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.

Get our free newsletter

Join 200,000+ landlords

  • ​Tips to increase income
  • Time-saving techniques
  • ​Powerful tools & resources

66 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • nilza kamansky

    My son and I are on the lease.I am moving out and my son is staying.Can I have my name removed from the lease?
    Thank you.

  • Mo Ahmed

    My roommate has become very hostile and has threatened me over the phone by calling and texting me. The cops said they cannot do anything until/unless he physically attacks me. I came home to an apartment with 2 new holes in the wall, weed, cigarettes, and bottles everywhere. How do I get myself out off this lease that we both are on and expires in August???

  • Daniel J Riojas

    Im on the lease with my roomate and he’s no longer coming back what can I do with his belongings?

  • Cary

    Me and my girlfriend moved in together in Nov.2018. We moved closer to work. Before it was 45 minutes in the summer and 90 minutes in the winter. Now it’s 10 minutes from work. We are both on the lease. We’ve broke up last month. Things are getting worse. She’s become aggressive, not physically but arguing and yelling. Where I live this is the cheapest place around. What can I do as far as getting her off the lease? She does pay half the rent but I pay all the other household bills. I’m lost for words with what is going on. And I can’t afford to move.

  • Alex

    My boyfriend his sister along with his mother are on the lease. The sister doesn’t pay rent and she’s mentally not all there. She recently attacked my boyfriend and hid her moms boyfriends keys so he had to buy new ones. She’s attacked his grandma and has been to jail before as well as mental hospitals. We want her off the lease since she’s causing damage. She needs to go back to a mental hospital but won’t. What are my options ?

  • Daisy

    I started my lease in August and signed in a roommate in January. The person I allowed to rent has incurred maintenance fees due to water level of the toilet being too high and the fees have now carried over as a past due balance. At both visits maintenance has stated no issue exist. She has apparently been working with an attorney to get this reversed however, for the past 3 weeks it has not been resolved. Before moving in I had an agreement we both signed but it does not specify maintenance fees only past due amounts. That person has now brought up that they can force me to pay the fees she incurred since I was not responsible for the upkeep of the apartment as I have followed up on the status. Can I file for her to be evicted?

    • Laura Agadoni

      Hi Daisy,
      I don’t know what you mean by “signed in a roommate.” Typically landlords need to approve the roommate. And whether you got approval or not, your landlord can charge you for damages to the unit, whether you caused them, your guests caused them, or your roommate caused them. Note that in many leases, bringing in a roommate without getting approval from the landlord could be cause for eviction. As far as removing someone from the lease, that is discussed in this blog post. Good luck!

  • Jade

    Hi, my friend and I both signed a lease on a home last October. I have not been pleased with how my landlords have handled some things, for 1. For 2, I’ve had a man watching our home, has insisted on coming in, claiming he used to live there. Since, weird things have happened around my home. On top of all of that my roommate and I are not getting along. She has random men in and out of the home. Its all around become a safety issue for my daughter and I. I want to move out, my roommate is okay with it and says she will take over the lease. My landlord refuses to tell me my options on me moving out. Although my roommate can prove she can afford it. He says we would both have to vacate the home. Can they force us to stay w/o any options?

    • Laura Agadoni

      Hi Jade,
      No one can force you to stay, but if you choose to leave, and your landlord chooses to then evict both of you, he can. If that happens, you and your roommate would be responsible for the rent each month until the place is re-rented—unless there is a lease break fee. Then you would just pay that and be done with it. If your roommate can prove she can pay the rent by herself, your landlord might choose to let her stay alone, but he doesn’t have to. He might have rented to you two based on two incomes and one income might not be sufficient to meet the rent requirements. Talk with your landlord, and good luck with your decision.

  • Cameron Fritts

    So me my girl and a old friend where recently living in a apartment where I paid everything do to my girl going through college and the friend refusing to pay. so one day our old friend just decided to up and leave taking his stuff,some of mine and even one of the apartment keys saying he is done living with us and we haven’t seen him since he still has the apartment key to this day..So me and my girl told the landlord what’s up and that me and my girl wanna move out and our old friend can do whatever he wants but I’m not gonna pay for him to get out and she said that we can leave by paying her 1 month rent and B.O.C at a later date.Now she wants B.O.C from us and is hounding us for it not our old friend.Why can’t she hound him i got no $

Join the Discussion

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available. Be short, sweet and to the point.