What are Roommate Agreements?

After what feels like a lifetime of searching, you’ve finally found your new roommate! There’s just one thing - you still need to talk about living expectations... and the best way to do that is through a roommate agreement.

What are Roommate Agreements?
Photo by Karolina Grabowska

After what feels like a lifetime of searching, you’ve finally found your new roommate! You’ve asked them all the right questions, spent some time getting to know them, and you think the two of you will get along great. They seem like a great fit for your place, and you’re excited to ask them to move in… there’s just one thing - you still need to talk about living expectations. Who’s responsible for which chores? What’s an acceptable noise level? And what happens if your new roommate needs to move out earlier than they originally planned?

All of these questions (and more) should be addressed in a proper, well-written document that outlines all the details of living together: a roommate agreement.

What is a roommate agreement?

A roommate agreement is a document that discusses all the rights, responsibilities, and expectations of individuals living together in a shared space. It can be used for any type of shared living arrangement such as traditional apartments, coliving spaces, and shared accommodation.

Roommate agreements are a helpful tool to manage expectations, avoid conflicts and promote a positive living environment for all signees. Through the roommate agreement, roommates can establish clear expectations, responsibilities and boundaries, which will prevent future misunderstandings. Even if issues were to arise, the roommate agreement can serve as a guiding document to resolve disagreements and clarify any confusion.

How do I create a roommate agreement?

It is important to have an open discussion with your prospective roommate before creating the agreement. Make sure you are on the same page about the contents and details of the agreement. While you can use one of the many readily available online templates as a guide for your agreement, it is a good idea to tailor it to your specific needs and expectations.

When drafting up the agreement, make sure you are being considerate of the unique needs, preferences and any limitations of all roommates. Try to customize it to your living situation, and take into account everyone’s priorities.

The roommate agreement is a living document, which means you will be coming back to it periodically and updating it as needed. It should be written using easy to understand language for all roommates.

What are the contents of the roommate agreement?

A roommate agreement can cover a wide range of topics, typically including information about rent and other payments, cleaning and chores, guests and overnight stays, quiet hours, and any other specific agreements or rules that the roommates have agreed on

Some examples of the contents of roommate agreement are:

Length of stay and private spaces

The roommate agreement should include details about the new roommate’s expected length of stay at the apartment or house, and their designated private spaces such as their room, working areas, or designated bathroom.

Rent and utilities

The roommate agreement should specify how rent and utility payments will be divided among roommates, when and how these payments will be made, and the individual responsible for paying them. It should also mention policies for late fees and penalties.

Cleaning and maintenance

The agreement should mention the individual responsibilities of each roommate, particularly in regards to common areas such as the kitchen, living room and bathrooms. All chores and the person responsible for them should be outlined in this section. If there is a cleaning schedule, it should also be mentioned.

Guests and overnight visitors

How many guests are acceptable to host at a time? How often can guests stay overnight? Do roommates need to give notice whenever they’re expecting guests? What are the rules for guests using common areas? All of these questions should be addressed in the roommate agreement.

Food and shared items

For some roommates, all food is shared. For others, they would rather have designated areas to store their food. This is particularly important for roommates who may have different dietary needs or restrictions such as allergies. This section of the roommate agreement should also address items and appliances in shared spaces. For example, are all roommates allowed to use all the cooking appliances, or should each roommate only use theirs?


Any policies regarding pets should be mentioned in the roommate agreement. Are pets allowed? Are there specific spaces where pets aren’t allowed? How many pets are allowed per roommate? What are the rules regarding pet behavior and care?

Quiet hours

If the roommates decide to agree on quiet hours, they should be mentioned clearly in the roommate agreement. It is also good practice to mention the acceptable levels of noise throughout different times of the day and different days of the week (weekdays vs. weekends).


In some properties, storage spaces are among the shared areas of the households. If that is the case for you, you may want to include the division of storage among roommates. This is an important factor in preventing clutter. How much space is each roommate allowed to use for their personal items? Are there any rules regarding the organization of their storage?


If a roommate decides to move out earlier than originally agreed, how much notice do they need to give? What are the policies regarding refunding their deposit?


Ultimately, the roommate agreement is a document that exists to make roommates’ lives easier, to facilitate communication and prevent conflict. The roommate agreement should be read and signed by all roommates, and will serve as a guide for their interactions throughout the time they’re living together.

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