Roommate Agreements 101

School is set to start for many of us this month. And with the rise in online classes and decreased social life, students will be spending a lot more time in their dorm than before. It’s important to have a solid roommate agreement in place that you can both (or all depending on how many of you there are) agree on. With that being said, here’s everything you ever wanted to know about Roomate agreements.

What are roommate agreements and how do they work?

If you’re in a dorm, you’ll likely have to have a roommate agreement. It’s a document that is signed by all individuals living in a dorm room, with specifications about standards of living, conflict resolution, and more. Your RA will likely schedule a time to meet with you and your roommate(s) to discuss expectations for the dorm. They will probably have specific categories and questions they ask, and at the end they will provide you and your roommate(s) with a copy and keep one for themselves.

What should you put on a roommate agreement?

There’s a ton of things you can put on a roommate agreement, and you can be as broad or as specific as you’d like. I’d recommend going more specific, as in the event you have a conflict, it will be easier to enforce the agreement. Below are some of the most important (and common) things people add:

  • How will overnight guests be handled? Are they allowed at all? What kind of heads up is needed? Where will they sleep? What is expected of them?
  • How will you handle intimate time? Will it be allowed in dorm? What advanced notice is needed?
  • Will guests be allowed? When are they allowed? What is expected of them?
  • How will food be handled? Are you each buying your own? Is it communal?
  • How will your things be handled? Can you borrow each others things? If so, what? Calculators, shoes, dishes? Do they need permission first?
  • How will cleaning be handled? Who’s doing what? Trash, floors, etc? How clean do you want to keep the room?
  • When do you go to bed and wake up? And what are your expectations for these times? Will you have a set time for lights out?
  • Will you allow drugs or alcohol in the room? This one is obviously not allowed, especially because most dorm living students aren’t 21, but it will likely happen and it needs to be discussed. Additionally, even if you’re comfortable with your roommate having them but you don’t use either, you could still get in trouble if they’re caught with them in the room.
  • Will you have quiet hours? How quiet is quiet?
  • How will you divide the room? What areas are fully off limits to others? Your bed? Your desk? More?
  • What happens in an emergency? Will you exchange emergency contacts? Do you have any life threatening allergies or health problems each other should know? It is common to share locations with your roommate(s) on apps like Find My Friends or Life360, especially if you intend to go out to bars, clubs, or parties. Will you do this or no?
  • How will you handle conflict? Will you meet and discuss it? Will you involve the RA? It’s bound to happen, and this is probably one of the most important questions to answer.
  • Will your room be left locked or unlocked when someone is home? What about when no one is there? Do you expect it to be locked for short errands (ex. grabbing food deliveries or laundry)?

What is too much to include?

Arguably it isn’t possible to be too strict. But when you want your roommate to be your friend, a lot of people end up agreeing to more lenient rules than they wanted to. However, this is still your home for the next few months. You want it to be a place you’re comfortable inhabiting. It’s better to make rules too strict, and loosen them over time then it is to add additional ones.

How much should be enforced?

A lot of times, people won’t follow their agreements 100%. Maybe you have a friend who needs a place to stay last minute and it’s past the normal . Or maybe you run out of silverware and need to borrow some even though you previously agreed not to. Whatever it may be, it’s likely that it will be broken a few times. What’s important, is that any firm and strong rules are kept, and that rule breaking isn’t constant.

What if my roommate breaks the rules?

99% of the time, a rule break won’t result in much of anything. 100% of the time if you don’t report it. However, if anything major happens, or rules are repeatedly broken and your roommate is ignoring you or not following through, please reach out to your RA. It’s their job to keep track of their residents and make sure that they’re having a positive dorm experience. In fact, many of them are getting PAID for this, or granted free housing. So please, reach out to them if you need to.

What if my RA isn’t helping?

On the off chance your RA is unhelpful in dealing with conflict, there should be someone available for your building, normally a more traditional “adult” who you can reach out to. If not, you can also reach out to someone from your housing department for assistance.

Hopefully that answers all your questions about roommate agreements. If you have any others please reach out to me on one of my socials below and I’ll be happy to answer it!

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