A roommate agreement is a contract developed by you and your roommate(s) that outlines how you will approach different situations. All parties should sign it before moving in and therefore agree to follow it. If one roommate suggests a change later on, all individuals should discuss the requested edit and decide whether they would like to update the existing contract. If the suggestion is accepted, the contract should be reworked and signed by all roommates.
Do I really need one?
The answer is YES! Especially if you want a pleasant experience with your roommate(s). It will help to prevent conflict and be a nonbiased source that you and your roommate(s) can look back at if conflict does arise.
What should be included?
There are many different topics that should be addressed in your roommate agreement. Below are seven crucial points you and your roommate(s) should consider discussing before committing to living with one another.
One of the first things you should look at is your schedule! When are you busy and when do you want to sleep? When is your roommate(s) busy and when do they want to sleep? If you work during the day and your roommate(s) works at night, you could find that disturbing each other’s sleep schedule becomes more frequent than either of you would like.
Does your potential roommate(s) have a pet or want to get one in the future? Although this can be an exciting addition to your apartment, it could also potentially cause issues down the line. Are you allergic to any animals or simply just prefer to live without them? Are you prepared to take care of the pet when your roommate(s) is not home?
You go to the fridge expecting to eat those strawberries you just bought… but now they are gone! Where did they go? The most likely answer is your roommate(s). It is important to discuss the expectations that you and your roommate(s) have for food. Will you both buy and eat only your own groceries? Or will you go out and shop together, split the cost, and both eat the groceries?
How will rent be paid each month? Do you plan to alternate and pay every other month? Or will you split the cost every month. If your roommate(s) cannot afford to pay rent one month, how will you deal with this? Will they have to move out or will they just pay you back over time? Make sure to come to an agreement on how and when rent will be paid.
How often will you clean the apartment and whose job is it? Nothing is more frustrating than constantly finding yourself cleaning up after your roommate(s). Find out ahead of time if your roommate(s) likes a clean space or if they tend to live in a disorganized fashion. Everyone has a different version of what they deem to be clean and dirty. Regardless of what your roommate(s) tolerates, creating a chore chart that outlines who is responsible for what task and how often it needs to be done can keep both you and your roommate(s) on top of the cleaning efforts. You can be creative when assigning chores to each person. Check out these templates to find what chore chart works best for you and your roommate(s)!
Chore Chart 1 | Chore Chart 2
Having people over is fun until they overstay their welcome. Within the agreement, be sure to include when guests are allowed to be brought over and when the apartment is only for you and your roommate(s). Examples of guests include family, friends, or significant others.
Although you have agreed to live with someone, personal privacy still needs to exist. Create boundaries in your agreement and state what spaces are and are not allowed to be entered in. Simply naming bedrooms as off limits is often a straightforward way to maintain privacy.
Deciding whether or not to live with a roommate is a big decision and living with someone else isn't for everyone. If you're not sure a roommate is right for you, check out our Roommate Pros and Cons article.