Help! Trouble roommates need to go!
May 18, 2007 7:31 AM   Subscribe

Dream living situation turned nightmare. Is there a way get rid of the problem roomies before things turn even uglier?

So, I share an apartment with a couple and another man. Up to this point, everything has been great. However, it has recently come to my attention that two of my roommates have been getting along "too well." The girl from the couple is cheating on her boyfriend with the other roommate.

Complicating matters further, these two have also been upping their usage of recreational drugs. They're inviting all sorts of unsavory characters into our living space without any kind of consent. Since then, my wallet and passport have mysteriously disappeared and I'm getting suspicious that this whole wallet thing was an inside job. Now I'm afraid to leave my stuff alone with these people while I'm out of the apartment.

The (ex)boyfriend and myself want the cheaters out. The lease situation is a little sketchy. None of us have an up-to-date copy of the lease, so we're not sure who is actually signed to it. We don't know if it's just one person (I'm definitely signed to it) or if all residents have signed it. I'm going to get a copy from the landlord and get to the bottom of that situation, but I'm just not versed on the rules involving ousting people from the apt. whether they're signed to the lease or not.

To make matters even worse, this guy can't hold down a job and is constantly late with his rent.

So down to the nitty gritty, is there a way to get these two out of the apartment. I'm not comfortable with them being there and I'd rather not have to move. What are the legal implications and or restrictions regarding this kind of thing? Any other suggestions on how to alleviate my fears?

I appreciate your help in advance! Thanks for all your (sure to be) great responses!
posted by kmtiszen to Grab Bag (19 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Where in the world are you?
posted by Floydd at 7:35 AM on May 18, 2007

Looks like New York, Floyyd.
posted by at 7:45 AM on May 18, 2007

If you are committed to staying in that apartment, start by getting a new lock for your bedroom door. Any ousting process will get people's blood a'boiling and you don't want your stuff trashed or stolen.

If they're hanging out, inviting people over, and doing drugs in your apartment, would it be too much to call the cops? Obviously, if you partake or have materials of your own around, this isn't a great idea. You can even tell the other two up front that you'll be calling them because of your missing wallet/passport situation.

You'll have to talk to these people anyways, so remember to be forceful, direct, and follow through on any promises you make. Shifty layabouts have little ability to deal with the ever marching force of inevitability.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:51 AM on May 18, 2007

I'm not sure how you'd oust them from the apartment if they're on the lease either, but I've (sort of) been in your shoes before...

I recommend that whatever you do, get on good terms with the landlord right now if you aren't already and keep it that way. You don't have to bring them homemade cookies or anything, but if the rent is late and it isn't your fault, physically put your half in their hand on time and tell them why the rest isn't there. Let them know (without saying it) that you're the responsible one. Tell your roommates to bring their half to the landlord themselves. It's the landlord's job to browbeat people into paying up; you don't have to worry about that part.

A friend of mine was recently in this situation, with roommates who wouldn't keep a job and pay the rent, and by doing that he was able to sneak out of his lease early and simply a get a different apartment in the same complex without even signing a new lease. Considering that you live in NY, YMMV. But if you even think that you might end up having to move because of this, it's good to think in terms of getting a good recommendation from your landlord.

Seconding finding out about getting a lock for your bedroom door. Once you get a copy of the lease, you can probably find something in it that will tell you whether you can. If not (or even if you find an answer that doesn't work for you), you could ask the landlord, and you don't have to explain everything that's going on. You could simply say that your roommates have been having a guest over who makes you nervous. You don't need that landlord to think you're any kind of person in particular, just one who's a good tenant.

Do any of you have a cosigner?
posted by zebra3 at 7:54 AM on May 18, 2007

Track down your landlord or leasing agent and get another copy of the lease, for starters.

This is not going to be pretty. I can see a long road ahead of you trying to force these guys out.

It honestly might be easier for you to cut your losses and move out yourself.
posted by misha at 7:55 AM on May 18, 2007

If one or both are not on the lease, tell them they need to move and give them a deadline.

A difficulty could arise if they don’t move out on deadline. When I had to get rid of an unwanted roommate I called the cops and asked what to do. They said they would evict the person if required and then escort them back at a mutually convenient time so they could get their stuff. This sounded fair to me. I explained this strategy to my unwanted roomie and Voilà! We were able to resolve everything through talking. No police involvement actually required.

If they are both on the lease, tell them it isn’t working out and you want them to leave. If they agree, have them sign an agreement with a deadline.

If they don’t agree, you might have to move.

Alternatively, if they don’t agree and you want to dig in your heels, call the cops to report that they stole your stuff and have drugs in the apartment. And tell your roomies that unsavoury characters are not welcome in your home and that you will call the cops to haul them out if they show up again. This will probably cause them to consider moving of their own free will.
posted by kika at 7:55 AM on May 18, 2007

I'm just not versed on the rules involving ousting people from the apt. whether they're signed to the lease or not.

