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The Importance of Written Agreements


In the past, joint-use arrangements were sometimes based on informal agreements. However, the better practice is to use written agreements, formally approved by each participating agency’s governing body as a binding contract. Such agreements protect participating entities and prevent misunderstandings related to maintenance, operations, liability, ownership or cost sharing.

Joint use agreements typically include the following components:

  • Authority for entering the agreement;
  • Intent and purpose of the agreement;
  • Description of the facilities, areas and equipment to be shared;
  • Description of the activities and services to be offered;
  • Staffing and supervision requirements;
  • Financial arrangements and responsibilities;
  • Operational policies and procedures;
  • Provisions for dispute resolution;
  • Allocation of risk and insurance responsibilities; and
  • Termination procedures.

A variety of sample joint use agreements pertaining to animal care, library, dispatch and other related services, are available via the link at right. 

Agencies interested in sharing sample documents are welcome to contact the Institute at

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