1 of 3 roommates wants to break the lease.

9 Replies

I have 3 tenants in a unit. It is a high rent producing unit. One of the tenants emailed me to see if I could 'work with her' because she found a house she wants to buy. The lease isn't up until the end of June. I have had this happen in the past where tenants find a new roommate, but it IS a pain in the butt. 

For those that have encountered this before, what have you done? Just point to the lease, or have them offer another suitable roommate that fits your criteria?

If they all signed the lease together, then make them come up with another roommate. If they don't, they'll have to pay the full rent and each pay half. If they chose the wrong roommate, then it's up to them. The minute you start negotiating with the roommate directly, the other roommates will want to only pay 1/3 each and you'll be responsible for finding a 3rd person. 

Sounds like you have a good handle on it based on the two options you are asking about. That means that you are probably well protected by the lease. So to answer your question I would go with option two. Make them do the leg work and like you said, make sure the new roommate fits your criteria and it should be fine. Reason being, I would rather have happy tenants than one that feels like they are locked in and got a raw deal.

I have allowed this before and it wasn't so bad.  I have the same stance as you.  I want happy tenants and I feel like she is being professional about her request.  It would obviously be easier to just deny it and move on, but something tells me it may end up more painful that way.

Let the roommate leave but he/she is still liable under the lease.   Every party would still be jointly liable under the lease.  The problem with a new person is that you dont have a pay history with that person.  Of course, you could always add in the new one and make them all liable.... more people to go after if the lease goes south. 

Changes in household make-up are not uncommon. We have a procedure for removing a person from a rental agreement and one for adding a person to a rental agreement. It involves more of my time and effort, so I charge an administrative fee to process changes to the rental agreement. Any changes to the rental agreement must be agreeable to all parties listed on the rental agreement. 

Any proposed new tenants must meet our criteria to rent, pass our screening and complete our application process. All persons named on the rental agreement become jointly and severally liable. They have equal rights to tenancy no matter who was in the unit first. I explain this to tenants, because some feel they have more rights and power over their roommates, but according to the law they don't.

We do not touch the security deposit until a future point in time when all parties have vacated and possession of the unit is returned to us. So the outgoing tenant needs to get their share from the ones who remain. At end of tenancy, any security deposit refund check will be made out in the name of all current tenants named on the rental agreement.

Make all parties sign complete the application and sign the rental contract.

I prohibit subletting without written notice & approval.  Experience has taught me it can be costly when roommates squabble - - Unlawful Detainer + damages > $8k

Never again!

Originally posted by @Kimberly H. :

@Marcia Maynard If you don't mind my asking, what admin fee do you charge?

$20 per person to remove a name or add a name to the rental agreement. Most of our procedure fees are $20, such as $20 posting fee for posting a legal notice if the tenant fails to abide by one of the terms of the rental agreement. Also $20 for NSF checks.

Most of our rental agreement violation fees are $50, for such things as late rent fee, unauthorized occupant fee, unauthorized pet fee, smoking fee, tampering with smoke/CO detector fee, etc. For damages, we charge for them as they occur or as we discover them, for what it costs to repair/replace.

We charge a $200 non-refundable move-in fee at the start of tenancy that covers our administrative costs, including changing the locks, preparing the paperwork, preparing the move-in packet, preparing the move-in gifts. But that is a one time only charge when we first rent out the unit and we don't charge that for a mere change of occupants.

We charge a $40 application fee, which covers processing an application, including paying for background checks from an outside agency for legal history and credit history.