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Roommate Did not Pay Rent. What Are My Rights?

Discussion in 'Roomate & Joint Leases' started by Tom195526, Jun 1, 2018.

  1. Tom195526

    Tom195526 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    I wonder if you could kindly help me. Your kind advice would greatly be appreciated.

    My roommate and I had a serious argument on May 24th (near the end of the month). At the end of the argument, I mentioned that it would probably be best for both of us if he would leave.

    After our argument, my roommate sent me a text message stating that if I definitely wanted him to leave, he would “start searching for a new apartment” once he got back from his overseas trip.

    My roommate was scheduled to leave the country for 1 month (on May 31st), about a week after our argument.

    I sent him an email telling him that he was welcome to stay for another 1 month to 9 months until he found a suitable place.

    During the week after our argument and before his departure, we never discussed this issue again so I don’t know when he plans to leave.

    Our argument occurred on May 24th, and he was scheduled to leave a week later (on May 31st).

    Since rent is due on June 1st, i.e., the day after he was scheduled to leave for his 1 month trip, on the day before his trip, I asked him three times to please pay me his share of the rent before leaving.

    Since I didn’t see him on the last day before he left or on the day of his departure, I notified him of my rent request twice via email and once via text.

    He never responded to the emails and text.

    Unfortunately, he left on May 31st (yesterday), and never paid his share of the rent to me.

    Even though he is now overseas, I emailed him again about this issue, but he has not responded.

    So I’m now stuck with a $2,400 rent bill.

    Due to a disability, I haven’t worked over the past 7 years, and I have no income so paying the entire rent is very difficult for me.

    However, my roommate is in good health, works as an engineer, receives a good income.

    Yet, unfortunately, every month I have to chase after him to get him to pay his share of the rent and utilities.

    Anyhow, I wanted to ask the following questions:

    1. My roommate said that he would “start searching for a new apartment” when he returns from his overseas trip. But he has not told me exactly when he would leave.

    I have a feeling that when he returns in a month, he may move into his girlfriend’s apartment within a couple of days. I have this suspicion because he is very close to his girlfriend, and when he departed for his trip, he parked his car in his girlfriend’s garage (rather than our garage).

    So I suspect that he doesn’t want to pay rent for this month (June) since he is overseas, and that he will move into his girlfriend’s place in July within a couple of days after he returns from his trip.

    My question is…If he does intend to leave a few days after he returns from his one month trip, didn’t he have the obligation to give me a 30-day notice when he left so that I can find a new roommate?

    2. I only received a $500 deposit from my roommate when he moved in with me 7 months ago. Would I be correct to assume that I can keep the $500 deposit if he doesn’t pay the rent for June and ends up leaving a few days after returning from his trip in July?

    3. I have a good friend who is very interested in moving into the apartment as soon as possible. Since my roommate has not paid the rent for this month (June), would I have the right to let my friend move into the apartment?

    I was thinking of waiting a few days, and then sending my roommate another email informing him that unless I receive his share of the rent within 1 week, I will have no choice but to let my friend move in, and that I will have to place my roommate’s belongings in storage.

    Could I legally do this?

    Any advice, ideas, recommendations and assistance you can provide me would be deeply appreciated.

    Thank you very much for taking the time to read my post and for helping me! I really appreciate it!
     
  2. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    1. Maybe.
    Is your roommate a subtenant who is responsible to you, or is your roommate a cotenant who is responsible to the landlord?

    2. Maybe.
    This depends on wording of your agreement (it sounds as if maybe he is a subtenant). If what you collected was a damage deposit you may be obligated to return it and seek unpaid rent in small claims court.

    3. No.
    This would be an unlawful eviction and you open yourself to significant liability that isn't worth the risk.

    You might seek guidance from your landlord for how to proceed. You need to begin the eviction process immediately, but may not be able to until he comes back, at which time he might leave anyway. If the rent remains unpaid you can seek a judgment in court and likely get it.
     
  3. Tom195526

    Tom195526 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Wow! Thank you so much, MightyMoose. This is really valuable, eye-opening information. Thank you!

    1. Maybe

    Is your roommate a subtenant who is responsible to you, or is your roommate a co-tenant who is responsible to the landlord?

    Actually, I think that my roommate is a co-tenant who is responsible to the landlord.

    The only agreement that we signed is a "Roommate Addendum to Lease Agreement," where my roommate was added to the lease as an "Incoming Tenant."

    We both signed this document and it was signed by the landlord as well.


    This Addendum revised the original lease.

    I was the only tenant on the original lease.

    Aside from the Addendum, there is no separate agreement solely between my roommate and I.


    Unfortunately, I can't find a copy of the original lease.

    But if I remember correctly, on the original lease it said that the tenant has to give a 30 day notice to the landlord.

