Written by

Alex is the founder of 9Kilo Moving, which he started to help people easily find and choose the right moving company to make their move as stress-free and seamless as possible. He has spent over 20 years working in the moving industry, so he knows every aspect of the business and uses his knowledge to write about the industry and give moving advice. More on about us page

What to Do if Your Roommate Can't Pay Rent

If you're a college student, there's a good chance you'll have to deal with this issue at some point: your roommate can't or won't pay rent. This can be a stressful and challenging situation, but fortunately, there are ways to handle it. This article will discuss what to do if your roommate can't or won't pay rent. Read on for more information.


Start Looking at Your Rental Agreement

A lease is a binding legal agreement, and one of the things you agree to when you sign it is that you will pay your rent on time every month. However, things get complicated when your roommate can't pay their rent. What you do next may be determined by the specifics of the document you signed:

  • If only your name is on the lease, that means you are the only one who is responsible for paying the rent. Even if you and your roommate agreed to something different, the law says you must pay the rent. So, in a way, you are your roommate's landlord because you are collecting their rent payment every month and then giving it to the landlord. By doing so, you gain some leverage to remove your roomie and replace them with someone who can pay.
  • If you and your roommate are both named on the lease, you are responsible for paying the rent. This can be more difficult to deal with because you now have to come up with the money yourself or try to negotiate with your roommate. If you can't come to an agreement, one of you may have to leave.
  • If you aren't on the lease but your roommate is, your part of the rent is their responsibility legally. So whether or not you pick up their portion of the rent, your roommate will be held responsible for legal penalties, even if it affects both of you.

Also See: Consequences of Breaking a Lease

Talk to Your Roommate About the Rent

When a roommate can't or won't pay rent, one of the first things you need to do is to figure out why. Maybe they've lost their job, or perhaps there's been a family emergency. Whatever the reason, you need to talk to your roommate and try to come up with a solution. If your roommate can't or won't pay rent, you have a few options. You can try to negotiate with them, or you can ask them to leave. Come up with a plan that both of you can live with. Maybe they can pay a reduced amount until they get back on their feet, or maybe they can start paying rent in installments. If you can come to an agreement, both of you will be better off in the long run. If they can't or won't leave, you may have to take legal action.

Inform Your Landlord

Your landlord may be able to give you some leeway, perhaps by setting up a payment plan for your roommate's share of the rent or extending the due date of your total rent payment. Contact your landlord in writing as soon as you realize that your roommate cannot pay the rent before the rent is truly due. (Putting it in writing is crucial since you want a paper trail of any agreements or solutions your landlord offers.) If your landlord doesn't help, ask for their reasoning. If the problem persists, you may need to take more drastic measures, like moving out or taking your roommate to court.

See Also: How to Tell Your Landlord You are Moving

Take Legal Action

If all other measures have failed and you can't get your landlord to help, or if they won't help without a legal agreement in place, you may need to take your roommate to court. This is a drastic step, and it's important to understand that going to court will likely involve lawyer fees, court costs, and other associated expenses. You should also be prepared for the possibility that your roommate could countersue you. If the judge rules in their favor, you may have to pay for their rent, legal fees, and other costs.

Before taking legal action:

  1. Try to talk to your roommate about the situation and see if you can come to a solution.
  2. If they refuse to pay rent or can't for some reason, take steps to document the problem.
  3. Write down any agreements you make with your roommate, as well as any communication you have with your landlord.

Document Your Roommate's behavior

If you believe your roommate's behavior will be a continuing problem, it's better to be prepared to take legal action. Start gathering any documentation that establishes what each roommate is responsible for in rent and how far behind he or she is in payments. Also include the dates of any past-due payments or partial rental payments that your neighbor made. It's also a good idea to document any damage your roommate has done to the property, as this could be another basis for legal action. If you have witnesses to any of this information, get their contact information as well.

Consider saving emails, text messages, voice memos, and other documents related to the matter. This way, you may show that your roommate was aware of their prior overdue rent and that you did all possible to correct the problem. If you have to take your roommate to court in order for you to recoup money for covering their rent or getting evicted.

Start the Search for a New Roommate

It's not unusual for a single error in rent to go unnoticed, but if you have a roommate who continually sticks you for the money, your best bet is to start looking for a new one. This might begin with a difficult conversation between you and your fellow tenant. Remind them that you two signed a lease and agreed to pay a fixed amount of rent every month. If they can't or won't comply, you might have to take more serious measures. This is a tough position to be in. If your roommate has a hard time paying the current rent, finding the money to find a new home may be even more difficult. However, remind them that their behavior jeopardizes your living situation as well. Explain that your financial stability, credit rating, and living arrangements are all at stake.

It's not always easy to find a new roommate, but it's worth it if it means that you don't have to worry about rent anymore. Start by posting a notice on social media or your local classifieds site. You can also ask friends, family members, or colleagues if they know anyone who's looking for a place to live. If you're able to find someone quickly, be sure to have them sign a lease and get their money upfront. This will protect you in case your roommate returns or causes any other problems. Do your homework to make sure your potential new roommate has a consistent revenue stream to cover their portion of the rent, especially if you're moving into an urban location. It's also a good idea to explain what happened with your previous roomie and why you don't want it to happen again.


Look into rental assistance

To meet the needs of increasing group of individuals who are unable to pay rents, various rental assistance programs are available that provide partial or full rent subsidies as well as additional resources.

We've prepared a quick guide on acquiring rental aid, which goes through the many kinds of programs provided—including government, non-profit, and religious organizations that assist those who can't afford to pay their rent. Seek out assistance as soon as possible because it might be difficult to pick between all of these alternatives. A personal loan could also be an option to cover the rent if you can find a lender.

Make your own agreement

Finally, If your roommate is unable to pay rent and you have the funds to cover their portion, consider paying the rent in full and arranging a payment plan so that you may be reimbursed. Make sure you get their signature on a contract that specifies what they owe you, how they will repay you, and when they must do so. Having this document will back up your case if the situation escalates.

If you have gone to all of these lengths and your roommate still can't or won't pay their rent, it might be time to evict them. The process for doing so varies slightly from state to state, but generally, you'll need to provide written notice specifying the date by which they must leave the property. If they still refuse to go, you might have to take them to court. This is an expensive and time-consuming process, but it's better than letting them stay and not paying rent.


No one wants to deal with a roommate who can't or won't pay rent, but there are measures you can take if it comes to that. We've outlined some of the best ways to find a new roommate, get rental assistance, and make your own agreement. If all of this fail, you might have to evict your tenant.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I deal with a tenant not paying rent?

  • Keep track of the payments. Please keep track of when your tenants are required to pay their rent and when they do so
  • Write to the tenant. If you don't hear from your tenant after a few days, call them and find out what's going on.
  • Send a letter to the guarantor
  • Take possession of your belongings.

How do I talk to my roommate about paying rent?

Be proactive about communication to help avoid any misunderstandings about rent. Send a Venmo request to your roommate, one of the simplest and most direct ways to ask for money from a neighbor is by sending a Venmo request. Arrange a Monthly Meeting or Organize a monthly get-together with your roommate group to talk about money, your budget for the month, and what everyone expects from each other.

Also See: Best Apartment Movers in the USA