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longgone's avatar

Will you help me draft a roommate agreement?

Asked by longgone (5294 points ) May 21st, 2013

I will be moving in with my sister and our two oldest friends soon. We’ve been friends for close to twenty years now and haven’t gotten tired of each other yet – so I’m not concerned about the general idea.
Nevertheless, we decided drafting a roommate agreement would be a good idea, just to avoid conflict later on. Which aspects would you include?

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13 Answers

Seek's avatar

The obvious:

Food law.
The Rent Liaison / Bill Paying Person
The Bill Split

The not-so-obvious:

Noise Ordinance – Don’t blast your stereo at 3AM just because you’re high and this album is SO AWESOME, MAN!
One-Night-Stand code – Don’t bring strangers home, yo. They have motels for that.
The Chore Wheel – srsly. Clean the goddamn bathroom once in a while. And someone has to empty the dishwasher.

Seek's avatar

Too late to edit:

Add in a smoking/drinking law, as well. He Who Takes a Beer Must Rotate The Bottles in the Fridge, and the like. Only smoking in designated areas. Bear allergies and asthma in mind. No, smoking only in your bedroom isn’t good enough.

janbb's avatar

Overnight guests
Food sharing
Cleaning rotation

zenvelo's avatar

Add to the Chore schedule – Picking up common areas, vacuuming rotation.

Also, the shared resources arrangement – paying for TP, paper towels, cleaners, whether or not there are communal foods. (subsets of Food Laws)

(I lived with people where I did the cooking and shopping, they did the clean up. Worked out well all around).

And of course, put in a mediation/dispute resolution clause.

Coloma's avatar

That everything is subject to periodic re-evaluations, and that monthly meetings to discuss any concerns or gripes be part of the protocol to keep everyone happy and resentment free. :-)

Kardamom's avatar

Who’s name is on the lease? That person will be legally responsible for making sure that the rent gets paid in full, and on time, even if the others are paying part of the rent. If the others fail to pay their portion, the legal blame will still fall upon the person who’s name is on the lease, so make sure that you put it in writing on your room mate agreement (signed by all of you) exactly how much each of you owe, who that money gets sent to, whether or not it needs to be paid with a check or if cash is acceptable, who is in charge of making the actual payment to the landlord (and keeping a record of how much was paid, by whom, and on what date). I watch a lot of Judge Judy and these things often don’t happen or they don’t get written down, at which time things turn into she said, she said, which doesn’t help much in a court of law.

Next, set up a list of chores and figure out some way to divide them up fairly. They can either all be set up on a rotating basis on a calendar, or they can be chosen by each of you (some people hate to vacuum, others are neat freaks and would prefer to do more of the routine cleaning, so it can be done correctly according to their standards, so figure out what kind of people you’re dealing with first, then make the list).

Figure out who, other than the roomates will be allowed to come into your home and who is allowed to spend the night (other friends, family members, dates, one night stands, pets, etc.) and where those potential guests will sleep (on the couch, in a guest room, in the room of the roomate who they belong to). Figure out some type of time table for how long certain people are allowed to stay in your home, whether it’s only up until midnight, or as long as a month, depending upon who the guest(s) are.

If you will be sharing a land line, figure out how that bill will be divided up and who will be responsible for actually paying it on time.

If you will be sharing a communal TV or stereo or other such items, make sure that the usage is doled out equitably (it doesn’t have to the same amount of time, but it needs to be agreeable to everyone ahead of time).

Figure out if each of you is willing or not, to let the others roam freely into their rooms (such as if someone is vacuuming or picking up laundry, or borrowing someone’s computer if they were allowed to do so).

Put together a communal items list and create a budget for those items: toilet paper, paper towels, tape, foil, ziplock bags, plastic wrap, tools, cleaning supplies and equipment, toilet plunger, shower curtain, dish soap, etc. Some of these items will be one time purchases such as a tool kit, scissors or a vacuum cleaner. Other items like toilet paper and paper towels will be regular purchases. Make a list, a budget and figure out who will be responsible for replacing items when they run out.

