If she moved out in the middle of the night, that would be fine, too
April 19, 2012 10:09 AM   Subscribe

My roommate gave me notice that she was moving out on May 1. Now she says she's staying until the end of her lease. But we don't have a lease! This is in NYC.

She moved in in October. She was supposed to pay her deposit out of her next paycheck, but she has yet to do so. I reminded her in November, then insisted in February, at which point she made a payment, but she still owes me the majority of the deposit.

In late February, she gave me her notice that she was moving out by May 1. Okay, cool. I'll find a new roommate.

Relations are, shall we say, a bit strained at the moment, but this is a law & government question, not human relations. When I e-mailed her two weeks ago to let her know I had roommate appointments set up for that weekend, she insisted that she had a lease with the landlord that went through October, that I couldn't kick her out, and that she'd "come after [me] with lawyers". I reminded her that she hadn't yet paid the deposit, and asked to see a copy of the lease she signed. She said, "Fine." She hasn't yet done either.

She pays rent by signing over her payroll checks to me, and I deposit the entire rent directly into the landlord's checking account. The last lease I signed with the landlord (with a previous roommate) was in 2006. She and I have never signed anything, and I doubt she signed a lease with my landlord by herself.

So: At this point, I would like her to leave like she said she was going to, and I'll recoup the deposit money from the next roommate. Is this an option for me? Have you ever brought this kind of case against your roommate? Do I need a lawyer? What kind? How do I find one? Do I need to involve my landlord, and if so, when?
posted by mgar to Law & Government (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Is there any reason you can't just ask your landlord to confirm or deny the roommate's claim to have an actual signed lease?
posted by elizardbits at 10:19 AM on April 19, 2012 [9 favorites]

I would assume your landlord would deal with all of this.
posted by KogeLiz at 10:23 AM on April 19, 2012

If your roommate has a lease with your landlord, then your landlord would likely be insisting on the security deposit, not you, n'est-ce pas? Still, it's worth asking landlord if they have one with your roommate.

If none exists, then yeah, it looks like the Holdover Roommate process is exactly what is appropriate in this circumstance. The process seems to be designed to make lawyers unnecessary, like small claims court.

Next time, get something in writing with your new roommate.
posted by inturnaround at 10:26 AM on April 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

Is there any reason you can't just ask your landlord to confirm or deny the roommate's claim to have an actual signed lease?

I suppose not, I just didn't want to involve him earlier than was necessary. But seeing as he hasn't offered me (or prior roommates) leases in literally years, it strikes me as unlikely that he'd offer one to her, but not mention it to me.
posted by mgar at 11:49 AM on April 19, 2012

Your landlord does not have two individual leases on a single apartment. A lease covers a domicile. Your landlord cannot have issued a new lease in someone else's name for part of the apartment, and certainly not without notifying you.

You are on a month-to-month lease.

You also have what is commonly referred to as a "crazy."

Your roommate is renting from you. She is paying the rent to you; you are paying the landlord.

Yes, what you want to do is a roommate holdover action. She has refused to pay the necessary deposit and been warned repeatedly. She is in breach of your agreement.

You can navigate housing court on your own just fine. There are people there to help you. The system is set up for normal people.

I am not a lawyer, this is not legal advice, best of luck.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 12:04 PM on April 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Do you have a written termination notice? A written notice is the only means of ending a month to month rental arrangement in my province. Without a written notice, the landlord can still collect rent from the tenant and with a written notice, the landlord then has the permission to search for new tenants.
posted by DetriusXii at 12:17 PM on April 19, 2012

Also, when I got my "People's Court" law degree, that month-to-month in NYC requires only two months notice, and you can kick her out just as easily as you can leave.

By all means, Housing Court is your best option. Plus, how interesting is THAT going to be?
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:25 PM on April 19, 2012

Not sure if you are interacting/corresponding in person or via email or what have you, but if it helps, here's a model conversation:

Dear Roommate,

You have no formal lease with the landlord that gives you the right to live her until the termination of the lease. You pay me rent, which I pay to the landlord. I have a legal relationship with the landlord, you do not.

You are already in financial arrears because of your failure to pay the full deposit which you owe. This means you never made good on your end of the rental agreement.

You can move out as we agreed on May 1 and I will not press you for the deposit. You have no legal right to stay here thereafter since you never fulfilled the obligations of our rental agreement by not paying the deposit in full.

Regardless of whether you pay the deposit in full, I am the master tenant (this is a technical term which refers to the renter who has a formal legal relationship with the landlord, either because their name is on the existing lease or because they are the one who pays the total rent). I have chosen to rent the apartment to another person. I expect you to vacate the apartment as previously agreed by May 1.

Hope this helps!
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 6:09 PM on April 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

« Older Laid off with no termination date.   |   Backpacking in Central America -- what do I take... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.