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All You Need to Know About Roommates

roommate agreement

When you’re just starting out on your own money can be tight, especially when it comes to living in cities. That’s why many people opt to live with roommates in order to share costs. It can be a great way to save some money on living expenses, but it can also be fraught with peril due to the ups and downs of interpersonal relationships. If you choose to live with a roommate here are some things you need to know before signing a lease.

What is a Roommate Agreement?

A roommate agreement is basically a written document that puts down the responsibilities of each roommate. It is often made without the landlord present. This can range from financial responsibilities to personal ones. It often outlines how rent and utilities are to be divided, but it can also be modified to include chores, food sharing, quiet times, and the policy on guests.

The three biggest things included in the roommate agreement are rent, security deposit, and utilities. These financial items are critical to any agreement.

Is a Roommate Agreement Legally Binding?

The answer to this can be tricky. A lease with a landlord is legally binding from beginning to end. If there is legal action against a tenant that broke a roommate agreement a judge will likely only hold them responsible for certain items. For example: If the roommate moves out early because they had to take a job elsewhere, leaving you to pay all rent and utilities, the court may order the roommate to pay you back in full.

The court likely won’t get involved if some of the more personal terms are violated like playing the TV too loud. Another important factor is if the roommate files for bankruptcy or has no money. If they don’t have any funds it is unlikely you will be able to collect on any judgment.

The phrase “caveat emptor”, or “buyer beware” is important before agreeing to live with a roommate. Be sure that it is someone you know and trust if it is at all possible. That makes the entire rental experience much more enjoyable for all parties involved. If you are meeting someone for the first time be sure to do your homework and find out more about them. In this day and age of the internet and social media you can learn a lot about a person before living with them.

In the event you do have to go to small claims court for failure to pay rent and utilities a roommate agreement can be a handy tool in your favor. It can help you get the share of the bills the other party agree to pay, but it is by no means a guarantee. By getting to know the person and trusting them you can make sure you have a much better experience, and it will end up as a much better experience for the second party as well, because they likely need a roommate too!

Lease Extension

Requesting a Lease Extension

Lease Extension

There are a lot of concerns if you’re moving, especially if you’re moving out of an apartment. You often have a set date in which you need to vacate the apartment due to the lease terms. Sometimes though, things do not work out as well as we would like. Because of circumstances, there are times where you may have to ask for an extension on your lease. The good news is that this is a common practice that can easily be handled.

Asking for an Extension

The best way to get an extension is to be a model tenant. Landlords are often much more flexible with tenants that have taken good care of their units and have paid their rent on time. If you can give them enough lead time and if they haven’t already lined up a new tenant they are more likely to give you an extension. You might have to pay a little extra on top of your regular monthly payment, but at least you are not scrambling for a place to stay. Just remember to be polite and ready to negotiate.

Write it Down

It is a very good idea to write a formal lease extension letter. Be sure that it includes the following:

It is a good idea to submit your letter at least two weeks before the date you need a decision. As always, the earlier, the better. By putting the request in writing it also keeps a formal record.

It is always a good idea to submit an extension request at least 30 days before the end of your lease. Some landlords may have a policy in place where they will want as many as 60 days’ warning. This allows them to set a better move-in date for their next tenant.

Relax, You’re Not the First Person To Do This

The good news is that this is a pretty common situation. Life happens. Many landlords are aware of this and they can even work in potential lease extension terms into the initial lease when it is signed. Most commonly, you’ll have to pay a pro-rated rate during the time of the extension. The important thing to remember is to be polite, submit your request as early as possible, and take good care of your place. This will greatly increase your chances of getting a lease extension.