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What Should I Know About Evicting a Roommate?

A notice of eviction posted on a roommate's door.
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  • Written By: R. Anacan
  • Edited By: Lindsay D.
  • Last Modified Date: 14 July 2014
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The process of evicting a roommate is not an easy one and your success in doing so is dependent on a variety of different factors. So what can you do?

Start by reviewing the lease. If you and your roommate are both on it, your options are rather limited in evicting a roommate. A landlord generally considers all residents of the apartment as one entity, with all sharing equal rights and responsibilities. As joint and equal partners on the lease all have the right to be in the apartment.

Therefore, if you ask your landlord to start the process of evicting a roommate, simply because you want them to, it will typically not be honored. While this may seem unfair to some, this does prevent your roommate from evicting you! Consequently your best course of action is to negotiate a settlement everyone can live with. No changes can be made to the lease without the approval of all parties, so everyone will have to agree to the changes. Even if your roommate chooses to leave, many landlords require that the remaining resident re-qualify for the apartment on his/her own. If you are unable to qualify, the landlord may not release your roommate from the lease and vice versa.

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If the person you are trying to remove is not on the lease agreement and is subletting from you, you may have more leverage in evicting a roommate since you, as the leaseholder, have the right to determine who is or is not welcome in your home. If you are unable to convince a roommate that is not on the lease to leave peacefully, you can consider contacting your local law enforcement agency to inform them that s/he is trespassing. Law enforcement may assist you in getting rid of a roommate by requiring that person to vacate the premises immediately.

Remember, many landlords do not allow subletting and doing so may be considered a violation of your lease agreement. Before allowing someone to sublet, consider that a resident who is not legally responsible has no incentive to pay the rent and/or to take care of the apartment. A person who is not on the lease can cause thousands of dollars in damage and only the resident who is on the lease would be held responsible and liable.

Evicting a roommate is a complicated and difficult process and the wise renter will take the time to carefully consider whom they are entering into a legally binding contract with before signing on the dotted line.

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Discuss this Article

anon210762
Post 1

One thing to consider is the possibility of retaliation from the evicted roommate. You may well be within your rights to evict that person from your residence, but that doesn't guarantee your personal safety after you do it. He or she may decide to harass or otherwise intimidate potential new roommates, for example. Flyers and posters announcing the need for a new roommate could be vandalized or removed. There could also be harassing phone calls or letters to deal with if the former roommate has difficulty moving on with his or her life after the eviction. A temporary restraining order (TRO) may become a necessity if the former roommate becomes intrusive.

I was in a situation one time where an ex-roommate had just been evicted before I met with the other roommate who placed the ad. He was a bit of an oddball, but nice enough as a potential roommate. I moved into the apartment, got my keys and set up shop. A day later, the phone rang and I knew it was for my roommate, since I didn't even know the number at the time.

On the other end was his former roommate, and he realized I wasn't the person he was looking for. I must be the new roommate. I didn't know the whole story about the eviction, but the former roommate starting getting very agitated while talking to me. He demanded to know where "Dan" was, and why he was already allowing someone else to move in. Apparently, they had gotten into what sounded like a lovers' spat, and now he had time to cool off and talk to "Dan" about their situation. I had no idea the eviction was this complicated or emotional. I am not homosexual, and I didn't really care to know the sexual orientation of my roommate. That was his private business. But I found myself in the middle of a very tricky situation because the former roommates weren't clearly at peace with the eviction.

The other thing I learned is that it is very important for a new roommate to introduce themselves to the manager of the apartment complex or the landlord of the house. If you are not on the lease, they may not be too anxious to open your shared apartment door if you lose your key or your roommate cannot be reached for verification. Conversely, a tenant should inform the landlord or manager if he or she has asked another roommate to leave the premises permanently. Discovering an unknown face in a tenant's apartment can lead to some serious misunderstandings down the road.

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