THE BLOG

Tips for Asking a Roommate to Move Out

10/22/2013 11:04 am ET

As a renter, living with roommates presents an opportunity to not only save serious cash on your rent payment every month, but also to meet new and interesting people, develop stronger bonds with long time friends and enjoy routine activities with others. Roommates share some of the most intimate moments together, from eating meals, to venting about work or relationships, to cleaning whatever is growing on the inside of your fridge, not to mention sharing your personal space day in and day out.

As such an integral part of your daily life, it's important to nurture these unique relationships throughout the duration of the time you spend living together, but what happens when a relationship with a roommate goes awry? Whether you've known your roommate for years, or met just before you signed the lease, sometimes living situations don't work out; personalities may not mesh when living in close quarters, schedules may change, or perhaps your roommate is consistently late on rent payments or you find you are the only one having to compromise on a regular basis. Whatever the cause may be for your living situation to take an unhealthy turn, cutting ties with a roommate is a sensitive issue and should be handled with care.

To help you broach this touchy subject, here's some best practices for kindly (and legally) asking your roommate to move out without offending anyone involved and hopefully without losing any friends in the process.

Seek A Resolution

Before making a formal request to send your roommate packing, reach out and have an open, honest conversation about why you believe the living situation is failing. While you may think the reasons are apparent, your roommate may not see it that way. Be as specific as possible when explaining what isn't working and collaborate on plans to resolve these issues moving forward. It's important to be respectful and open-minded throughout this discussion; if your roommate feels attacked or belittled during the conversation they are less likely to want to work to improve your current situation. And remember to listen to your roommate's feedback as you may be unaware of some of your own bothersome tendencies. Showing a willingness to work together to better your shared environment can help motivate your roommate as well.

Write down the specific areas of improvement each of you have decided to work on, along with steps for how you plan to improve upon them. You can specify a timeframe that you'll both meet again to review progress and each sign the document as a way to hold each other accountable.

If after the conversation it is apparent that no resolution is possible, it is time to consider your legal rights in asking your roommate to move out.

Legal Action

If your roommate is not listed as a tenant on the lease and you are responsible for paying rent each month, you can simply give your roommate a notice of 30 days to move out and discuss settling the final month's bills. Being open and honest about the reasons you are asking them to move can help ease the tension of the situation. If your roommate resists, speak to your landlord (provided you were upfront about your living situation) and seek help in evicting your roommate, which your landlord can provide in the form of an eviction notice or support from law enforcement.

If you are both listed as tenants on the lease, it is a bit trickier to remove your roommate in a timely manner as they have a legal right to occupy the unit for the duration of time specified on the lease, usually one year. If you cannot come to a resolution, discuss alternative living situations until the lease is up, such as creating a schedule for using the shared spaces of your home. If the main issues at hand are financial, try and distance yourself from shared costs while you wait for your lease to end. For example, limiting the groceries you store in your pantry and fridge, or suspending the cable in your apartment for a few months can decrease the chances of your roommate exploiting goods and services you pay for. It's not likely your roommate will react with major backlash if you approach the situation honestly and respectfully, however if there is a chance s/he might act out, make sure to protect your valuables and personal belongings while you wait for your lease to end.

Keep in mind that tenants' rights vary by state, so be sure to consult your local laws to ensure you're acting within your legal rights.

Hopefully, these steps will help you mitigate this sensitive situation without long term damage to your roommate relationships so you can look forward to enjoying a fresh start in your home!