How will you use your refrigerator, freezer and pantry? Will everyone pitch in monetarily for food? Will each of you buy your own food? Will everybody be able to share the food, even if someone else paid for it? Will you have your own separate sections of the fridge, freezer and pantry? Should the room mates put their name on their own food? Who’s responsibility will it be to throw out rotten food? Will it be OK for each person to decide what’s rotten (even if it’s not their own food) and be able to throw it out? If some food is communal (like ketchup or milk or coffee) put together a budget for that and decide who is responsible for replacing the communal items (the person who used it up, or someone who is on grocery store duty?)

Will there be a grocery store duty? If so, will that duty get divided up or will a specific person or persons be responsible for making grocery store purchases. If food is delivered to the house, will the pizza or Chinese food payment be divided up or will someone take care of that payment?

How clean is clean? There needs to be some type of standards for how clean (and how often things actually get cleaned, picked up, or just straightened). Know that neatniks will be the only ones who care about this, but they will be the ones who are maddened the most and will most likely be the ones who do most of the work. Slobs don’t care about the filth, the clutter or the mess, but they don’t like being told to clean up the mess by the neatniks. So figure out how clean is clean, and who will be responsible for cleaning up what areas.

In the kitchen: Please don’t leave jelly or crumbs on the counter. Please don’t leave dirty dishes in the sink. Please empty the dishwasher when the dishes are done. Put stuff where it goes. Put stuff away, don’t leave it sitting around. If you drink the last of the milk, buy a new carton on the same day or alert someone on shopping duty that you are out of milk. Put a shopping list on a white board, chalk board or notepad that everyone can easily see, and write down the items that need to be replaced.

In the bathroom, don’t leave dirty clothes or wet towels on the floor. Wipe down the counter and the sink so there isn’t hair, makeup, snot, water or vomit left for someone else to clean up. Have a regular bathroom cleaning duty chore in which the toilet, sink and tub get scrubbed and the hair is vacuumed up of the floor and the floor is mopped and the mirrors and faucets are cleaned. Ask before you borrow someone’s shampoo. If you use the last of the toilet paper, replace the roll IMMEDIATELY (I can’t emphasize this rule enough). Don’t let your supply of toilet paper run out before you buy new rolls. If you see that the supply is running low, right it down on the shopping list in the kitchen. Make sure you have a little trash can in your bathroom for when someone needs to replace a feminine product or blow their nose (ever been to someone’s house where they didn’t have that little trash can? Oh the horror, the horror!) Also, make sure there is a toilet plunger in your bathroom and that everyone knows how to use it. If there are shared medicines such as aspirin, Pepto Bismol, feminine hygiene products, band aids, make those items part of your “communal items” budget and figure out who is responsible for paying for and re-stocking those items. Keep a roll of paper towels in the cabinet under the sink, this makes it easier to keep things clean and dry in the first place.

Who is responsible for doing laundry. Will each person only do her own or will there be a laundry chore duty assigned to someone, or will laundry be done by everyone on a rotating basis. If there are pay washers and dryers on site, who will be responsible for paying to use the machines? If laundry has to be done offsite, who will be responsible for making sure it gets done?

Cooking. Will cooking be part of the chore assignments or will one person be the chosen cook while the others clean up afterward, or will everyone be responsible for their own meals? If there is a cooking chore assignment, there needs to be a food budget as well.

Figure out how much noise is too much noise, and how late certain noises (such as TV, music, sexual escapades, yakking on the phone) can go on.

Make sure that if there are any problems with your house/apartment, that those issues are documented with photos and written correspondence (or a record of phone calls made, or e-mails/texts sent) to the landlord immediately. Again, I’m channeling Judge Judy.

Figure out ahead of time what will happen if one of the room mates needs to “break the lease” or move out (or is asked to move out) who then is responsible for what, money wise and lease name wise, unpaid rent etc.

Will you allow smoking, drinking, illegal drug use in your apartment? What about other people who come into your home? Is it OK for them to do any of these things at all, or just outside on the patio, or not at all?

