Do you know what a California room rental agreement is? Find out when you need one and how to write it for yourself. This legal contract can be highly beneficial when sharing a space with other tenants. Let's discover more about the room rental agreement and its advantages.

Room Rental Agreement

A California room rental agreement is the legal contract that's signed once a tenant sublets a particular rental unit during the initial rental period. It defines the regulations and rights for those who share a rental unit. These people never appear on the traditional lease agreement between the master tenant and landlord.

Your California room rental agreement addresses specific issues, such as shared utilities, shared housing, security deposit, rent due, and more. The person renting the room must pay rent to the landlord or master tenant, and this depends on what contract you have.

In California, there's a difference between subtenants and co-tenants for room rentals. Generally, co-tenants are roommates who sign a contract directly with the landlord. Therefore, every co-tenant must pay rent to the landlord.

However, subtenants sign the contract with the master tenant, who in turn has already signed a rental agreement with that landlord. Subtenants then pay rent to the master tenant, who gives it to the landlord (unless the room rental agreement specifies that the subtenant will pay rent directly to the landlord)

It's crucial to have the landlord's signature on your room rental agreement. However, he or she isn't responsible for providing the terms and conditions or complying with the information therein.

Why Use One?

The California room rental agreement is an excellent tool for property rentals in the state. It's utilized when the property owner wants to lend specific portions of the property to another tenant. Additionally, the agreement gets used to make the duties, responsibilities, and expectations of the parties clear.

It can help with conflict and issues before they escalate into something much worse.

Here are a few common scenarios when you might want to use a California room rental agreement:

  • The Party Rented Is Fully Committed - This agreement can help you settle boundaries and conditions if the party you've rented to is in a committed relationship. Being with a significant other in the unit all the time can cause problems and result in more utilities being used.
  • Constant Guests - The agreement can help you ensure that your unit is undisturbed and private. With it, you can determine the days appropriate for causing noise and having parties or disallow it as needed.
  • Division of Tasks - The room rental agreement can help you all divide property maintenance tasks among the group. These can include mowing the grass in summer, shoveling driveways in the winter, and cleaning tasks.
  • Division of Household Costs and Expenses - It's wise to have a contract like this if you hope to divide the expenses of using the property. They can include utilities, chores, and household items.
  • Establishing Quiet Hours - Generally, this contract is often used when a master tenant and the roommates wish to establish rules relating to quiet hours. There are fewer conflicts because of noise complaints later.


The room rental agreement is there to protect a tenant's rights. It's done when the main tenant chooses to sublease a portion or the whole property to secondary tenants. Likewise, it sets the boundaries for everyone before others move in. When you decide on terms that work for everyone involved, you have more peace of mind and fewer conflicts.

It's generally easier to evict a roommate for not following the terms of the lease when you have this agreement. Otherwise, the roommates can say they had no idea of what rules to follow if you don't offer such a contract.

Roommate Agreement

Generally, a California roommate agreement is something drafted for only the tenants without the landlord’s involvement.  However, a room rental agreement can be used by a homeowner (who becomes a landlord) or for roommates. In a sense, they are quite similar, but a landlord must sign the room rental agreement for it to be valid.

How to Write One

The responsibility of creating a California room rental agreement typically belongs to the landlord of the property. They have experience with rentals, so they're uniquely able to anticipate the normal conflicts that arise between roommates, addressing them in the contract. Here are the steps to take to draft one yourself:

Introductory Paragraph

In the first paragraph of the contract, you should outline the where, what, who, and when. It includes these components:

  1. Start Date - State the year, day, and month that the contract is signed.
  2. Name - List the legal names of the co-tenants, master tenant, subtenants, and landlord.
  3. Address - Record the address of the property in question, including the county, Zip code, state, and city.
  4. Termination Date - Include the full term of the contract from start to end dates.

Security Deposit

In this section of the contract, you are modifying the original lease agreement and g the people who've already contributed to the security deposit funds. It should include these components:

  1. The full amount of the security deposit funds that were paid to the landlord
  2. Who accepted the full security deposit, such as the master tenant who is then responsible for giving it to the landlord or the landlord themselves
  3. The date it was paid to the master tenant or landlord
  4. The names of every person who contributed
  5. The amount of money every person contributed


This section of the contract is also a modification of the original lease. It must list these important points about rent:

  1. Total rent due to the landlord each month
  2. The due date for the rent (the due date could be a monthly payment or another arrangement)
  3. Names of the people who contribute to rent
  4. Amount of money every resident should contribute
  5. Payment forms acceptable
  6. Name of the primary person responsible for rent collection (master tenant or landlord)

Reimbursements for Household Supplies and Food

In this section, you are defining who is responsible for household supplies and food used by everyone at the residence. Below, you'll find some considerations to include:

  1. Whether the food expenses are shared equally or if each roommate is responsible for buying their own food.
  2. An appropriate method of tracking supply purchases to ensure reimbursement (household supplies can include paper products, trash bags, and cleaning supplies).

Cleaning Schedule

Cleaning responsibilities are often a large source of arguments for roommates, so it's best to address them now. Some components to include are:

  1. Assigning specific cleaning tasks to each roommate with a scheduled time/date to complete them.
  2. Assigning specific days/times for roommates to meet and perform routine cleaning tasks together.

