Author Topic: Advice for a roommate agreement  (Read 2251 times)


  • Handlebar Stache
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Advice for a roommate agreement
« on: April 28, 2015, 06:32:48 AM »
I'm in contact with a Chinese Comp Sci graduate student who wants to rent a room in my condo.  It's an ideal situation because I live walking distance from the university.  I may be traveling a bit, so in addition to the financial boon, having a roommate keeps my condo occupied, yet I still have a home to come back to.

My situation is different than a sublease since I'm the landlord, and different than a typical landlord agreement since we'll be roommates.  Obviously I want a binding contract between us, such as:

If anyone has been in similar circumstances, your advice would be appreciated.


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Re: Advice for a roommate agreement
« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2015, 06:36:42 AM »
Dr. Sheldon Cooper has already covered quite a bit of ground on this topic

Skynet Clause:  Leonard will help Sheldon destroy an Artificial Intelligence that Sheldon has created that is taking over the earth. ("S2 Ep6")
◾ Body Snatchers Clause: Leonard will help Sheldon destroy someone who they know that has been replaced by an alien pod.("S2 Ep6")
◾ Godzilla Clause: Presumably, Leonard will help Sheldon destroy a monster that has destroyed Tokyo. ("S2 Ep6")
◾ Section C: Sheldon can call for an emergency meeting. ("S2 Ep10")
◾ Unnamed Clause: Leonard will name Sheldon as his sidekick if Leonard obtains superpowers. ("S2 Ep10")
◾ Section 9: The apartment's flag is a gold lion rampant on a field of azure and should never be flown upside down, unless the apartment is in distress. ("S3 Ep22")
◾ Section 9: 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. ("S3p22")
◾ Section 74C: Leonard must assist Sheldon if he ever becomes a robot ("S4 Ep2")
◾ Unnamed Clause: If Sheldon turns into a Zombie, Leonard cannot kill him.
◾ [Clause] : If one of them will be visiting CERN, they must take the other roommate along. ("S3 Ep15")
◾ Friendship Clause: Sheldon will take Leonard swimming to Bill Gates' house should he ever be invited. ("S3 Ep15")
◾ Unnamed Clause: The thermostat must be kept at 72 degrees at all times. ("S3 Ep22")
◾ Unnamed Clause: Fridays are reserved for watching Firefly due to Sheldon's assumption that it would be on for years. ("S3 Ep15")
◾ Unnamed Clause: Leonard must drive Sheldon to work. ("S3 Ep15")
◾ Section 37B: Miscellaneous Duties: Leonard is obligated to drive Sheldon to his various appointments, such as to the dentist. Leonard must also provide a "confirmation sniff" to tell if questionable dairy products are edible. ("S5 Ep15")
◾ Addendum J: When Sheldon showers second, any and all measures shall be taken to ensure an adequate supply of hot water. ("S4 Ep21")
◾ Unnamed Clause: Thursday night is Jets pizza night. ("S4 Ep21")
◾ Unnamed Clause: Selection of a new takeout restaurant requires a public hearing and a 60-day comment period. ("S4 Ep21")


  • Bristles
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Re: Advice for a roommate agreement
« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2015, 02:21:13 PM »
Dr. Sheldon Cooper has already covered quite a bit of ground on this topic

+1.  Whatever you do, make sure a Tuvan throat singing exclusion is covered.

In all seriousness, you probably want a standard landlord lease agreement.  Make sure it is applicable to your state and holds water with the courts.  He rents dedicated space in your property for his exclusive use (his room), and is granted access to common areas (kitchen, bathroom, etc.).  This will cover rent, utilities, prohibitions (pets, smoking, long-term guests, etc.), and lease terms.  The fact that you also live there shouldn't really be that much of a focus point -- similar to a landlord renting out an in-law apartment in their house.

A "roommate agreement" would cover things like chore sharing, visitors / "visitors" ;), quiet hours, which stuff is shared versus individual (food, electronics, etc.), and joint bill payments for non-utilities.  This is a nice to have but more covers the civil aspects of being a roommate -- pitch in and don't be an arse.  Your roommate will either be an arse or not, a roommate agreement doesn't really change their behavior.  And it's very likely courts will go tell you to bugger off if you think you can bring a roommate clause into court to force an eviction or get a monetary settlement because they didn't do the chores assigned on the chore wheel for the past few weeks or they steal your milk every morning.  I don't see much point in listing off that you share in chores, pay for non-utilities services you both agree to and benefit from (TV, internet, etc.), and don't eat the other's food.  If a roommate is the type of person to not be a decent person, a piece of paper won't stop them and I'd rather know that was their nature so I give them the boot, rather than hope I address every possible clause of arse-ishness for them to sign and update with addendums whenever something comes up.


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Re: Advice for a roommate agreement
« Reply #3 on: April 30, 2015, 05:06:03 PM »
I think having room mate agreements up front is good as you are able to state "x is an issue for me" and potential room mate can walk away. For me x is soft (or hard) drugs. I don't want them in my house. Also partners who visit all weekend every weekend. If I had listed these two up front I would have saved potential hassles.


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Re: Advice for a roommate agreement
« Reply #4 on: May 03, 2015, 06:33:08 PM »
My advice might be minority opinion because I wrote a non-standard agreement and have been happy with it.

I wondered about how roommates would be when I first considered renting out rooms in my house.  I figured that legalities aside, the real issue of someone living in my home sharing my kitchen etc. would be character over time.  Maybe they won't like me, or I won't like them; maybe our definition of clean is too different; our separate laughs prove annoying; etc.  So I hand wrote a very simple agreement saying that if either party wants out, they can give notice that next month is the last one, end of story.

To prevent someone walking out without paying, I required the last month's rent up front, in addition to first month and deposit.  The effect is to screen out financial weaklings while ensuring both parties are on good behavior.

You'd think the lack of normal legal details would become a problem.  But it hasn't.  After more than five years, no legal problems, no logistical hassles.  A couple had problems ("Well, you said no smoking... I had just quit... now I started again") so I gave them notice, they moved without further fuss. YMMV, though.