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While you might not think it’s necessary, when sharing a space with someone for the first time, a roommate contract is a good way to make sure you both know what the expectations are for your shared mutual space. Otherwise, fights can arise and one or both parties can feel compelled to move out. Rather than getting on each other’s nerves, establish an agreement in writing so that there can never be any confusion about expectations.

Write it together. Of course, if you’re the main renter and you have roommates that come and go, you can always write a roommate contract up yourself. Show it to someone before you approve their moving in so that they can decide if it suits their lifestyle. If you and a friend or family member decide to move into a new place together for the first time, however, sit down and write the roommate contract together so that you can decide on what’s important to each of you and come up with any necessary compromises so that the contract works for both parties.

Consider the important things. Perhaps one of you likes cooking and the other likes cleaning. You can set up rules that establish one person does one while the other person does the other. Otherwise, you can stipulate that everyone must clean up after themselves and that it’s okay to leave dishes in the sink for up to three days maximum before cleaning them, for example. If you’re a light sleeper and need noise at a minimum after a certain time, put that in the contract, as well. Groceries and cleaning duties tend to cause the most arguments, so figuring out what works best here is vital. In the end, make sure you and your roommate will be able to comply with everything in the contract.

Don’t forget finances. Of course, you might just be splitting everything 50/50 (which you should still get in writing), but other times, it might not be as clear cut. Someone might end up with a master bedroom with an en-suite washroom, while the other party gets the small bedroom. In that case, you might split the rent differently. Put the price to be paid by each party in writing to avoid any disputes. You should also list utilities and how they’ll be paid, as well as the rate if it’s the same every month (i.e., cable and internet).

What is your guest policy? This can be a big one that causes issues between roommates. If someone has a revolving door of people coming and going, and the other prefers to keep to themselves, resentment will grow. Also, it’s always possible that a new boyfriend or friend from out of town can turn into a housemate who doesn’t pay rent. Having a guest policy ensures both parties agree about how many people can come over and how long someone can stay.