How to Handle Tenant Request to Add Roommate

5 Replies

I have a tenant in a 2bd apartment with whom I recently signed a new lease. She was previously living there with a roommate and they were both on the lease, and I allowed the old roommate to move out and wrote a new lease with the one girl on the same terms. This is in a building I've only owned since Nov 1. When we wrote the lease, it was understood that she would be seeking a new roommate and I told her I was fine with that.

Now she has told me who she wants her new roommate to be and I'm not exactly thrilled. I've done a credit check and application for the prospective roommate, and she has pretty bad credit with multiple collection accounts plus a dog (she says her ex spouse ran up the bills) -- which would make 3 dogs for the apartment (current tenant has two very small dogs).

I'm struggling with what to do. On the one hand, I don't want to be overbearing and in retrospect, I did make her feel like she could pick her own roommate with not very much input from me.

On the other hand, I'm somewhat concerned with her choice of roommate and the additional dog. I did tell her there would be an additional $250 pet security from new tenant.

So, two questions:

  • Should I tell her to find a different roommate? Downside being that it does make me feel like a jerk particularly since I wasn't perfectly clear from the start about not wanting another pet
  • If I let her take on this roommate, should I add the new roommate to the lease (i.e., write a new lease with the two of them) or just keep the one lease with the existing tenant and make it clear to her that she is responsible for her roommates behavior, etc?

Thanks for the input, I do appreciate it.

you should inform the current tenant that any new roommates should meet your expectations, be fair but firm. also any new tenants should be on the lease unless you expect to have some serious repair bills at the end on the lease or possible eviction 

your running a business not a popularity contest, don't consider yourself a jerk its just being professional up front about what your expect from new tenants 

If she passes your screening you accept her. If she does not pass screening then you reject her application. 

It is very simple and your decision should be obvious. If it makes you feel like a jerk you are going to have a extremely rough road ahead of you in this business. Your tennats are going to own you.

One more thing that should be considered here: you could actually be doing the tenant a favor. From your posting, it’s not clear if these two are best friends, or if she found her number in a tear-off sheet “need roommates!” posted on a telephone pole.

You can’t betray privacy laws, but I bet you can find a way to say “you’re not financially acceptable to me” in front of your tenant (followed closely by, “I’ll be happy to discuss specifics with you in private.”)

I’d think someone here on BP knows where the line should be drawn; you could also “suggest” (urge) that your tenant also gets a credit check on the individual who she’s thinking of sharing space with.

@Dustin Turin

 You are not being a jerk if the potential roommate does not pass your background check. Those are your qualifying factors and if she does not meet them, then sorry your tenant will have to have someone else. Like @Mark Webb said, you are running a business, not a popularity contest. Businesses have guidelines and protocols, so should you. That is the only thing that will protect you from being taking advantage of. So tell this tenant that this roommate does not pass the background check and should either find a new one or find a new place. Simple as that.

Thanks all for the suggestions. I did end up notifying the tenant that the roommate didn't meet screening criteria. I guess this is, after all, why we screen to begin with.