General Question

mirifique's avatar

I am renting a 2bd apartment, want a housemate, but want to be able to give housemate notice to vacate if it sours. What's the best type of agreement for this?

Asked by mirifique (1511 points ) August 28th, 2012

My lease forbids subleasing and all tenants must be co-signatories to the master lease, thereby making them jointly liable. However, I want protection against:

*my housemate damaging the premises and leaving me on the hook
*my housemate refusing to pay rent, etc.
*the overall arrangement souring due to a personality or other conflict.

I would also like to control their proportion of the rent, i.e., charge a bit more to reflect the hassle of finding the place, providing full furnishings, and setting up cable, internet, etc.

1. Would a co-tenancy agreement work even if they were signatories to the master lease as well? Does anyone have a better suggestion?

2. Should I request my landlord strike the sublease prohibition and just do a sublease?

Thanks in advance.

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18 Answers

BosM's avatar

I don’t want to insult you in any way but this has “bad idea” written all over it. Remember, no one is going to treat your belongings the way you are, and people you do not know could have personalities and habits that you may find difficult to live with.

If you decide to go forward collaborate with the landlord (who is the person whose rights need to be protected for nonpayment, damages, etc.). You could ask for co-tennant leases but what’s the incentive to the landlard since you are already liable for the whole amount?

Screen your prospects carefully and get references because giving them “notice to vacate” is never an easy thing for either of you.

In exchange for a furnished place, consider asking the co-tennant pay something in equivalent value to offset it, such as an extra amount toward a utility bill. Good luck.

mirifique's avatar

Thanks, @BosM. But what if, rather than having the “right to evict” the co-tenant agreement simply stated their lease was for a fixed, sublet term? That’s the issue… that there is a trial period and if that works out, it would be extended.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

You are trying to set-up a sub-lease by having the co-renter sign your agreement. The apartment owner wants to control who is renting and that you cannot have final say. Get a local lawyer if you must. But I think it is a “bad idea” also.

mirifique's avatar

@Tropical_Willie So what do you recommend I do?

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Get a lawyer to rewrite the landlord’s agreement, it will cost you money and the landlord may not sign it after it is rewritten.

mirifique's avatar

What about just getting the landlord to strike the subletting prohibition from the lease?

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Most landlords will not sign the lease if they cannot say who can stay or go.

IF you sublet the apartment YOU would then be responsible for ALL damages and wear.

mirifique's avatar

@Tropical_Willie But I could make them responsible for all damages and wear on the sublease, provided I am ultimately responsible to the landlord. Correct?

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Are you a lawyer and can you make the room-mate financially responsible ? ? If they skip town you will be holding the bag.

mirifique's avatar

I understand, but the same holds true if we are both co-lessors on the lease, except with that option, I don’t have the option to give them a fixed-term sublease (they would be considered legal tenants and benefit from eviction protection). If they skip town, I’m responsible for everything, but could also just find another roommate…

BosM's avatar

Assuming the landlord agrees to your suggestion, the roommate would be obligated to you for unpaid rent, utilities, damages, etc. Why take that risk? Instead, ask the landlord to modify the current lease to include a Cohabitation agreement governing living arrangement between you and your roommate. Have an attorney draw up the Cohabitation agreement though. Good luck

jca's avatar

I am confused. A lease is a contract, which you signed, and now you want to modify it? Modify it to specifically include something that’s not included now? Why would the landlord be willing to agree to that? What’s in it for him?

Shippy's avatar

If they signed the lease as you will, they would have the same legal responsibilities you have. However as you’d be equal cohabitants you personally would have no power over the other lessor since you both have equal right to the property.You could ask for a guarantee deposit though, and perhaps offer them one in the case of damage. I mean on a personal level. Plus the property owner would ask for same I imagine. Just using common sense here.

mirifique's avatar

@jca @Shippy @BosM @Tropical_Willie I don’t understand why I can’t just request the landlord strike “no subleasing” from the original lease and then do my own sublease, with month-to-month term (thus w/30 day notice to vacate provision). Otherwise the landlord, knowing it’s a 2bd, has to deal with two separate checks, two separate tenants, and basically double the liability and risk that someone wouldn’t pay rent. With one person on the lease on the hook for everything, he’d be guaranteed payment every month even if the subtenant skips town.

BosM's avatar

@mirifique, you asked us our opinion we gave it.

Your point is valid, so, just ask the landlord and see what they say. We’ve mentioned you should do so in some of the responses. Give it a shot. Good luck.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

One person pays but both are responsible because they signed the lease. Some rental companies will NOT strike out or modify anything on their paperwork. Sounds like you are planning on renting a $900 a month apartment and charge your room mate $650, for the cable, furnishings and your good company.

mirifique's avatar

@Tropical_Willie That’s not how a sublease works (only one person signed the lease, so that tenant is fully responsible). And you don’t know what I’m planning to do, so I don’t appreciate the speculation.

Buttonstc's avatar

I think that you are under the impression that if you can get the landlord to amend it the way that you wish that you would then be able to get rid of this other person simply by thirty day notice should things not work out to suit you.

Well, that’s the theory. The reality is a bit different.

If, for instance, he falls behind in his payment to you, how would you get him to leave within 30 days time? On paper you would have the right to do so but paper and reality are two separate issues.

Do you havevany idea how long a Sherriff’s eviction really takes? Do a little research and you may be quite surprised.

Legally speaking a Sherriff’s eviction is really the only way to remove an unruly tenant without exposing yourself to legal consequences for choosing something else like changing the locks etc.

Is that right? Doesn’t matter. It’s what’s legal that’s the issue. And since you aren’t the property owner, it’s doubtful that you could even institute a Sherrif’s eviction. Laws vary depending upon State you live in.

You really need to get all the pertinent facts straight in your head BEFORE you decide upon which course of action to take.

This is why so many folks have cautioned you against this.

I’m not saying one way or another. But if you’re determined to go down this route, please for your own sake, make sure to research your local rental laws BEFOREHAND so you’ll know what awaits you if things don’t go as smoothly as planned.

And whatever else you do in choosing your future roommate , make certain to get references from at least two previous places this person has lived.

At least insist upon that and don’t accept any excuses since you can’t legally do a criminal background check as your landlord can.

Protect yourself both legally and physically with as much factually accurate info you can get. Be safe.

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