Having roommates can create a whole new level of financial liability for you. This is especially true when your roommate moves out. Generally speaking, the roommate who wants to move out is responsible for giving the landlord proper notice. The roommate must also pay rent through the end of the notice period, not counting whether he is contracted into a longer period in the lease.
Your ability to stay in the unit after your roommate moves out really depends on your financial and living situation. Though your roommate leaving may give rise to the landlord evicting you even if you can afford the rent, the landlord should consider other factors. Your landlord has the option to evict you when your roommate leaves because both of you are breaking the terms of the lease.
Generally, whether your roommate will evict you depends on whether:
- You are a troublesome and demanding tenant
- Your financial ability (per your income) to pay rent in a timely manner
When your roommate leaves, you might need to replace him to be able to afford rent. The proper way to do this is to obtain your landlord’s approval and go through the application process. In most cases, your lease will have a clause against subleasing. If you sublease without your landlord’s approval, then your landlord will have the right to evict you.
Your departing roommate will have his share of financial responsibility (i.e. joint liability) when he leaves. He is still liable for rent and any damages he made to the premises. The best approach to take when you receive notice of your roommate’s intent to leave is to get all of his financial responsibility in writing such as in a roommate agreement. Otherwise, you will be responsible for his unpaid bills. This document should contain:
- Roommate’s share of rent and utilities for the notice period
- Payment of property damage
- Payment of any rent remaining, if subleasee is not found or unable to pay
- And whether you want the roommate to give up any rights as a tenant
If even after that your departing roommate does not take responsibility of his rental obligations, then you may file a small claims lawsuit against him.
If you want to move out as well, you will need to give your landlord the proper 30-days notice. Like your departing roommate, you will be responsible for your share of the remaining rent.
If you are having issues with eviction or a non-paying departing roommate or subleasee, please contact a real estate attorney. He will advocate for you and help you resolve your potentially costly matter.