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LEASE OPTIONS IF A ROOMMATE REFUSES TO PAY

Rent issues between roommates, particularly those who have a friendship or other relationship that predates the cohabitation, can prove very tricky to handle. In anticipation of problems over money arising, some people who value the longevity of their friendship refuse to live together. If you are currently looking for an apartment or other rental property and have pleasant thoughts about how it would be to cohabit with a long-time friend of yours, there is more you will need to ascertain than simply if the person is fun to spend time around.

Having a responsible roommate is top priority to most people, and this applies when it comes to matters ranging from finances to tidiness before a landlord walk through. Make certain if you and a friend are on the brink of seeking an apartment together that you trust one another to be financially responsible, and that you both take the commitment of paying rent on time every month very seriously. If you have differing approaches on this matter, you may find the pleasantness of your existing friendship quickly deteriorating. However, even if you were stranger to your roommate when you first moved into your current residence, chances are the two of you (or all of you, in cases of multiple roommates) have become somewhat close over time. This can mean it is equally difficult to address rent problems with someone you did not know prior to renting.

Determining What to Do

What you would do if a roommate expressed inability to pay the rent would ultimately depend on your own familiarity with the person, including his or her general level of responsibility and tendency to pay on time. If your roommate has always remitted rent payments in a timely manner and has hit a financial emergency of some sort, your response may be substantially different than if you are convinced a roommate merely has other, less important priorities in mind. In some circumstances, one roommate will cover another for one month if this is a realistic solution given the paying roommates financial comfort.

Before offering your own money to cover a roommate, you would be wise to have a sincere talk with the person about future expectations. It might be acceptable to you to cover your roommate for a month so long as he or she already had work lined up (if discontinued employment was at the root of the rent problem) or if some similar solution was forthcoming. In some cases, of course, covering your roommate is not an option even if you would sincerely like to. Many renters, especially younger renters possibly working their way through college, are barely able to make rent on a monthly basis as it is. If your roommate's situation is not clearly temporary, if there is no way to cover his or her lost contribution without causing hardship, or if the problem is unwillingness rather than inability to pay, you will have to decide upon the proper recourse.

Telling Your Landlord

As long as your roommate's name is on a lease agreement, your landlord is ultimately the person who should deal with nonpayment. Lease options if a roommate refuses to pay include eviction, first giving the nonpaying party a month's notice to leave the property, though sometimes landlords will try to work with someone. A landlord's decision process in whether to grant leniency in terms of unpaid rent may mirror your own when you determine whether to cover a roommate's payment for a month. If the situation is obviously short-term with a solution just around the corner, a landlord may work out an agreeable arrangement.

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