What to Include in a Roommate Agreement

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So you and your roommate have taken the first step and decided to create a roommate agreement. As you begin drafting the document, it’s best to sit down and make a list of all issues to be covered. No issue is too big or too small, and the more comprehensive you make the agreement, the better off everyone will be. To get you started, here are some of the key issues the agreement should cover.

All Processes and Rules Surrounding Paying the Rent and the Bills

Most people choose to live with roommates for financial reasons, hence it’s important to outline all money-related issues. You should outline how the rent will be split, how the utilities will be divided and who will be in charge of making sure both get paid on time each month. On a similar note, you should come to an agreement with decisions that will ultimately affect utility prices, like how high or low to set the temperature and how many times a week you should run the dishwasher.

How Household Chores Will Be Divided

Cleanliness is another hot issue. Whereas one person may not mind piles and a messy living space, such a scenario could drive the other insane. Your roommate agreement should cover how often the apartment should be cleaned and who will be in charge of certain chores. You may decide that you’ll trade off duties, in which case you should say so in the document. You may also want to set ground rules if one person is particularly clean, such as a “no dirty dishes left in the sink” rule or “no piles of belongings in the common areas” rule.

Rules Concerning Using One Another’s Belongings

Are you okay with your roommate occasionally using your shampoo? How does your roommate feel about you using his or her favorite coffee mug and reading his or her magazines and books? These seem like trivial things, but it’s best to make sure you’re all on the same page.

Any Rules Pertaining to Noise Level and Guests

Even if you both already know your lifestyles are compatible, it’s best to still put everything in writing. Make sure you have an understanding of when you’re both comfortable having guests over-and if overnight stays are a non-issue. Also, decide what kind of noise is tolerable. Parties on the weekends may be fine, but the noise may need to be controlled during the weeknights.

Privacy and Use of Shared Spaces

Especially in the case of a shared bathroom, you and your roommate may need to come to an agreement concerning its use if you have similar schedules. You’ll likely have to come up with a shower schedule. Also decide how you wish to share the television and common areas, if necessary. Privacy is important to discuss if either of you has a significant other staying over frequently. Make sure both parties feel comfortable and respected in the space.

A roommate agreement is an important tool for a peaceful living arrangement. Use these categories as starting points and see where your discussion takes you.


Rachael Weiner: I’m a communications professional for a non-profit, which financially necessitates my status as an apartment dweller. Constantly “on-the-go,” I’ve resided in five different apartments across the United States over the past five years. Roommate issues, budgeting, organizing and handling problem neighbors are my specialty.

One Response to “What to Include in a Roommate Agreement”

  1. April 16, 2014 at 10:31 am, Financial Tips for the Recent Graduate | said:

    […] 3. Do you need a place to live? Well, some of us are lucky enough to have family or friends willing to provide housing until we can land on our feet. I am one of those people and I am SO grateful. I will be living with my parents until I save enough money to move out with my boyfriend (hopefully in a single-family home rather an apartment). In my opinion, renting is a waste of money, so why bother? If you need to rent or you cannot live with family, consider choosing residence that provide less luxurious amenities for a modest living. Do not write off the idea of having roommates. Cut that rent in half (or more depending on the number of roommates) and connect with some friends. Tip: Write a roommate agreement, other than the leasing contract provided by the apartment complex. This agreement can include utility payments, cleaning schedules, grocery payments, and more. Check out this link on what to include in a roommate agreement. […]


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