How to Remove a Roommate from the Lease

Written on July 25, 2017 by

Remove Roommate from LeaseWhen you moved in with your roommate, it seemed like things would be great! But then your roommate lost their job and quit paying their fair share of the rent.

Maybe you and your significant other decided to live together. But the relationship didn’t work out. When your ex moved out, they left you paying the full rent amount.

Both scenarios are all too common, and they might leave renters wondering how to get a roommate or an ex off the lease.

Here’s what you need to know about navigating these types of situations.

Please note that the information in this post is general in nature, is not legal advice, and should not take the place of legal advice. If you have a legal situation or question, it’s best to contact an attorney for your state.

The Bad News: You Can’t Force Someone Off the Lease

Unfortunately, if you’re a renter, you can’t remove someone’s name from your lease. That means if your roommate or ex wants to stay, or keep coming back periodically, and leave their belongings, there’s nothing you can do. Your landlord is under no obligation to remove your roommate’s name from the lease.

But some landlords are willing to remove a person from the lease. So it doesn’t hurt to ask.

It gets worse! If you can’t afford the rent by yourself, but your roommate or ex won’t pay and won’t leave, your landlord can sue both of you, or just one of you, to fulfill the lease agreement of paying the full rent. And if you’re the one with the job, guess who the landlord will likely sue?

The Good News: You Have Options

1. Get Another Roommate

If your roommate stops paying the rent but leaves, your landlord might allow you to find another roommate and allow the new person to take over the lease.

But the landlord doesn’t have to agree to this situation.

2. Find Another Place

If you can’t afford the rent on your own, you can arrange to move. Ask the landlord if they’ll break the lease. They might agree to break the lease for free (!), or they might charge a fee for letting you get out of the lease.

Further reading: A Renter’s Guide to Breaking a Lease

Note: If you don’t move and you aren’t paying the full rent amount, your landlord could evict you then sue you for rent owed. The good news is that if the landlord chooses this route, they have to make an effort to find new tenants. They can’t just do nothing and sue you for the remaining rent until the end of the lease term. You would be responsible for rent, however, until the place is re-rented.

3. Stay and Sue

If you and your roommate (or partner) are on the lease together and the other person stops paying (whether they leave or not), you might be able to cover their rent. You can then stay in the rental, and if you want to, you can sue your roommate in court for their portion of unpaid rent.

How to Sue Your Roommate

You’ll need to check your state law on this procedure, but you’ll probably be able to file a small claims lawsuit to get the money owed to you by your ex roommate. You’ll need to prove that you have a 50/50 agreement (or whatever the agreement was) in order to win your court case.

1. Prove Your Roommate’s Share

One way to prove your roommate’s portion of rent would be if you have written proof, which states what rent amount each party was responsible for. If you don’t have that, and only one of you paid the landlord, you can still prove your portion of the rent with your bank statements, or printouts of rent payments from Cozy. If, for example, you paid the landlord and your roommate paid you their share in cash or direct deposit, you can show the court this regular payment. If you ask, your landlord might help you by telling the court (in person or by a statement) how much you paid each month and how much your roommate paid.

2. Send a Demand Letter

Before you go to court, you might want to send your ex roommate a demand letter, stating what they owe you. The demand letter will also state that if you aren’t paid, then you’ll take them to court. This letter will need to be sent by certified mail. That might be all it takes to get the money you’re owed.

3. Bring the Right Paperwork to Court

If you don’t get your money after sending the demand letter, go to court. You should bring the following:

  • Proof of what you’re owed
  • Your copy of the demand letter (or some other proof that you asked for the money)
  • The lease
  • Your landlord or a statement from your landlord

Bottom Line

Signing a year’s lease is serious business. Although you can’t predict the future, try your best to only sign a lease with people you can trust. If relationships end, then it’s best to respect the lease, and come to some agreement on your own. If you can’t, then it’s okay to discuss your options with the landlord about removing one or both of you from the lease.

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47 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • Scott Adlhoch

    Finding a new roommate is one of the best idea, becuase you get new partner with you.

    • Ms.PearlBenton

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  • Alicia Watson

    My mom is on my lease and every month I get a 3 day notice because she doesn’t pay her rent on time plus she had my sister over and damaged some property how can I get her off my lease in California

    • Ms.PearlBenton

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    • Kim

      I’d like to know the answer to this too… I’m going through a similar situation. My mother left a house that i got with her on our lease because i wouldn’t allow my sister to move in and she’s been gone for 2 months. We’ve been paying the high rent and now she expects security back.. we agreed she paid the security and we paid 1st months rent .. her obligation was $1000 a month. Now she says she will move back in until she gets the security back and we can’t live with her , she is too nasty and upsets everyone, what can we do?

