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College Roommate Contracts

By Meg G.

A college roommate contract is a useful tool to help prevent conflicts. In addition, a college roommate contract will help roommates work out issues and disagreements as they take place. Many universities recommend roommates to draw up these contracts, and even have resident assistants help in the process.

No-Compromise Points

Allow each roommate to come up with two to three things that he or she will not compromise about. For instance, one roommate could prefer that no overnight visitors of the opposite sex are allowed in the room. The other roommate can require that there's no talking on the phone inside the room after 11 p.m. Once you have the no-compromise points set, you can move on to more general rules.


Noise levels are an important thing to put in a roommate contract. Making sure that you and your roommate understand when sleep, study, and quiet time are is an important step and will help divert many potential problems. Talk about how loud your music can be played. If you and your roommate don't agree on a type of music, wear headphones when listening to music. Be respectful and don't talk on the phone in front of your roommate all the time.


Set ground rules on who cleans what and when. Keeping your living area clean is important, as germs run rampant through college campuses around the country. Pick up your side of the room and share in cleaning responsibilities in common areas, such as the bathroom.

Alcohol and Other Substances

Many college campuses are smoke-free and dry, meaning you can't have alcohol in the dorms. However, if you are allowed to smoke or drink, set ground rules in your roommate contract. If one roommate prefers no smoking, the smoking roommate should smoke outside out of respect. If alcohol makes one of the roommates uncomfortable, the roommate who wants to drink should go to a friend's room to party.


If you have to pay bills, your roommate contract needs to stipulate who pays what and how. Maybe you and your roommate can alternate monthly bills. Maybe you can each pay half of each bill, or, better yet, divvy up individual bills for each roommate to pay. Stipulate what happens if a roommate doesn't pay a fair share of the bills.

Your Stuff

Your roommate contract should give each roommate a good idea of what is acceptable and what's not acceptable in terms of sharing or not sharing your stuff. If you don't want your roommate touching your things, put it in the contract. If you don't mind that your roommate uses your stuff as long as it's put back, discuss that in the contract. This portion of the contract should be cut and dry for you and your roommate.

A roommate contract is a powerful tool that makes sure that everyone is on the same page. Each roommate needs his or her own copy of the contract to ensure that it can be referenced as needed. If conflicts arise, stick to what is written in the contract.

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