Whether you are heading off to college or moving out of your parents’ home to live on your own for the first time, the chances are that you will be sharing your living space with one or more roommates. Most shared living arrangements begin amicably, but disagreements and misunderstandings associated with living together can strain even the best relationship. This is why people frequently enter into a roommate agreement.
Many colleges and universities actually require students living in campus housing to have a roommate agreement. Whether you are writing your own roommate agreement or using one provided by your school, here are five things to consider before signing one.
What is the legal significance of a roommate agreement?
A signed roommate agreement is a contract that could be enforced in court. In order for any contract to be legally enforceable, the following elements must be present:
. Mutual agreement between the parties usually in the form of an offer and an acceptance
. The agreement must be voluntarily entered into by the parties
. The agreement must be supported by some form of consideration
The terms of a roommate agreement, such as turning off the lights and music by a certain time each night, form the basis for the mutual agreement required for a contract. The mutual promises to abide by the agreement can be the consideration. The thing to remember about a roommate agreement is that its purpose is to keep peace in the relationship between the roommates.
What should be included in a roommate agreement?
You really need to sit down with your roommates to openly and frankly discuss each person’s likes and dislikes. A roommate agreement should address any and all situations that could annoy or disrupt other people living in the shared accommodations. Some of the things you might include in your agreement might include:
. Allocation of rent, deposits and expenses associated with the space
. Quiet hours for studying or relaxation when music and guests are prohibited
. Sharing of cleaning responsibilities and rules about cleanliness
. Rules about inviting guests into shared locations
. Rules regarding control over the TV, refrigerator and other shared items
Your roommate agreement can be as long or as short as you want it to be, but it should address those issues that might lead to disputes and conflicts later on.
How do you get someone to agree to a roommate agreement?
The simple answer is that you do not get someone to agree to a roommate agreement. There has to be a willingness on the part of everyone to make the shared living arrangements a pleasant experience for all, so the agreement has to be something that all of the roommates can willingly and wholeheartedly accept.
What happens when someone violates the roommate agreement?
The violation of a roommate agreement between individuals sharing campus housing might be referred to school officials, but the better solution might be to try to work it out with your roommate. The available housing on most college and university campuses can be extremely limited once the school year is underway, so working it out amicably is preferable to turning the dispute into a war of wills.
There are many forms and templates available online for you to review before preparing your own roommate agreement. The best practice might be to spend more time discussing the agreement with your roommate to figure out what to put into it than you spend on the actual writing of it.