  • Renea

    I signed a year lease with my current roommate and I am regretting it to the fullest. I have tried for months now to let her be who she is however she is 37 years old and behaves like an 18 year old. I am miserable in this situation. I feel like I live with a child. I know that these things aren’t legitimate reasons to be removed however she is doing hard drugs and brings it in the house, drinks and brings people in here that I don’t trust and everything in this house including the bed she lays her head in belongs to me so of course she doesn’t care if anything happens to my things. What can I do? What are my options? There is still 6 months left on the lease and I can’t wait that long…PLEASE HELP!!!

    • Roy Stevens

      Get a restraining order.

    • Kay

      I’m in a similar situation. My roommate is much older and thinks she owns the place. She’s passive aggressive and her dog pees and poops all over the place. Did you find a resolution yet?

    • Trinh

      Hey I’m kinda in a similar situation only diff mine does do hard drug(which is illegal a could be very well be Your A of spades) . Mine on lease 😥 I thought equal be a good ideal n fair. She doesn’t do drug but smoke when there no smoking in apartments per landlord request but her behaviour is like urs that of a child, a ogre child that is. My point is I’ve try to despite her many fault, her many,inconsiderate feral faults. None it enough to kick her hour cause she has right hasn’t done anything. “ILLEGAL” or “DAMAGING Property” or violent. You need to document n prof to back your claims to take agen or landlord to take some sort of action

    • Mia

      I am dealing with a situation much similar. My roommate does not do drugs but she does have animals who poop and puke on the floor in her room and then she doesn’t clean it up so it hardens and sticks to the carpet. Maintenance reported it so we had to have our apartment inspected. She has until the end of the month to get her carpet shampooed. I have to maintain the common areas so they aren’t gross. The apartment manager said my room and the common areas look great and I said that’s because I take care of them. All she wants to do is lay around and watch TV. I am sick of the filth, but we co-lease the apartment. I am considered primary on the lease because her credit did not qualify her without me. It sucks!

    • Lori Price

      My situation is similar. I just want to know can I have her name taken off our lease. I pay the bills every month. We have 6 months left. I want to stay. And advise her or possibly help her get her own place. She needs her own apartment but can’t afford our rent on her own. But we will not stay together for long. If I have to. I will just renew lease in my name only after 6months.

  • Ms.PearlBenton

    I would like to read Movie my son Bishop Ĺee format the Lesson 1mout.
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  • Kathy Zaretz

    me and a friend and coworker got a 2 bedroom apt together we decided just to put my friends name on the lease we split the rent and utilities however we also spit the security deposit..Now my friend on the lease got someone to take over her lease also gave my friends security for what she paid..Now i want to move out.. my name is not on the lease so who is responsible to give me my security back ?? please help.. ty

  • Monica

    Full recommendation I would like to recommend to anyone suffering from breakup. 😟😟😟😟 dr_mack @(yahoo). com is a spell caster which you can rely on at any time. My boyfriend get back within 6 days. Great touch, great patience, and most importantly – it really works! 😟😟😟😟😟😟

  • Heritage

    I signed a year lease with a co worker, we have no written agreement but we split the rent down the middle. The checks have always been in my name and he would give me a cash. He got fired and didnt pay rent for months and then he moved out, left all his stuff here and isnt comming back, he already owes me rent from months ago and now i have to pay for the apartment on my own. He basically fell off the face of the earth and wont answer texts or calls, What should i do? Can i throw out his crap?

  • Nicole

    I have been renting the same place over past 2 years. At the beginning the lease was just in my name and my boyfriend was listed as an occupant. Upon renewal last year I added my boyfriend to the lease. Now its time for year 3 to begin, and I would like to remove him from being a lease holder and put him back to occupant. My property manager is refusing to do so. I am financially responsible and able to maintain the rent alone and can show proof. Is the landlord/property manager able to deny my request? Do I have any legal grounds if I present a letter even if comes from an attorney? I appreciate your guidance. Thank you

  • Christian

    See my situation is very complicated and I knew I shouldn’t have signed a lease with my roommate but in an attempt to help him get back on his feet and ease the burden of a large bill every month I agreed to sign a lease with someone that wasn’t local to the city and is a recovering addict. I have texts of him agreeing to pay me his half of the money I put into the apartment, keeping the apartment a drug free zone (not coming back high), as well as him agreeing to let me get him a job with the company I work for until he found something better. The day we moved in he immediately started acting out and actually moved his brother into the apartment without my knowledge while I was at work and then left him there alone in our place. Help me

  • Chad Davis

    Could you go into more detail on the landlord’s side? I have two tenants who signed a lease with me, but now one of them wants to move out and they still have several months left on the lease. The remaining tenant can handle the rent on their own so, I’d like to oblige by removing the one tenant, but I’d like to know how to do it correctly.

