Signing a lease and moving into an apartment without writing a roommate agreement is not something that experienced renters would recommend. Although your lease covers the legal responsibilities you have to your landlord, such as rent, when it comes to rules for roommates, you’re on your own.
Taking a bit of time before you move in to decide (and put into writing) how household chores, overnight guests and grocery shopping will be handled will create a much more peaceful living situation and save you from countless unnecessary arguments down the line. Don’t forget to include the following information in your roommate agreement:
1. Basic Information
First and foremost, include basic information such as your names, contact information and the address of your apartment in your roommate agreement. Although your lease will specify how much rent must be paid in total each month, determine what share each roommate will be responsible for paying (this may be split equally or vary based on room size), and in what form the payment must be submitted.
2. Other Expenses
When crafting your roommate agreement, have a discussion about how other expenses will be divided. If you are placing your utility bills on automatic payment, whose credit card will you use? And how quickly must the other roommates pay their share? Will you be buying groceries separately or sharing the cost? What about cleaning supplies? Now is the time to have these discussions, not four months from now when you are arguing about the cable bill payment being late yet again.
3. Personal Preferences
Roommate agreements are also a great opportunity to develop some ground rules for conduct in your apartment. You may be best friends now, but it’s likely you won’t be if you aren’t upfront with your feelings about overnight guests or noise late at night. Make sure you cover everything from pet care to whether or not you’re comfortable with your roommates smoking. It’s better to be honest about your little quirks now rather than being met with an unpleasant surprise down the line.
4. Household Chores
In addition to splitting the cost of rent and utilities, roommates also share the responsibility of keeping the apartment clean. Discuss how you would like to divvy up household chores (cover everything from washing dishes to taking out the trash), and be clear about your expectations. Your roommate may not consider an apartment that is vacuumed every-other month to be “clean,” even if you do.