We, at Roomi, understand that living with one or more roommates is not always easy and it can often be a necessity when you can’t afford a house or apartment on your own.

Sharing a home with the right roommates can definitely be a lot of fun, but it’s also important to consider that roommate harassment issues are very real. While there are a host of roommate harassment laws that you could prepare yourself with, there are other know-hows that could help you.

You can avoid a lot of headaches by carefully selecting housemates. You can also prepare a written roommate agreement that covers the day-to-day details of living together. This may include how you will resolve any problems that come up, and knowing your legal rights as a roommate. Here’s what you need to know about resolving a situation with a hostile roommate. As well as all the legal rights you have living with roommates!

Related: Why Should I Sign a Roommate Agreement?

What are Roommate Harassment Laws?

Well, there can be a wide range of things that can be considered roommate harassment. Additionally, the issues are fairly minor and easily resolvable. But other times they aren’t. This might require you to know your legal rights as a roommate and intervention from law enforcement.

Settling minor roommate disputes

Even with a clear written roommate agreement, disputes might arise. Communication is key to a quick resolution. Here are some points you can do:

  • Speak up if you’re upset by something your roommate (or a roommate’s guest or pet) did or didn’t do, said, or didn’t say. Calmly explaining why you’re upset might also help. Be specific and let your roommate know how to keep the peace in the future.
  • Including a section on dispute resolution in your roommate agreement, or perhaps an agreement to try mediation on specific issues might help.

Technically, all roommates should sign the rental agreement or lease. A lease makes you co-tenants. Legally speaking, this means that each of you will be individually responsible for paying the entire rent each month. As well as fulfilling other rental obligations.

Related: What Happens If One Roommate Breaks The Lease?

What can I do if roommate harassment is getting out of hand?

If your roommate is on the lease or other recognized elements of residency, such as utility bills in their name, or if they receive mail at this location, it gets far more complex.

For example, to evict a roommate who has established residency in New York, you must use the court system to evict your roommate, even if he or she isn’t listed on the lease as a tenant.

One good way to evict your roommate is to start writing a letter, asking your roommate to leave. As per most roommate harassment laws, putting your request in writing creates a paper trail for if and when you go to court.

Related: Can I Evict A Roommate During COVID In NYC?

Can I evict my Roommate?

Roommate eviction depends on whether your roommate is on the lease or not. If they aren’t on the lease, they’re considered a ‘month-to-month’ tenant, so you don’t have to go to court. You just have to give them at least 30 days to vacate.

However, if they’re on the lease, you have to file a roommate holdover proceeding. According to New York state law, you can file for your roommate to be evicted if you’re the master tenant. But if both of you are on the lease, it’s in the hands of your landlord.

How can I file eviction papers?

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To start a case, you have to file an eviction lawsuit with the New York City housing court to start an official eviction proceeding. Threatening your roommate will only hurt in this case as you’ll be the one in legal trouble as a result of that. The next step is to call the police and ask them to forcibly remove your roommate if they remain in your home more than 72 hours after receiving the eviction notice.

After all of that occurs and your day in court arrives, come prepared with all communication that has occurred between you and your roommate, as well as the lease which shows that you are the rightful owner of the property and that your roommate has no legal grounds on which to stay. 

While this is a costly and messy process no one wants to go through, the only way to have complete rights to stay is if you’re the one whose name is on the lease.

Roommate Harassment Laws: What To Do About It

If the roommate harassment in question constitutes violence, here’s what you can do.

Even if you aren’t romantically involved with your roommate, legal counsel or help from a women’s shelter can help you determine if your relationship falls under the category of domestic violence. To benefit from extended protection to victims of domestic violence, check with local law enforcement or a women’s shelter regarding state laws applicable to your situation. Some laws that may apply include the following:

1. Anti-discrimination status and eviction protection

In many states, it’s illegal to discriminate against someone who’s a victim of domestic violence. So, a landlord can’t refuse to rent (or terminate) solely because the person is a victim of domestic violence.

2. Early termination rights

Usually, a victim of domestic violence can end a lease with notice (often 30 days). States typically require that the tenant provide proof (such as a protective order) of their status as a domestic violence victim.

3. Limits on rental clauses

In some states, landlords can’t include clauses that provide for termination, should a tenant call the police in the face of domestic violence, nor can landlords make tenants pay for the cost of such calls.

4. Section 8 tenants

Domestic violence victims may evade regular relocation requirements if they have otherwise complied with other Section 8 requirements, have moved to protect someone who is or has been a domestic violence victim, and “reasonably believed” that they were imminently threatened by harm from further violence.

What are Section 8 Tenants?

The Housing Choice Voucher program, also known as Section 8, is a federally funded program that assists eligible low- and moderate-income families to rent housing in the private market. Eligibility for this program is based on a family’s gross annual income and family size.

Related: Rules To Set In Apartments For Rent With Roommates

Getting a temporary restraining order against your roommate

Source: Getty Images

If your roommate has threatened or engaged in real physical violence against you, you can get a Domestic Violence Temporary Restraining Order from the court that asks for a residence exclusion order. This order will require your roommate to leave the apartment immediately.

The trickiest part about dealing with a dangerous roommate is that things that you want to happen immediately take a long time. The safest option would be for you to stop staying at your shared place from the time that you deliver a letter of notice until your roommate moves out. Even if this much precaution seems impossible, try to line up at least two different places where you can stay if you feel uncomfortable at home.

Links To Save As a Victim of Roommate Harassment

Here’s a list of important contact numbers and links valid across the United States that can help you if you’re dealing with roommate harassment. Save these numbers and take note of these links, just in case!

Time to Find the Perfect Roommate

Roommate harassment is a serious issue that can have a significant impact on your well-being and living situation. It’s important to know your rights and the steps you can take to address this problem. By understanding the laws surrounding this type of harassment and knowing your rights, you can take action to protect yourself and create a safe living environment.

Source: Roomi

And with Roomi, you can easily connect with potential roommates who share your interests and lifestyle, effectively avoiding any type of conflict in the future. More than that, Roomi does background checks on all of its users, includes a verified badge to avoid scams, and prioritizes its users with safe in-app messaging.

So, sign up today and join a community of individuals dedicated to standing against roommate harassment and promoting positive living situations for all.

This article provided an in-depth overview of roommate harassment laws and detailed everything you can do to stop it. Don’t wait any longer to take action – sign up today and empower yourself to create a safe and respectful living environment.

Find Your Perfect Match and Avoid Harassment with Roomi