What rights do I have in kicking a roommate out?
June 10, 2005 9:56 AM   Subscribe

I own a house, and have a roommate from Craigslist. I want to kick him out for having unwanted guests sleeping over and being deceitful in general. My question is, how am I supposed to get along with this person for the next 60 days (days I must give him to move out). He has no incentive to respect me or my house rules. He keeps pissing me off as it is and telling him to leave will just make it worse. Also, am I allowed to withhold deposit money from him for other people sleeping in his room? How do I stop him from doing this? I have already tried talking but he does it anyways.
posted by anonymous to Home & Garden (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Do you have a written agreement that says that he can't have guests sleep over? And does the agreement spell out some sort of monetary damages? If not, I don't see how you can withhold money for it. Deposits are generally meant to secure landlords for damages to property and/or nonpayment of rent. If he pays the rent and doesn't damage your property, I don't think you can withhold his deposit. As for getting along with him, it doesn't sound like you do now, so I wouldn't worry about it. Just tell him that you don't think it's working out and leave it at that. Try not to sound judgmental; it will only make matters worse.
posted by anapestic at 10:19 AM on June 10, 2005

Did you make him sign a lease?
I was in your situation once. I was renting to my roommate and I decided not to renew his lease because my fiancee was moving in (three's a crowd). I was within my rights as a landlord to simply not renew his lease but I also could point to specific violations of the lease (which I let slide, in general), as justification.
If the house rules are just "house rules" and not defined in the contract, then all you can really do is wait for his lease to expire (60 days, as you say). If he's behaving in a way that clearly violates his lease, then not only can you evict him but (don't quote me on this) probably keep some of his deposit.

Remember, you might feel obligated to be "buddy-buddy" with your tenant/roommate but when it boils down to it, YOU OWN the house and you've got all the cards.
posted by Jon-o at 10:25 AM on June 10, 2005

It's too bad, anonymous, you didn't mention where you live.

In Ontario, with tenant law, you should make an application to the Ontario Housing Tribunal. He will have (depending on the severity of the problem) between 7 and 30 days to respond. The housing tribunal will decide if he is to be kicked out. Whether you get your way or not is highly going to depend on what you wrote in the lease.

If things are serious enough you should have no problem kicking this person out quicker than 60 days.

Luckily this person is a roommate. Where I live roommates are governed as "lodgers" and you can kick them out at any time. The government looks at the lodger the same as they would look at someone staying at a motel.

Depending on the law in your area, you may also find that if you get a close relative to move in, he will be required to vacate within a week or two. That's a great catch-all for cases where the person is governed under tenant law, is being a jerk, but hasn't broken any written down rules.

posted by shepd at 10:28 AM on June 10, 2005

If he didn't sign a lease agreement then he's essentially a month to month renter and you can kick him out with a 30 day notice for any reason.

If he has violated the lease, you can serve him with a 10 day notice.

Deposits are there to cover damages to the living space, not as a way to ensure that he doesn't violate a lease. If he violated the lease, kick him out, use the deposit (fairly) to fix up anything he's damaged, and give the rest back.

Make sure you put every eviction notice in writing, and keep a copy for your records, since there's always a chance that he'll take you to court.

You should talk to one of the landlord organizations in your area or a lawyer.
posted by cmonkey at 10:33 AM on June 10, 2005

As for how you can get along with this person, if he really will vacate per your request, consider yourself fortunate. Grin and bear it for two months. It is part of the cost of having a mortgage that requires income be generated from the property. Try to be more discerning in the future. That sounds harsh, but you have little control over his behaviour, only over your own.

This is a legal rental situation? With a lease and so forth? Do you have in any written agreement what the "house rules are? Where does the 60 days come into it? What state are you in? The deposit is not generally intended to be used to punish tenants, it is for recouping the cost of repair of damage to the property beyond normal wear and tear.

Feel free to email me if you would like to respond privately or on the board. I won't breach your confidentiality.

On preview, yeah, what they all said, except cmonkey's specifics - The exact mechanism of eviction will vary greatly depending on where you are. CA has even shorter timeframe actions, but any eviction is more or less guranteed to last as long as the tenant feels like fighting it, typically stretching out at least three months.
posted by mzurer at 10:45 AM on June 10, 2005

If he's behind in rent, in many places you can serve him with a 3-day notice to pay or quit the premises, at the same time as you give him his 30- or 60- day eviction notice.

Of course, if you have no written lease agreement, you'll have a hard time proving that he owes you anything. However, he'd have a hard time proving anything if you just changed the locks and dumped all his stuff on the street.
posted by ikkyu2 at 10:58 AM on June 10, 2005

It sounds like you do have a signed lease, on further perusal, otherwise you wouldn't be noting your 60 day guideline.

You should know that he may not leave after the 60 days are up. If this is the case, you cannot lawfully dump his stuff on the street and lock him out - you'd suddenly be liable for many thousands of dollars in damages. You would, at that point, need to get a lawyer and get a court order to have the sheriff physically evict him. Winds up costing you thousands of dollars and takes minimum 6 months after the 60 day notice expires.

