Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

Summer has flown by and many college students are headed back to school. Some will be moving into their first apartments. Just as you need to study for your classes, you should do your homework before signing a rental agreement. Then sit down with your roommate(s) to agree on some basic rules. Apply your consumer smarts so that you don’t end up fighting to receive your rent deposit back next spring or wondering how to give a dead-beat roommate the boot.

Before you sign a rental agreement, make sure you understand the terms and ask the landlord questions. Next, walk through the apartment and complete a checklist describing the condition of the rental unit and any furnishings. You may want to take photos as evidence.

Many people can relay personal roommate horror stories. Whether you live with your best friend or a stranger, you need to take precautions so you aren't stuck paying more than your fair share of the bill or wondering what to do when your roommate’s new crush becomes a permanent guest. Draft a roommate agreement that addresses how much each roommate will pay toward rent and utilities, how chores will be divided up, and issues such as whether you’ll allow smoking or overnights guests.


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