The last thing you want to worry about as a new college student is unnecessary stress. Most universities encourage new students to take compatibility quizzes in the hopes they will be matched with a roommate who is a good fit for them. Regardless of these matchmaking attempts, not everyone gets along swimmingly. This is where the need for a roommate contract comes up.
By creating this agreement with your roommate, you will have a set of rules and/or guidelines to follow. The hope is that by negotiating these terms, you will be able to avoid unwanted conflict. After all, you may be quite different from your roommate in terms of your hobbies, acquaintances, and personal schedules (both academic and social).
Here’s the top 5 things we think you should put in your contract!
1) Defining your Personal Space: First and foremost – which bed do you get? If you are living in an apartment style dorm room, which bedroom and/or bathroom do you get? What can you two share? List the rules for anything you will be sharing (i.e. TV, fridge, microwave). Are you sharing food? Will you be splitting the cost of groceries and shopping together? If not, what are your rules on sharing what is in the refrigerator?
2) Chores: Who cleans what, and when? Making a chore chart is an easy way to avoid unnecessary conflict regarding housekeeping. Split the responsibilities. Come to an agreement on how clean the room should be in general, and divide the cleaning into a list of chores for each of you. Remember, you can always take turns to keep it fair.
3) Respecting your roommate: It’s best to avoid bringing back distractions to the room that could interfere with your roommates schoolwork (i.e. loud music, TV, friends, etc.) Decide on a general “Quiet hours” schedule for the week so you and your roommate can prioritize your studying.
4) Guests: Are there sleepover rules? If so, what are they? You might be in a serious relationship, but it’s imperative to keep your roommates comfort in mind. They may find it disrespectful for you to have your significant other over without discussing it with them first. Come to a consensus on who is allowed over and how many people can be in the room at a time.
5) Moving out: Make sure you give your roommate advanced notice in the event that you need to move out earlier than scheduled. If you need to break your lease, try to find a replacement roommate to take your place.
More importantly than it being legally binding is what the contract represents: a physical documentation to ensure respect towards each other. Still, it is important to make sure the roommate contract/agreement is clear, with no room for error . This will help you steer clear of coming to vague interpretations and conclusions from confusing verbiage. When it comes down to it, the most important aspect of a good roommate contract is that it be fair to both parties.