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Legally Binding Roommate Agreement

Prevent conflict within your shared home by setting up an agreement that outlines how each roommate should behave.

If you plan on sharing part of your home with a subtenant then be aware of any difference in how the laws apply to you. Certain jurisdictions in the U.S., like San Francisco, have put rules in place that give people sharing a home more rights to sublet than people who are renting out their entire home.

If you are sharing your home you should still agree on and execute a sublet agreement. A roommate agreement complements it, by making sure expectations about behavior and use of the space are aligned.

Accepted behavior

You should set clear guidelines for home sharing from day one to avoid disagreement. A home sharing agreement provides you with a roadmap for how you'll behave when you live together. Decide on what's okay and what's not okay in every part of the house, and every aspect of your life:

  • Who uses the kitchen when? When using the kitchen, what does your subtenant have access to and what don't they have access to?
  • What is the definition of a party, and when are you allowed to have one? When you have guests, are they allowed in all parts of the home?
  • When does a regular overnight guest become a roommate, and is that okay? What's the protocol for an unwelcome addition to the space?
  • Are alcohol and drugs allowed, and if so where?

Prevent roommate disagreements

Ensure that everybody who should be party to the arrangement is in agreement. If you are the only one on the lease then you should still ask anyone else who lives in the space to sign the agreement. This way, you protect against them announcing in the future that they never wanted your new tenant to move in, using it against you. If you're on the lease with anyone else then they should definitely sign your agreement.

Automate shared rent

Your sublet agreement with each subtenant should state how much they are expected to pay monthly in utilities and rent. That doesn't mean that they know how much everyone else pays. Avoid awkward confrontations by getting the whole thing automated so no one has to worry about leaving checks lying around or asking the right question in front of the wrong people.

You can use Flip to automate rent payments, and a tool like Acasa to split up and automate utility and other secondary payments.

Know how to evict

Evicting a roommate is more common than you think. When your name is on the lease and you are the one paying the rent to the landlord then you have a lot more power than someone who you're renting to and sharing a home with. If they breach the agreements that you signed then you can probably evict them. To do, follow the state-prescribed steps for landlords who want to evict tenants. Sometimes it's as easy as handing them a piece of paper. Sometimes there are more hoops to jump through. Check out our state by state guide on evicting a tenant.

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