How Can I Get My Roommate to Leave?
Dave, How am I able to have my roommate, who was once was my domestic partner, to get him to leave my apartment? He continues to possess the same type of behavior is most common when relations aren’t working out. – Paying rent late, having friends over during hours when everyone is sleeping at 3 am, being loud, skipping out on doing dishes, etc. My roommate and I didn’t sign any agreements or conditions of him living here, nor did he provide any security deposit initially during the time of move-in. I feel I am not able to find a rational reason to evict him even after talking to him that it’s best that he finds other living arrangements. He says he’s not budging, but integrates all of these passive-aggressive tactics so that I no longer want to be living with him. Any options you may have aside from hiring a lawyer?
For 22 years, I rent a one bedroom apartment in the City of West Hollywood, CA. The apartment is regulated by the Rent Stabilization Ordinance (RSO). There must be a Just Cause from the Property Management to reasonably evict a tenant. The 16-unit apartment was built in 1950, I am 49 years old male that is not disabled and currently live with my roommate who was at some point my domestic partner. We recently have drifted apart and only use the domestic document to for him to live with me as a family member. I am the solely responsible for the terms of my lease.
I just would like to take the time to applaud you for the information you provide to the readers of your site. What stands out to me are your detailed responses that empower a renter and their tenancy.
Thank you for your kind remarks. I receive calls from all over the nation and, to the extent I can, I try to provide tenants with local resources to help them deal with their local laws. As you might imagine, some of my calls come from places where most people think slavery is still legal, let alone that renters may have any rights at all. I enjoy writing this column and responding to readers because it keeps me on my toes. So it’s good to hear from you in West Hollywood, where you have an extensive rent ordinance that’s easily accessible online.
As you know, The West Hollywood Rent Ordinance requires that a tenant be evicted for a just cause:
- Nonpayment of rent;
- Creating a nuisance or using a rental unit for illegal purposes;
- Subleasing without the landlord’s permission;
- Failure to provide the landlord with reasonable access;
- Violating written terms of tenancy with certain exceptions under the Ordinance (see below);
- Failure to renew a lease if given proper notice to renew before the lease-term expires and the lease has gone month-to-month.
- Termination of employment for an on-site manager or other employee who was given the unit as part of his or her employment and was not a tenant on the same property prior to employment.
The site also contains an information page called Having a Roommate, which states in part:
“When a tenant accepts rent from a roommate in West Hollywood, the roommate is the tenant’s subtenant and has a right to the protections under the Ordinance that a tenant has. Thus, a tenant may not:
- ask a subtenant to leave the unit without having cause under the Ordinance and without following the procedures for evicting a tenant;
- ask a subtenant to pay more than the Maximum Allowable Rent on a unit;
- increase a subtenant’s rent by more than the annual general adjustment each year and not above the tenant’s MAR in any case;
- increase the security deposit after a subtenant’s move-in or charge fees not allowed under the Ordinance.”
We have a similar requirement in San Francisco, except that a Master Tenant may evict a roommate without just cause only if, prior to commencement of the tenancy, the Master Tenant informs the roommate in writing that the tenancy is not subject to the just cause provisions of the Rent Ordinance. Rent Board Rules and Regulations § 6.15C.
As a long-time tenant, I understand your conundrum and I empathize with you, but as you may know, I’ve taken the blood oath to never represent master tenants seeking to evict their roommates. And that includes giving advice on the subject.
It sounds to me like you have tried to be rational with him, to no avail. I note that West Hollywood Legal Services Division does provide mediation services for landlords and tenants. You may want to give them a call to see if they will provide mediation for a master tenant and roommate. While I’m not aware of them, there may be other community organizations that provide mediation services as well.
If you find a lawyer, it’s likely you’ll end up with a landlord lawyer who will encourage you to cook up a just cause eviction like, maybe, nuisance because your roommate parities with his friends until 3:00 a.m. Let me tell you, that can get real sleazy, real fast, not to mention, costly. I would not advise you to try to go to the owner or property manager because they will see your complaint as as opportunity to get rid of you both.
I’m fairly certain you don’t want to move, given the length of you rent-controlled tenancy. However, it may be time to consider the psychological cost of living in your current situation. Place a dollar amount on that cost, if you can, and ask yourself, “Can I find another, similar place for the rent I’m paying plus that cost?”
Of course, you can also use that same methodology to figure out how much to offer your roommate to move out, adding what it would cost you to hire a lawyer. As Tom Gray of the Brains said before Cyndi Lauper, “Money changes everything.”
She said I’m sorry baby I’m leaving you tonight
I found someone new he’s waitin’ in the car outside
Ah honey how could you do it
We swore each other everlasting love
She said well yeah I know but when
We did; there was one thing we weren’t
Really thinking of and that’s money
If your roommate accepts your offer, get a general release of all claims from him in writing.