Contact us whenever you need it!

+1 855 997 0206

Mon-Fri 8am - 5pm ET

Many of us have roommate horror stories from college. However, as trying as those scenarios were, we knew there was a light at the end of the tunnel. The academic term would always end, and you could part ways.

But what do you do if that horror story involves a close friend who isn’t paying rent on time in an expensive apartment or someone who refuses to share in any of the cleaning or shopping responsibilities?

According to Pew Research, there has been a steady rise this century in “shared living,” or living with other adults with whom you are not romantically involved. Even before the pandemic, the reasons included skyrocketing rents, low housing inventory, young adults moving back in with their parents, and elderly parents moving in with their adult children.

Shared living may be necessary for your bank account, but what do you do if things don’t go the way you planned? Even the best of friends can find that the old saying, “You don’t really know someone until you live with them,” is all too true. This article will explain what you should know about how to evict a roommate.

Tenancy Status

Your first step is to determine your tenancy status on your lease agreement. Your legal right to evict someone from the home is based upon whose name or names are on the lease. Here are the tenancy status conditions you should know:

  • You are both co-tenants. If both your name and your roommate’s name are on the lease, you are both equally responsible for paying rent and following the other terms of the lease agreement. One co-tenant cannot evict another co-tenant; only the landlord can.
  • You are the master tenant. If only your name is on the lease, you are the primary tenant, or master tenant. With this status, you need to have the landlord’s permission to sublet to a roommate, or subtenant.

    A master tenant is the one responsible for collecting the rent or utility payments from subtenants and then paying the landlord. As a master tenant, you may have the right to evict a subtenant if they violate a roommate agreement you have. Since state laws can vary, you’ll need to see what your rights are where you live.

  • Your roommate is the master tenant. Your options are limited in this case. A subtenant cannot evict a master tenant. If you are legally listed as the subtenant, you might try talking with the landlord about your situation. Otherwise, you may have to be the one who moves out.

Reasons to Evict a Roommate

Now that you’ve checked your tenancy status, you may be wondering about the valid legal reasons to evict a roommate. In legal terminology, you will need to provide "just cause." Once again, states can vary on what consider as “just cause,” but here are some typical reasons:

  • Not paying rent
  • Not paying utility bills
  • Participating in illegal activities on the property
  • Damaging the property (outside of normal wear and tear)
  • Threatening the other tenant’s health or safety
  • Ignoring lease agreement rules, such as repeated noise complaints

Have a Conversation

Now that you know you have the tenancy status and probable “good cause” to evict someone who lives with you, your next step is to talk with them.

You’ve probably already talked with them many times about the ongoing situation before – perhaps too many times to count. Now it’s time to show that you are ready to take action. Be polite and remain calm as you discuss the unpaid rent or the other unresolved issues. Explain that you would like them to move out.

There is always a chance that your roommate knew this conversation was coming and will agree to leave. If you can damage it, give your roommate one- or two months’ notice. Despite the awkwardness of this situation, you will end up saving a lot of time and headache if you can agree to end your living arrangement this way.

Notice to Quit

If your roommate refuses to move out voluntarily, however, it's time to take legal action. First, you will need to draw up an official document, called a “notice to quit.” This notice should include:

  • Your roommate’s name and address
  • How your roommate is violating your lease agreement or roommate agreement
  • How long the tenant has to remedy the situation or move out of the home (Check your state law)
  • A statement that you file a formal eviction notice if the behavior isn't remedied or the roommate doesn't move out
  • Your signature and the date

You must deliver this notice to your roommate according to your state's legal requirements. For example, you might have to deliver it in person, post it on the door to the apartment, or send it via certified mail.

If your roommate fails to follow the terms of the Notice to Quit, you will need to follow through with a formal eviction through the legal system. The court will serve your roommate with formal notice of a hearing on their eviction. In some states, you might have to arrange to have your roommate served with these papers.

Landlord’s Help

You might be able to save yourself some time and trouble by enlisting your landlord’s help in removing a roommate. Remember, it’s not in your landlord’s best interests to have a subtenant who is not paying rent, unruly, damaging property, or otherwise not following the lease agreement.

