It doesn’t matter if this person is your sibling, your best friend since the second grade, or even a significant other, having some kind of agreement is essential—not because you don’t trust them, but because you care enough about your roommate and yourself to make 100% certain you’re both on the same page before there is an issue. After all, life will likely take you in separate directions at some point. Perhaps one of you will be accepted to a new college, get a great job in another state, or maybe you’ll get tired of bickering over who’s turn it is to clean the bathroom. You roommate agreement will help ensure you both stay protected and that your relationship endures even if your living arrangement doesn’t.
Have an Attorney Look it Over if You Want Legal Protection
Most roommate agreements are never used in any kind of legal capacity, simply because in agreeing to terms in advance, both people usually want to do their part to stick to it. Each party knows what’s expected of them, and so disputes or issues are far less likely to occur in the first place. However, sometimes a roommate skips out on rent or does something else that can only be remedied through the courts. If you want to ensure your agreement is legally-binding and does not include any clauses that would prevent you from seeking reparations through the court system, have a lawyer review your contract before you sign. While it is an added expense, consider what it will cost you if your roommate doesn’t pay for a month of rent or their pet causes damage and you’re on the hook with the landlord for it. You could be out that cash if your contract isn’t written correctly, so having it reviewed by an attorney may actually be one of the best investments you’ll ever make. Remember, life happens. Your roommate may be a great person whom you’d trust with your life, but people lose jobs and the cute pup they bring home may turn into Cujo. Moreover, we’re not lawyers. We’re residential movers. If you have a legal question, always go to a lawyer. That said, we’ll outline some things good roommate agreements usually have, and let you take it from there.
Cover All the Bases in Your Roommate Agreement
Your roommate agreement should be customized to your lifestyle and needs. Don’t rely on a template to build something that accurately reflects the both of you. After all, two college students may be worried about quiet time for study and obscure houseguests showing up, while two business professionals may be more concerned with who gets the bathroom at 6am when it’s time to get ready for work or what the guidelines for dinner parties are.
Include details about who is responsible for collecting the rent and paying it to the landlord as well as which day payment is due. Also outline what happens if one party fails to follow through. It’s worth noting that rent is not always equally split. For example, one roommate may pay slightly less if they have a smaller room or don’t have a private bathroom and the other does.
Utilities and Services
Like rent, utilities are not equally split all the time. For example, if one roommate wants premium cable channels, he or she may be expected to pay the difference. A roommate with a hobby which consumes a disproportionate amount of resources, such as cooking, which might use more gas, could result in utilities being split up differently too. A few things to include are:
- Home Phone
- Professional Landscaping or Housekeeping Services
Cover things like visitors, overnight guests, and parties. You can be specific as to when non-residents are allowed over and how long they can stay. If you prefer, you can also break things down by guest type. For example, if you don’t care if your roommate’s mom comes to town for a week and crashes on your sofa, but you’re not keen on bumping into their latest fling at 2am in the kitchen while you’re in your pajamas, hammer it out now.
Explore what kinds of pets you’ll allow, what the guidelines are for keeping them, and who will be responsible for pet deposits and payment for damages.
Caring for your place can be split up any way you like, but make sure both people know what’s expected of them. For example, on roommate might not care if the dishes sit for a day or if shoes and coats are left in a communal room, while these things could drive the other roommate nuts. One roommate may loathe the idea of carrying trash out to bin, but may love scrubbing the bathroom until it shines. If that’s the case, there’s no reason why the cleaning fanatic can’t have that job on a permanent basis, provided the other roommate keeps up with the trash.
Some roommates are cool sharing everything, from toiletries to clothes. If you or your roommate don’t subscribe to the “what’s mine is yours” philosophy, outline what things are off-limits. Make note of how you’ll cover shared household supplies, too, like toilet paper, cleaning stuff, and cooking gear.
If you need your home quiet at specific times for things like study and sleep, make sure these details are included in the roommate agreement.
Some people like to set additional house rules, like whether tobacco or alcohol can be used in the home, while others might set up a petty cash or emergency fund and allow all parties to draw from it under specific circumstances. Make note of any additional guidelines you have or processes you think might eliminate issues and make cohabitating easier.
Schedule time to review your roommate agreement together, perhaps on an annual basis. Your feelings and situation might change after you’ve lived with a person for a while, and it’s good to keep your contract current to address what’s happening in your lives.
Disputes, Grievances, and Penalties
Spend some time discussing how you want to handle issues if they come up and how you plan to work out differences. Make note of what recourse the non-offending roommate has or consequences someone might face for breaking any house rules you set.
The Inevitable End
At some point, you will in all likelihood stop living together. Sometimes, the split is a surprise, so it’s helpful to outline how much notice you need and who’s responsible for finding the replacement roommate. The departing roommate may also be responsible for paying rent until the contract is up or until a replacement is found. You’ll also want to make note of any shared property, such as furniture, and determine who keeps what.
Get the Five W’s In
Agreements should always include the five W’s: who, what, where, and why. In other words, make sure you’ve got your legal names, what kind of an agreement you’re making, the property address, and the purpose of the agreement outlined. You can take this a step further and describe who gets which bedroom.
Sign on the Dotted Line
Both parties will need to sign and date the agreement. For legal purposes, it’s better if this is done in front of a notary, so there’s no question about the validity of the signatures.
Hire Awesome Movers
Once you’ve established guidelines with your roomie and are ready to relocate, let us know. We can help whether you’re planning a long-distance move or are moving locally within NYC. Plus, we’ve got a perfect five-star rating on Yelp and have for years, so we’ll be here to get you settled and be around when it’s time to move on as well. Get your free moving quote online or call us at (718) 710-4520 to start planning right away.