions that could lead to roommate eviction
Writing a Roommate Agreement
Although you can find a free roommate agreement template online, take care with any legal document. You should have a licensed attorney review the agreement to ensure it will hold up in court. Each roommate should sign the agreement and keep a copy for themself.
You should speak to a landlord-tenant attorney if you need help with a roommate situation or drafting a roommate agreement. These lawyers are experts in landlord-tenant law and can give you and your housemates sound legal advice. Speak to an experienced local landlord-tenant attorney today.
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