Talk with your landlord about stepping in as a mediator and asking your roommate to move out.

However, be sure to double-check your tenancy status before bringing the topic up with your landlord. If you are violating your lease agreement by subletting, you may be the one who gets evicted.

Evict a Roommate During Covid Pandemic

Some cities and states have enacted eviction bans during the COVID-19 pandemic. Even in locations where there is not a ban, courts may have postponed non-essential hearings.

These delays are changing along with state rules on COVID-related closures, so check the eviction moratoriums by states or with your local court’s website to find out the latest information.

Even if you’re not able to evict your roommate at this time, you can take some of the steps that will make the process easier when the courts fully reopen. For example, some courts are still accepting eviction papers but just delaying their hearing schedules.

How to Avoid Roommate Eviction Problems

Even if you successfully evict your current roommate, you will want to take steps to avoid this unpleasant situation in the future.

The best way to avoid future roommate eviction problems is with a roommate agreement. This document is separate from the lease agreement you sign with your landlord.

It is a written agreement between tenants that states how expenses and chores will be divided and includes the rules all tenants must follow. Here are key items to include in a roommate agreement:

  • Rent. How much each tenant is responsible for paying and when it is due.
  • Security deposit. Amount each tenant is responsible for paying.
  • Utilities. Amount each tenant must pay.
  • Living space. Specifics on who has what bedroom and how common areas are shared
  • Moving out early. Procedures to follow if a roommate wants to move out before the lease term is over
  • Guests. Details on overnight guests, such as if approval is needed and how long they can stay
  • Food. Rules on whether roommates buy their own food and what food, if any, is shared.
  • Chores. List of chores that each person is responsible for and how supplies are purchased.
  • Noise. Any additional quiet times to those imposed by the landlord.

If a dispute arises between you and your roommate, this agreement serves as written proof that you each agreed to specific responsibilities.

Don’t let one bad roommate experience change the way you think about shared living. Having a responsible roommate is a great way to lower your expenses and live in an apartment you might not otherwise be able to afford. For an easy way to create a lease agreement.

Many of us have roommate horror stories from college. However, as trying as those scenarios were, we knew there was a light at the end of the tunnel. The academic term would always end, and you could part ways.

But what do you do if that horror story involves a close friend who isn’t paying rent on time in an expensive apartment or someone who refuses to share in any of the cleaning or shopping responsibilities?

According to Pew Research, there has been a steady rise this century in “shared living,” or living with other adults with whom you are not romantically involved. Even before the pandemic, the reasons included skyrocketing rents, low housing inventory, young adults moving back in with their parents, and elderly parents moving in with their adult children.

Shared living may be necessary for your bank account, but what do you do if things don’t go the way you planned? Even the best of friends can find that the old saying, “You don’t really know someone until you live with them,” is all too true. This article will explain what you should know about how to evict a roommate.

Tenancy Status

Your first step is to determine your tenancy status on your lease agreement. Your legal right to evict someone from the home is based upon whose name or names are on the lease. Here are the tenancy status conditions you should know:

  • You are both co-tenants. If both your name and your roommate’s name are on the lease, you are both equally responsible for paying rent and following the other terms of the lease agreement. One co-tenant cannot evict another co-tenant; only the landlord can.
  • You are the master tenant. If only your name is on the lease, you are the primary tenant, or master tenant. With this status, you need to have the landlord’s permission to sublet to a roommate, or subtenant.

    A master tenant is the one responsible for collecting the rent or utility payments from subtenants and then paying the landlord. As a master tenant, you may have the right to evict a subtenant if they violate a roommate agreement you have. Since state laws can vary, you’ll need to see what your rights are where you live.

  • Your roommate is the master tenant. Your options are limited in this case. A subtenant cannot evict a master tenant. If you are legally listed as the subtenant, you might try talking with the landlord about your situation. Otherwise, you may have to be the one who moves out.