    Can I just write up a document that says the one tenant is being removed and all three of us sign it, leaving the original lease alone?
    Or do I have to write up a whole new lease without the one tenant? If so, how do I officially void the old lease?

    • Laura Agadoni

      Hi Chad,
      Just because one of your tenants is moving doesn’t mean you have to remove them from the lease. The bottom line is that you still get your agreed-on rent. If you cease to get it, you can evict whoever is still there and sue anyone on the lease for any rent owed to you. It serves you no purpose to remove someone. Depending on your state, you may need to actively look for a replacement tenant after an eviction. If you get one, then your original tenants are off the hook. But if the tenant who is left pays the entire rent, then no problem. Good luck!

      • Chad Davis

        Thank you, but I would like to remove the tenant, and I would just like to make sure I do it correctly.

        • Laura Agadoni

          OK, but for the record, I don’t recommend this. If you want to remove someone from the lease, you can write up a lease amendment. State that the amendment is between [your name] and [your tenant’s name who will remain]. Then state that you will release [the tenant who leaves] from all lease obligations. It’s wise to also release that person from any claims to the security deposit. State in the amendment that the remaining tenant will be responsible for the rent and all other lease terms. Then you all sign and date. Good luck.

          • Chad Davis

            Thank you for your help, and for your recommendation. I’m definitely going to keep that in mind for the future.

            You wouldn’t happen to know of a free template somewhere online for this type of amendment, would you? I’m sure I can write something up, but it’s nice to work from something that already exists if it’s available.

            • Laura Agadoni

              I use EZ Landlord forms.

              • Heather Marie Fowler

                Hi Nicole,
                Unfortunately I signed a 2 year lease with someone I only knew by phone & computer. I thought she would be ok because she’s in her 60s, however after agreeing to live together in a drug and alcohol free environment as well as her agreeing to be respectful of my OCD she has completely gone the other way. She drinks get drunk and leaves the front door wide open. She also has a dog that has peed and pooped on her bedroom Carpet. She has also thrown up on the carpet which was new. She doesn’t shower regularly and she is heavy and suffers from a chronic yeast infection. I have to hold my breath and run to my room every day. She said she was moving but has now changed her mind. I need to get her out. My landlord is ok with her leaving

              • Trevel l Townsel

                Can you remove someone who has moved out several months ago & the landlord has full knowledge that they left but the said person is refusing to respond to my calls & the landlords calls?

  • Russell

    Leases typically bind both parties. This article doesn’t mention anything about the legality of a landlord taking someone off the lease. If the landlord was willing to take a roommate (one of the tenants on the original lease) off the lease, but the lease has yet to lapse (fixed-term lease with several months left), how do they go about taking someone off the lease legally. Can they have the remaining roommate sign to end the new lease and start a new lease? Does the leaving roommate need to sign something? Does the landlord need to evict one roommate? What’s the right course of action here?

  • Ariane

    My mom told me to look for a house to rent coz’ theyre moving with us. Coz the place we stay is too small for 4 of us. So we found a new place and me and my husband sign the contract, but the 4 of us was on the lease. And its not even a month they’re planning to move back to other island, without telling us first. Can we sue them? And it says in the contract we cant change the name on lease. They ask us to look for a place, then theyll just gonna leave us just like that. And me and my husband paid for the security deposit. We still have 11 months in lease.

  • Bryce

    I was on a lease and signed out of my apartment contract with my friends who were maried and joint lease holders and head of household with the lamdlord but after rhe 12 month lease they signed foe another 2 years and now 4 years of no notice i have $3500.00 in collections hurting my credit is it legal for me to be obligated to the fines? Done moved states i was 19 and needless to say i don’t have the signed papers to dispute the negative credit claim nor do my friends who were also fined 3500 for what damages i dont know i was only gave a total amount due 4 to 5 years after i moved out and back into North Carolina… is this legal can i fight this in court or evencounter sue for the damage done to me keeping me from buying anything? HELP!

