10.03.2018 | 2 Minute Read | By Linzi Martin

A roommate agreement is a legally binding contract between two or more people who are renting a space together. This is entirely separate from a lease, which is a contract between the renters and the property owner. It’s also different than a sublease agreement, and it’s important not to get those two confused.

In this article, we’ll do a deeper dive into what roommate agreements are, why you need one and how to get one.

What is included in a roommate agreement?

The main purpose of a roommate agreement is to outline financial responsibilities between roommates. For example, if you’re sharing an apartment with a total rent of $1,000, you could agree to split it equally and each pay $500 per month. Furthermore, you could specify that if one of the roommates is late with their half of the payment, they will be responsible for any late fees.

Other things a roommate agreement could include are daily household responsibilities, such as who is tasked with doing the dishes or taking out the trash. You can also use the agreement to determine what would happen if one of the roommates wanted to move out or to ask the other person to leave the lease.

Overall, the roommate agreement is meant to make it easier for two roommates to live together by having a written document on the agreed upon terms.

Is a roommate agreement legally binding?

In short, yes, a roommate agreement is a legally binding document. That said, certain terms within a roommate agreement are more enforceable than others. For example, any financial terms within the agreement would be easy to prove or disprove in court.

However, if you wanted to sue your roommate because she didn’t do her share of the dishes, you’d likely have a much harder time.

When do I need a roommate agreement?

Any time you’re sharing a lease with one or more other people, it’s a good idea to have a roommate agreement. If nothing else, it gives everyone peace of mind that each roommate will take their responsibilities seriously.

Creating a roommate agreement is also a great way to have crucial conversations about what it will be like to live together. Many people rush into becoming roommates without discussing things like finances, and that can lead to trouble down the road. Having a roommate agreement starts a conversation that’s invaluable to have. Not to mention, it prepares and legally protects you for worst-case scenarios.

How do I make a roommate agreement?

You can create a roommate agreement based on one of the many free templates available online. Before you go searching for one, make a list with your roommate of everything you want to include in the agreement, then try to find a template that matches it as closely as possible.

Your roommate agreement does not need to be notarized to be enforceable. As long as you both sign it and keep a copy, you should be fine. Just make sure you keep a hard copy and electronic copy — just in case.

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