Making a housing agreement? Let’s get it in paper! When you and your roommate(s) sign a lease together you are considered ‘Joint Tenants’; this means you enter into a legal relationship with both your landlord and your roommates committing to pay the allotted portion of your rent on the specified day that it is due. We recommend tenants in this situation sign another legal agreement known as a Joint Tenancy Agreement. This is a contract between the tenants formally recognizing how the apartment will be used and how costs and responsibilities will be divided. Each joint-tenant has a legal right to peaceful enjoyment of the dwelling; however we all have different interpretations of what this means. The purpose of the Joint Tenancy Agreement is to clear up ambiguity and establish a clear set of guidelines that the tenants can be held to respect. You can view a Joint Tenancy Agreement here.
- Internal Communication. Figure out exactly what your ideal living arrangement would be. Think of points that you cannot compromise on and points that are open to negotiation. For example, maybe you don’t want to live in a space where your roommates have weekly rock concerts; however perhaps you don’t mind it happening once a month. Some topics include: how and when rent will be made, rules of having guests and for how long they can stay, smoking and drug use in the apartment.
If you are having trouble thinking about specific points consult online examples of Joint Tenancy Agreements.
- Talk to your roommates and listen to what they want from living in the apartment. Be open in this process. Joint tenancy means you each have the right to peaceful enjoyment of the dwelling so you should act in good faith to come to a mutual agreement.
- After taking some time to talk and think about what kind of apartment you want to live in write down each of these points in a clear way and in a language you can all mutually understand.
- Make sure you all agree to these points and in the way they are written.
- Sign each copy of the document and keep it in a safe place.
- Refer to this document if problems between roommates occur; this document can be used as proof of contract in court so make sure that you fully read and understand everything contained in the document
My co-tenant is not respecting a part of our agreement, what should I do?
My co-tenant and I did not sign a joint tenancy agreement but have a verbal agreement, is this legally binding?