The Maine roommate agreement (“room rental agreement”) is a contract between two or more tenants in a shared living situation (“roommates” or “co-tenants”). Each co-tenant must sign the contract. This document lays out the financial obligations of each co-tenant and may include rules regarding shared spaces.
When a tenant finds that paying their rent and their bills on time is becoming a burden, they have the option of creating a roommate agreement with another person to help split the burden. The rent that each person pays is likely to be divided based on the amount of space that they have, so if it is a two-bedroom unit, and both rooms are the same size, the roommates will split the cost of the rent and the utilities evenly. The roommate agreement is a legal form that should be used to put all of the terms of the agreement in writing.
What to Include in a Maine Roommate Agreement
- The agreement will need to include the date that the arrangement goes into effect as well as the length of the agreement.
- The full names of all of the roommates in the unit. This will include roommates that are already living on the premises.
- The street address of the unit as well as any identifying information about the unit’s location.
- The amount of rent that each roommate is going to be responsible for paying each month. Whether the money should be delivered to the primary tenant or the landlord will need to be addressed as well.
- The security deposit that is paid and the amount that each person provides so that when it is returned, it can be distributed fairly.
- Include the utility payments and how they should be broken down between the roommates.
- At the bottom of the document, all of the roommates should sign and date the document.
Roommate’s Rights in Maine
When a person signs a roommate agreement in the state of Maine, they will have the same rights as the original tenant. This document is required for the person to get the same protections because they are not on the original lease. This will give the roommate the right to ask the landlord for repairs to make the unit safe for the tenants to reside in the unit. It also gives them the option of taking legal action against the landlord if it is required, even if they are not the original tenant on the lease. If issues arise when there is a roommate agreement in place, there is a protection for the roommates that have signed it.
Sometimes, standard leases can be expanded by taking on initial roommates using a room rental agreement. When it comes to paying the rent, there are multiple advantages to taking on additional renters in a rental unit. Here are a few to consider:
- Help pay the rent and utilities: For some, increasing market values mean more difficulty paying the rent. This is especially true for older adults that are living on fixed incomes. With a roommate agreement, extra space can be used to host another renter, which can split the rent into more payable amounts. For utilities, this can be very advantageous, especially for those utilities that have a preset value.
- Making furnishing the unit easier: When the expenses are split, furnishing an apartment becomes much more manageable. For example, one roommate can purchase a couch for the common area while another can pay for things like the coffee table for the same area.
- Making social bonds: Roommates tend to become close over time, which is very advantageous when taking on additional renters.
A roommate agreement serves as a legal document that adds a framework to the relationship that the renters have. In most cases, there is still a primary tenant that serves as the lease signer, but some leases will still have places for secondary tenants to sign as well. In any situation, these agreements are beneficial for all the involved roommates, and even things like cleaning schedules can be included so that it’s all neatly organized.
It’s just essential that each roommate understands his or her responsibilities and protections under the agreement, and it’s also critical to comprehend that most landlords will only have a relationship with the primary tenant who signed the lease. This means that the onus of responsibility will fall on this tenant should any of the roommates violate the rules of the original fixed-term lease.
For this reason, the agreement needs to establish good roommate behavior and ensure that all roommates understand their responsibilities. Some sections that should be featured will include sections that highlight the rules for paying rent, rules that establish the noise policies for the property and the unit, and a section reinforcing the rules set forward in the lease as they pertain to pets, smoking, and tenant behavior. In fact, this is one of the main reasons for establishing a room rental agreement: it provides legal coverage and rules for all of the roommates to follow.
Requirements of a Maine Room Rental Agreement
Before a roommate moves into a unit, there are some requirements insofar as disclosures that will need to be provided based on federal and Maine law. Typically, these disclosures are provided in the original lease, but since the roommates may not be on this lease, it’s still important that this information is relayed. Here are some of the disclosures:
This disclosure is mandated by the EPA, and it requires that a landlord disclose the presence of this kind of paint if the property predates the year 1978. Any tenant adding on to the lease must sign to verify that they understand that this hazardous material may be present.
If there is the presence of bedbugs in an adjacent rental unit, the landlord must disclose the infestation in writing to any potential tenants – including roommates. This is based on Main Law § 6021-A.
