Lease Vs. Roommate Agreement

Lease Vs. Roommate Agreement

Perhaps you are single and considering reducing living expenses by inviting a roommate to share your abode.  This proposition raises a myriad of questions in your mind and your most pressing is a concern is wondering whether roomie’s name will be on the lease, too?  Further questions regarding legal responsibilities and rent share also come into play.  At the end of the day, one has to wonder whether any sort of roommate-to-roommate agreement, signed or otherwise, is legally binding.

The Aitken Home Team presents three tips for understanding some legal ramifications of roommates:


The first thing to understand is that a roommate-to-roommate agreement does not a lease make.  In fact, such agreements have nothing to do with a lease.  Your lease is an agreement that exists between you and your landlord.  In the event that your roommate’s name is also on the lease, you are both bound by the conditions of the contract and violation could result in legal penalization.  If you fail to pay rent on time, fail to maintain the property as outlined in the lease, choose to buy a dog when the lease states “no pets”, you are then subject to financial fees, eviction, and other such penalties.  This same legal process does not apply if your roommate signs a paper agreeing to take out the trash each week.  

Related: “9 Steps to Recouping Your Deposit” 


Landlords and property management companies are in no way involved in roommate agreements, therefor they neither enforce nor punish failed agreements.  Roommate agreements are designed to outline financial as well as personal responsibilities and detail division of utilities, who cooks, and when chore responsibilities and guest policies.  Anything can be written into a roommate agreement, however, the most important inclusions are the amount of rent to be paid, security deposit, and division of utility payments.  

Related: “The Affordability Factor” 


Your lease agreement with the landlord or property management company is a legal document and blessed be the ties that bind.  If your tenant breaks the roommate agreement, it’s less likely that they will suffer consequences.  There are always special circumstances to consider and a judge might rule in your favor should your roomie necessitate a small claims court visit, but it’s a stretch.  In addition, if your roommate loses employment or cannot come up with his or her half of the rent, you will likely not be able to sue for funds.  

People are complicated regardless of upbringing, so weigh the roommate thing carefully.  We all have baggage and no one is perfect.  Sharing an apartment can challenge the saintliest of relationships there is always the risk of failure to pay.  Be sure you move in with someone would trust with your life and, if necessary, consult a lawyer to make sure you aren’t getting in over your head.  

For more information, contact The Aitken Home Team today!

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Phil Aitken, Owner/Broker
Phil Aitken is the Owner/Broker with Your Home Sold Guaranteed Realty - Phil Aitken Home Team and has over 13 years of Real Estate experience. Phil’s faith and desire for his family’s continued security fuel his business growth and leadership. The Phil Aitken Home Team continues to profoundly impact the people of Jacksonville via supporting several faith-based organizations. Phil gives back a portion of every real estate transaction to The Tim Tebow Foundation and Rethreaded. Find Phil's full story here.