Sharing a place with a roommate can be fun and can make your rent more affordable. But if you have problems with a roommate, things can get messy. Austin Tenants Council provides a Renting Together Contract that you and your roommate(s) can fill out and sign before you move in.

The people who sign the lease are the tenants, according to the law. Section 91.005 of the Property Code prohibits tenants from subletting to any other person without the prior consent of the landlord.  Most leases also require that the consent of the landlord be in writing.

Check out this video from King County Bar Association that explains some of the issues that can come up when renting with a roommate.

My roommate isn’t paying their portion of the rent.

If one roommate pays and the other does not or moves out, the landlord will expect the rest of the rent. If you signed the lease, you are responsible for getting the total rent to the landlord, even if you paid your share already (unless you and your roommate signed separate leases with your landlord). If the landlord does not get all the money, then they can terminate the lease, evict and possibly take other actions such as exercising a lockout, and seizing tenant property (lien).

The Texas Apartment Association (TAA) says, “If you need to find another roommate to help with expenses, your new roommate will need to be approved by the property owner, and you may need to sign a new lease or a lease addendum.”

What can I do if my roommate and I don’t get along?

If you and your roommate have a disagreement, your landlord likely will not get involved in the dispute. Unless violence or threats are involved, the police will consider a roommate dispute a “civil matter” and not get involved. 

If you have problems with a roommate, here’s what you may do:

  • Negotiate as much as possible and put any agreements you make in writing. 
  • See if the landlord will let you out of the lease. If you move out without your landlord having released you from the lease, the landlord may mess up your credit. You would also still be liable for damages to the unit beyond normal wear and tear. 
  • Try to find another roommate to take your place, but make sure your old roommate and the landlord consent and take your name off the lease.
  • Try to find a roommate to replace the roommate that you are having trouble with. Make sure you get written approval from the landlord.

These are difficult situations to fix easily. The best plan is to be very up front in the beginning and make sure that you and your roommate are compatible living partners. Austin Tenants Council provides a Renting Together Contract that you and your roommate(s) can fill out and sign before you move in.

What happens to the deposit when we move out? 

Unless it is specifically spelled out in the lease differently, any money that is returned is owned jointly by all the tenants. You will have to split up the money yourselves.