Ayla P.R. Representative with Moving Made Smooth, Inc.
Sometimes a roommate decides to move out before the lease is complete for a variety of reasons; maybe they can’t afford their portion of the rent or they are moving in with a significant other. Whatever the reason, it leaves the remaining tenant to figure out how to deal with the consequences.
If you find yourself in this sticky situation, there are a few tips below to help you through the process with as little stress and discomfort as possible.
• Try having your roommate sign an agreement to pay the remaining rent & utilities, help you replace them, pay for any damages they caused to the dwelling, and forfeit their rights to live in your dwelling. If an acceptable replacement isn’t found within 30 days, your ex-roommate will be responsible for any remaining rent for the remainder of the lease until a new one is found.
• If unable to do the above, you may be able to take them to small claims court to obtain the remaining rent & utilities payments. If they don’t appear for court it automatically will be ruled in your favor. Any court winnings can potentially be garnished from their wages or removed from their bank account by the court.
• Do not simply switch out your roommate for another one! These are grounds for eviction if your landlord was not informed of the changes to your rental agreement.
• Have any new roommate fill out a rental agreement with your landlord.
• If you also decide to break the lease, you & your roommate will be responsible for paying the charges involved along with any damage to the dwelling. You must also inform your landlord. Be aware that breaking a lease can also complicate entering a new lease.
• Beware! A landlord can decide to evict you both even if you or your ex-roommate is paying for their portion of the rent! This will usually only occur if the landlord already wants you out for other reasons, since few landlords want to spend more of their time searching for new tenants.
• If terminating the lease entirely, notify the landlord immediately! Also helping the landlord to find a new tenant or showing the dwelling to potential new tenants is beneficial to you. The sooner a new tenant can be found, the sooner you will be no longer responsible for paying rent at the dwelling.
• Remember: things always go more smoothly when you try to keep your cool. The landlord won’t put up with your tone & complaints about a roommate skipping out on you. And things will probably be better with your ex-roommate if you try to be understanding about their departure also.
By following these tips, you will hopefully minimize the cost and strain of the process of replacing your roommate or otherwise terminating a lease. If you have any input or advice not included in this article, please leave a comment below!