The Maryland roommate agreement (“room rental agreement”) is a document that outlines all of the financials, rules, and regulations associated with multiple tenants in a shared living situation (“co-tenants”). Each co-tenant must sign the contract to remain in compliance with Maryland state law.
The roommate agreement can serve as a legally-binding arrangement, so it is important that all of the details of the agreement are in the document before it is signed. This will help to make sure that all of the roommates will have some type of protection because additional roommates will not be on the original lease.
What to Include in a Maryland Roommate Agreement
- The full names of all of the roommates that are going to be living in the unit.
- The date that the signing takes place and the date that each tenant moves into the unit. It should also include the date when the lease ends.
- The address of the unit that is going to be rented. Make sure to include the unit number.
- The amount that each person will pay for the rent. The way that the rent check is delivered should be included as well.
- The breakdown of the security deposit so that when it is returned, it can be divided between the roommates fairly.
- The breakdown of the utilities and when the bills will be due needs to be included.
- Any other house rules that the roommates will need to be aware of should be included as well.
- Lastly, every roommate will need to sign and date the document.
Roommate’s Rights in Maryland
In the state of Maryland, a roommate is not going to have the same rights as a tenant who is on the lease. This is why a roommate agreement is required; it will provide some protection for the roommate against evictions, getting repairs in the unit, and having a safe environment to live in. It will also provide the roommate with the ability to take the landlord to court if there is an issue that needs to be addressed.
When renting a property, a renter may decide to take on additional roommates to make the rent more easily payable. This is a very advantageous arrangement, especially since roommate relationships can last a lifetime, even after the co-tenancy has ended. For this reason, it’s common to create a legally binding roommate agreement so that there’s a strong backbone to the roommate relationship. Here are a few reasons to consider one of these agreements:
- Rent Becomes Much More Manageable in Expensive Areas: When certain areas become popular for visitors, the tenancy rental rates also spike. As a result, these areas become places where it’s hard to find affordable housing. For this reason, some people take on roommates so that they don’t have to move from an optimal living space. For example, if a single tenant is paying $2,000 per month, taking on a roommate that will share the space will half that amount, which will leave more space for saving.
- The Elderly Have an Easier Time: For the elderly, taking on an extra roommate or two can be very advantageous. For example, since older individuals often live on fixed incomes, having a roommate to split costs with can really help out. In addition, a roommate can also assist an elder with the day to day upkeep of the property. Read more about renting to senior citizens here.
- Utilities Become a Non-Issue: While some utilities are metered and can scale with the number of tenants in a space, some, like internet and cable, will not go up in most cases. As a result, tenants sharing utilities can save a lot of money. Even with those metered utilities, the amount spent per person will typically be very affordable, even with spikes in usage during the summer or winter.
- Communal Furnishings: When renting a space, much of the budget for some can go to furnishing the space. Fortunately, when rooming with others, this cost can be shared so that the area can be furnished quickly and cheaply.
- It’s Easier to Maintain the Space: When multiple roommates work to keep their sections and the common areas clean, much less overall work is needed. This makes keeping the place tidy and presentable very easy.
This type of agreement isn’t just limited to roommates; housemates can also sign a roommate agreement and have a sturdy framework. In every situation, one of these legal agreements establishes the living setup for all of the people living in a rental unit. As a result of signing, all parties will be responsible for keeping up their end of the arrangement, and if a member falls short, the remaining cotenants can assist or even ask the roommate to leave.
In many cases, there will be a primary tenant that has signed the original lease. In the cases where the roommates aren’t on the original fixed-term lease, the responsibility for keeping the unit in line with the lease terms falls to the primary tenant. For this reason, it’s imperative that the tenant find roommates that are responsible and capable of paying their share of the rent.
Requirements of a Maryland Room Rental Agreement
Similarly to a lease, there are certain requirements that are imposed by the state of Maryland that must be carried out before a tenancy. Typically, these account for the following disclosures:
- Lead-Based Paint: Based on both Maryland and federal law, the landlord must disclose the presence of lead-based paints in any property that was built before 1978. The EPA also mandates that a pamphlet be provided as well.
