Roommates can be the best or the worst. On the plus side, they can help make it more affordable to live in NYC. On the downside, sometimes you can have trouble getting rid of the bad ones. Evicting roommates or getting a live-in girlfriend or boyfriend to leave takes finesse at the best of times. At the worst, it requires legal action.
How to evict a roommate legally and safely
Roommates come in many forms. They may be friends, siblings, boyfriends, girlfriends, nannies, au pairs, or even strangers who answered an ad. Sometimes these individuals pay rent, sometimes they don’t, and any number of things can cause the relationship to go south: the roommates don’t get along anymore, had a major fight, or one won’t pay their share of the bills. In many cases, evicting a roommate becomes a problem when there is no written agreement. The roommate who holds the lease asks the other to leave, and they refuse.
The first thing you should do in a situation like this is contact a lawyer. The police can’t help you unless there is a physical confrontation, and even then you won’t have a long-term solution. A lawyer can help protect you legally, and even physically, by providing you with the resources for obtaining an order of protection.
A lawyer can also help you prepare and serve a 10-Day Notice To Quit. This legal document states that the roommate must leave on or before a specified date. The date must be at least 10 days in the future, but it can be further out if you choose. If the roommate does not vacate the premises by that time, you can then bring a lawsuit to evict them.
In order to serve the 10-day notice, you must have the right to possession of the apartment or be named as the tenant on the lease. Normally, people use a process server to serve this notice. Having a third party take care of serving the notice provides you with a buffer against the roommate who probably won’t be very happy to receive it.
Avoid self-help approaches
Sometimes frustrated tenants take matters into their own hands. We call these “self-help” and it is almost always a bad idea. One of the most common self-help approaches is to simply lock the roommate out or change the locks.
But, in New York City, this is illegal if the roommate has been living there for more than 30 days. Your solution could end up backfiring and you could be arrested for locking them out, even if you are the tenant on the lease. Even if the roommate has been living with you for less than 30 days, you should consult a lawyer before attempting any eviction techniques on your own.
Consult a Lawyer for your own protection
Want to know the biggest reason to consult a lawyer? To protect yourself. Asking or forcing someone to leave who don’t want to can be dangerous. If they don’t leave and you try to remove them physically, you may end up getting arrested or physically hurt. Remember, in NYC, the police won’t evict someone or allow you to change the locks if they have been there after 30 days. Not only that, people are crafty. In one instance, we had a case where a man was trying to get his girlfriend to leave. He called the police to help him. In the meantime, the woman cut her own lip and told the police the boyfriend had hit her. They both ended up being arrested.
This could have been avoided by contacting a lawyer first. A lawyer can advise you of your rights and explain your options for evicting a roommate. Furthermore, if you are ever concerned for your own safety, a lawyer will help you get the protection you need to remain safe throughout the entire process.
Contact Brasch Legal for advice and assistance on evicting a roommate
If you’re fed up and need to get your roommate to move out, contact Brasch Legal. Justin Brasch is an experienced attorney in the delicate situation of evicting a roommate. He is a regular at JCC of Manhattan on landlord and tenant matters and has spent much of his career practicing in the areas of Contracts, Criminal Law, Landlord-Tenant, Leasing, and Real Estate Law. All of which can apply in roommate eviction situations.
To discuss your particular situation, please call the team at Brasch Legal today at 212-267-2500 or use our contact form.