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What is a Roommate Rental Agreement?

By Nat Robinson
Updated May 17, 2024
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A roommate rental agreement is a document which outlines the requirements for living under one roof with one or more individuals. The agreement generally establishes the expectations of being an occupant of a residence. In the event that all expectations are not met, the agreement may also clarify the consequences of such actions. Typically, the document is drafted to protect the occupants as well as the place of dwelling. The details of an agreement may be constructed by the owner of the dwelling or by the residing occupants, which may or may not include the owner.

The first details of a roommate rental agreement will typically begin with how the rent payment will be divided. Most agreements list the total cost of rent and then the specific charges to be applied to each roommate. Often, roommates pay equal shares of the rent or it may be divided based on individual incomes. The due date for each roommate to submit his or her portion of the rent will generally be included as well. If a payment is not submitted by that established date, the agreement usually outlines the consequences for being late.

Household duties may also be defined in a roommate rental agreement. This will generally designate which roommates are to assume the responsibility for completing certain household chores. Typically, duties such as washing dishes, vacuuming the floors and cleaning the bathrooms will be included in this part of the agreement. Some agreements may document grocery shopping as part of the overall household duties as well. If there is a pet in the household, the duties for caring for the pet may additionally be distinguished in a roommate rental agreement.

Individuals dwelling in one common residence will generally have to assume a certain level of liability. Room liability is generally an important aspect in a roommate rental agreement. It is important to clarify the expected condition a rented room is to be kept in. Typically, an agreement will outline the condition of a room when a person first moved into it and how the person will be held liable for any unapproved changes thereafter. This may include the possibility of incurring charges for any damage to property in the room.

Before signing a roommate rental agreement, it is essential to read the document thoroughly. This is important because it could potentially be used against a member of the household. In the event that something goes wrong and someone wishes to sue an occupant, the agreement may become a fixture in the legal proceedings. For this reason, someone unfamiliar with legal terminology may have the agreement overlooked by a lawyer. This may be done to get a clear understanding of any law terms used and to keep someone from signing off on something he or she fails to properly understand.

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Discussion Comments
By Phaedrus — On Apr 23, 2014

I was so happy when I finally found a job that paid well enough for me to rent my own apartment. Before then, I lived with three roommates in a big rental house near campus. The landlord made us sign roommate rental agreements before we could even move in. I resented it at the time, but now I see the wisdom in getting all these things in writing.

By RocketLanch8 — On Apr 22, 2014

Looking back, I wish I had worked out a roommate rental agreement when I was sharing apartments in my early 20s. I thought I could trust my roommates to do the right things at the right time, like pay their share of the rent and keep the apartment reasonably sanitary. I forgot we were all in our early 20s, and my roommates had never lived on their own before. It became a party house for their fraternity brothers, but I was looking for something different.

I couldn't really force anyone to do anything, even if it meant paying much more rent than I could afford every month. I should have looked into getting roommate rental agreement forms and having everyone sign one. One of them moved out without warning and I had to pay even more rent. The other one ran up big power bills but never could come up with his share of the payment. We were shut off one time. I wish I knew these kinds of legal contracts existed back then.

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