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roommate moving out, how do i avoid being screwed?

BarcardiBarcardi All the WizardsUnder A Rock: AfganistanRegistered User regular
edited February 2010 in Help / Advice Forum
So yesterday my roommate announced that due to his financial issues and relationship issues he will be moving out of our apartment and in with his 1 year girlfriend (who he essentially lives with anyway). In reality this is not a personal thing between the two of us, although i do suspect that he does have something against me, because he is one of those types that shit talks everyone behind their back and generally dislikes the world, but in a passive aggressive way.

We live in a apartment complex with very tight rules on moving in and out. We signed a year lease. According to him: According to the rules if one of us renegs on the rent, or moves out early, etc. we have to pay for the entire year + 1 more month. For his part he says he does not want to screw me on this. So he claims that he is now looking for a replacement roommate for me. He claims that if he cannot find one he wont be able to move out officially, but he will move. TLDR he is doing everything in his power to help me out in this situation. But he has not contacted the apartment company. They have both of our signatures on paper saying we will live there for the full year. He say that at earliest he will leave in 30 days, latest is when he finds someone to replace him.

Now, i don't necessarily trust him to help me much on the new roommate situation. Not because he is not a friend, but because he IS a friend. I know him pretty well, and he is pretty much unmotivated to do anything, especially confrontational things or hard to do things. So if he does he might just try to get the first person that calls him, if anyone.


Questions:

My first question: If neither of us has contacted the apartment company yet, would it be wise if i called them up and asked them what their policy was on one person moving out? Or could the apartment people see this as a reason to fine me/stick me with the entire rent, as i am the one that stays? Or will he be the one up shit creek as he is leaving? (state of California)

2nd: Is there any way, in the state of California, if both of us have signed, that i can be stuck with the entire bill? Am i missing anything here?

3rd: what steps should/can i take to ensure that i do not get a shitty new roommate? Do i have any say in this matter or am i stuck with whoever he chooses? Who's responsibility is this?

4th: are there any places, other than/more reputable than craigslist, that i can look for new roommates with some background info? Or is craigslist a solid place to look?

5th: sometime soon, if ever, new prospective roommates will come calling, how should i interview them, what should i ask about? How can i check up on them before saying yes?

Barcardi on

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    DeebaserDeebaser on my way to work in a suit and a tie Ahhhh...come on fucking guyRegistered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Get your own roommate, now. I don't know if CA has any wierd laws, but in most places you are each equally liable for the rent. Meaning, if he fucks you, you have to pay up or they'll evict you and ruin your credit score.

    Deebaser on
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    JohnnyCacheJohnnyCache Starting Defense Place at the tableRegistered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Question 2: Yes, you are one entity for the purposes of the lease, and the landlord may recoup from either or both of you as is practical. The only thing they can't do is collect the balance twice - if you owe, say, 1000, and you can prove your roommate paid 700, you only have to pay 300.

    JohnnyCache on
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    T-boltT-bolt Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    You definitely want to try looking for a roommate yourself. I used to be in a situation in a 3-bdr apartment where the person moving out was the one who looked. It worked OK when the roommates staying got to meet the potential new tenant, but that didn't happen once when a departing roommate got desperate and lets just say I couldn't get myself out of that situation quickly enough. D:

    T-bolt on
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    ThundyrkatzThundyrkatz Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    You should not have any problems with the room mate moving out. However i would let the land lord know that he is moving out so that everything is on the up and up.

    Possible problems that i can forsee..
    1. Once your friend moves out, what compels him to maintain his half of the rent?
    2. Are there any rule about subletting the apartment? essentially this is what you are proposing.
    3. At the end of this lease, will you be moving out? if you are staying you will have to sign a new lease. If you have not informed your land lord that your room mate is leaving and you have a new room mate at this time. You may find that the land lord is not interested in renting to this new person and may be in a bind at that time.

    Thundyrkatz on
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    Iceman.USAFIceman.USAF Major East CoastRegistered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Barcardi wrote: »
    Questions:

    My first question: If neither of us has contacted the apartment company yet, would it be wise if i called them up and asked them what their policy was on one person moving out? Or could the apartment people see this as a reason to fine me/stick me with the entire rent, as i am the one that stays? Or will he be the one up shit creek as he is leaving? (state of California)

    2nd: Is there any way, in the state of California, if both of us have signed, that i can be stuck with the entire bill? Am i missing anything here?

    3rd: what steps should/can i take to ensure that i do not get a shitty new roommate? Do i have any say in this matter or am i stuck with whoever he chooses? Who's responsibility is this?

    4th: are there any places, other than/more reputable than craigslist, that i can look for new roommates with some background info? Or is craigslist a solid place to look?

    5th: sometime soon, if ever, new prospective roommates will come calling, how should i interview them, what should i ask about? How can i check up on them before saying yes?

