For anyone who’s ever had to live with a roommate, you know there are good times and bad times. You also know that eventually roommates move on. Maybe they just graduated, or they got married or maybe they even started a really great new job. Regardless the situation, they’ve left the coop and now you have some things to think about.
So no matter if you’re sad to see your roommate go or ready to celebrate their departure, there are a few things you should know.
Review Lease or Rental Agreement
First of all, if you were co-tenants on the lease your landlord might have the option of evicting you once your roommate moves out. That’s because, technically, by having one of the co-tenants move out, you have broken your lease or rental agreement.
If you’ve been a good tenant, that’s most likely not going to happen. You should know if you’ve been a good tenant because you would have paid rent on time, not had many complaints—or had complaints made about you—and you would have been respectful of the property and nondestructive. In this case, you might have the option to sign a new lease, either on your own or with a new roommate. Make sure you can afford the rent on your own though and be able to prove it.
However, if you’ve been a troublesome tenant, your landlord might see this as the perfect moment to finally—legally—get rid of you.
Discuss Their Departure
Hopefully your roommate doesn’t leave you high and dry to take care of everything while they blissfully take off into the sunset. While having someone move out might seem like an easy departure, it isn’t always. There are things to consider.
First of all, are they going to give you enough notice to make sure you can afford the rent or find a new roommate before they leave? Will they pay for any damage they caused? Are they going to demand their half of the deposit back? Instead of leaving all of this as a surprise, it’s best to work out some sort of arrangement well in advance. If you haven’t, and they’re already leaving, try to work it out peacefully. Hopefully it doesn’t go south, leaving you to pick up their mess, but if it does, there’s always the option of opening a lawsuit in small claims court.
Assess Rent Cost
If you can afford the rent on your own, and would prefer having that extra bedroom to yourself, you might be able to sign a new lease as a single tenant. Or at least, it could buy you some time while you look for a new roommate.
If you do choose to stay on your own, you might have to provide your landlord with an updated rental agreement, along with a new credit check and everything else that goes with it.
Look for a New Roommate
In the event that things really are all fine and dandy between you and your landlord, it might be a good idea to move forward with finding a new roommate. Perhaps you have a friend who’s also looking for a new place—that can make it easier—but finding someone to live with is usually not that simple.
First of all, hanging out with a friend is one thing, living with them is an entirely different experience. There have been cases where lifelong friends part ways after trying to live with one another. Therefore, deciding to go with a compatible stranger might be a better option for you, or maybe it’s the only option. This means you have to start looking beyond your immediate friends, although those immediate friends are a good place to start! Ask them if they know anyone who is looking for a place to live, because a friend of a friend can sometimes be a better option than a complete stranger.
If you do decide to seek a stranger, make sure you do so safely. Always meet up beforehand in a public space, maybe even bring a friend, and try to get to know one another before letting them move in. Screen them heavily and have them do a credit check and send in recommendations from past landlords.
Regardless of whether you choose a friend, an acquaintance, or complete stranger, be absolutely certain that you will be able to live with them for the duration of your lease. It helps if you have similar lifestyles. For example, if one person is a party animal, and you have to get up at 6am every day, that might not work out well!
Finally, there’s the option of moving out, too. Maybe you want to downsize to a more affordable place, or having your roommate move out was the perfect opening for you to move on as well. No matter the reason, you should get on the hunt for a new place ASAP, especially if your lease is up or your landlord wants you out. Just make sure you still do everything right, including giving enough notice to your landlord if needed.