- Environmental Hazards: In addition to lead, environmental hazards like radon, mold, and even bedbugs must also be disclosed.
- Detectors and Alarms: Proper smoke and carbon monoxide detectors must be installed and in good working order. The landlord must also disclose that these are being maintained.
- Rent Control Rules: The landlord must also disclose the details on landlord-tenant law, which can include rent control rules for the property.
- Existing Damages: If there are existing damages on the property, the landlord must provide details. Also, a walkthrough or checklist is recommended.
- Security Deposit: Maryland has laws that require the landlord to disclose the location and bank account for the security deposit. Additionally, if this fee is gaining interest, this must be disclosed as well.
How to Write a Room Rental Agreement in Maryland
While a roommate agreement doesn’t quite have the heft as a lease agreement, these documents nevertheless are critical due to the framework they provide for the roommate arrangement. Here are a few sections that will ensure that the arrangement is stable:
Identification of the Roommates and the Unit
The first section of the roommate agreement will need to clearly identify key aspects of the arrangement so that the information can be used in court if need be. The first thing that should exist at the top of the document is several spaces for the names of the roommates. Since this is a roommate agreement that will most likely have add-ons as time passes, it’s a good idea to leave extra space. Each roommate should have their name printed in this section; this can include the first and last only, but having an initial or the full middle name can help make identifying the parties easier.
Since the space is vital in a roommate agreement, details about the unit should also be provided at the beginning of the document. In this section, identifying aspects of the property like its unit number, the number of the building, the county, the physical address, and any side streets should be marked clearly.
The most critical aspect of property rental is the on-time payment of rent, and to better facilitate the process, a section of the agreement should provide all roommates with all pertinent info about paying rent. Not only should each roommate’s share of the rent be presented, but the specific rent values as well as due dates for rent should be presented here. It’s important to understand that not every renter will pay the same percentage of rent, so the details about the dollar amount per individual should be clearly demarcated. Additionally, if there are special arrangements for the payment of rent, then details should also appear in this section.
Sometimes, a utility is managed by a single individual that dwells on the rental property. When it comes time to pay for these utilities, the other roommates give this individual their shares, and then he or she cuts a check. For the sake of details, the agreement should explicitly detail which roommate handles which utility.
In many situations, the rooms in a rental property will vary in shape and dimensions, so it’s not uncommon for some roommates to have a little less space to work with as compared to others. In some situations, these roommates pay the same share, but in others, rent may be adjusted. The agreement should provide precise breakdowns about any adjustment in rental rate based on room allotment, and it should also include a breakdown of the physical space provided for each roommate.
Some properties will have assigned or unassigned parking, which can be very convenient for those living in more metropolitan areas of Maryland. For those properties with assigned parking, the agreement should clearly state the parking spaces allotted to each roommate so that each knows where to park. If there are specific rules that the property has about snow removal or alternate side of the street parking, then this information should also be presented here for the edification of the tenants.
With fixed-term leases, the primary tenant is expected to pay rent in the unit until the lease expires. Ending early can cause some reasonably steep repercussions. When there are roommates, each individual is also expected to pay his share of the rent during the lease, but this can be problematic when a roommate wishes to go away for an extended period. When this is the case, many opt to sublet, and in the state of Maryland, subletting is perfectly legal unless it’s explicitly forbidden in the original lease. The original roommate becomes a sub-lessor, and he or she takes on a sub-lessee to rent the space while the original tenant is away.
This type of agreement can make it easier for a roommate to ensure that rent gets paid, and it can also be used when a roommate is moving out of the property before a lease term ends. Overall, it can be very advantageous, but the roommate agreement should establish rules so that there’s a structure for subletting space in the unit that won’t disrupt the day-to-day activities of the other roommates.
Closing the Tenancy
At some point, the tenancy will end, and the roommate agreement should establish procedures to ensure that the close-out runs smoothly so that everyone receives their share of the security deposit. Aspects of the process should cover things like the final maintenance and repair of the property. Cleaning assignments should be explicitly laid out so that the process is quick and efficient.
Finally, a section will need to be created with extra spaces that will allow all of the roommates to leave their signature, printed name, and the date so that they can confirm that they have given their consent for the rules provided in the document.