How To Create a Roommate Agreement and Include the Right Ideas


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A well-written roommate agreement is necessary for having a shared living environment that is civil and nontoxic.

Roommate agreements have no strict format but should be clearly written out with bullet points or numbers, and include ideas from everyone involved, especially if someone is easily annoyed.

Roommate and housemate agreements are like checklists in a way; you’re going to mark each section off as you go, so you don’t forget something that could come up later and cause an argument or disagreement about living together.

I always explain it to people like this “Have a roommate agreement no matter what! Because nobody wants to throw down a deposit and first month’s rent on a new apartment, dorm, or house with roommates and disagree on every little thing that comes up, roommate agreements prevent this from happening.”

As you think about making your roommate agreement, think about each section of the agreement like asking a question to your roommate. Such as “Do you plan on having overnight guests?”.

The only sure way to know you can agree on something with your roommates is to ask them about it.

Keep in mind that roommate agreements are not recognized in court as a valid binding legal document. You can’t sue someone for not cleaning.

Also, take my advice from the perspective that I’m not a lawyer, and it’s not legal advice! Just some ideas from my own roommate experiences.

Quick tip! All roommates should sign the roommate agreement promptly after making a final decision to live together. Especially if your roommate is for college (residence life) or you’ve decided to share a place with a group of friends. Even living with your boyfriend or girlfriend requires an upfront signed roommate agreement.

Creating a Roommate Agreement Is Easier Than You Think!

Recently, I discovered that Chat GPT can create a pretty decent roommate agreement template, if you ask it with the right prompt.

After you sign-in, just ask something like “Can you create a roommate agreement for me?”.

Chat GPT will create a roommate agreement outline that will allow you to fill in the blanks. Then, all you have to do is write in your ideas and customizations for what you want your agreement to say.

In addition, if you have already written out some roommate agreement ideas ahead of time, just add them to your prompt with Chat GPT, and you’ll end up with a more complete roommate agreement template to work from.

If Chat GPT is Not For You!

The other option I recommend for starting your roommate agreement is to copy the roommate agreement provided by Nolo Press.

The Following Ideas Should Be Included in Every Roommate Agreement, To Maintain The Peace!

After drafting more than a dozen roommate agreements, below, I share with you what I think are the most important ideas to be included.

Overnight Guests

If you are dating someone while living with roommates, you need to have an upfront conversation about the expectations of overnight guests.

If your boyfriend or girlfriend starts staying over most nights of the week, it could annoy your other roommates who may not have wanted to have multiple people in the living space. They’ll start to think of your guest as another roommate, and it happens all the time.

Ever watch Court TV shows like Judge Judy on a weekday? Roommates sue each other in small claims court all the time. Because of disagreements with extra people who moved into the living space. The disagreements are usually regarding unpaid bills, rent, or other damages caused by the extra person staying for free.

Have an upfront agreement on what’s acceptable for overnight guests. It will prevent problems from arising later on, for both of you!

Cleaning

Nothing will cause roommate conflicts more quickly than the cleaning. It’s best to agree on some cleaning rules and a schedule, so everyone knows what’s expected of them.

If you like a kitchen sink that is free of dirty pots, pans, and dishes, agree with your roommate that dishes should be washed right away, or promptly loaded in the dishwasher.

If you’re the type of person who picks up your food off the floor when you drop crumbs off your plate, agree to that too.

Take turns cleaning shared spaces like kitchens, living rooms, and bathrooms. Keeping a list of who took out the trash or did the dishes will allow you to see the chores each person is performing.

Cleaning schedules that alternate between roommates can really help out a lot too! But, make sure your roommate cleans as well as you do, or it will never work out.

The kitchen and bathroom areas are the most work to keep clean, so make sure no one slacks off or skips their turn! Remember, this can all be enforced via a well written roommate agreement.

Shared Property vs. Individual Property

Before you move in, make sure that you agree to what items you will share and not share.

For example, if you share a bathroom, it makes sense to share toilet paper, but not a toothbrush or a bath towel!

Also, I would not consider food as being shared property, especially if you’re picky! The only exception is if you decide to cook a BBQ dinner with your roommates and you’ll all be eating the same food on the same night or something.

Avoid problems with others eating your food by having a labeling system. Label your items such as coffee, milk, cereal, and spices, etc. Also, make sure that each roommate has a dedicated space in the fridge, cabinets, and closets.

You also don’t want your roommate to hide your things like laundry detergent or coffee because you left it out, and they put it back in the wrong spot! So always put your stuff back where it belongs.

For other property like furniture, household items, etc. include those in the agreement on how they will be shared.

Bathroom and Kitchen Schedules

Conflicting bathroom schedules gets really old quickly. Everyone has a schedule or routine in the morning before work.

Make sure you and your roommates are not both in the bathroom at the same time by agreeing on a schedule that works for each of you.

If the kitchen is spacious enough for two people to use at the same time, a schedule may not be required. But then again, too many cooks in the kitchen can get old very quickly.

Essentially, just decide if your cooking habits are compatible with one another, to share or not share the kitchen. Worst case scenario if you are not compatible, you create a schedule in your roommate agreement.

Bad Habits and Other Silly Things

Occasionally you will discover a new annoying habit from your roommate. Like they always eat the last slice of your pizza or take the last beer. Or maybe you move in together and find out they don’t know how to use a vacuum or a mop (yes, this has happened to me.)

My favorite annoying thing is when your roommate likes the thermostat 5 degrees hotter or colder than you do. Or every time you need to talk about a bad habbit, they walk into their room and shut the door.

Opinions of what a bad habit is will vary from person to person.

So if you notice any behaviors from your roommate that annoys you, discuss a solution with them and document it into your roommate agreement.

How To Fairly Split Up The Bills

You need to document precisely how the bills will be split up in your roommate agreement. You need to divide up monthly rent and bills in a way that is fair for each roommate.

In a perfect world, you would divide up everything equally, but sometimes there are exceptions.

Some exceptions include things like who is occupying the master bedroom, if you are getting the bigger bedroom, you should probably pay slightly higher rent than the other roommates.

Another exception is if your roommate works from home and is running the heat and air-conditioning all day while you are not there, they should pay for a higher percentage of the power bill, etc.

Luckily for you, I have written an entire article covering the proper way for Splitting Roommate Expenses. Check it out for more ideas on how to fairly split the rent and monthly expenses between your roommates.

Final Thoughts

Every situation for a roommate agreement is a bit different depending on your lifestyle. If you smoke, for example, you’d want to add a clause that says you agree to only smoke outside. Or if you’re in college, you might add a clause for having quiet time for things like studying.

I hope you got some inspiration and ideas for how you want to create your roommate agreement.

And remember this!

Every roommate agreement should have the option to be edited at any time so you can document a solution to any unknown problems with your roommate. If you have a roommate who is against this, I’d seriously consider the possibility of getting a new roommate in the near future.

Remember, the most important idea for your roommate agreement should be to keep the peace, no matter what!

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