If my roommate isnot on the lease and has not paid rent, what are my rights?

Get Legal Help Today

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

If my roommate isnot on the lease and has not paid rent, what are my rights?

A “friend” needed a place to stay because his past roommate passed away. I kindly let him live in my apartment upon the agreement that he would pay at the beginning of the month. It’s now the middle of the month and he still hasn’t paid. I’m positive he has drug paraphernalia in his room. I’ve asked him multiple times for rent and he keeps blowing me off saying he will have it in a couple days. What rights do I have and could I get in trouble for his drug paraphernalia? Also to make things worse my apartment complex requires an application for a background check. He lied to me and never turned it in.

Asked on May 13, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Arizona

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Since this roommate was supposed to have paid rent, he might be considered to be your unofficial "tenant" or sub-tenant. In the alternative he might be considered to be a "licensee" (that is someone who was invited to stay  on the premises).  In either event, since you have the legal right to occupy the premises, you can file an unlawful detainer action (i.e. eviction proceeding).  This means however that you will have to comply with all legal requirements in order to get this "friend" lawfully removed.  This starts with written notice (typically 30 days or so).  You will then file suit in court for an "unlawful detainer" (i.e. eviction). If it is granted, this person will either have to leave the premises by the date stipulated or the sheriff will remove him, forcibly if necessary. 

In the meantime do not undertake any "self-help" measures such as changing the locks, etc.  This will work against you.  What you should do now is to contact a tenant's right organization or real estate attorney.  They can advise you of the correct way in which to go about this; you can also contact the local court and see if they have a pamphlet/website that gives this information.

Note:  If this friend is an "official" tenant, the only way to have him legally removed from the premises is to have your landlord file for the unlawful detainer action.  Having your roommate's name on a lease is not the only way that he may be considered to be a formal tenant of your landlord.  In addition to being on the lease, he may have achieved the status of a tenant if your landlord accepted rent from him directly.  Also, if the landlord put (or allowed him to put) his name on the mailbox/doorbell, and/or if he and the other tenants rented the place together and it was clear that all were on equal footing.  Of course, you may have your tenancy put in jeopardy if your roommate is illegal.


IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption