Roommate agreements are a great way of helping to create a happy and harmonious houseshare. Even when you're living with your pals there can be things that you or they do that cause friction and even arguments. When of the best ways to avoid this negativity is to get together and set out some ground rules that you all agree on.
If this is the first time you are making a roommate agreement and you are wondering what to include then this is a little guide to help you on your way to a high fiving home! Congratulations, you're making the first step to greatness or at the very least a great living arrangement.
How to split the bills
One of the first considerations, because money always complicates things. Generally each utility or service provider you have will require one named bill payer so it can be good to nominate one person to be in charge of paying the bills, best to pick the meticulous detail driven house mate over your party hard pal. The next thing to consider is when they will need to have the money in their account to pay the bills on time. Where possible shift the bill payment dates to the same day (preferably after payday) and aim to transfer money to the person paying the bills 3-5 days before the bills are due so they don't end up in their overdraft when the bills are paid. Another part to think about is how to split the bills? Is it an equal split or are some house mates paying more to cover things they want or need, i.e. do some of you work from home and want higher speed internet, when others do not, should you pay a bit extra to cover the higher cost of the service?
Dependant on the type of property you live in you may already have rules about when you can play your music on higher volumes. But assuming it's just up to you all, then are there any times when you want to make sure there is less background noise from the house, for example should you cut off any speakers after 11pm and move over to headphones. Do any of you work from home and have calls during the day and want to avoid any disturbances during 9am 5pm during the weekdays or do some of you have early starts on some days and want to make sure your not disturbed when you need to sleep? All worth talking through and setting some plans down.
Guests and partners
Also have a think about what to do if you want to have friends or family over or your partner and agree on how often and for how long. Of course you don't want to be too much control over this side, but you also might not want to have an extra roommate who isn't contributing to the rent or bills. Should permission be needed if someone has a guest staying for more than a few nights. Are there any spare rooms for friends or family and how to organise who gets to stay in that room to make sure you don't get double booked.
Not always a fun topic, but very necessary and also one of the biggest causes of conflict within a shared home. Should you have a rota? Do you prefer doing one type of chore over an other and want to offer to do that in return for someone covering a task you dislike. Also bare in mind that everyone's definition of "clean" is different, so spend sometime agreeing on what that looks like so the house stays fair. Should dishes be washed immediately, or is it OK so long as they are completed within a day (do you have enough dishes for this 😄). When is bin day and who should take the bins out. What shared spaces are there and how should they be looked after and how frequently. There is a lot to cover, but it will pay off in the long run.
What to do when things go wrong
So sometimes things don't go according to plan. Maybe one of you will lose their job for a bit, or fall out with one of the other house mates and want to move out. Talking through some of the potential scenarios and what you are willing to do as a group will help to reduce some of the worries you may have. It's good to discuss how to handle conflicts, do you need to all agree to something before you can do it, or do you just need the majority to agree.
Well the list above doesn't include every scenario, and there is nothing wrong with including more topics into your agreement. A roommate agreement done well will make living together a breeze and help even if things get a bit choppy. If you want this in your life then there are few ways to get started. We have also made an app to help you in making your roommate agreement which is completely free to use and you can get started by downloading the app here or if you want to find out more about how to make your agreement and what to consider then feel free to read our other related articles in our blog.
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