Figure out which of you is allowed to use items brought into the home, initially, by a specific person. Who does the vacuum belong to? How about the dishes, the pots and pans, the glasses, the kitchen utensils etc. Will those items be considered communal and can be used by each of you? If the person who owns the item leaves, will the item go with that person or stay in the apartment? If an item that belongs to one person gets damaged by one of the other 3, who will be responsible for replacing or repairing that item? Will it be paid for the the owner, the person who broke the item, or part of a group repair budget?

To make things easier for all of you, have some type of a message board where each of you will leave your current contact information. If you are going to class or work or over to your cousin’s house, be polite and let the others know where you are and when you expect to be back (with pertinent phone numbers and addresses if necessary). It’s not fun when some out of town relative calls about an emergency and you don’t know where that room mate is or when they’ll be back. This is not about control, it’s about politeness and convenience and peace of mind.

By the way, you should see the size of the Fluther Mansion Room Mate Agreement

Now watch this Room Mate Agreement clip.

rojo's avatar

Be sure and include the following list in any agreement:

The Big Bang Theory Roommate Agreement articles:

A roommate gets an ID Card, a lapel pin, FAQ sheet and a key.

In the event one friend is ever invited to visit the large super collider (now under construction in Switzerland) he must invite the other friend.

The other roommate gets power of attorney over you.

There can be a temporary, modified, roommate agreement issued for a temporary house guest.

Zombie-bite contingency (you cannot kill the other even if they’ve turned.)

Past 10 p.m. you must refrain from raucous laughter, clinking of glasses and celebratory gunfire.

Superheroes Clause: If one roommate gets super powers, the other gets to be the sidekick.

Temperature Clause: The temperature must always be 71 degrees Fahrenheit.

Roommate has to wash their feet in a special tub before they gets in the bath or shower.

There are two pieces of tape on the floor in the bathroom. One is in front of the sink and people must brush and floss their teeth from behind this piece of tape. An additional, second piece is in front of the toilet for those that stand up to pee. If someone gets the mirror or floor dirty, before Sheldon’s inspection, they can (and likely will) lose their TV privileges.

Roommate must drive Sheldon to and from work, the comic book store, the barber shop, and the park for one hour every other Sunday for fresh air.

Roommate is tasked to bring home all take out dinners. Standard orders are located in Appendix B, and are also down-loadable from Sheldon’s FTP server.

Ask how Leonard is once a day though he does not care.

No spontaneous Bio Hazard drills after 10 p.m.

No tuvan singing.

Skynet clause (0206)

Specifies what happens if:
one friend needs help to destroy an artificial intelligence he’s created and that’s taking over Earth.

Body Snatchers clause (0206)

Specifies what happens if:
one friend needs help to destroy someone they know who’s been replaced with an alien pod.

Godzilla clause (0206)

Specifies what happens if:
someone threatens to destroy Tokyo.

Over-night guests notification clause (0406)
There has to be a 24-hour notice if a non-related female will stay over night (0321)

Article 1, Section 3 (0210)
call for an emergency meeting

Section 7, subsection B (0421)
No.9 “The right to bathroom privacy is suspended in the event of force majeure”(0421)
The shower can have at most one occupant, except in the event of an attack by water soluble aliens. (0421)

Section 8: “visitors”, subsection C: “females”, paragraph 4: “coitus” (0322)
“Roommates shall give each other 12 hours notice of impending coitus.”

Section: “television and movies” (0322)
“Roommates agree that Friday nights shall be reserved for watching Joss Whedon’s brilliant new series Firefly.”

Section 9: “miscellany” (0322)
“The apartment’s flag is a gold lion rampant on a field of azure” and should never fly upside down—unless the apartment’s in distress. (0322)
If one of the roommates ever invents time travel, the first stop has to aim exactly five seconds after this clause of the Roommate Agreement was signed. (0322)

Section 74, C (0402)
The various obligations and duties of the parties in the event one of them becomes a robot.

