Your roommate is leaving before the lease is up… now what?
Probably you’re gonna have to do some quick thinking, that’s what. Ultimately your real options depend on your lease, but here are some ideas to keep in mind:
If you want to stick around
You’re gonna need a new roommate, and that will most likely require your landlord’s approval. Avoid the temptation to bring someone new in on the down low. Tell your landlord what is going on – chances are they will be open to a new roommie, lest they lose you as well. Technically, you may be opening yourself up to an eviction if your old roommate bails, but most landlords just want to get paid and are highly motivated to help you find a way to make that happen.
Getting out of Dodge
Your roommate leaving might be your cue to vamoose, for a variety of reasons: you can’t afford to stay, don’t want to, whatever. Do your best to make your exit gracefully; this begins with being upfront with your landlord:
- Don’t wait until the last minute to pull a runner, give as much notice as possible.
- Be honest about financial hardship; if you are leaving because you can’t pay, your landlord is less likely to pursue action.
- Be polite and keep your landlord’s feelings in mind – they’re stuck trying to replace revenue on short notice.
Some landlords won’t care what your problems are, they will aggressively pursue you for all monies owed per your lease. If you are open and helpful, your landlord is much more likely to respond by trying to help accommodate your move.
Going after your old roommate
If you are out of other options, or are feeling vindictive, you will need to get the following from your old roommate:
- Payment for remaining rent and utilities
- Payment for any damages they have caused
- Their removal from the lease
If you meet resistance, small claims court is probably your best bet (assuming they stay local). In any event, this is probably a last resort – the hassle of a roommate fight is seldom worth the small-time stakes.