Utility Costs

You should list the division of utilities, which can include:

  • Natural gas
  • Internet
  • Phone
  • Cable television
  • Trash pickup
  • Electricity
  • Water

For every utility included, you should state the following information:

  1. Name of the account holder
  2. Amount of deposit, if needed
  3. How the cost of that utility is shared among the roommates
  4. Name of the person paying the deposit, if necessary
  5. Name of person responsible for that utility payment

Additional Considerations

There are countless situations that can cause conflict between roommates. It's impossible to predict them all, but here are a few examples of other items you might want to include in the contract:

  1. Smoking policies
  2. Noise levels
  3. Overnight guest policy
  4. Parking for roommates and guests
  5. Social gatherings
  6. Distribution of keys for those who don't reside on the property


The  signatures of the landlord and each roommate are required to make this legal and binding. Include a space for each printed name, date signed, and signature.

Local Laws

The subletting roommate likely signed a room rental agreement with a master tenant instead of a residential lease with a landlord. However, they still have certain rights like a traditional tenant in California.

Depending on whatever local laws are in effect, the roommate can be considered a co-tenant instead of a subtenant, even if they've not signed a residential lease contract. In that situation, the roommate has similar rights to a tenant, such as:

  • The master tenant and landlord must abide by all applicable laws that prohibit discrimination when renting to someone as a roommate.
  • The roommate has a right to take legal action against their landlord if the original lease agreement allows subletting of the property.
  • The roommate has a right to see the lease agreement, even if they aren't required to sign that particular document.
  • The roommate has a right to pay a portion of the rent deemed fair to all, which cannot exceed the amount the master tenant is required to pay.
  • The roommate has a right to live on the property without emotional or physical harassment.
  • The roommate has the right to enjoy habitable living quarters.
  • The roommate has a right to reasonable maintenance and repairs of the residence.
  • The roommate has a right to eviction proceedings similar to that of a tenant under California law.

California law says that a master tenant or landlord may only provide a three-day notice to evict roommates for these reasons:

  • Violent behavior
  • Nonpayment of rent
  • Using the rental unit for illegal purposes, such as dogfighting, dealing illegal drugs, and weapon-related crimes
  • Violating the other tenants' basic rights
  • Significant property damage
  • Other violations within the lease or room rental contract

Typically, a reason for the eviction isn't necessary for month-to-month tenancies that receive 30 to 60 days' notice. However, this doesn't apply if the property is subjected to rent control.

Roommate Issues

Accepting a roommate is often a solution for those who want to save money, make friends in unfamiliar areas, and share household chores. However, it can also bring various conflicts with it. Therefore, you need a room rental agreement to identify common problems. Here are a few other issues that can be addressed in the contract:

  • Respecting sleep schedules
  • Setting boundaries to maintain privacy
  • Borrowing personal items
  • Methods of addressing minor issues peacefully and non-confrontationally
  • Addressing inappropriate guest behaviors

Build Your Own

It can be challenging to know how to write up a specific contract that covers you and protects all parties. Therefore, Doorloop offers a California room rental agreement template in three different formats:


If you need to sign a room rental or roommate agreement with a new tenant, you want to make the process as easy and efficient as possible.

With DoorLoop, you can get your agreements and templates eSigned in a few seconds. You can also get to the eSignature step much faster by creating reusable templates that are autofilled with tenants' information.

DoorLoop also makes it so simple to find the best tenants in the first place by syndicating your listings on popular websites Zillow, Trulia, Hotpads,, and more. You can also make sure you're bringing in the best tenants by screening your prospects in seconds through DoorLoop.

For more information about DoorLoop, learn more or schedule a free demo.


You have learned about the California room rental agreement and how it differs from a traditional lease. It's crucial to understand why this document is important and what to include in it.

When you draft a room rental agreement, all parties understand what they can and can't do, spreading the responsibility of household chores among everyone. Likewise, all parties know what's expected of them by signing the agreement.

Knowing what to include in the room rental agreement is one thing. It's often challenging because you must understand what to say and how to word things. Luckily, Doorloop is here to help with such documents. Download a template that meets all of your needs, or even customize one for specific purposes. It's so easy and makes your life less hectic!


How Do You Draft a California Roommate Agreement?

A room rental agreement is created by the tenant and signed by all the roommates and the landlord before you all start living together. We've explained the process earlier and also offer downloadable forms you can fill out and print.

What Are Room Rental Agreements?

The room rental agreement is a written contract designed to outline the obligations and rights of all residents. They understand how to live together and provide a cohesive living arrangement, which everyone agrees upon beforehand.

Is There a Difference Between a Housemate and a Roommate?

Technically, a roommate is the person with whom you share a bedroom, while the term housemate focuses on sharing an apartment or house. However, the words are used interchangeably in the US, and you require a room rental agreement to ensure things run smoothly.

How Is Doorloop Different Than Microsoft Word?

While you can create a template using Microsoft Word, you're often stuck on specific rules for each state. Doorloop takes the hassle out of drafting room rental agreements in compliance with your state’s laws and offers other services, as well.

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David is the co-founder & CMO of DoorLoop, a best-selling author, legal CLE speaker, and real estate investor. When he's not hanging with his three children, he's writing articles here!