The roommate agreement: what is it and who needs one?

Aug 30, 2022

Silvia Viera

roommates gathered around a laptop

Living with other people is hard work. Over 40% of roommates say housework is the top source of tension. 25% of divorcees say “disagreements about housework” was the top reason for their divorce. These are daunting stats. But luckily, there are techniques like the roommate agreement to help you get ahead of these issues.

So what exactly is a roommate agreement?

It’s an agreement between two or more people who live together, as the name suggests. Topics often covered in a roommate agreement include: expenses, cleanliness, noise, sharing, and guests.

a group of roommates having breakfast together

The agreement can be written in different styles, depending on your dynamic and preferences. This can look like an informal conversation between roommates where you discuss preferences for a series of topics and jot down your answers. Or you can leverage a ready-made template online and modify the details to fit your situation. Either way, we always recommend sitting down in person to have this conversation, writing things down, and updating it regularly as your needs evolve. 

The roommate agreement is not a legally binding document and is different to a lease you may have signed with a landlord or property manager. But, if a dispute among roommates does come up, this agreement can help you to settle disagreements in good faith. 

Who needs a roommate agreement?

Any adult living with at least one other adult. Clear communication on those seemingly small, mundane things is critical for building a healthy shared living environment. So whether you barely know each other or you’ve been married for years, a roommate agreement is a great tool to talk through your expectations and needs for the home.

Too many relationships are worn down over time because of things like different expectations in cleanliness or bitterness over unfairly divided chores. Have these conversations upfront, check in regularly, and reassess if you need to adjust standards or get outside help.

Use the lists feature in Coexist to create a roommate agreement, share it with your roommates, and update it as your needs evolve.