When it comes to renting with roommates it’s always good to establish boundaries before you officially move in together.
Whether you know your new roommate(s) or they’re random roommate(s), having an agreement written up and signed will be a life saver. If you find yourself thinking, “oh we don’t need one, it’ll be fine!” ignore yourself and create one anyways. A million things can come up and it’s better to have a set agreement than to figure out how to kick their significant other out when they’ve been there an entire month.
According to Boise State University who did a study on problems that happen between roommates, they found the following to be the biggest:
- Being loud (partying)
- Not cleaning
- Different sleep schedules
- Generally not getting along
- Issues with guests
- Disagreements over bills
- Lack of respect
Individually these are a problem, but unfortunately some of them tend to come in pairs or triplets. It’s because of these common problems that a roommate agreement would be good to have.
First things first, have you interviewed your potential roommate? Even if you are already friends with them, you’ve never actually lived with them before, so it’s a good idea to interview them on their home habits.
Now that you know more about their living habits it’s time to make an agreement. Here are some of the things to place in it!
1. Rent Price
If you already have a place chosen, then deciding how much each of you will be paying is important. Will the rent be split right down the middle? Or will the person in the bigger room pay more?
If you are still looking for a place to call home, then talk ahead of time on the amount you are willing to pay for an apartment so that you are both looking at the right places.
Lastly, decide how the rent will be paid. Can you both pay through the online portal? If not, then who is paying the rent and how will they be reimbursed?
It’s not a fun topic, but if not written out and decided upon then it’s inevitable that someone will complain and refuse to pay their share of the bill because it’s not in their name. Lay out the essential ones like electricity, heat/air, internet and then write out all the extras you want to get. Determine whose name will be on what bills and how you can share the cost.
Unless you two are a match made in roommate heaven, it’s likely that one of you will move on before the other is ready. Create a plan on how much notice you need to give to each other, what items they will be taking with them, if they need to help you figure out a replacement, how their security deposit will be returned, etc. No one wants to start out their living situation thinking about the end, but when it comes around, you’ll be glad you did before emotions get involved.
4. Security Deposit
Figure out what happens if the property manager doesn’t give you all your security deposit back. Is it because you both left things dirty or did one roommate do more damage? If most of the damage is from one person, how are you going to deal with that?
5. What’s Everyone’s Schedule?
It may seem trivial to write out your schedule but maybe someone has a night shift and must sleep during the day. Or maybe your roommate likes to take a shower every morning before work, and they have to be at their job at 8am on the dot. Writing it all out and placing it somewhere everyone can see it (kitchen fridge is always a good place) will help keep the frustrations low.
6. Determine Private / Quiet Time
One of you may really love quiet private time before bed and so if you’re watching tv would you turn it down? Maybe someone has a big test they need to study for? Maybe they work late and love to sleep in so you turning the tunes up when cooking breakfast is a no thank you. This step will help you check the passive aggressive behavior at the door.
7. Significant Others & Guests
Like we mentioned in the beginning, no one wants an extra body that doesn’t pay rent and eats all your food. Figure out how often sleepovers are allowed for significant others along with how often guests can stay and for how long. This will help to avoid any awkward conversations about wanting your roommate to stop having people over.
8. Other Items to Place in Agreement
- Create a schedule for cleaning the apartment and how you’re going to be splitting the chores.
- Do you share a bathroom? What’s the bathroom schedule? Nothings worse than when one roommate hogs the bathroom, and the other one ends up late for work.
- Will you share meals? Do you need to set times to cook within the kitchen? What about sharing food? Do you split the groceries and share or are you responsible for your own food and taking without asking is a big no-no?
- Do you like a cool apartment or a warm apartment? What about your roommate? Make the decision so when it gets really cold or really hot you both know what temperature you're comfortable with and are willing to paying for.
- How will you handle conflicts and disagreements? Texting or calling a meeting in the living room? It sounds silly, but this will help to stop the passive aggressive behavior from starting.
Living with a roommate has so many benefits and we can't wait for you enjoy all of them. It'll be even better when you have an agreement written up with all the important business-y side of living together!