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what can I do about my roomies moving out?
June 22, 2011 6:38 PM   Subscribe

roommates on a shared lease moving out without 30 days notice. Do I have any legal recourse other than keeping the security deposit?

I share a 5 bedroom apartment in long beach, california with 4 other roommates. I have just learned that 3 of them plan on moving out on july 5th with no intention of paying july's rent. Are there any particular laws they are breaking? if so, are there any documents I should have to proceed with some kind of action?
posted by punch_the_mayor to Human Relations (12 answers total)
 
They are unlikely to be breaking any criminal law, but you could potentially sue them over this. I assume a month's rent for three people is a pretty big chunk of change, so it's probably worth at least a short consultation with a lawyer to consider your options. I'd also discuss with the lawyer the possibility of telling them that you'll let their current and future landlords know so that they won't have good references.
posted by grouse at 6:59 PM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't know much about housing law in California, but from a practical standpoint, you should be focusing your energy on finding new roommates ASAP and not necessarily wasting time contemplating punishments for your basically-ex-roommates.
posted by Sara C. at 7:00 PM on June 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


Have you told your landlord? You can potentially be sued for non-payment if you are all equally on the lease. This is the kind of thing people go to small claims court over.

My first suggestion is to speak as amicably as possible to the roommates to understand their perspective/motivation. Then, get in contact with your local rent board and ask for advice. I would guess that your roommates will need to write a letter to the landlord explaining why they are breaking the lease and that they are seeking subletters. Does your rental agreement indicate that subletters are permissable? or the consequences of breaking the lease?

Personally, I would not pay for their portion of rent. Any money you pay now, you risk not getting back from them later. However, I'm not fluent in rental concerns, so please speak with the local rent board for advice.
posted by samthemander at 7:24 PM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't understand this shared lease business. Exactly who is on it?

Yes. Start looking for roommates ASAP. It is possible you can salvage that aspect of this, you have enough time and it is the end of the month. Consider short term rentals on the three empty rooms. No worries.


Please clarify the lease situation, who holds the deposits, etc.
posted by jbenben at 7:26 PM on June 22, 2011


Yeah, can you clarify what "roommates on a shared lease" means? If their names are on the lease, this is a problem the landlord needs to know about. You may want to check the California Dept of Consumer Affairs' Landlord/Tenants Book, particularly the "Resolving Problems" section.
posted by mediareport at 7:34 PM on June 22, 2011


samthemander: "I would guess that your roommates will need to write a letter to the landlord explaining why they are breaking the lease and that they are seeking subletters."

I had a roommate move out on us once. As far as I know there was no letter involved, just the guy paying the lease breaking fee and the rest of us having to reprove that we could cover the entire rent.

Really, it comes down to how the lease is drawn up. Is each roommate on their responsible for the entire months rent? Are you only responsible for your portion?

Figure this out and talk to a lawyer.
posted by theichibun at 7:42 PM on June 22, 2011


IANAL.

Typically, all the tenants on a residential lease are jointly and severally liable, which means that any one of you can be held legally responsible for the entirety of the rent. Maybe you could sue the others to recover the portion of the rent that they owe you (I think this might depend on whether you have any explicit agreements with them about who pays what portion, you would have to talk to a lawyer about this) but in the meantime you are most likely legally on the hook to pay the entirety of the rent to your landlord. Just to make that much clear.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 8:11 PM on June 22, 2011


(IANAL) Your jurisdiction's Tenant Act should cover proper end of tenancy notices. It sounds like they've move out improperly and you can take them to small claims court to recover any lost income you had. Because they've given you two weeks basically which is an incredibly small amount of time for moving out.
posted by DetriusXii at 8:44 PM on June 22, 2011


You need to look at the lease to see what you agreed to when you moved in. When my son was on a shared lease in his college years, it specified that each person was individually responsible for the entire rent. If one person bailed, the others had to pick up that share and pay it.

My suggestion: get some new roomates, fast.

I hope someone here has something better than that, though.
posted by SLC Mom at 11:25 PM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Three people's rent for however long you're on the hook for is probably a tidy sum; it's worth talking to a lawyer.

I have just learned that 3 of them plan on moving out on july 5th with no intention of paying july's rent.

So on top of no notice, they're actually going to skip out on rent the will owe? I'm not a lawyer, but I would send them an e-mail asking them if this is their intention (rephrased differently) just to see if you can get them to put this in writing.

I don't know much about housing law in California, but from a practical standpoint, you should be focusing your energy on finding new roommates ASAP and not necessarily wasting time contemplating punishments for your basically-ex-roommates.

There's absolutely no reason you can't do both. And trying to have the lease enforced is not a waste of time.
posted by spaltavian at 9:00 AM on June 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


If one person bailed, the others had to pick up that share and pay it.

To the landlord. That doesn't mean the OP can't then recover that money from the wayward roommates. Yes, this varies by jurisdiction and lease, but the "there's nothing you can do" answers should not be taken as the final word.
posted by spaltavian at 9:02 AM on June 23, 2011


Another IANAL lawyer. It's standard to require a written termination. If they haven't given you a written termination notice with their announced data, their effective end date, and their names and signature, you can use that against them too. They have to have a convince a small claims judge that they provided a written termination notice. They are being incredibly stupid and your victory in a small claims court will ruin their credit ratings.

Pursue them. They are not off the hook. Roommates and subletters are not in some legal loophole. Subletters are tenants to the primary tenant and they have the same responsibilities to you as you have to your landlord.
posted by DetriusXii at 1:09 PM on June 23, 2011


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