    1) That would be wise. They'll certainly connect the dots, but it's always better to be informed.

    2) Yes, your landlord can bill you the entirety of your contract. Furthermore, he *may* be able to have you removed from your apartment entirely, which would suck. Then you'd owe all your rent + you'd be out of a place to sleep.

    3) Most places allow you to "swap" a roommate out. Basically if you go and find someone to live in your current roommates place, and they pass whatever application process your landlord has, they can assume the balance of your current roomies contract.

    4) Facebook has a marketplace thingy for people looking for rooms I believe. Other than that, I don't know of any. Sorry.

    5) Ask them whatever you'd like. Probably your best bet is to have them actually apply to your leasing office (they will check the financial aspect, credit score, etc) and then talk to the person yourself. It'd be a bit inappropriate to ask about their finances, so let your landlord handle that. Focus on the habits and such of the person. Are they generally clean or unorganized? Etc etc etc.

    Iceman.USAF on
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    Dark_SideDark_Side Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    If it's a legit landlord, they're probably going to want to insist that if you sublet, the new sublet signs in on the lease. But other than that, I would definitely just go out and find your own roommate. I would also put your current roommate on notice that you're doing so, and yes you need to let your landlord know, but I would discuss it with your roommate first.

    I would also try to set a firm move out date, because it could happen that you line somebody up, and he's unwilling to move, or being slow about it. And though it does put you on ice, it at least makes it so you're not wondering when he's going to be out.

    Dark_Side on
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    BarcardiBarcardi All the Wizards Under A Rock: AfganistanRegistered User regular
    edited February 2010
    So i called the apartment complex, they are a legit corporation so they have this sort of thing really in gear. Basically in order to switch renters they have to do a background check on the person, financial check, etc. Then all three of us have to sign that we are switching parties.

    If my roommate does not pay, or does not find another person to pay, we are liable and get evicted and go to eviction court... upon witch bad things happen to his and my credit for years. So actually it is in everyone's interest that he (and me) look for a good new roommate, because i can screw him just as much as he screws me. Also because i can take him to small claims if he just up and leaves, because i can probably pay the rent myself, but i don't want to and wont agree to.

    Also apparently the 30 days notice has to be in advance, signed, and on paper.

    Good idea to let the apartment people do the background checks... also good idea to set a firm move out date.

    What about keeping this whole mess civil? What should i avoid doing that would tick off the guy that is leaving... or what should i keep on top of that would keep him in line...least he go bust on me?

    Barcardi on
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    Gilbert0Gilbert0 North of SeattleRegistered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Try to emphasize the point that you aren't doing it, the RENTAL company is. You both are living on their property so you have to follow their rules. Hopefully that can deflect any hostility off you.

    The steps are also there to protect him as well, to make sure that his $$ is protected. Unfortunately, if he wants to get out quick, he just needs to jump through the hoops faster.

    Gilbert0 on
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    That Dave FellaThat Dave Fella Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Just let him know what the consequences are if he tries to do a runner and that he should do his best to find someone suitable.

    That Dave Fella on
    PSN: ThatDaveFella
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    khainkhain Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    It's my experience that a lot of people just don't care about their credit score so holding potential eviction over his head may not work at all if he doesn't care and you do. Thanatos seems to be the small claims court expert, but I believe it's difficult to sue someone in it if they don't have any money to pay you with as well.

    khain on
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    BarcardiBarcardi All the Wizards Under A Rock: AfganistanRegistered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Well he has money, and a new car, and a good job, and just bought a wedding ring (new item... just found out, half of me is like wtf half of me is totally congrats man!), and he is a person that cares a lot about his credit score.

    so that does work for me... and him hopefully.

    Barcardi on
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    witch_iewitch_ie Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    This was a while ago, but I was in a similar situation as your roommate - moving out of a place with my name on the lease while not wanting to screw over my current roommates. In our situation, they understood that I would be leaving mid-lease when we signed the lease.

    Essentially, I worked with them to try to find a roommate that they would approve of. The understanding that we used was that if we couldn't find one, I would continue to pay rent through the end of the lease regardless of where I was living, so I was very motivated to make sure a new roommate was found.

    I used the typical web based roommate sites (craigslist included) to find people looking to rent. I had specific criteria from my roommates ahead of time (gender, student/professional, willingness to adhere to house rules which were predefined). What ended up happening is that I presented them with several options. They didn't like any of them and then found someone on their own pretty quickly. Since I wasn't going to be living with them, I wasn't as good a filter for applicants.

    We did the personal type of interviews before ever involving our landlord except for letting them know that someone would be taking over my spot in the lease. The assumption was that if the person couldn't pay or didn't pass whatever approval criteria was set forth by the landlord, we would go back to square one.

    Based on what you've communicated, I think if you set similar expectations with your roommate, you should set yourself up to be in a good situation. Good luck.

    witch_ie on
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