Legal Q&A: One roommate pays on time, the other doesn’t


Question: I have a two-bedroom apartment rented to two roommates. One roommate always pays the rent on time. The other roommate is habitually late. Can I do an eviction based on a partial payment even though the month is not over?

Ted Kimball Kimball, Tirey & St. John LLP

Ted Kimball
Kimball, Tirey & St. John LLP

Answer: Both tenants are responsible for the entire amount of the rent so long as they are on the same rental agreement/lease. You should serve a three-day notice to pay rent or quit for the balance of the rent and name both roommates. If they do not comply, commence an unlawful detainer action naming both.

Question: I believe that when a lease is expiring no notice of termination is required. Is this correct?

Answer: Yes, unless your fixed-term lease requires a notice of intent not to renew, you do not by law need to serve a notice of termination; however, it is a good idea.

Question: How much can I raise the rent legally?

Answer: Unless you are under rent control or a state or federal subsidy program, there are no limitations on the amount of rent you charge. You cannot unilaterally increase the rent unless your agreement is month-to-month. In that event, you can serve a written 30-day notice (or 60-day if the increase is greater than 10 percent within the last 12 months) to increase the rent.  Otherwise, you must wait until the lease expires.

Kimball, Tirey & St. John LLP is a full service real estate law firm representing residential and commercial property owners and managers. This article is for general information purposes only. Laws may have changed since this article was published. Before acting, be sure to receive legal advice from our office. If you have questions, please contact your local KTS office. For contact information, please visit our website: For past Legal Alerts, Questions & Answers, and Legal Articles, please consult the resource library section of our website.

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