An Alaska room rental agreement (or “roommate agreement”) is a contract for a tenant to share a dwelling with one or more co-tenants. A roommate agreement lays out rules for the people sharing space.
Quick Guide To Writing an Alaska Room Rental Agreement
- Specify who’s making the agreement, where the property is, and who the landlord is. Include current contact information for everyone signing the agreement.
- Note the term of the existing lease, and how long the roommate agreement will last.
- Discuss the security deposit. Agree how to split it among the roommates, plus rules for returning or deducting any portion.
- Note the total amount of rent, and how to split it between the roommates.
- Figure out how to split up utility payments. Include who’s responsible for sending the payments to the utility companies.
- Set rules for violations of the lease or roommate agreement. Also decide what happens when someone needs to move out early.
- List any house rules for food, cleaning, guests, etc.
- Divide bedrooms. Also decide which other areas will or won’t be shared.
- Have all parties sign and date the agreement. Attach the completed landlord consent form.
What Is a Roommate?
Before signing a roommate agreement, it’s critical to understand what it means, and for whom. This goes both for roommates and also for the landlord. There are three basic ways the law looks at roommate situations: co-tenancy, subtenancy, and at-will or guest tenancy.
Co-tenancy: All roommates are on the same lease. They pay rent to the same landlord, and share equal responsibility for keeping all terms of the lease. Co-tenants generally don’t have the power to evict one another. They may have to go to the landlord if there’s misconduct.
Subtenancy: The original tenant is the roommate’s landlord. This usually means receiving rent from the subtenant. It also means the legal responsibility to fix the subtenant’s rental issues. The original tenant can in most cases evict the subtenant if there’s misconduct. The landlord can also evict the subtenant for misconduct.
At-Will Tenancy / Guest Tenancy: The original tenant and roommate have an informal arrangement, with or without the landlord’s consent. The roommate legally is a guest. Alaska law does not specify how long such an arrangement can last. Typically within one to two months of paying rent and living on the premises, the roommate will be considered a subtenant under the original tenant, with full tenant rights and responsibilities.
Lease Violations in Roommate Situations
Roommates, as co-tenants, are “jointly and severally liable” for the terms of the original lease. This means that each co-tenant is fully responsible for keeping all the lease terms.
The landlord can therefore pursue full recovery from ANY of the co-tenants when there’s a violation. For example, if one roommate leaves town with their portion of the rent unpaid, the landlord can demand full payment from the other roommates.
If the roommate has not signed the original lease and the landlord has not consented to the roommate agreement, then the original tenant will be liable for any and all violations committed by the roommate.
Resolving Roommate Disputes in Alaska
The lease always takes priority over a roommate agreement in the event of any dispute. This often limits how much a roommate agreement can legally be enforced.
House rules about things like food sharing, chores, quiet hours, and so on generally are not enforceable in a court of law. Co-tenants with a disagreement not related to the lease may consider a binding and neutral third-party service like a mediator or arbitrator.