House hacking one of my rooms but tenant isn't paying rent

8 Replies

Hello BP - this is my first post on BP and I have to say the amount of information I've received from this site is unreal. So I finally got the nerve to start contributing...the feeling of asking a stupid question has been daunting but it seems that the community is pretty accepting. :)

Anyhow, I finally purchased my first SFR in Phoenix, Arizona in October and recently decided to house hack one of my rooms to help with expenses. I did a bunch of screening for roommates and finally found someone that i thought was reliable and trustworthy since i'd be living with them and all. I put together a month to month lease for my protection and the first month went well but when i came around to the second month the issues began. The main issue being he hasn't paid rent and it has been 6 days. Now my question is am i allowed to evict him? can i change the locks and not let him in to force him to pay rent? I really just want to know my rights since i think there a little different from a regular landlord as I am living in the house. What concerns me is the issue of my private property inside (don't want him to sell my TV to pay rent you know?) If anybody has experience with this or any guidance it would be greatly appreciated.

This site is amazing! Thanks for reading :)

As always in situations like this you need to speak with an attorney and understand what laws apply in your location and situation.

Yes, you will probably need to evict.  That's a process.

No, you probably cannot just lock him out.  That's a "self help" eviction and will almost certainly make a bad situation worse.

Yes, a boarder may well damage your house or steal your stuff.  That's what you signed up for when you rented a bedroom.

Welcome, @Michael L. First, I would like to say that there are no stupid questions. So feel free to ask away!

Since you have a lease with this person, he is not technically your roommate. He is your tenant. Yes, you can and should evict him, if he doesn't pay you. You cannot lock him out. Even if he is not paying, he has a right to be there, until he either agrees to move out, or he is evicted.

Since you are probably not familiar with the eviction process, you should contact an eviction attorney or eviction company (which is usually cheaper).

You might start by just asking him to move out. He might just go, and you won't have the expense of an eviction. 

Are you able to still communicate with him, or is he avoiding you? Do you know why he is not paying rent? In your rental agreement, do you mention a grace period or late fees? Are you afraid of him? Did you do a thorough background check? If not, do one now so you know with whom you are dealing.

The key in most landlord-tenant interactions is to be polite, fair and firm. Clear communication is best. Try this..."If you don't pay, you can't stay. Let's talk about a move-out plan." I've used that phrase quite successfully; it's a good motivator. Eviction is a lose-lose proposition, but sometimes necessary. Go for a win-win if you can.  Don't delay in serving legal notices, you can always negotiate during the time the legal time clock is ticking. The goal is to either turn this around so he is complying with the terms of the rental agreement, or facilitate a move-out with the least amount of money lost, the least amount of damages and the least amount of hassle. 

Also, learn about the landlord-tenant laws for your jurisdiction. Good luck!

Michael L.

All the above is great advice, but I would also recommend reviewing the Arizona Landlord/Tenant Act which is a great source of information and should cover your legal remedies as well. Arizona has a Tenant handbook as well if you Google it. 

Here is the link: http://www.azhousing.gov/azcms/uploads/PUBLICATION...

Good Luck!

Have you followed up with him first? I always start with, just following up but I have not received your rent yet. It was due X. 

You would be surprised, how many a polite, friendly but firm followed up does! 

As to eviction, it doesn't matter that you live in the house. You would have to do an eviction! I would start off on the communication level and see what happens .

@Marcia Maynard Unfortunately, I did not do a thorough background, and it is now biting me in the behind. As I found out today that he was actually in jail for the last 30 days. This is news to me and he is now asking for leniency. However, i believe it is my best interest to get him out of the house as soon as possible. I had a talk with him and gave him a notice that I will go through the eviction process if I don't receive rent by Friday. I sat down with him as @Account Closed advised and I think we came to a settling point that if he moves out by Friday I will give him back his full deposit. I believe it is a "win-win" as he doesn't have to come up with the rent and if he does move out he will get cash to leave. For me, I won't have to deal with him anymore. I will be out a full month of rent but i think it's better to have him out of the house then worry about few hundred dollars. This has definitely been an eye opener for dealing with tenants. :)

@Paul Santos   Thanks for the link. That will be a great resource for the future. :)

The AZREIA website has a link to a very solid tenant screening company.

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