Taking on a roommate can be a great way to minimize expenses, but sometimes the arrangement just doesn’t work. A still amicable relationship may mean that asking the roommate to move out is sufficient. However, the situation becomes more complicated if you as the official renter and the perhaps unauthorized roommate cannot get along and the roommate refuses to leave.
The Rental Agreement
It’s important to understand the terms of the rental agreement. Usually, a rental agreement exists between a landlord and a renter who is named in the lease. The agreement may include the name of more than one renter, in which case all parties are authorized tenants. In this situation, removing a roommate is virtually impossible until the expiration of the agreement. However, when the roommate is not named on the agreement, the situation is different. When the landlord has not agreed to or is not aware of the presence of a roommate, you cannot count on their assistance. You may be able to provide the roommate with a written notice of eviction, providing them with a 30 day deadline by which they must vacate the premises. Just be sure you keep a copy if you need to escalate things with a lawsuit later. If the 30 day window passes and your roommate has not vacated, you may have grounds for a lawsuit.
Taking the Dispute to the Landlord
You may also be able to appeal to the landlord for assistance if they have turned a blind eye to your roommate’s presence or tacitly agreed to your right to have a roommate. As the property owner, the landlord can file a criminal trespass complaint which can be effective. On the other hand, the landlord may elect to evict everyone from the property, including you.
Avoiding Eviction Problems
It’s usually safest to have all tenants be parties to the rental agreement. Some landlords may not require this, but it makes sense to keep them informed about who’s living in the space. When your roommate will not be a party to the official rental agreement, have them sign a written agreement with you that deals with the terms and conditions of their residency. If you like, you can largely copy the terms of your rental agreement with the landlord. Make sure that both of you have copies of the agreement, and make certain that eviction is addressed in the document.