After a long day at the office, you come home and find your roommate throwing the party of the century which is wreaking havoc on the property.
What do you do about damages caused by a roommate?
One of the first things you want to do is read your lease and roommate agreement (if you have one). Most tenants do not prepare a roommate agreement which helps protect them from situations like this. After reviewing these documents, see if there is anything that offers you any protection. Typically, a roommate agreement will give you some protection while lease agreements usually do not.
When it comes to the tenants security deposit, most likely the landlord will deduct the cost for any damages from the deposit. If there are separate deposits, the landlord may be able to charge the responsible party if there is sufficient proof of who caused the damage. Normally its up to the roommates t to resolve any financial differences on their own.
Documentation of the damage is key. If one roommate is causing damage and the other tenant is able to capture this damage on camera, this could help them later on down the line if legally action is needed. While some roommates have a good relationship and they take responsibility for their actions, others are not. Without documentation, it will be very difficult to prove who did what.
If you are in the stone-age and don’t have a camera, you can always contact the police. This will give you an opportunity to share and document the event in a police report. However, the drawback is that this will likely strain your relationship which could make living together awkward or even difficult. Of course, the relationship could already be strained and if this is the case, go for it.
Tenants can always notify their landlord of a problem with a roommate, but depending in the lease, they may not be able to do anything. If the lease is up for renewal or on a month to month term, the landlord may be able to serve the roommate a notice to vacate. Alternatively, you may be able to serve your roommate with a notice to vacate as well, but you would want to speak to your landlord first.
There really is not much that can be done once the damage has happened. The best thing to do is to take steps that will protect you before something were to occur. Setting up a roommate agreement is a critical step in doing this. We will discuss roommate agreements in another article, but be sure to include a section which discusses damages caused by the other party (s). While the landlord may not be able to help in this circumstance, a roommate agreement will at least improve your ability to bring legal action against your roommate.
September 4, 2013