Roommate agreements are a binding contract between people who live together and share responsibilities. Sometimes referred to as a roommate contract or a housemate agreement, a roommate agreement defines the terms and conditions of living together as well as the rights and obligation of each resident, which have been agreed upon by all residents of the rental unit.
Lease Agreement vs. Roommate Agreement
A roommate agreement is not the same as a lease agreement. These contracts shouldn’t be confused with each other and one cannot stand in for the other; however, there can be overlap. A lease is a contract made between a landlord or a property management company in Alpine and one or more tenants. The roommate contract, on the other hand, is made between the tenants themselves. This agreement cannot supersede the lease, but it can define how the lease is adhered to. The lease, for instance, may require $800 a month in rent, and the roommate contract may dictate that the two roommates pay the full amount in alternating months. Note that if you’re subleasing, then you’ll likely require a residential sublease agreement, which the housemate agreement does not stand in for either.
The Importance of Housemate Agreements
Some landlords and property managers in Alpine actually require a roommate contract via the lease when there’s more than one non-related tenant or when the original tenant is permitted to sublease. These agreements are applicable in rental houses, apartments and even college dorms, and many businesses require them because they avoid many common roommate problems. Even when those issues do arise, the roommate agreement makes it much easier to overcome them. Even in a scenario where the landlord or property management company in Alpine does not require a housemate agreement, a tenant should demand it for his or her own protection. We all want to live in an environment where everyone agrees about household duties, house rules and financial responsibilities. Should a roomie fail to live up to his or her agreement, this contract provides a legal out.
Where to Acquire a Roommate Contract
Roommate contracts do not have to be official documents. Even a handshake agreement can stand up in court. However, a written, signed document is much easier to prove and thus preferable. There are premade documents available online, which you can print out, and in many cases these documents are available at no cost. You can acquire these agreements from many lawyers and property managers in Alpine as well, and the advantage of enlisting a lawyer is that the document is personalized to your situation and can be notarized on-site, and you can get advice from the lawyer about what to include.
What to Include in Your Roommate Agreement
An ideal agreement will depend on the specifics of the situation, but there are elements that all such contracts should contain. In addition to roommate and landlord details, the agreement should specify the term even if the term is the same as the lease. The contract should define how rental payments will be split among the tenants and when and how often that money is required. Similar information concerning the security deposit must be included. The security deposit requirements in the housemate agreement can differ from the lease but must still adhere to local and state laws. Dictate precisely how heat, electricity, Internet and other core utilities will be divided and paid for. You should also include house rules, duties and restrictions as well as an outline for terminating residency of a roommate.
Household Rules, Duties and Restrictions
This is one of the most important sections of the document in order to maintain the living environment you prefer. If you leave out how the electricity is paid, the law will likely determine that two tenants each owe 50 percent. If you leave out that smoking is not permitted, the law likely will not support you when you seek to evict a roommate for smoking. Create rules concerning alcohol consumption, parties and other gatherings, overnight guests and quiet hours. You may also add rules such as how chores are divided, whether pets are allowed, who parks where, how disagreements are resolved and so forth.
What Happens If a Roomie Moves Out?
Everyone who signs a lease is responsible for the full rent. If your roommate moves out, then you are responsible to pay the rent in full. The housemate agreement doesn’t let you off the hook. You do, however, have the right to sue for that money based on the lease and the housemate agreement. A new roommate can usually not be added to the lease after the fact; however, you can request a consent to sublease from the landlord so that you can continue to afford the rental.
What Happens If You Need to Evict a Roommate?
If a roommate is violating the lease or roommate contract, you should first request that the person leaves of his or her own accord. If the person refuses, you must them serve them an eviction notice. The landlord or property manager may or may not want to be involved. Evicting a fellow tenant is quite similar to a landlord evicting a tenant. It can be a complex process, and it may be easier and more cost-effective over the long-term to hire professional representation than navigate it yourself.
Are Roommate Agreements Legally Binding?
Yes. Roommate agreements are legally binding, but not everything within a contract is binding simply because it exists in the contract. Courts have traditionally been reticent to enforce household duties. They often will protect the rights of a non-smoker, but if John simply refuses to take out the garbage, you may be out of luck. Defining those duties is still a good idea, however, since it helps foster strong roommate relationships. Most importantly, these contracts are an important tool when a roommate refuses or cannot meet their financial obligations.