Roommate Tips: Personal Contracts

I once had a roommate who told me that “as adults we don’t need a roommate contract because we should be responsible.” Looking back it is no surprise that she wasn’t one of my best roommates since she didn’t pay rent on time or in full. Shame on me for not protecting myself. I create a personal contract with each of my roommates if they don’t have an individual or shared lease with myself or with the apartment managing company. Depending on the state ,personal contracts can hold up in court as official legal documents.


{mattresses left behind by a former roommate that I got to pay to have properly removed}

Things to include in your personal contract:

  • Your full name
  • Their full name
  • Your address
  • Description of space to be occupied solely by roommate
  • Description of space to be occupied and shared by all inhabitants
  • Rent Amount
    • each month
    • total if over the span of 6 months or a year
  • Utility Amount
    • what utilities
    • what percentage of utilities
    • penalties for increasing utility bill un-necessarily?
  • Rent and Utility Due Date
  • Acceptable Forms of Rent (i.e. personal check, cash, cashier’s check)
  • Deposit due prior to move-in & how long it will take to return following move-out
    • 2 months rent (last month + last month utilities + damages)?
    • 1 month rent (last month utilities  + damages)
  • Length of time the space is theirs
    • month-to-month/6 months/1 year
  • Move Out Details
    • Last day to turn over space to the leaseholder
      • penalties?
    • pro-rated for the final month?
    • When is one officially moved out?
      • return of all keys?
      • move-out form?
    • Potential charges at move-out
      • cleaning
      • trash throwout
      • replacing broken items
      • fixing damages to the room
  • Cancellation Process
    • Automatic Termination Clause
      • abuse to pets, leaseholders, etc?
    • Fee if the roommate leaves prior to lease end
    • Who can cancels the agreement
      • The leaseholder? The roommate? Both?
      • How many days notice must they give before leaving?
    • How much notice in writing before move out
      • 7-10 days for month-to-month roommate
      • 30 days for other roommate situations
  • When will you get the court involved if they do not follow through
  • Clause of quiet enjoyment and occupancy if all the above obligations are met
  • Names of the leaseholder(s) and the roommate
  • Signatures of the leaseholder(s) and the roommate
  • Date


  • Copy of a government photo ID of the roommate
  • Roommate Contract (signed by all roommates) that outlines guidelines regarding use and respect of the space


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