If you move in with roommates, you might be wondering how exactly you’ll share your space and household responsibilities – without driving yourself crazy. Of course, living with roommates offers many advantages, from cheaper rent to the possibility of preparing communal dinners or family game nights.
But no matter how much you love your roommates – in fact, especially if you are already friends with your roommates before you move in together – creating a formal roommate agreement is a great way to ensure that your life experience is just as smooth. and happy as possible.
What is a colocation contract?
First of all, let’s start with the basics: what is a colocation contract?
In short, a roommate contract is designed to keep the peace between you and your roommates. A roommate agreement formally sets the house rules on things like your guest policy or cleaning responsibilities and clarifies how utilities and rent are paid. Because conflicts inevitably arise between humans who live together, a roommate agreement is a great way to guide you through any issues that arise and prevent some things from becoming major issues in the first place. And by guiding you through some of the biggest issues roommates face when moving in together, a roommate agreement can also help open up communication with your roommates even before they move in.
A roommate agreement can be a legally binding contract or a more informal document, but in any case, it is an agreement between tenants who live together and has nothing to do with your landlord or your contract. of lease.
What should a colocation contract contain?
There are several potential issues that you will want to take into account when developing a colocation agreement. Here are some of the most common.
Pay the rent
Your agreement should spell out who pays the rent and who is responsible for collecting everyone’s payment and submitting it to your landlord, assuming you don’t each pay rent separately to your landlord. You should also decide in advance whether the rent is distributed evenly or whether some roommates pay more than others, for example, depending on the size of the room.
Pay the bills
In addition to your rent, you will also need to decide how to handle monthly bills. Utility bills are often in one person’s name, which means that one roommate may be responsible for collecting and submitting payments on behalf of everyone. There are many invoice splitting apps that are perfect for this situation. Alternatively, each roommate can decide to take a separate bill, so, for example, you pay the gas and electricity bills while your roommate pays for Wi-Fi and water. You can also include the date when roommates must submit their share of the bill so utilities are paid in full and on time.
Pay for municipal items
In some life situations, roommates collectively buy groceries, shop, and do most of their cooking together. In other cases, each roommate buys their own food and other roommates must ask before borrowing or using anything from the kitchen that is not their own. Either way, your roommate agreement should clearly outline your grocery plan, as well as arrangements for paying for other common items like cleaning supplies and toilet paper.
While each roommate may intend to stay for the duration of the lease, life does come. Someone may move out earlier than expected if they find a job in another city, lose their job and can’t afford rent, or just can’t get along with their roommates. Your roommate agreement can set your collective expectations for what will happen if someone moves out early, including whether they will need to find someone to sublet your room, how much notice to give and how to handle the return. of the security deposit.
Security deposit management
Speaking of the security deposit, your roommate agreement should explain how you plan to collectively handle the security deposit payment and divide it up if your landlord doesn’t return you the full amount at the end of your lease. For example, will each roommate be responsible for paying for something they damaged in the unit from your collective security deposit? Remember to visit with your landlord and document the condition of the unit when you move in and when you leave to maximize the chances of getting your full security deposit back.
You will also need to agree on how to divide household chores related to shared living spaces. You might want to create a task board as part of your roommate contract and divide up the responsibility for cleaning bathrooms, living room, and kitchen so no one gets stuck doing all the work. Also consider additional tasks, such as taking out the trash.
It’s also a great place to clearly define your shared expectations of how each roommate will handle cleaning after themselves. For example, you may decide that no one should leave dirty dishes in the kitchen sink for more than 24 hours, or that everyone can leave books and laptops on the coffee table but not on the kitchen table. the kitchen.
Different ideas about the rules for the clients of the house can be a major source of conflict between roommates. Use your roommate agreement as an opportunity to decide in advance on your guest policies, including how many consecutive nights a guest can stay, how much notice to give roommates when a guest arrives, and if guests can stay on the sofa or in the air. mattresses in shared spaces.
Establishing a roommate agreement is a great way to set shared expectations and avoid conflict. If you’re looking for your next apartment with roommates, search thousands of rentals on Zumper and find one that’s right for everyone.