Apartment joint lease -- kicking out guests?

userno69June 23, 2012

My situation is this:

I am at college living in an apartment with a joint lease (we all share equal liability/responsibility) with three other roommates. The lease says absolutely nothing about guests, aside from they can't remain in the apartment on a permanent basis.

Virtually every weekend, my other roommates throw a party, usually on more than one day of the weekend, and they frequently last until 3:00 or 4:00 AM, sometimes even later. The noise level is loud, and it is pretty much impossible to sleep as long as they are there, even with earplugs.

I am taking many difficult courses and I get straight As, but this requires I do A LOT of work and studying, even on most days of every weekend, which of course means I need to be able to get a good night sleep, which is not possible under this situation. I have no way to back out of the lease.

My question is this:

Under these circumstances, what rights do I have to kick out the guests invited by my other roommates for the party? Again, the lease says absolutely nothing about this type of situation. Since we are all equal tenants under the lease, how is this sort of thing handled? I would think there has to be one correct answer. The way I see it, there are two scenarios:

1. One roommate is able to kick out guests of the other roommates against their will, or

2. One roommate is able to have as many guests as they want remain in the apartment against the will of the other roommates.

Both of these scenarios appear problematic in one way or another, but of course, logic would seem to dictate one of them must be correct and that they are mutually exclusive. Which of these is correct?

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I don't think the answer is as simple as choosing #1 or #2. There is no one correct answer to suit all circumstances.

Why are you rooming with these people? Did you know them before moving in? Did they not mention that they liked to party? I'm just puzzled as to why you chose to live with them, given the very different nature of your study habits.

What should have happened is that all four of you should have discussed things like parties, their frequency and noise level, as well as cleaning the apartment, overnight guests, etc., right after you moved in. The four of you should have come to some agreement about these things.

You need to sit down with your roommates and discuss this. Maybe they would be willing to cut down to two parties a month, instead of four. That would give you two weekends where you could study at home. Then on the other two, you might be able to study at the library, and find a friend who has similar habits who would be willing to let you spend the night at their place.

Or maybe the compromise might be that the parties end earlier, say around midnight. But I suspect that would be hard to do.

How much longer do you have on your lease? Will all the roommates be there over the summer?

    Bookmark   June 24, 2012 at 5:40AM
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There is a #3: the majority of the lessees determine the guest arrangements. It's time for you to move out.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2012 at 9:10AM
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I'm not there over the summer. And I have another year on the lease. I can't get out of the lease -- it's simply not a possibility.

I knew these people in the past, they didn't used to be like this, they've completely changed. No way I could have predicted this.

As for there being a #3, that still seems problematic because it does not cover all possibilities. What if there is a 50/50 split? And then it might be said that the roommates would need to come to an agreement in that case. But what if nobody backs down? I feel like there HAS to be a more detailed answer...

Also, since the lease does not say anything about this in the first place, that means it does NOT say that a lessee majority determines such things.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2012 at 4:09PM
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You can always break a lease. There may be monetary penalties, but you can break the lease. Was it a two year lease, which frankly sounds odd with college kids? Did you renew the lease, knowing about the partying?

In fact, if the partying is an area of conflict between you and the other roommates, they might be more than willing to have you leave, so that they can get a new roommate more in tune with their lifestyle.

You don't mention any attempts to deal with the partying? Have you discussed your feelings on the matter with the roommates? How have you tried to get them to stop?

I'll be honest--you are outnumbered 3 to 1. Even if everyone here agreed with you that your need for quiet and study outweighs their need to party hearty, you are probably not going to get them to change. What you can do is look at ways to change your living situation. The only leverage that I can see that you have is moving out and not paying the rent. But I suspect that your roomies will be able to find another person to move in fairly quickly.

Could you sub-let your room to someone who could deal with the noise? Break the lease? Plead with the landlord to let you move to a different apartment? A lease is a contract and you should uphold it. But your roommates have broken their part of the bargain, if they promised to be quiet and study and instead have turned in to party animals. You can break contracts. There are penalties to doing so. But it seems that there are penalties to staying where you are.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2012 at 4:48PM
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Not paying the rent sounds like a bad idea. There are late fees that rack up, and if it is kept up, the landlord can demand payment in full of the remaining amount on the entire lease. Since it's a joint lease, any or all of us can be targeted for that, and since I'd be the one that stopped paying, they would probably come after me or my cosigner.

Subletting is possible but I don't think I could find anybody. I did resign the lease for the next year (stupid, I know, please don't lecture me about it) because the pressures to do so were great -- free utilities are included, free high speed internet and cable are included, free parking spaces are included, central air and a patio are included, and a free-to-use washer and dryer are included INSIDE our actual apartment, and prices were going up, which stayed the same if we resigned.

I am well aware that I am outnumbered, that is why I have come here. Surely, from a legal standpoint, there has to be a black and white answer since the lease says nothing about this. The simple majority wouldn't make sense to me because it still wouldn't account for all scenarios -- like an even split for example.

