I WANT TO MOVE OUT BUT MY ROOMMATES WON’T COOPERATE, CAN I STILL LEAVE?

You are not alone; this is a very common problem. If you want to move out before the terms of your lease expire, you can, but you are still bound to pay rent for the full term of the lease, whether or not you continue to occupy the unit or not (California Civil Code § 1951.2 ). If you do not pay, your roommates or landlord can sue, get a judgment and attempt to collect the money by doing such things as garnishing your wages. This is not a good thing!

The law also requires a landlord, or roommate in this case, to take all reasonable steps necessary to keep looses at a minimum -known as “mitigation of damages”(California Civil Code § 1951.2). This means that when a tenant leaves in the middle of the lease term, the landlord must make all “reasonable” efforts to rent the unit to another tenant, or in this case, your roommates if they wish to remain in the apartment.

The best thing to do is begin searching for a replacement for yourself immediately. You can place an advertisement on the Community Housing Office Database at http://www.housing.ucsb.edu/hchoices/cho-rental-home.htm, and search for people looking for housing in the community as well. Keep detailed records of your efforts! Your roommates will also need to work with you to find a replacement.

When you have found a suitable replacement tenant the new lease will need to be worked out with the landlord directly. It is best if you don’t sublease when you want to get off of your lease. Both your landlord and roommates must approve of your replacement. If your landlord or roommates do not cooperate mediation is always an option.

WHAT IS MEDIATION?

Mediation is a process in which people who have a dispute can meet. With the support of a trained mediator, the parties can communicate openly and create ways to resolve conflicts.

WHEN IS MEDIATION APPROPRIATE?

Mediation works well with, but is not limited to, the following situations:

  • Conflict with roommates or apartment-mates.
  • Neighbor-to-neighbor problems.
  • Landlord/tenant conflicts.

WHAT DO MEDIATORS DO?

Mediators will:

  • Make sure that all parties have an opportunity to be heard.
  • Listen to the viewpoints of all parties.
  • Ask questions to clarify facts and perspectives.
  • Help parties communicate with each other in an effort to recognize each other’s perspective and empower parties to resolve the conflict.
  • If desired, help parties write an agreement that specifically outlines the solutions the parties have created.

Mediators will not:

  • Take sides.
  • Make decisions for people.
  • Decide who is “right” or “wrong”.