The New York roommate agreement (“room rental agreement”) is a binding legal contract that defines the obligations of each tenant in a shared living situation (“co-tenants”). Each co-tenant agrees to meet a financial obligation, as well as other terms and conditions that may be specified in the document.
It is necessary to complete a room rental agreement when more than one person lives in a rental unit but may not be stated on the lease, as in when a master tenant seeks a roommate. This document is considered to be a signed contract and is vital in the event of legal action.
When you live in a state like New York, the amount that you pay in rent as a tenant can be rather high, so to help balance the cost and make paying rent and utilities on time more manageable, a room rental agreement can be created. Sometimes, this legally binding arrangement can also be called a roommate agreement, which simply means that multiple people will be occupying the same apartment without one of the residents being on the original lease.
This document will specify the terms of the roommate arrangement so that an individual can reside in the unit without signing the original paperwork. Any signed room rental agreement will have some weight in court, but if the landlord takes the tenant to court for any reason, the original tenant will be the one that will need to respond to the summon. Some parts of the agreement may need to be filled out or signed by the landlord to say that they are permitting a room rental agreement.
Before entering into a room rental agreement, both of the roommates will need to read and review all of the terms of the arrangement before it is agreed upon. The document should clarify which spaces are shared and any rules that are in effect for the entire unit. It should also address the date when the rent is due and how the utilities will be paid. Repairs that need done in the unit and cleaning the home can also be covered in this document so that there are no later issues between the two parties when something in the unit needs to be done.
If there are any issues that form between the two parties, then the room rental agreement can be used to solve the dispute. In addition, all of the pertinent information that applies to the new roommate that was in the original lease must be written in this new agreement, or the original lease must be provided with the new arrangement documents.
Not all rental arrangements in New York will allow for a room rental agreement to take place in the unit that is being rented, so it is imperative that the original tenant check with the landlord to see if it is an option that can be considered. If this type of agreement is allowed by the management, the landlord will need to be notified that a new tenant will be moving into the unit in writing. You can also place a spot on the room rental agreement that is being drawn up where the landlord can sign and acknowledge that they are aware of the additional tenant.
Requirements of a New York Room Rental Agreement
With any room rental agreement in New York, there are going to be a few things that will be required.
The new tenant will need to provide:
A Security Deposit
This is an amount that is held in case there are any damages or repairs that need to take place when the tenant moves out. This amount cannot be more than a month’s rent. If there is no damage done to the unit, the tenant can get the security deposit back when they vacate the premise.
A Deposit for Pets
If the landlord allows pets to be in the unit, and the new tenant has a pet that is going to move into the unit with them, sometimes a deposit is required in case the pet does damage to the unit. Typically, there is not a limit to the amount that a management company can ask for to cover a pet deposit, but it can be a flat fee or a small amount that is paid for on a monthly basis.
The original tenant will need to provide:
Contact Information for the Landlord
This is critical information that must be provided to the new tenant so that they have a way to contact the landlord in the event of an emergency. This should include the name of the management company, the address where the management company will be located, and a phone number that can be used to reach the landlord.
Any Lead Paint or Mold Notices That Apply
In New York, any property that was built before the year 1978 must provide the tenants with documentation that informs them of any lead paint hazards that could be on the premise. This must be included with the agreement and signed by the tenant. If the unit is in an area where mold can be an issue, there should be a mold notice that any new tenant must sign as well. Both of these issues could be hazardous to a tenant’s health, so it is vital that they are aware of them before moving in.
How to Write a New York Room Rental Agreement
There are several sections that an agreement of this type should include. The sections that must be included are as follows:
The first thing that should be at the top of the document is the date that the agreement was drawn up. This will let the tenants know that it is something that was thought about recently and that all of the information in the agreement is pertinent to the rental.
This part of the agreement is typically pretty straightforward. You will need to list both of the parties that are entering into the agreement. The original tenant who signed the original lease will be known as the principal tenant, and the new tenant will be known as the new tenant. The full name of both parties must be included as well as a phone number where they can both be reached. If there are other roommates that already reside in the unit, must also be stated in the agreement so that they can be reached or contacted in the event of an emergency. In this official agreement, they will be known as current co-tenants.
In addition, the landlord’s information should also be located in this section so that the new tenant will know exactly where to find the contact information when it is needed.
