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How To Write A Roommate Agreement

Updated on January 24, 2013

If you're reading this article, welcome. I'd like to first start off by offering my opinion of an "agreement". It's those special conditions that two or more people have agreed upon in several different capacities. Today I want to discuss the Roommate Agreement. Something that many young men and women my age know all to well about.

If you're young like me, you most likely have a low paying job and can't really live alone and be able to stand on two feet. Thus enters the grand idea of getting a roommate. TV shows, movies, and other media always discuss the relationships between roommates and how well or bad things can go. This article helps you to formulate a proper agreement that all roommates must abide by. This agreement is used to determine the payment of rent and utilities, rules of conduct, overnight guests, and other pertinent things. Writing an agreement can be a bit frustrating and tedious, but it's rewarding nonetheless. Take a look below to understand and be able to write a fully functioning Roommate Agreement between and your roommates. You must take several things into consideration: Paying Rent and Utilities, Bedroom/Space Accommodations, Food Expenses, Cleanliness, Guests, and Resolution of Disputes.

Start With The Important Stuff

By this I mean, the bills and utilities. Surely the whole purpose of a roommate is for financial stability. It'd also be a plus to have a good friend or a fun person as a roommate. Sometimes that doesn't work out so well. I think I'd take a responsible messy guy over a neat and irresponsible guy. That's just me I suppose. So with these important things you must take into consideration that bill discussion cannot be awkward or ill-fitting. It must be an open topic and discussed prior to anything else. Sure the room assignments and space and even the cleanliness of the space is important, but the bills ALWAYS come first. Here are some things to think about.

  1. What are the expenses?: The first thing to think about is what bills must be paid. Obviously there is rent. What about other things though? Electricity, Water/Sewage, Cable/Internet, Cleaning and Maintenance. The list could be smaller or larger?
  2. How will it be split?: Are you splitting everything evenly between those involved? Will someone be assigned to certain expenses? How will you and your roommate(s) split all the expenses.
  3. When, where and how?: When, Where, and How will the bills be handled. Will someone collect for billing? When will the money be due?

These are just several things to consider when thinking of creating your agreement. You will have to explain all of these factors and sometimes more in great detail so that all members involved are in the loop.


Organize The Space

Now this can be a bit tricky. Sometimes you have more roommates than rooms. It can be a bit hectic when you have to organize space and get everyone to agree on it. In my own experiences it's a pretty easy thing. You'll usually have one person who'll take the shorter end of the stick. Take Some of these things to consider.

  1. Do you actually have enough space?: Don't force things. Sometimes you just don't have enough space. You can't fit five people in a two bedroom apartment comfortably. Is there truly enough space for everyone to fit comfortable and live together/
  2. Does anyone have space issues?: Some people are prone to being a bit possessive about space. Don't assign someone who has space issues with another person. Surely they cannot get along with the easy going person who doesn't mind it. Set two people together who are not possessive about space. Sometimes it just works out better that way.
  3. Furniture? Personal Effects?: Does anyone have furniture or just plain too much stuff? Surely they must be placed into their own rooms. It definitely isn't a good idea to ask someone to shove all their stuff in a room where the other roommate might not fit into it.
  4. Is everyone in agreement?: Don't just assign space and not make sure it's okay with everyone. It just isn't cool. Have an open conversation about it. Get everyone on the same page!!

Make sure everyone is on the same page. Don't cause a fuss, just get it solved. It's great practice with dealing with issues. :)


You Gotta Eat

So here's a funny thing. What about food? Who's eating what and who's buying what? This doesn't sound like a major thing, but it can totally make you have good and bad days. Someone ate the last bit of of your popcorn! That would disappoint anyone who's about to enjoy a nice movie on the couch. Perhaps you should have things labeled or let it be understood that some things are cool and some things aren't. Here are some things to consider concerning this.

  1. To share or not to share?: Is anyone's food up for grabs? Decide this quickly. If you have an issue with sharing, make it known and discuss it with your other roommate(s).
  2. Cost: Should your roommate(s) decide to share food, it's only logical to split the costs. Make a budget, set it, and determine who will be in charge of maintaining that budget. Sometimes it's even better to let someone do all the shopping and him/her can be reimbursed.
  3. Want your own food?: Make it known and discuss it with your roommate(s). Everyone can just be in charge of their own food. There's nothing wrong with that right?

Take all of those things into consideration. Some may be simpler than others. It's really dependent on what your roomies want. Have a discussion.



Okay so you've got all the things dealing with money out of the way. I know the arranging of rooms isn't money centered but it's important too. Now that you've agreed on what everyone is paying, where they're sleeping, and what they're eating, it's time to discuss the livelihood of all the roommates as a unit. There are several things that should be outlined in detail: Cleaning, Guests, and Resolution. Remember these things affect everyone and should be addressed prior to move in. Set some reasonable rules here.

  1. Divvy up tasks: When concerning cleaning. Give everyone a task and set a time span in which certain jobs should be taken. If you all agree to a clean environment, make sure you all commit to it. One complain about roommates is their messiness. You gotta get on them to help you keep things clean. You also have to hold up your end of the bargain.
  2. Guests. Why not?: Since everyone is paying rent, there's no reason that anyone should be restricted guests unless it hurts everyone as a whole.If there's an issue, everyone should be involved.
  3. Don't be bossy: Some people are naturally bossy, so if you're one of those, don't do it. I mean don't cause trouble and don't act like the "leader". Each roommate has a certain level of maturity and can be reasoned with. Sit everyone down and express your concerns. Then you can all work together on a solution.

These things are a bit out there, but they also need to be addressed. Get organized!


Writing A Good Agreement

Here's are the steps to writing your own Roommate Agreement. It's not too hard. Heck, you've read mine. It's can't be that hard.

  • Write the title and date at the top of the page
  • Include bullets to include the parameters discussed in this piece
  • Put in names, times, dates, places, etc where necessary
  • Use proper language to signify respect of others
  • Take a moment to look over things
  • Share a draft with your future roommates and ask for input
  • Once discussed, print out your agreement and have everyone sign it
  • Once everyone has signed you all have agreed upon the terms and move-in can occur
  • Put the agreement somewhere where everyone can read it and refer to it when necessary
  • Edit if necessary. Add content where needed.
  • Have a nice day!


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    • That Grrl profile image

      Laura Brown 3 years ago from Barrie, Ontario, Canada

      A really useful post. My nephew has gone back for his second year of university. His first time living with roommates and he is a bit too trusting. I'm hoping it turns out well for him.

    • CrazedNovelist profile image

      A.E. Williams 4 years ago from Hampton, GA

      :) Thanks Amy. I love this comment. It's so well thought out. Kudos!

    • Amy Becherer profile image

      Amy Becherer 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      At this stage of my life, Aubrey, as an introvert, it would only be under the most dire circumstances that I could live with anyone else! I've always been a very private person and cherish the time I spend alone. It is necessary for my sanity and happiness. I envy individuals that are highly adaptive and can manage to cohabitate cohesively. Even within my two marriages, which failed because I just couldn't be 'joined at the hip', I looked forward with anticipation to solitary time. I am fortunate that I have been able to live independently as a single person, because otherwise, I would feel too confined to ever be happy.

      I enjoyed your well-composed and thoughtful piece on written agreements for roommates. I was wondering if you have ever had a roommate sign the agreement, only to live by his/her own rules regardless? Human nature, being what it is, often lives up to the old adage "Old habits die hard." It would be interesting to read one of your 'most excellent' pieces about the trials and tribulations when a roommate won't live up to their promises. Thank you, Aubrey, for an important read about sharing space out of economic necessity.