According to a recent survey, one-in-three U.S. adults have had an adult roommate. Americans are mainly sharing their living space to cut costs. But for many, cohabitating is a necessity, not just a preference. Whether you’re living with your best friend or an almost stranger you found on a roommate finder app, having a roommate agreement can make your everyday living easier. Having responsibilities and rules drawn out beforehand can prevent problems and sour roommate relationships.
The most common roommate problems arise due to conflicting values. Drugs, smoking, pets, cleaning up, different sleep schedules, lack of respect, and privacy are some common issues people face when dealing with roommates.
What is a roommate agreement, and how can it help you?
A legally binding agreement with your roommate, which is carefully drawn out to eliminate problems in the future, is signed between the tenants and has nothing to do with the property owner. An agreement should include your basic details. For example, your name, permanent address, and workplace details. You can further outline more information, including rent, utilities, lease terms, and more.
We know how easy it is to miss out on the vital components of a roommate agreement, so don’t worry, we’ve got your back. Here are a few important clauses to include in your roommate agreement.
1. Cleanliness clause in your roommate agreement
The responsibility of having a clean living space extends equally to both roommates. And needless to say, each roommate is responsible for cleaning after themselves, and common courtesy in keeping the common areas clean needs to be maintained. So cleanliness is one of the very first clauses to include in your roommate agreement.
2. Rent & utilities
Your roommate agreement should state that rent is divided equally among the roommates and needs to be paid in cash/cheque/online directly to the landlord on the decided date. Electricity, internet, and gas bills will be shared equally.
3. The clause of pets in a roommate agreement
So agreement or not, our furry friends need to be taken care of. If you have a pet, draw out individual responsibilities and duties. Having a pet changes the dynamic in the house. Vet appointments, accidents, pet food, etc. need a separate conversation.
4. Leaving before the lease ends
Another important clause to include in your roommate agreement is that roommates need to give a 30 day notice period before leaving. You can also add a clause that says they need to find a suitable replacement to fit into the space you’ve created.
5. Overnight guests and quiet hours
Your roommate agreement should include the clause about guests too! For example: Overnight guests are not allowed for more than four nights in a row. Some notice stating that a guest will be staying overnight needs to be given. Within the same clause, you can add something regarding quiet hours, e.g., no unnecessary noise will be made between 9 pm to 8 am.
6. Smoking, drinking and drug use
Some landlords require the tenants to keep the house smoke free. If not, you and your roommate can discuss the topic of smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol. It’s better to reside with people who share a similar value system regarding this. And putting it down in your roommate agreement will work even better!
7. Conflict resolution
In case of a dispute between the tenants concerning a roommate agreement or any other aspect of your shared living space, you can decide that an outside mediator will help you make fair decisions and resolve conflicts.
And as with any agreement, the penalty for breaking it needs to be agreed upon. It’s essential to decide how you and your roommates deal with someone who needs to move out, someone frequently breaking the agreement terms or just a disagreement of what the contract states.
As a conclusion, having a roommate agreement in place will help you live a more comfortable life. When you have rules laid out, you and your roommate can co-live happily without having to move and settle frequently. So who knows, maybe having an agreement in place will help you find the Leonard to your Sheldon. All the best!
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