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How do I Carry out a Roommate Eviction?

By L. Burgoon
Updated May 16, 2024
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When roommate problems escalate above a tolerable point, eviction may be considered as a remedy. Roommate eviction is not always a simple process, however, especially if the problems revolve around personality conflicts as opposed to legal issues. If the roommate seeking eviction owns the property, the process may be easier. Without ownership, roommate eviction likely will have to go through the landlord and may even necessitate local police involvement. The most important thing to remember is that laws vary by jurisdiction and circumstances, so there is no one-size-fits-all solution to roommate eviction.

The best way to proceed with roommate eviction is to become familiar with tenant legal rights and obligations in your jurisdiction. Learn exactly what circumstances allow for roommate eviction before initiating any action. You may need to consult an attorney with expertise in landlord/tenant law. Failure to do your homework could violate the law and put you and other tenants at risk of legal action from the evicted roommate. In the U.S., owners and renters could start with their local housing department office to learn their rights and obligations in an eviction situation. In the meantime, document all incidents to aid in any eviction proceedings.

Roommate eviction is fairly straightforward in living situations where the person up for eviction never signed a lease. A no-lease situation usually removes protections from that roommate, who is then considered a guest rather than a tenant. One approach is to inform the roommate in writing that he or she has 30 days to vacate the property and spell out precisely why the roommate eviction is occurring — for instance, failure to pay rent or utilities. Add that all outstanding financial obligations must be paid or further legal action will be considered. The evicted roommate may not pay back the owed money, but the threat of a court case may prompt him or her to leave the property without a hassle.

Assuming you aren't the property owner and are just another tenant, involve the landlord if the person up for eviction is on the lease. The landlord generally has more legal authority to evict than tenants and will consider issues that jeopardize the safety or property or other roommates. For instance, if the roommate meets financial obligations, but commits illegal acts such as using or selling drugs on the property, the landlord may initiate eviction proceedings on those grounds. Document the details of all offenses for the landlord so there will be a record if the matter proceeds to court.

Above all, follow the law when seeking roommate evictions. Illegal eviction tactics — such as suddenly changing the locks or failure to give notice — likely will backfire and could land you in court. Legal roommate eviction is a process that could take some time to complete, so consider alternatives to eviction proceedings, such as an agreement to terminate the lease early or for the roommate to leave voluntarily. This may be especially helpful in cases where roommates have personality conflicts, but no roommate is breaking the law. If the roommate problems escalate and violence is threatened, however, err on the side of caution and call the police.

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Discussion Comments

By Cageybird — On Feb 13, 2014

@Ruggercat68, I had a few roommates of my own back in college I would have loved to evict, but the landlord didn't want to get involved unless the tenant was doing something clearly illegal or destructive. The landlord rented individual rooms to college students, and we could all use the common areas. As long as each roommate stayed in his or her room at night, there really wasn't much we could do legally to force anyone out. The easiest solution was just to find another place to live ourselves.

By Ruggercat68 — On Feb 12, 2014

It's been my experience that most roommates who no longer feel welcome in a rental house or apartment will decide to leave voluntarily. I grew up in a college town, and finding affordable off-campus housing was rarely a problem. If one of my roommates had a personality clash or a cash flow problem, he or she would usually start looking for someplace else to live without having to be forcibly evicted.

However, I did have one roommate who took advantage of the lease agreement and refused to even consider moving out until the lease was up. He completely trashed his own room, and stopped caring about the rest of the apartment. I wanted to evict him, but there was only three months remaining on the lease and I figured that's how long it would take to pursue legal action. We just agreed to disagree for those remaining months, then he moved out and I found another roommate.

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