    So I guess my roommate, as an "Incoming Tenant" who has accepted the same responsibilities as I have, is required to give a 30 day notice to the landlord.


    But on the Addendum, there is no clause that says that my roommate has to give me a 30 day notice.

    As far as I know, my roommate has not give a 30 day notice to the landlord.


    2. Maybe.

    This depends on wording of your agreement (it sounds as if maybe he is a subtenant). If what you collected was a damage deposit you may be obligated to return it and seek unpaid rent in small claims court.

    The only agreement my roommate and I signed, namely, the Roommate Addendum to Lease Agreement, refers to a Security Deposit of $500.

    However, although the simple, basic Addendum doesn't specify to whom my roommate was supposed to pay the $500 when he moved in, based on the building manager's instructions, he actually paid the $500 to me.

    As the original lessee, I had placed a $1,400 Security Deposit with the Building Management Company when I moved in the unit about 25 years ago.

    So the building manager mentioned that my roommate had to pay the Security Deposit to me and not the Management Company.

    This $500 figure was a number I chose, although the building manager strongly advised me to get a $1,400 Security Deposit from my roommate but, unfortunately, I didn't.


    3. No.

    This would be an unlawful eviction and you open yourself to significant liability that isn't worth the risk.

    You might seek guidance from your landlord for how to proceed. You need to begin the eviction process immediately, but may not be able to until he comes back, at which time he might leave anyway. If the rent remains unpaid you can seek a judgment in court and likely get it.

    Thanks MightyMoose. That's good to know. I appreciate your kind help! Thank you!
     
  4. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    If your roommate is a cotenant then he is not responsible to pay you anything. He owes rent to the landlord and must give notice to the landlord. You are not a factor in the matter. You can tell your landlord what is going on and the landlord can deal with the eviction if the rent goes unpaid. It is not your problem.

    For the same reason, the deposit should not be an issue for you. The deposit should have been paid to the landlord, not you. If you turned around and paid it to the landlord then it is the landlords problem. If the deposit remained with you then you will need to return it when he moved, minus reasonable deductions for cleaning and damages.

    Since he is a cotenant you definitely do not want to mess with his property and try to move someone else in. Wait until the landlord tells you it is ok.
     
  5. Tom195526

    Tom195526 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Thanks again, Mightymoose. This is truly valuable information! I really appreciate your kind help! Thank you!!!
     
  6. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    Just one more thought to buttress what Mighty Moose posted.

    The AWOL deadbeat isn't your problem, if he is a co-tenant.

    Collecting rent from the deadbeat is the responsibility of your landlord.

    I suggest you immediately inform your landlord about the person going AWOL, when you take him/her your share of the rent, which is ONLY $1,200.

    You could provide him with contact details for the deadbeat, if you wish.

    I don't see that you owe $2,400, IF your landlord granted the deadbeat a cotenancy on a lease.

    After this is resolved, you might be able to allege that the landlord invalidated your leasehold by taking 50% of your formerly 100% leasehold and GIFTING it to the deadbeat.

    However, I'd only mention that the deadbeat is gone missing, but you're handing over your share of the rent which is $1,200.

    Going forward, adult roommates are always troublesome.

    You only have to review what this interloper has done to you by his presence.

    Men and women, women and women, men and men can only reside together when married about 50% of the time; according to divorce statistics.

    Roommates (as adults) are probably only 90% successful over long periods of time.

    I love my wife, and have done so for more than 50 years.

    However, if she predeceases me, I'd live the rest of my alone.
     
  7. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    I would expect the lease to hold each cotenant responsible for the full rent, not just a share of it. Maybe the landlord will be nice about it since you have been there so long. Be very apologetic and use big puppy dog eyes when you hand over your check for the rent and maybe the landlord will pay along.
     
    army judge likes this.
  8. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    Read this.

    By the way, I would be shocked if your lease does not provide that each of you is jointly and severally liable for the entire $2,400 rent. Therefore, tendering $1,200 to the landlord probably won't solve your problem, unless your landlord is willing to accommodate you by waiting until your roommate gets back.
     
  9. Tom195526

    Tom195526 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Thanks ArmyJudge for your kind advice and help.

    I greatly appreciate your time and thoughts. Thank you!
     
  10. Tom195526

    Tom195526 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Thanks Zddoodah. I can't find a copy of the original lease. I will ask the manager for a copy and I'll read it carefully. Thank you once again for your kind advice and help!
     
  11. shrinkmaster

    shrinkmaster Well-Known Member

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    In these situations the landlord only cares that he/she gets his/her rent. I doubt there is a separate agreement for each tenant only that you each live there. You owe the entire rent unless yo want to face possible eviction. Yes its unfair which is a good reason not to have roomates
     

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