The Pennsylvania roommate agreement (“room rental agreement”) is a document shared by two or more tenants occupying the same rental property. This contract establishes the financial obligation of each tenant, as well as setting rules and regulations for living in the shared space.
There are two types of situations where a written roommate agreement is appropriate. One is when a person already rented a place and wants a roommate to help share the expenses. The other is when people team up to find a place that they can share and rent together.
In both of these circumstances, the written roommate agreement may be very similar. The main difference between these two situations is that in one, both roommates sign the lease when they rent a new place together. In the other situation, only the original tenant may be a signer on the lease unless the new roommate is allowed to be added to the lease by the landlord.
Before looking for a roommate, a tenant that has already rented a place needs to check the terms and conditions of the lease to make sure having a roommate is allowed. The tenant may need to get special permission in writing from the landlord.
What to Include in a Pennsylvania Roommate Agreement
Some important things to include in a Pennsylvania roommate agreement are:
- Rent: The amount of the roommate’s portion of the rent, when it is due, late fees, and how to pay for it.
- Utilities: How the calculation of the utility bills will be done to share these expenses.
- Space Usage: Explain how common areas will be shared and what portion of the rental unit is private space.
- House Rules: House rules are very important if you want to get along well. Make them as explicit as possible, especially about anything that might cause serious conflicts, such as the guest policy, noise restrictions, maintenance responsibilities, and who has the liability to pay for any damage caused to the rental unit by a roommate or their guests.
Roommate’s Rights in Pennsylvania
A roommate’s rights are different depending on whether the roommate is a signer on the original lease for the rental unit. If the roommate signs the lease, that roommate is equivalent to any other person who signed the lease. Additionally, everyone who signed the lease is usually jointly and separately liable for what happens if something goes wrong.
The landlord will treat the group of roommates who signed the lease as a unit that is responsible for the obligations under the lease. The landlord will enforce the obligations against all of them. If, for example, the rent is not paid on time, all will be held responsible. If an eviction is necessary, then typically all the roommates will be evicted.
If a roommate does not sign the lease and only signs a roommate agreement, that roommate is not in such a strong position. However, the landlord cannot make them responsible for the entire lease and cannot evict them alone.
If the roommate agreement is a month-to-month contract, then it can be terminated by either party giving the other party 30 days written notice. If a roommate does not live up to the terms and conditions of the roommate agreement, then it is possible for the other roommate to evict them without involving the landlord.