24 Rules for Living with Roommates

roommate rulesWhether your roommate is a relative, close friend, or someone found online, sharing space can get tricky! (Take this quiz to find out what type of roommate situation is best for your personality.)

It’s important to establish a set of rules, but also to check-in regularly, to make sure the rules still make sense and everyone if comfortable with them.  Set up a regular time, like 8pm on the first Sunday of the month, to settle bills, check-in with each other, and maybe have some wine and cheese!  Situations change all the time, perhaps you or one of your roommates got a new job, boyfriend, or dietary restriction (perhaps become vegan), that can totally change how your apartment functions!

Here are some basic rules to start out with:

  1. Who checks the mail? Do they put everyone’s mail in a central spot or leave others’ in the box?
  2. Who is in charge of each bill, like utilities and cable?  How will they be paid?
  3. Can we wear shoes inside?
  4. Do we lock the door every time we leave?  (I once had a roommate who refused to lock the door.  In NYC.)
  5. What time does everyone shower?
  6. What is communal and what is not?
  7. Does everyone chip in for communal supplies (like toilet paper), or do you rotate buying it?
  8. If someone breaks something, who is responsible to replace it?
  9. Is there a cleaning schedule?
  10. If I don’t cook, do I still have to clean the kitchen? (Answer should be yes…)
  11. How long are dishes allowed to sit in the sink (24 hours?)
  12. How long does food sit in the fridge before anyone can throw it away? Do we date it with marker?
  13. Where do we leave shared, portable things like the TV remote?
  14. What can be left in communal spaces?  Magazines? Makeup? Nothing?
  15. Who is in charge of calling the super when something breaks?
  16. Who calls the cable/gas company and waits home for them?
  17. Who does the communal laundry, like dish towels and bath mats?
  18. What is the guest policy?  Is advanced notice necessary?
  19. Do we have any policies for throwing a party?
  20. Are copies of the keys forbidden?  (Yes, they should be.)
  21. Will we chip in to get our building staff holiday gifts?
  22. Is smoking allowed in the apartment?
  23. Do we have official quiet hours?
  24. If someone wants/needs to move out, how much advance notice is expected?


Let us know in the comments below if we missed your must-include roommate rule #25!


Related Posts

Author My First Apartment

Posted by

While being New York’s most fabulous resident consumes most of her time, Melissa Kravitz enjoys excessive amounts of reading, crafting, shopping, cooking five meals a day, and befriending puppies. Melissa considers herself NYC’s ultimate pasta expert; a good part of her apartment is dedicated to her thriving pasta collection.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comments (8)

  1. Avatar Sydnie Winebarger

    What’s the rule about allowing people to inhabit the apartment without either tenant present

    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi Sydnie,
      We are not aware of specific rules on that issue. Housing regulations are usually local, so there may be something in the rules where you live. If this is a roommate problem and one roommate allows people to be in the apartment when you are not there, you need to clear it up with your roommate. It’s also something that your landlord may have a say. In any case it’s a privacy and safety issue that you need to address. Check out local housing regulations to see if you find anything that you could use to convince your roommate that it’s a bad idea. Good luck!

  2. Avatar Diane

    Im landlord in the apartment and i rent my room. Do i need to introduced my friend to to them? Or can i choose not to introduce to them?

  3. Avatar MagNCheese

    Curious as to why you think the answer shoud be yes to 10. If you aren’t using the kitchen, why should you have to clean it? I wouldn’t clean any other space that is only used by my roommate.

    • Avatar CloBot5280

      I think what they mean by that is if your roommate cooks dinner for the both of you it’s nice to chip in and help clean even if you didn’t make the mess :)

    • Avatar Brian

      The rule in our house is, the cook doesn’t wash dishes. If my roommate cooks, I wash and vice versa.

    • Avatar Mckenzie

      If they’re cooking for their self, then yes but if you eat it, you help clean