ask_2004_07_rentsign.jpgI have been living with my roommate for 3 years now. It's mostly been okay, but he's moody sometimes and threatens to throw me out. At this point, I am sick of his bitching and his juvenile behavior, but I love the apartment. I have sunk a lot of money into redoing my room. I want to know if I can get on the lease. I have a letter he wrote for me about the amount of rent I pay him monthly, and I also have a bunch of cancelled checks I wrote to him for rent. Rent has always been paid on time and sometimes in advance. So my question is - can I get on the lease and can I keep him from kicking me out?


According to, you don't appear to have a right to be on the lease:
The rights of roommates who are not family members are very limited. They are generally considered "licensees" and may be evicted when the tenant on the lease leaves... Unless you are the spouse of the named tenant, a landlord is generally not obligated to add your name to the lease.

If your roommate should decide to "kick you out" without terminating his lease, he can not just throw you out in the street without any notice. While Gothamist is not a lawyer, we suspect eviction proceedings and squatter's rights would come into play (see the previous Ask Gothamist post More on Bad Neighbors and Squatters for more info). Should this situation actually happen, you would probably need to seek professional help from a lawyer. Check out the Volunteer Lawyers Project for info on free legal help for tenants.

But why would you want to get on a lease - which is a legally binding agreement, after all - with someone who is moody and unpredictable and wants you to move out? Gothamist thinks you should spend your time and money getting a new place with a different roommate, or perhaps by yourself. Yes, moving is expensive. But even if your roommate moved out and you signed a new lease, your landlord could raise the rent or even require you to pay a fee for the apartment although you already live there (this actually happened to our former roommate). As for the money you've spent decorating your room, that's the nature of renting. Try investing your money in things that will make your apartment look nice, but that you can take with you to your next apartment (like good quality furniture).