Energy Efficiency Disclosures
For new tenants, the landlord must disclose the level of energy efficiency of the property. This document must be completed by the landlord and signed by tenants in the unit.
Electricity to Common Areas Disclosure
When on a property that has common areas, the landlord may not legally bill the tenants for the power that is provided to these areas unless agreed upon by the tenants.
Smoking Policy Disclosure
In writing, the landlord must, in some way, disclose the precise smoking policy of the property. This can include whether smoking is not allowed in general, if it’s allowed only in certain areas, or if it’s free to smoke in any area of the property.
Radon is a radioactive gas that occurs naturally and is dangerous to humans. The landlord must disclose if there has been radon detected on the property, and he or she must also check for the presence of radon every 10 years. Verification of this must be provided to all tenants.
Security Deposit Disclosure
The landlord must also disclose the bank name and account number where the security deposit for the property is being kept.
How to Write a Room Rental Agreement in Maine
It’s critical that the room rental agreement has all of the sections needed to ensure that it provides a stable framework for this unique habitation relationship. Here are some that need to be included:
Information about the Unit and the Involved Parties
After including the date of the agreement signing, information about the parties involved as well as the property should be included. This means that the names of each of the roommates will need to be recorded so that its clear who the agreement is protecting. For this reason, include at least four lines so that there’s room for add-ons in the future. It’s not 100% required for every roommate to be featured in the agreement, but it’s also critical for those non-signing roommates to understand that if they don’t sign, they will not be privy to the protections and rights afforded to those that do sign.
Next, the information about the unit should be noted. This typically involves just the physical address and the name of the residence. When chronicling the address, be sure to include facts like the unit number, the building number, the side streets, and the county where the unit is located.
Information about the Security Deposit
When renting in a unit in Maine, most likely, there will be some form of security deposit involved. In the state, the security deposit is an amount that’s typically paid at the beginning of the tenancy, and it’s designed to provide a degree of protection for the landlord. This deposit can be used when the tenants move out in order to recoup any damages that may have occurred over the lifespan of a tenancy. Typically, this means that the landlord will charge a month’s worth of rent at lease signing, but the state of Maine allows for a total of two months’ worth of rent for the security deposit.
Maine state law (§ 6033), dictates that the landlord must return the deposit within 30 days. When there is a roommate agreement, typically, the amount of the security deposit is split amongst the renters, and sometimes, with higher amounts, divvying it up amongst the roommates can be difficult. For this reason, details about how the amount is to be returned should be clearly outlined within the body of the roommate agreement.
Rent Due Dates and the Amounts Owed
The agreement should also include the clear amounts that each roommate will owe when rent is due. Additionally, any due dates for rent should be explicitly stated so that there’s a one-stop-shop should a roommate wonder about their responsibilities for monthly payment.
When a property is split amongst roommates, it’s a good idea to clearly and explicitly state which spaces go to which roommate. In many cases, some spaces may be larger, and when this is the case, the roommates occupying these rooms may pay a larger share of the rent. Providing full details about each rentable space in the agreement is essential.
Utilities and Parking
When roommates occupy the same space, it’s typical that the utilities are split evenly so that they can be paid quickly and easily. In many cases, a roommate will take a utility under his or her name, and the other roommates will pay this roommate their share. The roommate then cuts a check and pays the utilities, and if this is the case, the agreement needs to include not only the name of the primary payer of the utility payments but how the utilities are divided as well as the typical cost of utilities every month.
Additionally, since Maine properties also may come with assigned parking, it’s also a good idea to list the parking spaces allocated to each roommate so that there’s no confusion.
Rules on Subletting
From time to time, a roommate may want to spend several months away from the property, and rather than leave the other roommates scrambling for a way to pay that missing share of the rent, he or she may opt to sublease their space. This means of ensuring that the rent is paid can also be used if the renter is thinking of permanently moving away but wants to ensure that they are paid up through the end of the lease period. This is perfectly legal in Maine as long as this is not expressly forbidden in the lease. If this is acceptable, then it also needs to be stated as an option in the roommate agreement.
Closing the Document
One of the final things that should be noted is how the tenancy ends; establish rules about vacating the property so that a practice is clearly established. This can include aspects of the move-out like cleaning and even repair. Once this section has been added to the document, all that’s left is the signatures that make this a binding document. In addition to each roommate’s signature, they should also print their name and date the document as well.