If they're not on the lease, and the leaseholder doesn't want them there, then they are trespassing. The police will help you get them out.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 7:56 AM on May 18, 2007

Honestly I think you're probably better off trying to get the hell out of there.
posted by chunking express at 7:57 AM on May 18, 2007

Sigh. Lawyer. Or at least read up on the law about self-help evictions.
posted by footnote at 8:05 AM on May 18, 2007

RE paying your share of the rent: No! Everyone on the lease is responsible for the entire rent. If my roomie doesn’t feel like paying, that’s not my landlord’s problem. I am on the lease and I owe. That’s all my landlord needs to know. He does not have to chase/shake down each occupant of an apartment.

Likewise, your on-lease roomie is just as responsible for your share of the rent if you don’t feel like paying.

(This is why it’s always better to have just one person on the lease. That one person will pay the rent in full every month and can immediately evict any roomies who do not pay their agreed share. Having multiple people on the lease can mean that only the responsible one will pay and the others will be late or whatever but can’t be evicted. Not fun, as you are experiencing.)

Anyway. Make sure that your landlord gets the total rent from you. Don’t even think about putting your landlord through the hassle of shaking down your unreliable roommate.

Your landlord might have some insight as to how to deal with undesirable roomies as well.
posted by kika at 8:06 AM on May 18, 2007

be a little cautious with these folks

if the people you live with stole your wallet and passport (or somehow orchestrated its theft) then they sound pretty ballsy and desperate....and if drugs are involved and so are unsavory characters, then you could certainly put yourself in danger if you call the cops...remember, you have to live with these people (i presume) until this is resolved....and so if they are angry with your or downright vengeful or even out of their minds on drugs at some point, you and your stuff could really be in for it

and it might not even be them, especially if the police get involved, some of their cohorts could jump you on the street or whatever...

definitely start by locking up and securing all your stuff, and lock that door when you're in your room for the night to sleep

then see about that lease, hopefully you can get them out that way

then maybe ask them to change their behavior, i mean, it's not to much to ask someone to stop using drugs in your place, it's not like they're watching a football game with the volume too high or something, they're freaking partying illegally...

at least make it be known that you intend to put a stop to the hijinx
posted by Salvatorparadise at 8:10 AM on May 18, 2007

Things you can do today include getting a lock for your room and getting a copy of the lease. You will need to go to the landlord for this. Politely explain the situation to the landlord. What happens next depends on what the lease says.

If you are not on the lease, it is as simple as moving out! In fact, the landlord should look at the document and say "I'm sorry you are not on this lease; I can't give you a copy." Your reply would then be "That's great news. Is there a vacant unit I can lease?"

If you are on the lease and they are not, explore your options for getting the unwanted occupants out. Remember, the landlord is not a lawyer, but she knows more about the law as it applies to multifamily housing and your particular lease than you do. This is not going to be easy, just so you know.

If both you and they are on the lease, things get more complicated. Honestly if this is your situation, I would seriously consider asking the landlord what documents you must sign to get off the lease (no you will not get your deposit back sorry) and move out. You will have a very difficult time removing them from the lease.
posted by ilsa at 8:17 AM on May 18, 2007 [2 favorites]

Ilsa offers very good advice here.
posted by drezdn at 8:35 AM on May 18, 2007

If you're in NYC, the police will not help you get them out. Self-help eviction is illegal. If they won't leave and they're not on the lease, you have to take them to court. Of course, if they don't know self-help is illegal, you can change the locks and hope for the best. But if they do know, then they can sue you and a judge will order you to let them back in. I wouldn't risk it.

If you're all on the lease, then you're in a tough situation. You can try to get a new roommate to replace you, or talk to the landlord about getting off the lease, which might be an unsuccessful conversation.

Most of the resources you will find online about L&T law are geared toward people who are at risk of eviction, but you might find some useful information at the NY section of (the Know Your Rights tabs have fact sheets) or at
posted by Mavri at 8:41 AM on May 18, 2007

Oops. I’m in Montreal, so my experience is clearly irrelevant. Sorry. My cops were really helpful once I was able to convince them that my roomie was really not on the lease. I guess NYC roomies have an equivalent of squatter's rights? Sigh.
posted by kika at 8:45 AM on May 18, 2007

You'll probably find the best advice by reading posts or posting on Read this thread for info specific to your situation (starting with the last paragraph of the first post).
posted by necessitas at 8:50 AM on May 18, 2007

kika--yes, NYC has a lot of tenant protections b/c the housing market is so difficult that most people can't find a new apartment quickly. So while you can evict a roommate, the system builds in a certain time lag so the roommate can find another place. This is, of course, not good for people with nightmare roomies.
posted by Mavri at 9:57 AM on May 18, 2007

I have a friend who had a seriously drug-addled roommate. He was always fucked up, things were mysteriously missing, the place was a mess, he was always at least a couple months or more behind on the rent. So, while roommate was missing, off on a bender, he moved all his stuff into a storage locker and changed the locks to the apt. When roommate returned, he was told the deal. A day later, he received the key to the storage locker in exchange for what was owed on the rent. Off he went, never to be heard from him again.

It's radical, labor-intensive and in all likelihood completely illegal (this was in NYC), but it worked like a charm, is all I'm sayin.
posted by nevercalm at 10:50 AM on May 18, 2007

Store what valuables you can in a place other than the apt, since most internal door (i.e., non-deadbolt) locks are trivially easy to card or pick.
posted by allterrainbrain at 3:56 PM on May 18, 2007

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