After living 1 year peacefully, Stan Barker thought Gary (his roommate) is a financially responsible person. Time passed by, Stan cleared the payment and left the apartment as the lease had ended. After some time, he got a call from the landlord, who told, his roommate moved out without paying last 2 month's rent. Stan called Gary regarding the matter who replied, “due to a problem it didn't get processed; he will pay the remaining rent shortly”.
Stan didn't get further calls from the landlord and thought the matter was closed. A few months later, Stan noticed his credit score getting affected due to the unpaid rent. He paid every month's rent, but his roommate screwed him up financially.
Jessica and Amanda were roommates and moved out after getting jobs. Amanda owed $2000 balance of rent, which she hadn't paid off while moving out. The landlord withhold the security deposit for that reason. After a few months, Amanda paid a certain portion of the security deposit to Jessica. Jessica thought, she would pay the remaining balance, too.
But after 1.5 years, Jessica received a notice from the rental company regarding due rent.
Jessica contacted Amanda immediately. She told that she would surely pay the rent after getting the next paycheck.
But, sadly, Jessica noticed a mail from the collection agency regarding the due rental payment that Amanda still didn't pay. Now, what will she do?
The above-mentioned scenarios are not imaginary; they are quite true and troublesome.
Now, you might be curious about the appropriate solution to get rid of this unwanted problem.
Don’t panic! You can get some answers from this article.
When to panic over your roommate's due rent and when to take action
Collection agency calls can come to you for many reasons. You may be a winner or loser, depending on the consequences.
1. You will be in problem if your name is mentioned in the lease agreement and the rent is unpaid. You're liable to pay the bill even if you have already paid your share.
2. If your name is not mentioned in the lease agreement, then the collection agency may not be able to create problems. However, the landlord can give you a tough challenge to get his money back.
What will be your actions?
1. If your name is not in the lease, then you're lucky. But, if your landlord gives importance to the oral contract and believes that you owe the rent, then you have no other choice than talking to him for a mutual agreement. It takes less effort and time to end the matter than involving the court.
2. The collection agency will not create trouble if the Statute of Limitations has passed on the debt. So, check out your state's statute of Limitations on debt collection to see whether or not you’re lucky.
3. If you notice the collection agency is nagging you for the payment after the Statute of Limitations has passed, then take action against the agency for violating the FDCPA (Fair Debt Collection Practices Act).
4. If your roommate had moved away without paying the bills and you’re getting collection calls, then you have rights to take the issue to the small court to take out the money from your co-tenant.
Know the basics of landlord-tenant laws before renting
Many renters don't bother to know their rights before renting. And the ignorance is the key of harassment. Knowing your rights always help to make a strong stand against manipulation. You must be aware of the landlord-tenant laws, especially when you're sharing rent with a person.
Law 1: Each co-tenant is independently liable for the rent
In general, co-tenants divide their rent, but each of them is liable to the landlord for the rent. If one tenant doesn't pay the rent in a month or moves out, then another tenant is liable for the rent.
Law 2: The landlord can terminate everyone's tenancy for just one's fault
The landlord can take legal action and evict both of them if one tenant violates the rule (not paying the rent, violating the agreement, damaging the property, etc.)
Law 3: You can become your roommate's landlord only if you have sublet a portion of the rental
As per the rule, you can't terminate your roommate who disobeys rules and creates a nuisance like playing loud music, leaving unwashed dishes and clothes, and enjoying with overnight guests, etc.
Law 4: The landlord isn't bound by informal agreement between tenants
Your landlord is not going to take action against your unruly roommate who creates problems.
Tenants should decide about informal agreement like sharing chores and dividing rent.
Tips to keep in mind before having a co-tenant
- Talk to your co-tenant about the rent splitting.
- Talk and fix, who will write the check and deliver it to the landlord who doesn't want to receive a separate check?
- What will be the schedule of household chores (cleaning, washing, cooking)
- When should lights and sounds are turned off?
- When should all guests will leave the room?
- How much notice should be given before one decides to move out?
Lastly, it is advisable to anticipate every possible problem from the beginning and discuss the matter. Try to be specific about money related issues. Try to make an agreement in writing. Also, have a talk or modest relation with the landlord so that he/she can understand your inconveniences.