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APARTMENT LIFE

Ditching a deadbeat roommate

June 24, 2007|Kevin Postema | Special to The Times

Question: Five months ago I signed a one-year lease on a Hollywood apartment with a guy who I thought would be compatible as a roommate. Since then, he has paid his portion of the rent only once. I have paid the full rent to avoid being delinquent. How can I evict him without harming my credit history?

Answer: Unfortunately, you cannot evict your deadbeat roommate. Only the landlord can do that because both of you signed the lease and you both are his tenants.

Your roommate is not your subtenant. If he were, you could assume the role of a landlord and evict him. Since virtually all leases and rental agreements hold all roommates jointly liable for the rent, you are both liable for all of the rent, which is a big problem for you.

If you can persuade the landlord to accept your half of the rent one month, and give your roommate a Three-Day Pay or Quit Notice for the other half, he has a good shot at evicting the roommate for nonpayment of his half of the rent if he doesn't pay it pursuant to the notice. Persuading the landlord to go this route may be an uphill battle, but it is probably worth a try. After the eviction, you will continue to be responsible for all of the rent unless you can get a new roommate.

You also can sue your roommate in Small Claims Court for unpaid rent up to $7,500, regardless of what the owner does.

Buying a building -- and obligations

Question: I am considering buying a rent-controlled duplex in Los Angeles, but I have some concerns. If I buy the building, do I inherit the specific terms and conditions that the seller made with the current tenants? If the current owner evicts the tenants, do I have any responsibilities to them? Finally, is a single mom with minor children considered a single tenant?

Answer: First, all of the existing terms and conditions the owner has with the tenants will pass on to you if you buy the building. Second, the current owner cannot evict any of the tenants because of the pending sale; that owner can evict them only according to the just-cause eviction provisions outlined in the rent-control law.

If you decide to buy the building, you can evict a renter if you plan to occupy the unit yourself, but you will have to pay relocation fees to the evicted tenant.

A single mom with minor children is not considered a single tenant for rent-control and relocation fee purposes.

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Send letters to aptlifeaagla@aol.com or mail them to Apartment Age, Attn: Kevin Postema, 621 S. Westmoreland Ave., L.A., Calif. 90005.

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