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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104 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • Rae

    I have a roommate who claimed to have lost her cc first month rent and now she’s coming to me demanding (not asking) to cover hers. She’s been verbally abusive and coming into my room eating my food when I’m not home. I’m the one with a stable income and she is supposedly a student with no income. It’s only been a month almost 2. I want to break the lease but she refuses to leave. What can I do to take myself off the lease without being responsible for her? I have witness of her showing signs of mental instability. I’m now scared to be in the same roof as her. I live in California

  • Kayla Ann Boyd

    The place was mine and my boyfriends before we allowed our roommate to sign on with us this year (bad decision). If I am able to survive the rest of the year with her in the house, I want to resign the lease without her. Basically I figured he and I will go resign the lease at the end of our year and just not inform her – is this legal?

    • Jack Jones

      no nigga it’s not 😂 lol

    • Denise.

      They will have to sign a paper saying that they are removing themselves from the lease. Just did this with my boyfriend

      • Keri

        I’d they remove themselves from the lease which is technically breaking it, can you sue them for their portion of rent or is it assumed by signing the lease removing themselves they end their monetary obligation?

        My daughter and her roommate signed an addendum to their lease removing roomie from the lease because she was always short when rent was due and the situation was becoming toxic.

        I will be helping my daughter pay her rent so she doesn’t get evicted. Can I sue the roomie for having to pay her half?

        We’ve got 9 months of the of. 12 month lease left :(

  • Jessy

    My mother and her common law boyfriend, are moving to a new province in less than 2 months, am i able to get her name removed from the lease once shes gone? as she threatens to come back, and not give me the privacy my partner and myself deserve what can i do to get her off the lease or atleast restrict her from half ownership to everything in my home?

  • Matthew

    I’m confused my roommate is denying to help pay the utility shut offs my Delemma is that my roommate is trying to take over the lease and I’m the sole leaseholder and we’re at our last month to fulfilling the lease agreement and I’m not resigning and she thinks she can sign without me when I’m trying to collect my security deposit that she never contributed to because she came later into the lease as an add on can she do this and can I have her evicted so I can clean the house to gain my security deposit I think she should be responsible for not paying her share to rent And utilities

  • Katherine Gallegos

    my boyfriend moved out on me and we just sigh a 13 month lease left me hanging I’m on social security after I pay rent I have 40 dollars left he works makes good money and knows I can’t afford this place on my own and don’t care is there anything I can do legally

  • Brianna Fanger

    My boyfriend and I moved in with his sister around 4 months ago. I am not on the lease but him and his older sister are. Things went good the first couple months and then we had are first argument after me and her brother being together for 3 years. She is trying to get a restraining order on me because MY BROTHER NOT EVEN ME, MY BROTHER made a threat to her. I had nothing to do with what he messaged her. Anyways after me being kicked out for a few weeks my boyfriend had me over while she was at work and she saw him active on Facebook but wouldn’t answer the bedroom door for her. She broke the door down and saw me in there and called the cops. He is on the lease and I am his company. the police made me leave. How can he get off the lease?

  • Moe

    My roommate and I are on the lease. His mother and his stepfather moved in. Which I didn’t agree to or him. They’re his parents so he says he can’t kick them out. They do pay rent but I don’t feel safe with them here. It has caused us to have a falling out.
    They bring people over who I don’t know.
    I had to put a lock on my door so they won’t come in while I’m asleep or while I’m away.
    I’ve been having breathing problems and it’s obvious that is been having a big strain on my mental and physical heath.
    Guest here longer then 7 days are in breach of contract and can get us kicked out. They’ve been here for 3 months already.
    Should I sue or just go tell the landlord?

  • Yasmine

    My husband left and I am in my apartment my lease is due for renewal they won’t take him off my my new lease even tho he has been gone for over 6 months and he won’t sign anything showing he is no longer there what can I do and is this legal

  • Caralynn Hangbers

    How do I get my ex wife off my lease

  • Mandy

    My husband & I let my monster-in-law move in & had her put onto the lease. It’s Been a nightmare, she brought 3 Chihuahuas in and they aren’t potty trained. She agreed to take them out every 2 hours to get them potty trained. She didn’t. She is very messy & doesn’t clean anything. Including herself, she showers monthly. My husband, her son has an illness & gets infections easily. He’s had 8 infections in the year she’s lived with us & ony 2 in the 2 years prior. We have been trying to get her to move out since about month 2 of her living with us. We’ve had her sign agreements to clean as well as 1 to be moved out by April 1st. She has broken all agreements that she has signed. At this point we just want her out. We welcome any advice!

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