Can You Evict A Non-Paying Roommate?

When you sign a lease with roommates for an apartment or a home, you have to be extremely careful about how the lease is worded. In some cases, both parties can be listed as tenants, making them equally responsible for the rent. This means that if one party fails to pay, the other party has little ground to stand on to get them out, and may be held liable for the entire amount of the rent. Here is what you need to know in this situation.

Ask the Landlord to Draw Up Two Separate Contracts
If possible, ask a landlord to draw up separate contracts for each tenant. The contract should list who is responsible for what. This makes each party responsible for their own rent, and if the other party does not pay, the landlord can evict that party.

Get a Tenant/Occupant Agreement
If the landlord does not want to have separate contracts for each roommate, you may want to get a tenant/occupant agreement. With this type of agreement, you are listed as the sole tenant of the apartment, meaning you are responsible for providing the landlord rent. Your roommate can be listed as an occupant, meaning they do live there. From there, you can draw up a contract with the roommate where you are listed as the landlord and they are your tenant. This is a legally binding contract as to how much they pay and when rent is due. If they fail to pay, you can then turn around and evict them.

Eviction law is complicated and often favors the party being evicted, as the courts do not want to throw someone out of the streets. Unfortunately, many people make the mistake of listing roommates as tenants on the rental contract without realizing that this gives them little leverage if the other party stops paying rent. In this case, the only course of action you may have is suing them in small claims court to get back rent, but it will not help you get them out any sooner. You may have to wait until the end of the lease in order to do so.

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