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Protect yourself from roommates

Legally protect yourself from roommates

There are two scenarios with sharing a place:

  • You signed a lease with an apartment complex or homeowner and you pay them rent, while the other roommates give you their share.
     
  • Someone you're living with signed a lease, and you simply pay them your share of rent while they physically pay the landlord.

If you're the only one signing the lease with a landlord, you are the sole person legally responsible for paying rent -- nobody else. This means that if a roommate leaves and you're stuck unable to pay rent, you can't tell the landlord your roommate left. They simply won't care.

So, how do you protect yourself from a roommate screwing you over? The same way your landlord does -- a signed agreement. You need an agreement that clearly states the following items:

  • How much rent each tenant is paying.
     
  • How utility bills are split.
     
  • Day rent is due. Set a due date that's a few days in advance of when YOU need to pay your landlord. This ensures it's not late.
     
  • Penalties when a roommate is late with rent.
     
  • Any security deposit? This is money they give to you and you hold onto until you move out. Upon moving out, you subtract any damage costs from their security deposit.

You can download a sample, free roommate agreement here.

Note: We're not lawyers. Heck, we're not even paralegals. The roommate agreement is just a simple document that is designed to show (by proof of signature) that all roommates agree to the same terms.

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