If my roommate moved out but still periodically pays rent, can I change the locks?

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If my roommate moved out but still periodically pays rent, can I change the locks?

Me and roomate signed year lease for apt. he moved out early and pays me here and there for his half of rent. He still has a key, so for my safety of property can I change the locks with landlord’s permission? Aloso, if I do this, will my ex-roommate still be obligated to pay his half of the rent?

Asked on November 24, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Tennessee

Answers:

MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If your landlord has not allowed this roommate to surrender his part of the lease and create a whole new lease with you, then your landlord cannot legally agree nor could you legally change the locks on this person.  He is entitled to occupy or keep his things there and the only way to get him out would be for the landlord to evict both of you. Since it sounds as if he is paying sometimes and you are paying the rent in total, your only choice at this point is to have a discussion with this person, decide what the best step should be, get his portion of the remainder owed to you (or sue if you have to) and decide whether you can both have a discussion with the landlord. This might be the better approach.


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