It would sort of make sense to me that one lessee could kick out the guests of other lessees. As a rent paying tenant, wouldn't I have the right to not have to have anyone around me that I don't like except other paying tenants?

What if guests are using the utilities? I haven't sanctioned that, and they are only free up to a certain monthly quota. If that quota is surpassed, the tenants have to start paying. So even if they don't surpass it, they [the guests] are effectively leaving me, a paying tenant, with less free utilities for the month.

I've tried talking to them, it's no use. They act like I am the problem. That is why I want to find a black and white legal answer to this question...

    Bookmark   June 24, 2012 at 5:34PM
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I don't think there is a legal answer to this issue. It is something that you have to work out with your roommates. The reason the lease says nothing about this is because it is not a landlord issue, or a legal issue. It is a roommate issue. If you think there is a legal recourse, you need to consult a lawyer.

You have "free" utilities, parking, washer/dryer, etc., that you are paying for by living in a party house, with noise and "guests" that you dislike. If the guests run up the utility bill, I think you can point out that you didn't invite them and shouldn't have to pay for them.

Hate to tell you this, but I think you have a choice here.

1) Move out. Sublet, renegotiate the lease with the landlord, whatever it takes.

2) Accept the weekend partying and find a way to deal with it. Go back home on weekends if it's close enough, find a good friend who will let you stay on weekends, stay at the library as long as it's open.

I just don't see any way for one person to convince three other people to stop the party.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2012 at 5:48PM
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I believe I could convince one of the roommates to side with me on this issue, or at the very least, they would agree for parties two weekends a month instead of 4.

But there is still a problem with this, though. You say this is likely not a legal or landlord matter, but a "roommate" issue.

But consider this. Now two of us want the parties (and hence the guests) and two of us don't. As far as the guests are concerned, they will either be there, or they won't.

So in the case of the 50/50 split, can they, or can they not remain in the apartment? There HAS to be a correct answer to that.

Also, the biggest offending roommate sells alcohol in various forms (beer, mixed drinks, jello shots) to the guests. In any event, isn't that completely illegal unless he's got a license to sell alcohol?

    Bookmark   June 24, 2012 at 6:42PM
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The correct answer is the one that everyone agrees to. Depending on the 4 people involved, that could be a party every weekend or no parties at all or anything in between.

Look, you seem to want a definitive answer here; one that will make your roommates agree to no parties.

There isn't one.

The only thing you can do is try to convince them to hold fewer parties.

Or you can leave.

The law doesn't care who has a party and who does not.

You could always try calling the police if the noise gets too loud. You could call the police about the roommate who sells drinks. But I don't think that will help in your over-all relationship with these guys.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2012 at 8:17PM
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Since they party every weekend Friday and/or Saturday; it seems that you are the one that needs to adjust - to fit in the party!

I would just sleeping during the weekend hours of 5 a.m. to 12:00 P.M. Study from 2:00 P.M. to 9:00 P.M. Party with your roommates from 11:00 P.M. to 3:00 A.M.!

That way; you have a break and get to know your roommates more and have fun in college life and still get good grades.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 1:17AM
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I believe it is illegal to sell liquor without a license, even in your own home. But other than helping the police arrest your roommate, I don't think this helps your predicament.

Now that you have another roommate on your side, you have more power of persuasion over the other two. You need to have a roommate sit-down and work out your differences. But there is no right and wrong, no correct answer, no legal decision.

I am curious - are you an only child?

    Bookmark   June 27, 2012 at 8:19AM
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I have two brothers who went through similar situations. They roomed with people they were friends with in high school and it turned into a disaster. My older brother just had issues with his roommates of a more personal nature, he found another person who was willing to sublet until the end of his lease. If you can find someone who enjoys partying late into the night then go for it.
My other brother had almost the exact same problem that you do, only with two roommates instead of three. He tried a number of things, even resorted to calling the cops anonymously a couple of times (which you might consider doing). He spoke with a couple of his neighbors and got them to lodge a complaint with the landlord about the noise and even gave them the police reports to back up their claims. The landlord sent them a 21 day notice to comply or face eviction, and they quieted down. There was still the occasional party, but it was more like once a month, rather than three or four times a week. He then waited out the rest of his lease and moved.

At this point, either get creative or resign yourself to the situation until your lease runs out. You can't really kick people out unless you have the majority of roommates on your side or your landlord or the police. The only other option is to break the lease and fork over the money. I know it seems like a bad idea, but how much is your mental health and your education worth to you?

    Bookmark   June 29, 2012 at 12:56AM
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In the real world after college; you have to compromise as part of real life. Nobody gets their way in every situation. Why not start with this situation and see how it goes since it will be real valuable for the next 50 year or so?

    Bookmark   July 1, 2012 at 1:57AM
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