  • BarbR

    I am guarantor for my kid and her co-tenant. If my kid BREAKS the lease am I still responsible for the co-tenant ‘s rent and therefore the entire rent if she is left in the apartment alone? If the co-tenant is late or doesn’t pay her half of rent or utilities, can I get her evicted or can the landlord? Utilities are in my kids name. (I know I would be responsible for her half the rent plus late fees that I hopefully can get back in court). They don’t get along at all. One needs to move out. The apartment is divided in two by tape on the floor and they each have key entry bedroom door locks. It’s not a healthy situation.

  • Suzi

    Hi. Me and my husband lease to own our property in Oklahoma. Can one of us be removed from renewal without consent or knowledge.

  • David

    My ex-girlfriend called our landlord and requested for her name to be taken off of the lease. She willingly removed all of her personal belongings, and our son’s belongings from our apartment. She moved back in with her mother. My landlord called me to verify I was okay with my ex being removed from the lease. I agreed, and he provided me with a new lease one week later. My ex filed a police report for an illegal eviction and is trying to have me arrested for an “illegal eviction” Is this even possible when she requested for her name to get taken off, and the land lord provided me with a new lease?

  • Devin Cowart

    My son rented a house in May and included his girlfriend on the lease. Now they are breaking up, how does he get her name off of the lease?
    She has never moved, none of the bill’s are in her name and has never had any mail sent to this address. My son has paid everything and can prove it. He is just worried that she might try to take some of the stuff that he has bought because they choose some stuff together but he has paid for it all.

  • Diane

    My situation is way different.. My lease is in my name only with 3 occupants.. Now because my daughter and her boyfriend have lived here 4 months rent free i told them to move. They are not on the lease they did not sign anything.. How can i get them out it is now winter and there are children involved.. I could leave bit they cant afford the rent and bills.. So everyone would be homeless. Help please.. I live in Maine

  • Robbin Zaleski

    My son signed a 1 year lease with his girlfriend, where the relationship has ended but the lease has not. Both he and she would like him to move out, but he cannot afford a new apartment plus potentially owing his share of the existing rent. She has stated she will willingly take responsibility of the rent. While the landlord is fine with this, he is not moving quickly to revise the lease, as I understand is his right. Can my son and his former girlfriend write their own agreement where she would take legal responsibility? Is there a format required? He cannot afford to risk her possibly coming back wanting his share later.

  • Laura Agadoni

    Hi Robbin,
    I’m not an attorney, so I can’t help you with writing an agreement between your son and girlfriend. All I can tell you is from the landlord’s perspective. The landlord, as you know, doesn’t have to remove your son from the lease. If full rent is not paid each month on time, the landlord can come after anyone on the lease. If your son’s girlfriend says she will pay full rent, she might. She probably knows that if she doesn’t, she’ll be evicted, and that will go on her credit report, making it difficult to rent moving forward. If your son remains on the lease and if his girlfriend is evicted, the eviction will also be on his record. Good luck.

  • Zach

    My marriage was recently annulled, my ex wife is on the lease with me, she had kids that are barley there and live with her parents most of the time. She has never paid cent, I am the primary, and only occupant with a job. I am polite to her, and have prood that I pay all bills and rent, all utilities are in my name.
    She has damaged my property, moved my stuff out, locks me out every opportunity she gets, brings strangers in that I dont want there, and is very mean and abrasive. Considering she is unemployed and has never helped pay for anything do I have any option for getting her terrible self out?

  • deb

    so my brother and i have lived together as roommates for almost 18 years. my brother is for lack of a better word a hoarder of garbage. we were having issues with roaches in the basement because of him (his area) and it finally got so bad that they started migrated to the other tenants apartments. the problem is i’m a neat freak and the rest of the apartment is spotless. i no longer speak to my brother and have given him the notice that are apartment manager put on our front door, as well as speaking to the apt manager. my brother has less than two days to clean and hasn’t and i’ve been informed i’m going to be evicted also, even though the rest of the area is clean. what can i do? i can’t afford to move.

  • Justin

    So I’m having trouble finding the answer to my question. Me and a friend rent a house. I am a college student, and she is in school but only for some classes. I have had mental health and struggle with addiction. I’ve had a couple mess ups that have led my friend to want to kick me out. She gave me a fill the end of the year to move out. But I can’t because I’m here for college. The house in under her name. I’m more so just a renter. Am I able to fight this? Or do I have no chance.

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