College Roommate Agreement
When you're living with roommates, whether they're strangers, your best friends, or somewhere in between, it's imperative you draw up and all sign a roommate agreement. You don't want there to be any confusion about what the expectations are, what's allowed in your apartment, who is responsible for what, etc. In a roommate agreement, all of that will be laid out so every roommate has something they can refer back to and know without a doubt what the expectations and responsibilities are as a roommate in the given apartment. So if you're about to move into a new place with your new roommates, here's what you need to know before you sit down and get your roommate agreement in order.
The Clearer the Better
Even if you think something should be obvious, like doing your own dishes and putting things away after using them, it's still worth putting this expectation into your roommate agreement. The same goes for chores, guest and pet policies, who will pay what and when, when quiet hours are, sharing items, and how conflicts will be resolved.
Anything you can think of that may come up when living with roommates that could potentially cause a problem is worth thoughtfully addressing in your roommate agreement before it's actually an issue. Each of the roommates should brainstorm what they want to be covered in the roommate agreement and then when you sit down to write or fill it in, you can all feel comfortable that everything you wanted to have in the document is included.
When creating a roommate agreement, think of it as a legal document. It can, in fact, be used if a roommate skips out on rent to show you and the remaining roommates are not responsible for paying it if you bring it to court.
It's also good protection if one of the roommates damages the property or their room or if you end up needing to evict a roommate because they didn't follow a rule as laid out in the agreement.
Spelling Out Consequences
Consider repercussions and if there's room for any leniencies. If a roommate violates the agreement, is that immediate grounds to ask them to leave? How much lenience should be given if someone repeatedly does not uphold a part of the roommate agreement, like doing their share of the chores each week?
Laying out what the consequences are, how they will be enforced, and whether there's a three-strikes policy for major violations will give the agreement weight and better ensure each roommate fulfills their obligations and sticks to the roommate rules.
Don't Be Afraid To Revise
Things may change from the initial writing and signing of the document. A good policy is to allow each and any roommate to ask that the roommate agreement be amended or that a new rule or tweak to a rule be proposed for all to sit down and talk about. Perhaps initially all roommates agreed to no pets but now one roommate would like to get some sort of furry friend or maybe at the original signing, none of the roommates had significant others who would ever be staying over and now the situation has changed.
Whatever the case may be, as time goes on, it's to be expected that there may be some changes that need to be made to the original agreement. As long as everyone is respectful and ultimately agrees to the new rules or changes in policy, the roommate agreement should not be treated as if it is written in stone.
Look at the Big Picture
The real impetus for a roommate agreement is to be able to hold each other accountable and to clearly understand the expectations that come with living together. Even if you are very good friends with your roommates, you don't want to neglect getting a roommate agreement in order -- because without those written black-and-white responsibilities, it may actually be harder for you to enforce the apartment rules on someone you feel closer to as a friend.
But regardless of how close you are to your roommates, for harmonious living when you're residing with others, it's really quite simply: you must all sign a roommate agreement. Rather than starting from scratch, use the template doc that we've created on this page as your apartment's roommate agreement document -- it's sure to cover all the major areas you need to think about and will hopefully set you and roommates on the right path.