Reasons to Evict a Roommate

Now that you’ve checked your tenancy status, you may be wondering about the valid legal reasons to evict a roommate. In legal terminology, you will need to provide "just cause." Once again, states can vary on what consider as “just cause,” but here are some typical reasons:

  • Not paying rent
  • Not paying utility bills
  • Participating in illegal activities on the property
  • Damaging the property (outside of normal wear and tear)
  • Threatening the other tenant’s health or safety
  • Ignoring lease agreement rules, such as repeated noise complaints

Have a Conversation

Now that you know you have the tenancy status and probable “good cause” to evict someone who lives with you, your next step is to talk with them.

You’ve probably already talked with them many times about the ongoing situation before – perhaps too many times to count. Now it’s time to show that you are ready to take action. Be polite and remain calm as you discuss the unpaid rent or the other unresolved issues. Explain that you would like them to move out.

There is always a chance that your roommate knew this conversation was coming and will agree to leave. If you can damage it, give your roommate one- or two months’ notice. Despite the awkwardness of this situation, you will end up saving a lot of time and headache if you can agree to end your living arrangement this way.

Notice to Quit

If your roommate refuses to move out voluntarily, however, it's time to take legal action. First, you will need to draw up an official document, called a “notice to quit.” This notice should include:

  • Your roommate’s name and address
  • How your roommate is violating your lease agreement or roommate agreement
  • How long the tenant has to remedy the situation or move out of the home (Check your state law)
  • A statement that you file a formal eviction notice if the behavior isn't remedied or the roommate doesn't move out
  • Your signature and the date

You must deliver this notice to your roommate according to your state's legal requirements. For example, you might have to deliver it in person, post it on the door to the apartment, or send it via certified mail.

If your roommate fails to follow the terms of the Notice to Quit, you will need to follow through with a formal eviction through the legal system. The court will serve your roommate with formal notice of a hearing on their eviction. In some states, you might have to arrange to have your roommate served with these papers.

Landlord’s Help

You might be able to save yourself some time and trouble by enlisting your landlord’s help in removing a roommate. Remember, it’s not in your landlord’s best interests to have a subtenant who is not paying rent, unruly, damaging property, or otherwise not following the lease agreement.

Talk with your landlord about stepping in as a mediator and asking your roommate to move out.

However, be sure to double-check your tenancy status before bringing the topic up with your landlord. If you are violating your lease agreement by subletting, you may be the one who gets evicted.

Evict a Roommate During Covid Pandemic

Some cities and states have enacted eviction bans during the COVID-19 pandemic. Even in locations where there is not a ban, courts may have postponed non-essential hearings.

These delays are changing along with state rules on COVID-related closures, so check the eviction moratoriums by states or with your local court’s website to find out the latest information.

Even if you’re not able to evict your roommate at this time, you can take some of the steps that will make the process easier when the courts fully reopen. For example, some courts are still accepting eviction papers but just delaying their hearing schedules.

How to Avoid Roommate Eviction Problems

Even if you successfully evict your current roommate, you will want to take steps to avoid this unpleasant situation in the future.

The best way to avoid future roommate eviction problems is with a roommate agreement. This document is separate from the lease agreement you sign with your landlord.

It is a written agreement between tenants that states how expenses and chores will be divided and includes the rules all tenants must follow. Here are key items to include in a roommate agreement:

  • Rent. How much each tenant is responsible for paying and when it is due.
  • Security deposit. Amount each tenant is responsible for paying.
  • Utilities. Amount each tenant must pay.
  • Living space. Specifics on who has what bedroom and how common areas are shared
  • Moving out early. Procedures to follow if a roommate wants to move out before the lease term is over
  • Guests. Details on overnight guests, such as if approval is needed and how long they can stay
  • Food. Rules on whether roommates buy their own food and what food, if any, is shared.
  • Chores. List of chores that each person is responsible for and how supplies are purchased.
  • Noise. Any additional quiet times to those imposed by the landlord.

If a dispute arises between you and your roommate, this agreement serves as written proof that you each agreed to specific responsibilities.

Don’t let one bad roommate experience change the way you think about shared living. Having a responsible roommate is a great way to lower your expenses and live in an apartment you might not otherwise be able to afford. For an easy way to create a lease agreement.