Property Being Rented
This is the section that will state the exact address of the unit or the property that is being rented out for the room rental agreement. If there is an apartment number or a floor that needs to be specified, it should be done here as well. Since some counties in New York can have varying room rental agreement terms, you may also wish to list the county that the unit is located in. For example, in Westchester County, there are a number of parks that are only available to residents, so stating the complete address including the county will be a legal means that the new tenant can use to access these parks.
Dates of the Lease
This is the date that the lease was initially started by the original tenant. It will also state the end of the current lease, even if that lease is likely to be extended. When the lease is extended, the tenants can sign onto the new lease or a new room rental agreement can be rewritten.
Security Deposit Required
This is a section of the agreement that should not be left out, that is unless the new tenant is not required to pay any of the security deposit. The sections should include the exact amount that the new tenant will need to put in for their share of the security deposit as well as the things that they will be liable for when they vacate the premise. This will be used to cover any damage to the property and the area that the tenant is renting. It should also include a clause that will let the new tenant know that they will be responsible for any damage done by their pets or their guests.
This section is designed to include that amount of rent that the new tenant is responsible for. It should include the exact amount to be paid each month, and the day that it is due. It should also include whether the rent is given to the original tenant or the landlord. That may vary from agreement to agreement, so it is important to note it, especially if they are going to be required to take it to the rental office.
Also, this section should include what the late fee is, and how many days the tenant has after the rent is due before it is applied to the total rent that is due. If there are multiple roommates in the unit, the rental amount should be broken down based on the percentage of the space that they are renting. The breakdown should not include common space because everyone will use it. If the unit has three bedrooms, but one is only 200 square feet, while the other two are 400 square feet, the person with the smaller bedroom should pay less than the individuals with the larger rooms. In this example, the tenant in the bedroom with only 200 square feet should pay 20 percent while the other two roommates should pay 40 percent per room of the total rent.
This is the section where any utilities that the new tenant must cover should be listed. In most roommate situations, it will not be an entire bill that the tenant will be responsible for. Rather, each of the tenants that are residing in the unit will need to pay a portion of each of the utilities. If the landlord covers any of the utilities, they must also be listed here so that the new tenant is aware that it’s provided for them. In New York, it is not uncommon for landlords to cover the cost of heat, hot water, and possibly electric. Some landlords may also decide to give their tenants free internet and cable, but this is a less common utility to have paid by the landlord.
Any other agreed upon information that concerns all of the tenants in the unit should be placed in this section. This can include what happens when something gets broken and who is responsible for handling repairs. It can also include something that may seem less critical, like a schedule for cleaning the common areas of the unit. This will ensure that the unit stays tidy for guests who stop by, and it will guarantee that the same person is not responsible for cleaning the entire unit all of the time.
This section should also have a clause that states that a roommate may not go into another roommate’s room without their permission. The bedrooms are not going to be common areas that everyone has access to, so make sure that it is clearly stated in the agreement so that it can never be an issue in the future. Also, if there is a quiet time that is agreed upon for the unit, then this should be stated here.
This is a section that will allow the tenants to lay out what happens when there is a dispute in the home. It can help solve any issue that arises without costly legal fees that will add up if the matter is taken to court.
Vacating the Premise
In this section, the process that must be followed when a tenant moves out will be listed. These are typically guidelines that the other tenants will agree upon, and it will apply to everyone who is living in the unit. The terms will include that amount of notice required before a tenant can move out, and what needs to be cleaned and repaired by them before they leave the premise. Instructions from the landlord for the move out process can also be included.
This is the final section of the agreement, and it will have a place to print the names of the new tenant and the principal tenant. It will also have a signature spot and a place to indicate the date that the agreement is signed. In this section, there may also be a place for the landlord to sign, which indicates that they acknowledge the new tenant and agree to the room rental agreement.
What to Include in a New York Roommate Agreement
- A copy of the original lease.
- The names of all of the roommates.
- The address of the rental.
- The amount for the rent and the utilities that will be due for each roommate to pay each month.
- The dates of the arrangement.
- The terms of the original lease.
- The rules of the house that all roommates must follow.
- The signature of every roommate that will be residing in the unit.
Roommate’s Rights in New York
In the state of New York, the law is limited when it comes to roommate’s rights. As long as they sign a roommate agreement, they will have the right to live in a safe environment, get repairs, and have heat and hot water. This document will also give the roommates a legal option to take the landlord to court if they are refusing to make repairs in the unit or for any other reason. A roommate is considered a tenant, even if they are not on the actual lease, so they cannot be discriminated against based on the laws of the state.