Roommates can be good way to have social company while saving on the rent since you have someone helping you split up the cost of the rent payment. Thirty percent of American adults live with a roommate or a parent according to Zillow.
However, when relations get sour between you and your roommate, things can get quickly take a nasty downward turn where you want to evict your roommate. Now if you live with someone as violent as Tat Lawson in Menace to Society you may want to move out as quickly as possible!
Moreover, the ideal way to get rid of a bad roommate is to ask nicely. Here are some other remedies when that does not work [with bad guys such as Louis Bloom from Nightcrawler, it often doesn’t].
When can You Evict Your Roommate?
There is only one situation when you can legally evict your roommate. That is when you are the master tenant. Master tenant status means that your name is on the lease and you pay rent directly to the landlord. Your roommate’s name should not be on the lease.
A master tenant signs a lease exclusively with the landlord and allows other tenants to live in the rental unit.
However, these other tenants are essentially sub-letting from you and have no legal relationship with the landlord. You can evict your roommate based on a just cause regardless of a written agreement among the tenants.
What is a Just Cause for Eviction?
Every eviction must have a just cause. However, there are some rare cases when you do not require a just cause. For instance, a master tenant in San Francisco Area can expressly mention in the written agreement that the just cause ordinance does not apply.
Eviction procedure varies by the city and state the rental unit is in. However, just causes are fairly similar and refer to anything that the law views as an offence warranting eviction.
These can be something as simple as violating the lease terms or not paying rent. It can also include damaging the property and posing as a threat to the safety of other tenants.
Engaging in criminal activity on the premises is also a just cause for eviction. The details pertaining to a just cause varies by the state. However, they all require documentation.
What is Documentation?
Documentation is the proof you submit while seeking a legal eviction notice. The burden of proof lies on the master tenant and you will have to document substantial proof.
The first step should always begin with a healthy discussion of whatever is bothering you. If you ever saw the show Frasier, there was a sloppy character named Donny Douglas who was a personal injury lawyer. He was not the cleanest person around and no one wants someone sitting on their couch like that leaving a mess all over the living room table and couch!
Furthermore, if your roommate does not mend ways, then you should strictly stick to written communication which can be used as evidence at a later date.
You can take photos and make videos of the damage caused. For instance, if your roommate is prone to partying then property damage is a just cause. Take photos of the living situation that is affecting you. You can build a stronger eviction case with more documentation.
Landlords can be Helpful in a Room Mate Eviction
It is possible that your landlord might have dealt with roommate eviction before. Landlords come in helpful in cases when you are not the master tenant.
For instance, if both you and your roommate have names on the lease, then you can approach the landlord and explain your situation and the just cause for eviction.
Your landlord might be helpful even when your roommate is the master tenant and you are subletting the apartment from your roommate.
Emphasize points like your roommate is endangering the property and lives of other tenants or is unlikely to pay rent. Every landlord will take steps to protect his property and income.
You can make a stronger case in front of your landlord by doing your homework. Read up on eviction laws in your state and city. Prepare all documented evidence and speak to your landlord with these. It is vital to note that a landlord is not required to help you by law even if you are the master tenant.
How to Prepare and File an Eviction Notice?
You will need to follow the same processes as your landlord if you are the master tenant and looking to evict your roommate. Eviction requires the correct notices which you will have to prepare after reading up on applicable state and city laws.
The eviction notice mostly includes a notice to vacate and a notice to cure. You should try to get your landlord involved as much as possible. Try to show the eviction notices to the landlord before sending them to the nearest court house to your rental property.
The next steps involve acquiring a court date and showing up armed with proof and documentation. You need to appear in front of a judge requesting for an order demanding the roommate to vacate the premises. Court orders come with a time period.
There is no problem if your roommate vacates within the stipulated time period. If not, you can involve the police to forcibly have your roommate removed. They may be charged with criminal trespassing in this situation if they refuse to leave.
What to Do When You Are Not the Master Tenant?
There is not much you can do by way of legal measures if you are not the master tenant on the lease. However, here are some of the other viable options:
- Ask Nicely
Most issues can be sorted by just talking things through. You are important to your roommate because he/she depends on you for the rental share. If you were to leave, they may be in a situation themselves in coming up with next month’s rent. Hence, you can always speak openly about any problems you face.
- Draw Up a Written Agreement
You can request your roommate to construct a roommate agreement after a direct and constructive conversation. The agreement should list out all concerns you have had in the past.
Chances are that your roommate has a few concerns as well. This can serve as documentary evidence to build a case with your landlord in the event your roommate continues creating the same issues.
- Speak to Your Landlord
You can judiciously speak to your landlord. Most landlords want to keep their income and property safe and not to be an irrational drug kingpin like Walter White was in Breaking Bad! However, chances are that you might be evicted as collateral damage because your name is not on the lease.
Legally, you can only evict your roommate when you have a just cause as stipulated by the law and you are a master tenant to enforce it. There are other potential options such as asking politely, speaking to your landlord or initiating a written agreement, if you are not the master tenant.