Lease for a Single Family House w/ 3 Unrelated Tenants

3 Replies

Hello All!

My wife and I are getting ready to lease our house out. We have found three recent college grads that pass background & credit checks that we are interested in renting to. What is the best way to do a lease for this? They are three (unrelated) professional gals. The house is a 3 bedroom and they are planning to split the rent evenly ($550/person).

Do you have a single lease w/ all three names for this situation? Or would it be better to have a separate lease for each one? Also, does anyone have any recommendations for a good template for a lease?



I rented to roommates in the past and give them one lease, where they are jointly and severally responsible for the rent. That means I could go after any one of them if the rent or expenses isn't paid.

Once I had to evict a tenant, a drug addict EMT who couldn't come up with his share of the rent. His roommate also wanted out. I contacted an eviction lawyer and he checked to see if it's a "jointly and severally" lease. It was. Evictions can take months if you have a tough tenant, and expensive, as the tenant can drag it out. The lawyer told me the rent paying tenant who wanted out can give me notice to vacate, return the keys, and his notice would apply to the other tenant as well, and I can change the locks which I normally cannot do without the eviction. I did that and locked the drug addict tenant out legally. I didn't have to serve the eviction notices or go to court. In fact, if I had 3 separate leases, and I had to evict the whole group, I had to do 3 separate evictions.

Not only did this save me a ton of money, the good tenant who wanted out was so thankful to me, as he was an auto mechanic, came by to do a free job on my car for me.

Also, the are rooming house regulations in my area that prohibits 3 or more unrelated people renting together. And if you have separate leases, it appears more like you're running a rooming house. Check to see if you have such regulations where you are.

I recommend doing one lease as Frank said. Make sure that each roommate qualifies individually and will be able to afford the entire rent in the case that the other roommates decide to vacate. Also make sure your lease is airtight and follows your state's landlord-tenant laws. 

When I was newer and more naive, I once let a group of college students all sign separate leases. Then one of them stopped paying, so we were getting 3/4 of the rent every month, but not full rent. Texas is a pretty landlord-friendly state, but even with that, it seemed really complicated doing an eviction for one tenant in a group situation.

Now, I ask them to choose one to be the primary tenant, with the others as additional residents. We set them up for payment (we do it electronically) from one of them, and tell the others to make their payments to the primary tenant. Simpler for us, and the one making the payments to us is (theoretically) motivated to make sure she gets her money from the others.