You thought moving into an apartment with your best girl friends would mean having the time of your life. Sure, you knew they were a little bit on the messy side (to say the least!). You knew they partied (…but not every night). You knew that they were practically attached at the hip with their not-so-attractive or wonderful boyfriends. But, regardless, you are friends, so you figured nothing could really go wrong. So, despite all the warnings and age-old tales involving friendships completely deteriorating after moving in together, you did it. You signed a lease with your best friends.
But now, the months have passed, and your patience has grown very thin with your once best buds. A few dirty dishes in the sink have turned into a whole sinkful – with a swarm of unwelcome houseguests, like ants and gnats, to match. Not to mention the back patio is now full of Bud Light cans, cigarette butts and other random items (cans of spray paint, anyone?). And those not-so-wonderful boyfriends? They’ve become regular shower-using, food-eating, extraneous house mates that contribute little (or not at all) to the monthly utility bill.
What exactly are your options when your room mate situation spirals out of control? You did sign away the next nine months of your life. But don’t stress just yet – you may have a way out of your lease.
First, read your lease carefully. Some leases include clauses that indicate a tenant may move out of the building if they provide the landlord with a written notice 30 days before they plan to vacate. There might also be other options available to you if you read the fine print in your lease carefully. You might be able to move out if the living situation has become detrimental to your health (i.e. the bugs living in your kitchen sink) or if your job is a certain distance away from your home. If there are no clauses in the lease that apply to you, turn to the law.
Check your local laws. Local laws require several things from both tenants and landlords. Landlords are required to keep your place in working order. That is, if something breaks, leaks or just plain stops working, they are obligated to replace it. Most laws state that if a landlord does not fix a problem within 30 days from your first, written complaint, you are permitted to break your lease with no penalty. Have a leaky shower or just can’t seem to get the A/C on? Call your landlord, but document the date and time you did. Then, write a letter explaining the situation and declaring that you will move out if the problem is not fixed within 30 days. Then, deliver it to your landlord. If they do fix your issues, you will have a (somewhat) nicer apartment. And if they don’t – you’re free to go! Go ahead and Google ” (Your State Here) Landlord-Tenant Laws”.
Consider subletting or signing over your lease. Subletting your room means that you allow someone else to move into your room, but your name remains on the lease. Subletting is usually meant for short term – like the summer months. However, if your lease permits, you can sublet your room for the remainder of your lease. Be super careful when choosing whom to sublet your room to, because you will still be held responsible for any damages that incur while they are living in your space. And if they don’t pay rent? You will be held responsible. But if you know a good person who needs a place to live, subletting is a great way to relieve you of living in an apartment you hate. You can also sign your lease over to someone else, if your landlord permits. This means your name is completely taken off the lease, and the person who moves in after you assumes full responsibility for all rent and damages. Just make sure you choose a person who will be approved by your landlord – that means they have to have good credit and no history of eviction. Some landlords will not allow people who have committed certain misdemeanors, such as minor drug charges, live in their apartments, either.
Take Action! If all else fails, you can contact a real estate lawyer or attorney that will be able to consult you. The worst thing you could do is leave the apartment, your name still on the lease, and stop paying rent. You will have bad credit for life – which means you will have a very hard time getting another apartment, not to mention countless other important items (like a hot new car). If your apartment is super disgusting, you can contact the Health Department – they may decide that your place is unfit for anyone to live and will require that you and all your room mates relocate. No matter what course of action you take, remember that you are paying to live somewhere and there is no point living somewhere you can’t stand. Sometimes, moving out of an apartment that you hate, away from the people you love is the best (and only) way to salvage your friendship with them. The problem isn’t your friends and it isn’t you. People have different lifestyles and sometimes one lifestyle just does not mix well with another. If anything, your bad living situation will be a huge reminder to make wiser decisions in the future.
Handling a lease is no laughing matter because you need to keep each step carefully without losing focus and follow the aforementioned points in a systematic phase. Also, do consult your lawyers from time to time before taking any major decision in order to avoid legal consequences from the authorities as every apartment is no Parc Central Residences to have anyone enter at will but the laws are quite strict because the landlords deal with troublemakers with an iron fist so therefore, one is advised to not rely on friends because while they may have your best interests at heart, their way of helping may inadvertently cause more harm than any gain.