My Roommate Won’t Pay Me
When a roommate has not paid his or her share of the rent, one might be inclined to think that only that roommate will suffer the consequences. However, this is not usually the case. More often than not, any and all roommates are 100% responsible for all of the rent at all times under the lease. To better understand why this happens, let’s define a couple key terms.
Tenant: Someone who has signed a lease or a rental agreement, or was part of an oral rental agreement, or whose residency has otherwise been accepted by the landlord. Since he or she has a direct relationship with the landlord, a tenant can hold the landlord to all the landlord’s promises.
Roommates: Two or more people living under the same roof and sharing rent and expenses. Roommates can either be listed on the lease, or not formally listed on the lease.
Now that you understand the difference between a tenant and a roommate, you’ll have to look to the terms of your lease to determine what to do if your roommate has not paid their share of the rent. If your name is the only name on the lease, you can exercise the same right that your own landlord would if you failed to pay your rent — you can evict the non-paying roommate. If both you and your roommate signed the same lease with the landlord then you will both be held equally responsible, no matter which roommates pay or not. While you may be able to discuss the situation with your landlord, his legal rights entitle him to full rent from all tenants, otherwise he can begin the eviction process.
You might be able to redeem the lease if you convince your roommate to move out immediately and without contention. At that point, you can approach your landlord, tell him or her that your roommate is vacating the premises, and that you’re actively seeking a new roommate through an ad in the paper or the Internet. By taking these actions, you’re demonstrating to your landlord that you’re working to rectify the situation as soon as possible and can pay your rent in full if given the opportunity with a more responsible roommate. This will not relieve you from the obligation to pay full rent (unless you and your landlord can come to an agreeable arrangement, which should be put in writing), but it will likely keep the roof over your head.
However, your landlord has the right to refuse your request, and if he does, be prepared to move. You can also contact the experienced money collection attorneys at the Law Offices of Andrew Ritholz for more help and information.