Reason for a Roommate Agreement and 9 Things to Include

Financial Obligations and Household Responsibilities

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Reason for a Roommate Agreement and 9 Things to Include. Westend61/Getty Images

Many people live with a roommate to help split the cost of the monthly rent. Even though both tenants have signed a lease agreement with the landlord, it is important to also sign a separate roommate agreement. This contract clearly defines how apartment expenses will be divided and the general rules of the house both tenants must follow. Here are nine important things a good agreement includes, as well as a sample agreement to view.

Importance of a Roommate Agreement

A roommate agreement puts into writing the duties and obligations of each tenant in the rental property. It gives each roommate a clear understanding of their financial obligations each month, such as rent and utilities, as well as their personal obligations as a co-tenant, such as cleaning the bathroom or keeping noise to a minimum. If there is ever a dispute between you and your roommate, this agreement serves as proof that you each agreed to perform certain responsibilities.

Is a Roommate Agreement Different From a Lease?

Yes. Leases and rental agreements are different.

Lease Agreement:

A lease is a legally binding contract between the tenants in a rental unit and the landlord. By signing this agreement, the tenants have agreed to pay rent and follow all terms of the lease agreement. If one roommate moves out, the remaining tenants are still legally bound by the lease and must still pay the full amount of rent owed.

Roommate Agreement:

A roommate agreement does not involve the landlord. It is a private agreement between the residents of the rental unit. This agreement puts into writing obligations including:

  • How the roommates have agreed to divide the monthly expenses owed to the landlord.
    • Rent
    • Security Deposit
  • How the roommates have agreed to divide additional monthly expenses.
    • Utilities
    • Food.
    • Cleaning Service
  • The responsibilities of each roommate.
    • Cleaning
    • Disposing of Garbage

Legally Binding:

The entire lease agreement is legally binding, whereas only certain terms of a roommate agreement are legally binding. For example, a judge could hold a roommate responsible for failing to meet financial obligations, such as rent or utility payments, but does not care that one roommate is eating someone else’s roast beef or failing to clean the toilet weekly.

9 Key Items in a Good Roommate Agreement

  1. Rent: Breakdown of rent amount. How much each tenant is responsible for paying.
  2. Security Deposit: Amount of security deposit each tenant is responsible for paying.
  3. Utilities: Amount each tenant will contribute to utilities.
  4. Division of Living Space: Which bedroom belongs to which tenant and how common spaces, such as the living room, will be shared.
  5. Moving Out Early: What happens if a roommate tries to move out before the lease term is over.
  6. Overnight Guests: If overnight guests are allowed and if they must be approved by other roommates. How long the guests can stay for.
  7. Division of Food: Will food be shared or will each roommate purchase their own food.
  8. Division of Chores: Which chores each roommate will be responsible for.
  9. Quiet Hours: If the roommates agree to quiet hours in addition to the ones already imposed by the landlord.

Sample Roommate Agreement

The following parties, Jane Doe and John Smith, herein referred to as Roommates, have signed a lease agreement, for Unit 1 at 123 Sunshine Court, Sunshine, FL 12345, with an effective date of January 1, 20XX and an end date of December 31, 20XX. The roommates sign and agree to the following:

  1. Rent: The monthly rent is $1,000. The Roommates agree to evenly split the monthly rental payment, each paying $500 each month. John Smith will make out a check to Jane Doe for $500, no later than 3 days before the monthly rent is due. Jane Doe will pay the full $1,000 to the landlord by the rent due date of the 1st of each month.
  2. Security Deposit: The Roommates agree to evenly split the security deposit payment of $1,500. Jane Doe will contribute $750 and John Smith will contribute $750.
  3. Utilities: Utilities will be under John Smith’s name. All utility bills will be split evenly and Jane Doe will pay her portion owed to John Smith.
  4. Division of Living Space: John Smith will reside in Bedroom A and Jane Doe will reside in Bedroom B.
  5. Moving Out Early: If either roommate needs to move out before the lease terminates, he or she is still responsible for all expenses agreed to in the lease agreement and herein until he or she can find a suitable replacement roommate that has been approved by the remaining roommate and by the landlord.
  6. Overnight Guests: No overnight guests can stay longer than two nights without the permission of the other roommate.
  7. Division of Food: Each roommate agrees to pay for their own food and drink.
  8. Division of Chores: Each roommate will clean their own dishes and their own bedroom. Bathroom and common area duties will rotate based on a 52-week schedule. For example, Week 1: John Smith will clean the bathroom and take out the garbage, and Jane Doe will clean the kitchen and vacuum the apartment.
  9. Quiet Hours: Each roommate will abide by the terms of the Quiet Hours Clause listed in the lease agreement.
  10. Agreement Is Complete and Binding: By signing this agreement, we agree to the terms stated within.

Print Name of Roommate 1

Sign Name of Roommate 1


Print Name of Roommate 2

Sign Name of Roommate 2