I want to have the freedom to rent out my room!
September 20, 2007 7:16 PM   Subscribe

I just leased a two bedroom apartment. I want to rent out the 2nd bedroom however I do not want whom ever I rent the room out to, to go on my lease. The lease I signed of course says that only I am permitted to live in the apartment (even though its a two bedroom). Do people routinely rent out their extra rooms without adding people to their lease?

The lease has a clause that says each individual listed will be solely responsible for the rent (ie if one flakes out, the other is on the hook) this also obviously allows complete shared rights to the apartment and my reason for wanting to rent out the other room is because A) i wont have to do this for the entire duration of MY lease B) I may or may not end up liking the person who moves in (I of course would supply them with a fuill 30 day notice that it was not work) and C) the rent I am charging is on the lower end and I want people to have a sense of flexability in terms of how long they want to stay as an added bonus for why someone would want to rent the extra room (this would help to over come a few short comings of the apartment)
What are you thoughts on my two options
1) as the management company exactly how they would want me to do this (probably ad the person, etc etc etc) or
2) Just go ahead and rent out the 2nd room without informing the manager.

Thank you for your advice / input / personal experiences!

P.S This is all in DC. With what seems like a decent management company but for an apartment in a so so part of town.
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (10 answers total)
I don't know how you can get away with renting the second bedroom and not have the management company find out. And when they do you have breached your lease and you are likely to be evicted.

The management company wants everyone living there to have signed the lease. It is for their liability protection and I would think you would sleep better if you stuck to the terms of your lease.
posted by JayRwv at 7:39 PM on September 20, 2007

Well, it's not DC, but in Ontario, you must let the landlord know of your intentions. They have 7 days to refuse, on reasonable grounds only, to sublet. If they do not respond, you would have the right to terminate the lease within 30 days. The landlord may not charge unreasonable fees for administration of this (if they charge you anything you feel is too much, ask for receipts to show how the money was spent).

You would be solely responsible for getting the roomie's money in ON. If you don't pay the landlord for the entire place, he can evict.

I expect many places have similar laws. Ontario's tenant laws are neither particularly protective of the landlord, nor very protective of the tenant, either. Tenant law, in ON, supersedes rental contracts (except where permitted by law).

Check your local laws. I found ours in a few seconds. :-) I checked and unfortunately, I can't find any sources for DC law, but it seems the specific laws that govern it are the "Rental Housing Act, 1985" and the "District of Columbia Housing Code", in the "District of Columbia Municipal Regulations, Title 14". Here's a guide that might help you find people to inquire with regarding this.

Yikes, I finally found an online copy of your laws. What a pain in the ass! I'd be saving that to my hard drive if I lived in DC. Best of luck. Your laws are a pain to read.

Consider how to ensure the new "tenant" of yours doesn't somehow become a real "tenant" or you'll have to evict him rather than just tell him to pack up and leave. I think here they're called "boarders" or something like that.
posted by shepd at 7:50 PM on September 20, 2007

See if your management company allows you to list a "registered occupant" for your apartment. I live in DC and my management company allows for that. The person is not considered 'on the lease' of the unit.
posted by dcjd at 7:51 PM on September 20, 2007

I think it really depends on the building and the landlord.

It's pretty much de rigueur in the East Village tenements that I'm accustomed to, with the neglegent, absentee landlords and the superintendents who speak fractured english.

However, in a nicer building with a more active landlord in a ritzier neighborhood it may be a different story.
posted by Afroblanco at 9:00 PM on September 20, 2007

I did this once, when I was living in a place with an on-site property manager. After a couple of weeks, she noticed my roommate and we lied and said she had just arrived yesterday and we wanted her on the lease. She had to do the whole background check and get on the lease, and that was it.

My brother is about to do this now, in a stand-alone place that's essentially ignored by the landlord except when something goes wrong. I seriously doubt anyone will ever know.

In other works, "I think it really depends on the building and the landlord," as Afroblanco says.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 9:09 PM on September 20, 2007

I would not do an undocumented sublet, ever, except to a long-standing friend who I knew was a decent and responsible person. You want that person to have some amount of legal responsibility to pay their share of the rent, even if it's only the fact that the landlord will give them a poor reference. My parents always wanted me to try to avoid getting my own name on the lease because it meant I was liable for the flakiness of others. Your name is already on the lease, though; get the rest of those flakes in on this too.

In your scheme, if the person you find decides to suddenly stop paying rent and continue living there, you have no recourse. What are you going to do, complain to your landlord? If you're already offering relatively low rent, that is ALL anyone needs to hear. You don't need to throw in flexibility as a bonus.

I've been an undocumented subletter in a place where the property manager lived across town. I was sharing the room with my boyfriend, so we didn't have an incriminating extra bed. However, if your landlord ever, ever comes over, do you really want to ask the roommate to hide all their things? I have heard of people doing this. What a way to live. Just tell your landlord.
posted by crinklebat at 11:03 PM on September 20, 2007

I think the OP wants to avoid giving a roommate the "same rights" that being on the lease gives too.

I dunno what I would do... I'd check into that Registered Occupant option.

Good luck
posted by crewshell at 4:16 AM on September 21, 2007

additional note from the OP: "Obviously this is because I listed on my application that I am the only one living in the apartment. If I and another person applied I am pretty confident I would have still gotten approved."
posted by jessamyn at 6:44 AM on September 21, 2007

What you're planning to do is called an illegal sublet. Since by doing it you break the terms of the lease, if it's discovered you can be evicted and lose your security deposit. Also, since it's illegal you will not be able to enter into a binding lease or contract with your roommate. If they decide to flake on the rent you'll have no recourse.

I predict this will end badly for you.
posted by ikkyu2 at 8:17 AM on September 21, 2007

As others have said, the answer depends entirely on your landlord. When I was in grad school we typically replaced outgoing roommates with new folks without putting them on the lease once it became clear our landlord didn't care (as in, when one of my roommates actually wanted to be on the lease, we had to bug her for a few months before it happened).
posted by pombe at 9:46 AM on September 21, 2007

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