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You’ve moved into your new home in Harrisonburg, but you’re not alone! This section of our site features resources to help you choose compatible roommates and create and maintain a low-stress and supportive living environment.

It can be hard at times to find compatible roommates or to even know where to look.  Here are several ways that our office can help you with the process of finding roommates.

  1. Roommate Finder: Visit to create a roommate profile! Provide information about yourself and your lifestyle and what you are looking for in a roommate and housing. Once your profile has been created, you can view profiles of other JMU community members looking for roommates and housing in the area.
  2. Facebook: Feel free to post on the JMU Off-Campus Life Facebook page if you're looking for roommates to advertise to other students. There is also a Facebook group called James Madison University (JMU) Housing, Sublets, & Roommates, where you may post your needs as well. Please note this group is unaffiliated with our office or the university.
  3. Word of Mouth: Verbal communication is still the number one means of communication that students rely on to gain information. Talk to others in your classes, student organizations, or even to the property management at off-campus housing locations where you are interested in living. These individuals may know others who also need roommates.

When you choose roommates to live with off-campus, you are making an important decision about your living environment for the academic year. It can be easy to think that someone you are friends with will make a good roommate or to assume things about a roommate’s lifestyle. However, our office recommends taking time to carefully select roommates who are compatible with you in the following areas:

  • Cleanliness Habits
    • If you know that untidiness irritates you, try to find a roommate who shares your desire for a consistently clean environment. Conversely, if you tend to be disorganized, you'll want to find a roommate who is unbothered by this.
  • Policies Around Overnight Guests
  • Number of Roommates They Want to Live With
  • Gender of Roommates They Want to Live With
  • Pet Preferences
    • It is important to know whether your roommate will be bringing a pet, or if you have one, that they know about yours. If possible, try to arrange a meeting between the pet and the roommate beforehand to avoid any potential problems. It is also important to understand that, even though the pet may be your roommate’s responsibility, they may enlist you to help care for it from time to time. So, if your roommate is frightened by or allergic to your pet, problems could arise.
  • Smoking Preference
    • Please note that smoking is strictly prohibited indoors for all housing units.
    • If you prefer a smoke-free environment, but your roommate is used to smoking in the house, it is unlikely that your living situation will be optimal. Try to find a roommate whose lifestyle meshes well with yours, and both of you will be happier!
  • Social and Study Habits
    • If one of you prefers for your house to be a quiet refuge, but the other is accustomed to frequently hosting many visitors, you may not wish to become roommates. Noise levels should also be agreed upon for both weeknights and weekends.

It is also important to look for roommates who have a compatible lifestyle with yours and who display the following traits:

  • Trustworthiness: You must find a roommate who you can trust. Maybe not with your most embarrassing secrets, but you should be able to trust them to respect you, your belongings, and the terms you agree to for living together.
  • Responsibility: This is key, especially if you have signed a group lease and are all jointly responsible for rent and utilities. In such cases, if your roommate has not paid their portion of the rent, it may be up to you to make up the difference or risk being evicted.
  • Conflict Resolution Skills:  No matter who you live with, occasional, minor conflicts are inevitable.  Try to find out in advance how your roommate handles conflict. Openness and cooperation are crucial to this!
  • Respectful of each other's rights: You and your roommate(s) have the right to read and study undisturbed in your rooms, sleep without interference from roommates or guests, have your personal property respected, have a clean living environment, have personal privacy, have guests visit as long as they respect the rights of other tenants, be free from fear of physical or emotional harm, and have payment procedures for shared bills honored.

Talk about each of these topics before deciding to be roommates.  This is the best way to determine if your lifestyles are compatible enough to make living together an experience that you will enjoy and that will support your growth and development throughout your time living off-campus together.

For more information on things to look for in finding a compatible roommate, check out our Roommate Priorities Rubric.

A roommate agreement is a document that outlines each tenant's responsibility as a roommate and how you will respect each other in terms of handling household chores, guests, pets, paying rent, and other activities that will impact your living environment. This agreement can help guide a conversation about the ground rules in the living environment and can also be something to refer back to if a conflict arises about an issue. Once signed, though this agreement may not be legally binding like a lease, it can be used as evidence in court should the violation of this agreement result in severe conflict or consequences.

What to Include in a Roommate Agreement

  • Financial Responsibilities: Roommate agreements should outline each person’s financial responsibilities, including how much they are to pay in rent each month and their portion of the security deposit. These agreements can also outline and divide up other financial obligations, including internet, cable, groceries, and other utilities. This is a great place to include who will be responsible for purchasing your UDAP contract and putting utilities in their name, as well as how other roommates will pay their portion of utilities to this individual monthly.
  • Ground Rules: These agreements should also set ground rules regarding privacy, cleaning, yard maintenance like mowing or snow removal if not provided by your landlord, overnight guests, parties, quiet hours, use of alcohol, and smoking. We suggest having roommates talk about ground rules and arrangements related to the following areas:
    • Food and Grocery Shopping
    • Cleanliness and Cleaning Responsibilities (an example Chore Chart and Household Chore List)
    • Privacy
    • Sharing of Personal Items
    • Noise/Study Times
    • Smoking/Drinking/Drug Use
    • Parties/Guests
    • Overnight Guests
    • Pets
    • Laundry Times/Usage
  • Breaking Lease/Moving Out: You may want to include in the agreement responsibilities should a roommate need to move out, especially if a joint lease is signed making all roommates responsible for their portion of the rent. Below is a sample of wording that could be added to an agreement to address this concern:
    • “If for whatever reason, I move out of the dwelling, I realize it is primarily my responsibility to find a replacement tenant. I agree to look for a replacement tenant who is acceptable to my present roommates. If one of my roommates moves out, I also will attempt to find a replacement roommate. I understand the need to be reasonable in accepting a replacement roommate. If I move out of the dwelling and a replacement roommate has not been found, I realize that I am still legally responsible to my roommate(s) for paying my share of the rent and utility bills.”
  • Primary Contact: Establish one roommate as the primary contact for the landlord in case there are problems with the apartment or other concerns. This primary contact will also be the individual who makes maintenance requests, provides rental payment to the landlord if there is a joint lease, or discusses other concerns that may arise. This helps provide clearer communication, and you’ll want to make sure to let your landlord know the selected contact person.

Feel free to personalize our sample Roommate Agreement Form to help in this process!

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