7 Important Tips For Renters On What To Do If Your Roommate Moves Out And What To Do If Your Name Is Not On The Lease
Get Advice For Renters On Local Sub-Tenant’s Rights
Your roommate had the worst news ever for you with moving 100 miles away, but their name is the only one on your lease. Seven important tips for renters on what to do if your roommate moves out and what to do if your name is not on the lease. NSH Mortgage has the knowledge and tools to help you figure out all of the options you have if your roommate moves out and your name is not on the lease.
You need advice for renters fast. What should you do? If you are not on the lease, you are considered a subtenant, not co-tenant in most states. That means you have fewer rights in many cases.
Depending on where you live, you may have a succession of rights or the ability to take over the lease. Here is what you need to know and do before you move or negotiate a new lease.
Sublets And The Law
You will first want to learn if the landlord tenant laws where you live allow subtenants to stay if a primary tenant moves. These laws can be complicated, and vary widely by location. They often depend on what rental type you have. In New York, for instance, primary tenants do have a legal right to add roommates. But within states, laws can vary by county or city, so do not count on state law alone to help you.
Subtenants may have a harder time staying on in rent controlled or rent stabilized unit leases. In New York, you may not have a right to that low rent even if you can prove that you have the succession rights. Landlords often want rent stabilized tenants out to hike the rent up to market rate. So expect a serious, long, legal battle to remain in rent stabilized apartments. New York City law requires you establish a specific family like relationship with the previous tenant to keep a rent stabilized rental. In San Francisco, you will need to prove you were a co-tenant by documenting direct interaction with your landlord. That might be correspondence, rent receipts or canceled checks to the landlord.
Roommate: You Got Nothing
Otherwise, you are just a roommate, an especially insecure position if the landlord did not authorize you to live there. In that case, in many locations, landlords can force you out. To be certain of your rights, or the lack of, contact local tenants advocacy agencies or lawyers for advice in this situation.
Learn The Lease Terms
Even if your name is not on the lease, you should learn what is on that document. Your position depends on what the primary tenant and landlord agreed to, not what you personally want. Was your roommate contractually allowed to rent your room to you?
If you cannot get a copy of the actual lease, check out a standard lease agreement for your area. You can probably get one from a property management company or office supply store. This will tell you if it is typical to allow tenants to rent a room to you outside the lease. If that is likely, you might be able to negotiate a new lease with the landlord.
However, that depends on multiple factors, including if the primary tenant left on good terms. It may also matter if the landlord allowed this practice on a previous lease. If you learn that local lease or laws permit renting to roommates, you have a chance to negotiate a new lease. Otherwise, you could be evicted. If you are unsure, contact a lawyer or tenant advocacy program in your area. You will learn what is required of you and the best way to meet those demands without hurting your tenant record.
Notify The Landlord That You Are An Occupant
If your landlord does not know that you live in the unit, you can avoid future conflict with a written notification letter. In some states, this may preserve any rights you do have. It also may keep you safe from being identified as a trespasser and having the police alerted. By then, you should know whether or not you can remain in the unit and negotiate a lease. Let the landlord know your plans whether you decide to leave, or try to stay on.
Be Ready To Cover Rent And Utilities
Because you are remaining after your roommate leaves, you have to keep the rent paid in full, on time. Since you have notified the landlord you are living there, they will expect the whole rent from you. Even if the property manager or owner tells you to move, it is crucial you keep rent paid while you are there. If they have not demanded that you move, you will not help your cause by being late with the rent. You will not be able to negotiate a lease in your name. Also, expect to get evicted.
If you cannot pay the whole rent, reach out to the landlord to negotiate partial payments. If they allow them, tell the owners what process you are using to find a new roommate to help you cover rent. Also, contact utility companies and get them put into your name, even if it is temporary. Otherwise, if the prior primary tenant takes their name off the bills, services may be interrupted. Then, pay those bills promptly to prevent utility service shut off.
Negotiate A Strong Lease
Once you have figured out that you can and want to stay, it is time to put a lease in place with the terms you want. Expect the landlord to raise the rent, which you will have to prove you can pay on your own if you do not have a roommate. If you are not able to, many landlords will require a guarantor or co-signer or a qualified roommate to share rent payments.
Put the new roommate on the lease as your co-tenant. So they are equally responsible for making sure rent gets paid. Draft a roommate agreement that includes who pays what, and other terms such as; overnight guests, noise, etc., that can prevent these conflicts. If you can get separate leases, do that instead to protect your deposit. Also, it guarantees that you are not responsible for their portion of rent if they do not pay.
Work with legal counsel to ensure all the terms you want in the documents are there and enforceable in your area. Additionally, one way to get landlords off your back and protect yourself. From rent increasing on you so it is easier to own your place. In many locations, and especially at today’s low mortgage rates, it is actually cheaper to own than rent.