Do I owe a former roommate the balance of the month if he moved out before the month was up?

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Do I owe a former roommate the balance of the month if he moved out before the month was up?

I rented a room in my home to an individual (no signed lease) and things didn’t work out. He informed me he was moving out that day and wanted the remainder of the month’s rent he had paid ($140) returned to him since he was leaving. I refused because 1. He didn’t give me sufficient time to re-rent the room; 2. His rent was already used to pay that month’s utilities bills; and 3. He caused some damages to the room he rented. Do I legally have to give back his $140?

Asked on October 23, 2010 under Real Estate Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Without a signed lease, you and he had a verbal or oral lease. An oral lease makes for a month-to-month tenat. With a month-to-month lease, a tenant must give the landlord 30 days notice to move out. If he didn't provide a month's notice, you could sue him for the month's rent--or in this case, if he paid at the start of the month, you are clearly within your rights to not refund the balance of that month's rent. Whether or not the tenant is residing there or left early, because he owed you notice of his tenancy ending, you do not need to return the balance of the rent.

If he caused any damages, you can also take the cost of repair out of his security deposit (if any; you should *always* get a security deposit) or sue him for the cost to fix.


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