What to Do if Your Roommate Suddenly Moves Out

If you’ve planned well, you may have enough money in the bank to cover the rent for a short sprint while you find yourself a replacement. If not – as we said – swift, thoughtful action. Here’s what to do if you suddenly find yourself living alone.

Read your lease

Assuming both you and your roommate are on it, there may be a stipulation that only those named on the lease can occupy the apartment. There also might be a clause protecting you from this exact situation and holding your roommate liable for their share anyway. When you’re clear on the terms, step two is to call the office….

Notify your landlord

Explain the situation to your landlord or property manager, with your soon-to-be-ex roommate in tow, if possible. If you’ve been solid residents up to that point, management may want to work with you rather than lose a good tenant. Hopefully, you can find a new agreement that’s mutually beneficial.

Find out if you need landlord approval for a new roommate (it’s likely they will want to do background and credit checks) and/or if a new lease needs to be drafted when you have. Determine what will be done with your roommate’s share of the security deposit.

Don’t go rogue

Failing to inform your landlord that a roommate moved out and a new one moved in can be grounds for eviction. So, if you have a replacement waiting in the wings, be sure you take the proper steps and have the new tenant fill out any necessary applications.

Is your roommate being cool?

If he or she is not the sort to bail in the middle of the night, it would be helpful if the departing roommate would sign an agreement to cover the remaining rent and utilities and any damage caused, depending on your lease terms.

It would also be great – and, let’s face it, fair – for the roommate moving out to help you find a replacement.

Is your roommate being difficult?

Stuff happens. If your roommate takes off without giving notice, there’s still recourse. Did you have a roommate agreement? While these are not the same as the legal contract you have with your landlord, they can help down the road should you – and any other roommates – decide to take legal action.

If you signed roommate agreement that you would all stay put until the lease was up, you may be able to sue your former roommate for breach of contract in order to recover any money you paid to cover the rent. Talk to an attorney to learn your rights.

Even without an agreement, you can still consider taking the ex-roomie to small claims court (a feat made easier if you know where your roommate went – try your best to get this information). There’s no lawyer necessary here. You simply show up, lease in hand, and tell your story. If your former roommate doesn’t show, you’re likely to get a favorable judgment.

Collecting on that, of course, may prove difficult – but a win’s a win.

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A.D. ThompsonA.D. Thompson spent the first half of her 25-year career behind the editor’s desk, including time at Playgirl Magazine. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Orlando Sentinel and a host of other publications, print and online. Now a full-time freelancer, she is the Orlando expert for USA Today’s 10Best.com and writes about everything from Mickey Mouse to marijuana-based tourism with equal levels of enthusiasm – and occasional bouts of the munchies.

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