Living with a roommate is an attractive option to many renters and home owners alike. While there is no legal requirement that you and your roommates have a contractual agreement with each other, such agreements can go a long way in making your living situation more comfortable and secure. A properly drafted roommate agreement will not free you from the terms of your lease, but it will help you to recover any damages or unpaid fees from your roommate in court.
Roommate contract agreements are commonly used by people who share a living space, rental property or any other situation where domestic responsibilities are shared between members of the same household. These contracts are often used to decide roommate responsibilities and divide household duties among the parties.
A contract is a legally enforceable agreement. To be legally enforceable, both parties must enter into it voluntarily and without threats or coercion. Though you can have oral, or verbal, contracts, these are difficult to prove and enforce. Written contracts that state the terms of the agreements and that are signed by both roommates are much better because they allow a court to easily evaluate the agreement.
Roommate contracts can include whatever terms and conditions you and tour roommate agree to. They can be as simple as detailing who is responsible for paying rent, and when, to what times each of you can use the bathroom or kitchen facilities. Clauses or terms that violate the law, such as those that require or encourage illegal activity, are not allowed, and can invalidate any contract in which they are found.
While your contract is enforceable between you and your roommate, it does not obligate the landlord to do anything at all, as the landlord is not a party to the contract. You are free to contract with your roommate and get your landlord's approval, though this isn't usually necessary unless the lease specifically requires it.
Contracts must comply with the laws of your state, and as such, it's always a good idea to take your contract to a lawyer to review. Contracts are not difficult to create, but an experienced attorney can give you advice on what you may have overlooked or what you should include. Both you and your roommate will be happier and more confident in your agreement if you know it is legal and enforceable.