Housemate Behind in Rent - What Can I Do?

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23 August 2014
My housemate is currently behind 15 weeks in rent. Although she has given me some money within the last week, it was not much and not enough to start paying back what she already owes. I continually ask her for it, and she always tells me that she will give me as much as she can next week when she gets paid, but she avoids coming home unless she knows I am work so I can go weeks without seeing her sometimes. If her name isn't on the lease, do I have any legal leg to stand on? Our lease is up in 2 months and we are going our separate ways as I am moving interstate, and I am worried that she is just going to keep playing it out this way so that when we move she still owes me rent but isn't going to pay because I just wont see her. What can I/do I do?
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Well-Known Member
16 July 2014
Hi Lucy

If only your name is on the lease, then it is your responsibility under the lease to ensure full payment of the rental is remitted to the landlord. The landlord cannot intervene at all in this situation as, technically, you are sub-leasing to your housemate.

Your rights in this situation will be dependent upon the agreement in place between you ad your housemate. Did you put anything in writing by any chance? If not, then I am assuming at the very least you had a conversation about the fact she could live on your place in exchange for paying $x rent? I would try to write down as many details as you can remember about this conversation, including date, location and who was present. This conversation will become the oral contract between you and your housemate.

The only way you could pursue this legally would be to make a civil claim against her for breach of contract. I believe this can be done through the Small Claims Tribunal in your state. Given you are living with her, I would advise first putting together a letter stating how far behind in rent she is and that it's a breach of your agreement. I'd mention the number of days within which she must pay and that if she does not you will pursue a claim with the small claims tribunal and/or kick her out of the premises. It's important you start making written records like this of any issues.

Best of luck and let us know how you go!

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