Be more careful next time is good advice.
posted by ikkyu2 at 11:02 AM on June 10, 2005

Listen, anonymous, I have no interest in revealing you ... if you want to e-mail me your geographic location (click "WCityMike" below to see my e-mail address), I will post it to this thread. Without that bit of information, laws vary way too wildly between locales for someone to give you a good answer.

And, no, folks, I'm not Anonymous myself, although this'd be a somewhat clever way of posting to the thread if I were, no? (I live alone.)
posted by WCityMike at 11:32 AM on June 10, 2005

If you do have a lease that specifies that no overnight guests are permitted, then anyone who does stay overnight is technically trespassing. A procedure to follow might be something like this: (a) Inform the roommate that you will enforce this provision [ideally, give him something to sign that says that he has been so informed; even if he refuses to sign, you're on stronger grounds]; (b) include in your statements a cut-off time for guests to leave (10, 11, midnight) - something you can live with, and won't seem unreasonable to the police; (c) when guests are within an hour or two of that cut-off, inform them, politely, that they will have to leave at the cut-off, or they will be trespassing, and you will call the police; (d) call the police - non-emergency number - if someone stays past that time - and have a copy of the lease and your written [ideally, signed by roommate] policy about a cutoff-time and trespassing.

In short, you don't have to allow strangers to sleep overnight in your house simply because your roommate allows them in the door. [But follow your policy strictly - if there are some people that it would be okay if they stay, then provide for your roommate to request, prior to the cutoff time, that this be allowed, and that you will decide on a case-by-case basis; don't get into a "Well, he didn't object the last two times, so I thought it was okay ... " mode.]

As far as "putting up" with other things - you really can't control what your roommate says. If he damages your property, or assults you, on the other hand, you can have him evicted.
posted by WestCoaster at 12:05 PM on June 10, 2005

I would recommend one of the more direct approaches above, but an alternative way that may not be as confrontational would be to raise your roommates rent by quite a bit ... like substantially over what the current market price would be.
The risk in this approach (and why I offer it as an option, but not a recommendation) is that your roommate could choose to pay, or choose to not pay, but not move out, neither of which really improve your situation.
posted by forforf at 12:23 PM on June 10, 2005

Again with the location issue, but there are a lot of states (assuming US here) that will not allow a rental increase of over a certain percentage specifically so that a landlord can't use a rent increase to try to drive out a tenant.

Here's hoping that renters in his situation are considered lodgers where you live -- that'd give you the most control.
posted by desuetude at 1:41 PM on June 10, 2005

We ran into this problem in Texas -- if a person violates the lease, but the landlord knowingly lets it slide for a while (not clear in TX law how long this is -- I think a couple months), that provision in the lease is now null & void and the new behavior becomes the de facto lease.
In Texas, all the rules are to protect the renter, not the landlord.
posted by j at 3:52 PM on June 10, 2005

In Texas, all the rules are to protect the renter, not the landlord.

That's like saying that all the employment statutes are to protect the employee, not the employer. Of course they are. The landlord has more power and can set more rules via the contract at the outset. That said, Texas has pretty slim protections for renters compared to other jurisdictions.
posted by grouse at 4:04 PM on June 10, 2005

This is a good reason for staying with just a month-to-month lease when renting a room, for both renters and owners.
posted by mischief at 5:55 PM on June 10, 2005

Don't hoard the deposit. Wherever you are, it's probably illegal.
posted by angry modem at 7:53 PM on June 10, 2005

I own a house, and have a roommate from Craigslist.

I am looking at this sentence but it does not make sense to me.
posted by y2karl at 6:25 AM on June 11, 2005

grouse -- good point, I was just reliving bitter feelings of an old roommate who lied about having a job (quit after he moved in but pretended to still go), was stealing things from the house, and essentially squatting (didn't pay rent for 2 months), but we legally couldn't kick him out/change the locks without following a formal eviction procedure. We started the procedure, but wanted him out immediately. I essentially followed him around the house for 36 hours straight asking, "When are you leaving? You're not wanted here. You should just leave now." I'm surprised he didn't deck me, but it did work.

Anyway, to stay on topic, anonymous, it really depends on the contract he signed regarding guests staying over. I once rented a place where I had to sign a lease with an addendum of "house rules" -- things like dishes can't be in the sink for more than 24 hours, no long-term house guests, alternating mowing the lawn, etc. I don't know if that's legally binding, but it definitely set expectations up front. For your next roommate, if you choose to get one, you could look into something like that, but as always, probably contacting a lawyer is best.
posted by j at 9:08 AM on June 11, 2005

I own a house, and have a roommate from Craigslist.

I am looking at this sentence but it does not make sense to me.

It means that anonymous is the owner of the house and they rent out a room in that house to someone that they found through the craigslist web site. That person is anonymous's roomate. That person is the person who is having too many sleepover guests, annoying anonymous.
posted by jessamyn at 11:28 AM on June 11, 2005

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