Did I rent an “illegal” room? Should I worry about it? What are t

4 Replies

I figured landlords on Biggerpockets would be most knowledgeable about this situation so I would greatly appreciate any advice on my dilemma/concern. Please only answer if you are an experienced landlord and know the procedures/laws on this issue pretty well. Thanks!

Subject: Did I rent an “illegal” room? Should I worry about it? What are the possible consequences I will face, if any?

I am a graduate student at University of Texas at Austin in Austin, TX and looked on craigslist for private room rentals. There are many, and I moved into a 2 bed/2 bath apartment leased for 12 months by 1 person (the only person on primary lease). The guy on the lease sleeps in the living room and rents out the other 2 bedrooms for $450/mo to other college students and I do not think he has consent of the landlord. We pay the guy on the lease in check every month. It is stated on the main lease agreement in print that room rentals are not allowed unless agreed upon by the landlord in writing. Again, it does not say that renting the rooms is not allowed but that it is only allowed when the landlord consents and agrees in writing.

I like this room, have already moved my stuff in, and have already settled in in this place with the 2 other people. After finding this out, I have done some research and it says that the only possible consequences we may face (if any) is possible 3-day notice to move out by the landlord. I also read posts by others online who said that this is very common in large cities like Austin/Houston and college towns and that they advise to just keep renting the room and not cause any disturbance and that it will be fine as long as the landlord gets paid the rent monthly. The guy on the lease has leased the 2bed/2bath apartment for 1.5 years now and I believe he has done this for a quite a while to save money. He has already rented this room to many people during this time. I have checked out some other private rooms on craigslist in-person by medical students, graduate students, college students, and many (50%+) are doing the same thing.

I am assuming that the biggest consequence of renting out a room without written consent by landlord in Texas again would only be to face a 3-day notice to leave and then eviction if we do not leave within 3 days. I just want to make sure this is the worst-case scenario, and that the main tenant on the lease is the one that will bear the largest risk and consequence in doing this as they are the only ones legally responsible. The guy on the lease is a medical student and the other roommate is a nursing student and they are both great people. If I like this place, the people, and the amenities should I just continue renting this private room and not find somewhere else? Again, I just want to know all the potential consequences that I could face continuing to rent this room for $450/mo from the guy on the lease with no written consent by the landlord. 

The contract is between the landlord and the guy who signed the lease. You are not a party and worse case scenario is that the someone inspects the place (unlikely) and does not believe the couch sleeper is a short term guest (how to tell?) and gives paying lease signer notice to leave due to breach of lease (and then landlord will have try to rerent it out mid semester, not optimal and expensive for landlord so unlikely).

Okay, I think under Texas law the landlord must give tenants 3-day notice to vacate before they can file for an eviction lawsuit. If I move out within the 3-day notice, the landlord cannot file any kind of eviction/legal lawsuit that will leave any kind of legal record against me right? 

I just want to make sure that I have an "out" and that I can just pack up leave within 3 days to avoid any kind of legal record that other landlords/people can see on my background check and rental property history.

Thank you.