Essential clauses to include in a roommate agreement

Essential clauses to include in a roommate agreement

If you’ve lived with roommates before, you know that it can be a lot of fun. However, it can also be very stressful. In addition to disagreements, simple differences in day-to-day living can cause tension between roommates. You and a roommate may experience this tension if you don’t outline clear expectations and rules before you move in together. In this post, we go over essential clauses to include in a roommate agreement ​to ensure you and your roommates have a positive experience living together.

What is a roommate agreement?

A written roommate agreement is a contract created and signed by you and your roommates before or when you move in together. It should establish house rules like quiet hours, division of household duties, a cleaning schedule, how you’ll handle overnight guests, and more.  All roommates sign the contract. Whether or not it is legally binding, the contract should be taken seriously by all parties.

Why do I need a roommate agreement?

Signing a written roommate agreement provides you with a roadmap for solving future conflicts. A document you all contributed to and signed can act as a non-human mediator when disagreements happen. As a bonus, creating one also sets a precedent for open communication right at the start of your roommate relationship.

Essential clauses to include in a roommate agreement

1. Cleaning

It can be helpful to put together a cleaning schedule for the upkeep of your home. Create a roommate chore chart by listing the necessary chores, dividing them up by person, and assigning a time frame for completion. If you have complimentary opinions about which tasks are abhorrent and which are just fine, divide chore duties by preference.

2. Noise

Discuss everyone’s sleep schedules and determine quiet hours. Consider concrete guidelines for noise outside of quiet hours. Each roommate will abide by the terms of the Quiet Hours Clause listed in the lease agreement.

3. Guest rules

Consider a weekly limit on sleepovers or designating days for overnight guests. It’s also worth discussing what the boundaries for guests are: can they shower, make meals, or use the living room? Additionally, who can be an overnight guest? Maybe a partner or bestie is okay, but a stranger from a bar isn’t. And when family visits, do they need to reserve a hotel, or can they crash on an air mattress in one of the common areas?

4. Food and mealtimes

Discuss where each roommate can keep their food items in the kitchen and pantry. Next, consider whether you’ll make some meals together or if you need to discuss rotating meal times so no one’s nudged out of the kitchen.

5. Pets

If your rental unit allows pets, set rules for where the pet can roam, who’s responsible for cleaning up messes, and what happens if the pet’s owner leaves town for a few days.

Final thoughts

A roommate contract can make coliving easier by setting up ground rules upfront. Moreover, it creates a written document to reference in case conflict arises. Once a roommate contract is signed, don’t let it languish. Make your agreement a living document by continually iterating on the house rules, and communicating your needs as they evolve.

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