Want to set some ground rules among roommates?
Use our Roommate Agreement Checklist as a guideline for a discussion about sharing rent and expenses, work schedules, interests, significant others, visitors, pets, etc.
A good roommate agreement should cover at least the following areas:
- Money. How is the rent split? If there are joint purchases, such as appliances and furniture, how are they paid for? What happens if a roommate cannot pay his/her share?
- Private spaces and common areas. Who gets which room? How are the common areas furnished and maintained? Are there guidelines for maintaining private areas?
- Food and common household supplies. Are they shared? How are they paid for? Who is responsible for replacing items?
- Visitors. Is there a limit on number and timing of visitors? Are overnight visitors allowed, and if so can they sleep in the common area? How long can a visitor stay? Who pays costs related to visitors (use of common food/drink supplies, etc.)?
- Pets. Cats? Dogs? Snakes? What kind of pets are allowed?
- Noise. Are there guidelines for acceptable noise level? What about late at night? In private areas? In common areas?
- Moving out. How are jointly purchased items divided? If a roommate wants to move out before end of the lease, who is responsible for finding a replacement? Under what circumstances can a roommate be asked to move out?
If you are looking for a roommate share in New York City, check out How to Avoid Roommate Regret, a recent article in the NY Times. For example, the article points out that after the roommate has lived with you for 30 days, you have to go to court to evict him. Or that in a rent-regulated apartment the rent has to be split equally or you risk being evicted.