Legal Q&A: How do I handle security deposit when renting to roommates?


Question: If I suspect drug activity in an apartment, can I evict the residents?

Answer: Yes, but unless you are on a month-to-month agreement, you must have evidence of the drug-related activity. Otherwise, you may serve a 60- or 30-day notice to quit based upon your reasonable suspicion.

Question: I am planning to rent to three adult roommates. I know they all have to fill out separate applications. But, how do I handle the security deposit? Do I ask each tenant for one-third?

Answer: You should charge one deposit and not account for it until all tenants vacate. Make this clear in your lease so that if one tenant vacates, it is up to his or her former roommates to get reimbursed.

Ted Kimball Kimball, Tirey & St. John LLP

Ted Kimball
Kimball, Tirey & St. John LLP

Question: I have reason to believe that a single tenant has moved out from my rental property and has an arrangement with a third party couple now in residence. How do I best legally remove them and take back my apartment?

Answer: You can serve a three-day notice to perform conditions and covenants or quit if your lease has a prohibition against subletting or assignment of the lease, or, if there is a provision limiting residency to named occupants.

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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