My Roommate Stopped Paying Rent, What Can I Do?

Help, my roommate stopped paying rent!Many tenants that agree to split rent with their roommates commonly thinking that as long as payment of their share of rent every month is made, they are good. The thought that if the roommate stopped paying rent, then he/she will only be the one liable for not paying the rent to the landlord and may possibly evicted. If this is what a tenant with roommate has in mind, he/she must consider some facts for better understanding.

Roommates that signed the lease bound themselves to paying the landlord a particular amount as a portion of the total amount of rent every month. The landlord only cares about being paid the full amount of rent every month. The way the tenant and roommate divide their rent is between them. This is legal jargon of a joint and several liabilities.

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For example: A tenant rented a two-bedroom apartment with a roommate for $1,500 a month. The two agreed that the tenant would pay $800 and the roommate $700 every month because the tenant’s room is bigger. Within a few months of the lease, the roommate announces that he will be unable to pay his portion of the rent this month. What will happen is that even if the tenant will pay his full share of $800, he and his roommate are violating the lease agreement because the landlord is expecting to be paid the full amount of $1,500 every month.

This is not to mention the possible other differences that you and your roommate have. The other monthly bills have to be shared as well such as electricity, water and other bills. However, if your roommate will be short every time, chances are you will be shouldering not only the monthly rent, but the utilities as well. The concern is that, even if you are consistent in paying your share of the monthly rent and bills, the possibility of being evicted or denial of use of common services is imminent.

Therefore, the responsibility of having a roommate is to understand that both of you are responsible for each other’s portion of the total amount of the rent. Due to the fact that you have the possibility of being evicted if your roommate has a poor sense financial responsibility, it is crucial to go over the idea if a roommate is suitable for you. If you decide to have a roommate, consider the one that has the financial capability to pay for his share of monthly rent.

On the other hand, if you are renting an apartment with a roommate that is inconsistent in paying his share of the rent, it is practical for you to start considering another roommate in place of the current one. If you have a roommate that misses his rent payments, it will place the tenancy and the relationship at risk. Therefore, it is crucial to think first whether you can take the responsibility of having a roommate or not. All the other considerations will be secondary to the commitment of paying their share of the rent.

To summarize, here are some suggestions from

  • Look at your lease and verify if you are each responsible for the full rent if one person leaves.
  • Make sure that you have a separate written agreement with your roommate outlining each person’s responsibilities.
  • Find out if there is another guarantor on the lease agreement for your roommate.
  • Ask a lot of questions of any potential roommate – their financial situation, their job, and their habits.
  • Make sure your roommate is not getting married, or having children if your rental or lease cannot accommodate that.
  • Maintain a good relationship with your landlord in case a difficult situation comes up.

The main thing is to choose your roommate carefully. Besides the financial aspect, you want to have someone that you will enjoy being with throughout your lease. If you do that, you will be able to work out any potential problems that may arise.

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