Legal help?

Nov. 9th, 2009 11:07 am
[personal profile] eldergoth
So... I'm dealing with a roommate issue, and need some legal advice:

Three of us live here in the apartment, and we initially signed a one year lease with all three of our names on it. The lease was from December 2007 through December 2008. We became tenants-at-will following that period. The three of us each pay our rent individually to the landlord, due on the first of every month.

Our landlord left a note yesterday asking us to call him regarding ROOMMATE#3's rent. I managed to speak with the landlord in person this morning to find out what was going on, and it seems that ROOMMATE#3 has not paid his rent for last month, and is late with this month's payment. Since the three of us are responsible in whole for rent for the apartment, that inevitably leaves ROOMMATE#3's unpaid rent falling on ROOMMATE#1 and ROOMMATE#2 to cover, which we cannot afford to do.

Aside from the rent issues, ROOMMATE#3 has never once contributed to the upkeep of the apartment, nor to any of the household supplies such as paper towels, garbage bags, and the like. He is also always late paying ROOMMATE#1 the utility bills, which are all in ROOMMATE#1's name. ROOMMATE#3 has also been stealing food from us when we are not around. Sometimes he claims that he was drunk and doesn't remember doing it, but the fact still remains that he has been doing it.

We are pretty tired of dealing with this, and of ROOMMATE#3 jeapardizing the relationship we have with the landlord. This was a very strained relationship for a while, but we have worked hard to build it back up. We like the apartment and don't want to leave it! We don't like the issue that we have been facing with ROOMMATE#3!

Can anyone advise us of what real legal recourse we may have in this situation?

Date: 2009-11-09 04:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
So I spent a lot of time reading up on roommate law a few months ago, but I'm not sure how much of what I learned is generalizable and how much is specific to California. First of all, in our situation we only had one person's name on the lease, which means that that person acts as a 'master tenant' and has some of the rights of a landlord over the rest of the tenants. In your case, because all three of you are on the lease, this is *probably* something your landlord needs to deal with rather than you. While the lease may not specify how the rent is split (and in fact that may not be down in writing anywhere) the fact that you have a verbal agreement with your roommates and long-standing practice will probably stand up, legally, as 'yes, this person actually owes money'. Therefore, your landlord could proceed with an eviction notice against Roommate #3 for nonpayment of rent. It would probably help if you made clear to the landlord that this is something you are in favor of - otherwise he may think it is all of you or none. The eviction notice process basically gives the offender a chance to pay the rent 'or else', so this is not necessarily a sure fire 'get them kicked out' method, but if it comes from the landlord it is not likely to get them pissed at you, at least.



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