Sunday, June 30, 2013

Can a tenant evict a roommate?

We get asked this question at our library sometimes.

If your roommate is terribly annoying, can you evict your roommate?
No, unless you are subletting part of your apartment to your roommate, you cannot evict your roommate.  If the roommate is violating some aspect of the lease, you may be able to persuade the landlord to evict your roommate, but that action would also affect you.  In effect, you would both be evicted, and if you were lucky, you could convince your landlord to let you stay with a new lease. 
You can read about this on’s  webpage Roommates: Renting a Place With Others, which says:
“...joint liability doesn't mean that you can evict a cotenant. Only landlords can do this. …

This means that cotenants cannot force each other out. If your roommate becomes insufferable, you’ll have to work it out between the two of you unless the roommate’s behavior is also a violation of a lease or rental agreement clause (for example, illegal drug use). Although a violation of this nature would justify the termination of both your tenancies (joint and several liability!), you might get lucky if your landlord pities you and lets you stay.”

Further information on this may be found at’s online page on Roommates, which includes topics such as “Legal Issues with Roommates” (including terminology).   “Roommates, Renting a Place With Others: Legal Obligations and Responsibilities of Roommates; How (and why ) to prepare a roommate agreement. “ “ When a Roommate Wants to Leave Early.” “Adding a New Roommate.”  “Sample Letter to Landlord: Permission to Add a Roommate.” 
Further information on Landlord Tenant law in Massachusetts may be found on the website of the Massachusetts Trial Court Law Libraries.