Addendum J (0421)
“When Sheldon showers second, any and all measures shall be taken to ensure an adequate supply of hot water.” (0421)

Unspecified Clauses
Since the “Sweaty Night of 06”, Sheldon has control of the thermostat in the apartment (0302), which was later confirmed by Leonard and is set at 71 degrees (0322)
Leonard has the right “to allocate fifty percent of the cubic footage of the common areas”, but only if Sheldon is notified in advance by e-mail. (0322)
“Pets are banned under the roommate agreement, with the exception of service animals“ like cybernetically-enhanced helper monkeys (0321)
“Thursday nights are Franconi’s Pizza nights.” (0421)
“The selection of a new take-out restaurant requires public hearings and a 60-day comment period.” (0421)

Controversial Clauses

Sheldon states that the Roommate Agreement contains a clause that all ties will be settled by him. Leonard affirmed this, but underlined that he didn’t sign that clause, while Sheldon argues that whilst Leonard disagreed, he agreed, so, the tie clause is made valid. (0322)

New Roommate Agreement

Not much is known about the new roommate agreement, as it was implemented in “The Agreement Disection”(0421). This was due to Priya finding the faults in the old roommate agreement. Even though it hasn’t been specifically referenced yet, it would be a safe assumption that the agreement is similar, with some loopholes removed.

Friendship Rider

Appendix C – Future commitments (0315)
No.37 “In the event one friend is ever invited to visit the Large Hadron Collider, now under construction in Switzerland, he shall invite the other friend to accompany him.” (0315)

It is further specified what happens, if:
one friend gets super powers (he will name the other one as his sidekick) (0210, 0315)
one friend is bitten by a Zombie (the other can’t kill him even if he turned) (0315)
one friend wins a MacArthur grant (0315)
one friend gets invited to go swimming at Bill Gate’s house (he will take the other friend to accompany him) (0315)

Sheldon’s commitments:
Sheldon asks at least once a day how Leonard is even if he doesn’t care (0315)
Sheldon no longer stages spontaneous biohazard drills after 10 p.m. (0315)
Sheldon abandons his goal to master Tuvan throat singing (0315)

Cohabitation Rider

Gets activated when Leonard starts “living with” a girlfriend in the apartment. (0210)

“A girlfriend shall be deemed “living with” Leonard when she has stayed over for A: ten consecutive nights or B: for more than nine nights in a three-week period or C: all the weekends of a given month plus three weeknights.”

Upon implementation the clause activates the following provisions:
a change in the distribution of shelves in the fridge (instead of Leonard and Sheldon having two separate shelves and one communal shelf, the three parties will then have one individual shelf each and the door becomes communal
apartment vacuuming shall be increased from two to three times a week to accommodate the increased accumulation of dead skin cells
a change in the bathroom schedule

The girlfriend also has to sign that:

“she does not now nor does she intend to play percussive or brass instruments”

marinelife's avatar


Bill and rent responsibilities
Use of the rooms
Overnight guests
Food ownership

Coloma's avatar

Don’t forget the pet clause.
Everyone is responsible for disposing of their own pets excrement and vomit. lol

Inspired_2write's avatar

Good ideas in other posts above but maybe obtain an account where only the money set aside for the bills ( and utilities etc) are deposited in together.
If possible have direct payment from this acctount to make sure all bills paid and on time.

janbb's avatar

@Coloma Or they can decide that no pets are allowed.

snowberry's avatar

If pets are allowed, specify what kind, and the size, where they are allowed and where they aren’t. Who cleans up after the messes, etc. Also if pets are allowed, they need to check with other roomies before they bring pets home. Some people have alergies.

longgone's avatar

Thank you so much, everyone! We’re planning on using a lot of your suggestions. I especially like the idea of including a mediation clause, and monthly meetings are definitely on the table, too. Also, bringing strangers home or not is another good point. Special thanks to @Kardamom for that incredibly long post full of great ideas, and to @rojo, because Sheldon is essential when dealing with things like this.

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