Can You Break Your Lease because of a Bad Roommate?

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Can You Break Your Lease because of a Bad Roommate?

Staff Writer · Feb 17, 2011

Too many of the renters who are established in a particular rental community are wondering about “whether you can break your lease” because of someone else in your housing unit. The answer to this question varies according to the specific provisions of the lease agreement, the philosophy of the landlord as a rental manager, and other factors. Many people know how to deal with bad neighbors, but when your problem is a shared unit, the issues can be different.

Legally Breaking a Lease Because of a Roommate

In many cases, there are not abundant provisions for allowing a tenant to break a lease legally based on the activity of his or her roommates. The tenant will generally have to show proof of legal “hardship” and that can be difficult. For example, a roommate may effectively keep a tenant up all night, or pose a threat to his or her belongings, but because shared housing units are usually on a collective contractual agreement, the tenant may not have a legal hardship case.

Most finance and housing professionals recommend talking to a landlord informally about the kinds of hardship the tenant is experiencing. In some cases, landlords can agree to move the tenant to another unit, or to informally let them break their lease without going through the legal process. Many landlords have some compassion about dealing with bad roommates, and where a legal resolution may not be possible, talking directly to the landlord may get a distressed roommate away from a toxic situation. Always look into whether you have a legal case against your roommate, but know that when it comes to breaking leases, there’s often no magic bullet that will let you off the hook.

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