Is a Roommate Agreement Legally Binding?
Is a Roommate Agreement Legally Binding?
Is a Roommate Agreement Legally Binding?

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Is a Roommate Agreement Legally Binding?

Category

Policies & Requirements

#RoommateAgreement

#Legality

#ContractLaw

#StudentLife

#FinancialDamages

#NonFinancialRules

#LifestyleMatch

#RoommateMatching

#HousingManagement

#StudentHousing

#CampusLife

#DisputeResolution

#HousingCloud

#DormLifeTips

#TechSolutions

#SimplifiedLiving

Policies & Requirements

Policies & Requirements

Policies & Requirements

Is a Roommate Agreement Legally Binding?

In the world of student housing, it’s normal for roommates to come and go. But when one suddenly leaves to study abroad or pursue opportunities elsewhere, it can create challenges for those remaining in the unit. That begs the question: Is a roommate agreement legally binding? Or are students who try to enforce them largely out of luck?

This article will dive into the factors that impact the legality of roommate agreements. So let’s get started.

What Is a Roommate Agreement?

A roommate agreement is a binding document that outlines the terms and conditions two or more roommates will follow while living together. It can describe the financial responsibilities and non-financial rules for each party in the roommate relationship.

For example, a standard roommate agreement will define the amount of money that each roommate will put toward rent and utility payments monthly. It may also note the parties who are responsible for various chores, such as taking out the trash, washing the dishes, and general cleaning.

The roommate rental property agreement can even outline ground rules that all roommates agree to live by during their time in the unit. These may include agreements around visitors in shared living spaces, noise, and what a roommate’s obligations are if they want to move out before the lease term expires.

It’s important to note that roommate agreements are different than contracts between landlords and tenants. For the purposes of student housing, landlord-tenant contracts exist between the students living in an on-campus apartment and the school itself. Roommate agreements, on the other hand, typically don’t involve the university, instead focusing exclusively on roommates' obligations to one another throughout the lease term.

Elements of Legally Binding Agreements

A roommate agreement must meet the legal definition of a contract in order to be legally binding. This involves satisfying each of the following elements.

Offer And Acceptance

First, the agreement needs to meet the contractual standards of an offer. Legally, that means it needs to be clear and definite.

This will likely involve specifying the length of the agreement, the amount of money each roommate will contribute toward different expenses, and the various chores that each party will complete. The more ambiguous the contract is, the harder it will be to enforce.

For example, the agreement shouldn’t say that each roommate will “help out with the rent.” It should say roommates A and B will each pay a specific amount each month for the duration of their conjoined dorm life. The same level of specificity should be provided for the unit’s security deposit.

In addition to having a clear offer, each roommate must accept the contract. This element is generally satisfied when each person signs the agreement. 

However, implied acceptance is also possible when a person takes actions that suggest they’ve agreed to the offer. For example, you might put your roommate contract on the fridge and make it clear that everyone who lives in the unit needs to follow the agreement. If one party doesn’t sign the agreement but fulfills the household duties outlined in it, a judge could still rule that this constitutes acceptance.

Intention To Create Legal Relations

Roommate agreements also need to show an intention to be legally binding. This means that each party has shown in some way that they intend to enter into a legal agreement with the others. You can usually satisfy this element by including formal language in your contract, such as “I agree to …” or “This contract is binding for all parties.” 

Factors That Influence Legality

Roommate agreements are typically considered legally binding when both a valid offer and acceptance exist, and there’s a clear intention to enter into the contract from all parties. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean you can legally hold your roommates to every provision of your agreement with them.

Courts will typically let you sue for breach of contract only when you can show that you’ve suffered clear damages as a result of the other party’s violation of the agreement. That’s easy to do when a roommate leaves without paying their share of the rent. But it’s generally not possible if a roommate doesn’t do the dishes or plays loud music past your agreed-upon noise curfew — even if you view these as key issues.

This means that even valid, legally binding roommate agreements may give you recourse only for financial damages. However, student housing leases may have special provisions that allow universities to step in and remove a tenant from an on-campus dwelling when they fail to live up to the non-financial aspects of their roommate agreement.

How To Make Agreements Work

Roommate agreements tend to offer legal recourse only when at least one party incurs financial damages as a result of another’s actions. That means the best way to make these agreements work is to enter into them only with people you can trust to follow the non-financial provisions.

One way to do that is by moving in with friends or people whom your friends and family can vouch for instead of complete strangers. But that’s not always an option in a student housing situation. An alternative is to look for roommates who align with your lifestyle preferences.

For example, everyone in the unit is more likely to abide by the terms of the agreement if the policies around visitors, pets, and noise align with each roommate’s preferences. Schools can help by using student housing technologies to match students with roommates who live similar lifestyles.

Simplify Roommate Agreements With An All-in-One Housing Platform

Roommate agreements can get complex. If you’re a student housing manager, the best thing you can do is keep them simple and consider student life factors when matching roommates so disputes rarely come up. Housing.Cloud helps with that.

Our student housing property management software includes roommate-matching features that make it easier to connect students with potential roommates they’ll be more likely to get along with. It’s an intuitive student housing management platform that can make your life easier while helping you deliver better campus housing to your student renters.

But don’t take our word for it. Sign up for a free demo today to learn more about what Housing.Cloud can do to help you provide better homes for students living on campus.

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Dec 9, 2023

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Housing.Cloud empowers housing professionals to deliver exceptional student experiences by simplifying inefficiencies and operational workarounds with one, scalable platform.

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Office:

1850 Amsterdam Ave;

New York, NY 10031

Phone Number:

(848) 279-9511

Email:

info@housing.cloud

Contact

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Housing Cloud, Inc.

Copyright 2023-2024 © All rights reserved

Housing.Cloud empowers housing professionals to deliver exceptional student experiences by simplifying inefficiencies and operational workarounds with one, scalable platform.

Backed By

Connect with us

Office:

1850 Amsterdam Ave;

New York, NY 10031

Phone Number:

(848) 279-9511

Email:

info@housing.cloud

Contact

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Housing Cloud, Inc.

Copyright 2023-2024 © All rights reserved

Housing.Cloud empowers housing professionals to deliver exceptional student experiences by simplifying inefficiencies and operational workarounds with one, scalable platform.

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Office:

1850 Amsterdam Ave;

New York, NY 10031

Phone Number:

(848) 279-9511

Email:

info@housing.cloud

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Copyright 2023-2024 © All rights reserved

Housing.Cloud empowers housing professionals to deliver exceptional student experiences by simplifying inefficiencies and operational workarounds with one, scalable platform.

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