We at Roomi understand that living with one or more roommates is not always easy. But it can often be a necessity when you can’t afford a house or apartment on your own. Sharing a home with others can definitely be a lot of fun, but also, not. But also, roommate harassment issues are very real. While there are a host of roommate harassment laws that you could prepare yourself with, there is also other know-how 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?

Are there any roommate harassment laws that can help?

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 are not. This might need 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. 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 explain 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, 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 cotenants. This means that legally speaking, 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?

Tired of dealing with a troublesome roommate and looking for a change? We’ve got your back!

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. In order to evict a roommate who has established residency in NYC, you must use the court system to evict your roommate, even if he or she is not 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?

According to New York state law, you must give your roommate at least 30 days to vacate. The next step one must take is to file an eviction lawsuit with the New York City housing court in order to start an official eviction proceeding. Threatening your roommate will only hurt in this case as you will 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.

Before you can start a court case to make your roommate leave, you may need to give (serve) your roommate a Notice of Termination.


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 shows 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 are the one whose name is on the lease.

Laws around extreme roommate harassment and what you can do about it.

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

Even if you are not 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. In order 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:

Anti-discrimination status and eviction protection.

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

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 her status as a domestic violence victim.

Limits on rental clauses.

In some states, landlords cannot 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.

Section 8 tenants.

Domestic violence victims may circumvent regular relocation requirements if they have otherwise complied with other Section 8 requirements, have moved in order 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 provides assistance to 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.

If the roommate has threatened or engaged in real physical violence against you, you can get a Domestic Violence Temporary Restraining Order from 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 is not possible, try to line up at least two different places where you can stay if you feel uncomfortable at home.

Here are some helpful links that may help your case as a victim of roommate harassment:

Valid across the United States.

National Dating Abuse Helpline

1-866-331-9474 & www.loveisrespect.org

National Child Abuse Hotline/Childhelp

1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453) & www.childhelp.org

National Sexual Assault Hotline

1-800-656-4673 (HOPE) & www.rainn.org

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

1-800-273-8255 (TALK) & www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org

National Center for Victims of Crime

1-202-467-8700 & www.victimsofcrime.org

National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights

1-510-465-1984 & www.nnirr.org

National Coalition for the Homeless

1-202-737-6444 & www.nationalhomeless.org

National Resource Center on Domestic Violence

1-800-537-2238 & www.nrcdv.org or www.vawnet.org

Futures Without Violence: The National Health Resource Center on Domestic Violence

1-888-792-2873 & www.futureswithoutviolence.org

National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma & Mental Health

1-312-726-7020 ext. 2011 & www.nationalcenterdvtraumamh.org

National Runaway Safeline

1-800-RUNAWAY or 1-800-786-2929 & www.1800runaway.org

D’you know what else Roomi, the ultimate roommate finder, does outside of helping its readers find roommates in NYC? With our ever-increasing lists of rooms and roommates across the world, we help you find your perfect match!