A cohabitation agreement is a contract between two individuals who are living together and are romantically involved. This type of agreement outlines what will happen between the couple during the relationship and after a breakup. People living together who are not romantically involved typically draft a roommate agreement.

Who Is Considered a Roommate?

A roommate is a tenant responsible to either the landlord or named tenant. The roommate can be a joint tenant, who is also listed on the lease. The roommate can also be a subtenant. A subtenant is not named on the lease, but is responsible for paying the named tenant.

What Is a Roommate Agreement?

A roommate agreement is a contract made between two or more individuals who reside in the same rental unit. These agreements are usually entered into to govern any areas of contention related to living in a shared space and ensure that all roommates’ rights are being respected.

What Is Included in the Roommate Agreement?

A contract between roommates generally include major issues such as:

  • Which roommate will collect rent and give the payment to the landlord
  • The amount of rent each roommate owes
  • Which roommate will occupy what bedroom
  • Who is responsible for household chores
  • If everyone agrees to share food
  • Acceptable noise level
  • If overnight guests are permitted
  • How moving out prior to the lease termination will be handled by remaining roommates
  • How quiet time is handled

Do I Need to Have a Roommate Agreement in Writing?

You do not need to have a roommate agreement in writing if it is possible that the agreement will for less than a year, such as if the rental is only month-to-month or if it will only last for an academic year. However, it is advisable that you have your roommate agreement is writing, as oral contacts are easily misinterpreted or forgotten. It is better for all roommates to have their own signed copies of the agreement.

Should I Include Any Penalties for Violating the Agreement?

Yes. To avoid serious and repeated violations of a roommate agreement, include possible penalties. These penalties can range from a fine to requiring the roommate to move out.

Do I Need the Help from a Lawyer to Draft a Roommate Agreement?

It is in your best interest to obtain help from a real estate lawyer when you are drafting a roommate agreement. The lawyer will explain your rights as a roommate and how to avoid violating landlord-tenant laws.