If you have lived with roommates before, you know that issues and conflicts can arise no matter how well you know the person. A great way to prevent arguments and problems with roommates is to create a roommate agreement. A roommate agreement will help you establish rules and expectations you have for one another and should limit any confrontations that may come up. How does it work? We are going to walk you through creating a roommate agreement and give you tips to make one more effective. Let’s get started!
What exactly is a roommate agreement? Unlike a rental agreement, a roommate agreement is a nonbinding agreement designed to help roommates agree on terms for living with one another. A roommate agreement should be followed as closely as possible and will depend on what is most important to all parties involved. For example, one roommate might prize cleanliness of shared spaces and want set rules for that while the other may want to set rules for noise restrictions on week nights. If conflicts arise, you can always revisit your roommate agreement and revise it.
How do you start? You should set aside some time, no more than 1-2 hours, before you move or within the first few days of getting moved in. The first things to discuss are:
- Dividing shared space – how are you going to share spaces like the living room, kitchen or bathroom? Who is responsible for cleaning? Do you have assigned cabinets?
- Payed shared expenses – discussing shared expenses (ie: cable, internet, utilities) is incredibly important! You should set a schedule for collecting payment and determine how you want these bills to be paid as well as fee caps if you need to stay in a certain budget.
- Rent & Deposit Fees – discuss how rent will be split. Most often, rent is split directly down the middle unless one roommate has a bigger room or an attached bath and they agree to pay more. You should also make note of all move-in deposits and fees, who pays which, and which fees are nonrefundable versus refundable.
Be specific when outlining living arrangements. Defining which areas are personal space and shared space is important. If you want to limit when your roommate can enter your personal space (ie: your bedroom) then make it known. You should also set rules for your shared spaces like bathrooms – divide storage and set rules for maintaining your shared space.
Establish rules for guests. How long can visitors stay? Can friends or family come over every day? Do you have restricted hours during the week? Are guests allowed to stay overnight in shared spaces? You should talk this through. If you want quiet hours on weeknights for studying or for work then let your roommate know. You should both feel comfortable in your home whether you have guests or not.
In terms of holiday guests, or out of town visitors, establish rules. Can your roommate let a family member stay for a whole week? Are there special situations when guests can stay for longer periods of time? Get these conversations out of the way so you don’t have to argue about guests when they are already staying in your home.
Divide household chores and cleaning duties. Everyone has different living standards of cleanliness so talking about cleaning responsibilities is very important. You should decide who will be responsible for cleaning your shared spaces. Do you have weekly shifts for doing thinks like vacuuming? Will you take turns cooking and cleaning? Are you going to take turns cleaning bathrooms? Determine who needs to take over what cleaning duties to avoid confrontation down the road.
Establish additional rules for living conditions. Is drinking allowed? Can you hold parties? Are there quiet hours? Talking through these things will help you respect one another’s boundaries. You should also talk about:
- Parking spaces – if there is only one, who gets it? Will you rotate who gets to use it?
- Pets – are pets allowed? Can guests bring over pets? Who is responsible for cleaning up after animals in the house?
- Allergies – let your roommate know of any allergies you may have that they need to be aware of. (ie: allergies to cats, dogs, nuts etc.)
Once you’ve discussed these topics you should both sign a copy and keep one for both of your records. It is also a good idea to keep a digital copy in case you lose the written one!
There you have it! Those are our handy guidelines on how to create a roommate agreement. You can make life much easier and reduce conflicts with roommates by taking the time to go through these things when you first move in. Even if you are halfway through a lease, you can create a roommate agreement, especially if any of these topics have come up for you. Stay tuned to our blog for more content about apartment living!