The Washington roommate agreement (“room rental agreement”) is a binding legal contract that outlines the responsibilities of each inhabitant of a rental property in the event of a shared living situation. This document describes each tenant’s financial responsibilities as well as other rules and regulations of the shared space.
If there is nothing in the rental agreement that prevents this or a guest policy that would prohibit a roommate, then it is possible to have one. When unsure, get the landlord’s written permission. Typically, a landlord does not sign a roommate agreement. However, it may be advantageous if a roommate wants to become a signer on the original lease as well.
It is important to note that the person who originally leased the rental unit remains completely responsible for anything that the roommate does.
Make sure the roommate agreement is very detailed about important things such as the rent amount, when the rent is due, and the house rules. House rules contain the terms and conditions that apply to things like guests, pets, noise, the use of common areas, private areas, cleaning chores, and how the utilities will be shared. The roommate should be given a copy of the original lease and agree in writing to abide by the terms and conditions that it contains.
What to Include in a Washington Roommate Agreement
Here are the items to include in a roommate agreement in Washington:
- The beginning and end dates of the agreement.
- The names of the original tenant and the roommate(s).
- Identification of the rental unit and the portion rented by the roommate.
- Rent amount.
- How and when rent it is to be paid. Late fees for unpaid rent.
- Inventory of included items, such as bedroom furniture, etc.
- Identification of, and restrictions for the use of, any common areas.
- How the allocations will be calculated for shared utilities and how the bills will be paid.
- Very detailed house rules and any special terms and conditions such as restrictions on use, pets, guest policy, noise policy, parking, and other premises’ rules.
- Referral to the original lease agreement with an acknowledgment that all the terms and conditions in the original lease apply to the roommate agreement as well. Attach a copy of the original lease to the roommate agreement.
- Signature of all parties and the date that they signed the agreement.
Roommate’s Rights in Washington
Anti-discrimination laws do not apply to roommates. People are free to select roommates on any basis that they wish.
A roommate who is also a signer on the lease is considered a co-tenant. The landlord has the rights of eviction of all tenants, however, one co-tenant does not have the right to evict another co-tenant. From a landlord’s point of view, any guest who stays longer than two weeks should be added to the lease as a co-tenant.
If a roommate agreement has a specific start and end date then it is like a sublease and the roommate may be evicted by the original tenant for a material breach of the agreement under the same laws that apply to subleases and regular tenants.
If a roommate is not on the lease, and the roommate agreement is not for a specific time, and there is a dispute, this situation is as if the roommate has a month-to-month rental agreement. The roommate would have the same rights under the Washington laws as a month-to-month renter. You can sue a roommate for material breaches of the roommate agreement such as non-payment of rent; however, evicting a roommate is much harder to do. Choose roommates wisely.