Q: I signed a one-year lease with my roommate. We are both named on the lease. My roommate has moved his boyfriend in, seven months into the lease, without notifying our landlord. My roommate’s boyfriend was supposed to stay for only two weeks, since we are allowed guests for one two-week period every six months. However, it is now becoming clear to me that the guest has no intention of moving.
I want to notify my landlord of what is going on, but don’t know if this is the right thing to do, or if he will even do anything about it. The lease clearly states that only two people can occupy the house, with one dog and one cat; we both paid extra deposits to cover having our animals. The boyfriend has two cats, so in addition to having an extra person, we also have two extra animals.
I’ve made it very clear that I am upset with the situation, but my roommate doesn’t care. He keeps saying his friend is searching for his own apartment, but I know it doesn’t take this long. He is comfortable at our place, and is in no hurry to leave. I found this house and I love it, so I do not want to leave. The only problem is that a third person has taken over the house and doesn’t belong here.
Do I have any legal recourse? Should I notify my landlord? If I do, could that affect me negatively? I am hoping that if the landlord intervenes, this will push the guest to find his own place.
A: You have a few different options in this situation. You could request that your roommate, who signed the lease, ask that the guest leave within a week because you and your roommate are in violation of the terms in your lease. By having a guest remain in the house for longer than a two-week period every six months, you and your roommate could be considered in violation of your lease terms and evicted by your landlord.
If this doesn’t resolve the issue, then you could request that your guest pay rent, be added to your lease, and approved by your landlord. It’s really unfair if the guest is not paying rent, so you and your roommate need to at least agree on this issue. Your guest may want to find his own place much more quickly if he’s paying rent at your house. The landlord may require the guest to move out if he is not approved as a tenant.
A third option would be to notify your landlord that there is a guest at your house, and request that your landlord ask the guest to vacate the property. However, you risk that the landlord may consider all three of you to be in violation of your lease terms by having a guest remain on the property past the two-week period specified in your lease. Contacting your landlord about the situation may upset your roommate, and alerts your landlord that you are in violation of your lease terms. If your landlord brings an eviction action against all three of you, it could be considered retaliation by your landlord and therefore not legal to evict you for reporting a violation. But you still risk having an eviction on your record, which makes it more difficult to rent in the future.
Kelly Klein is a Minneapolis attorney. Participation in this column does not create an attorney/client relationship with Klein. Do not rely on advice in this column for legal opinions. Consult an attorney regarding your particular issues. E-mail renting questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to Kelly Klein c/o Star Tribune, 650 3rd Av. S., Suite 1300, Minneapolis, MN 55488. Information provided by readers is not confidential.