Can You Evict a Housemate?

Living with housemates can be a rewarding experience, but what happens when tensions rise and conflicts become unmanageable? In such cases, it may be necessary to consider the possibility of asking a housemate to leave. However, the process and options available to you depend on various factors, such as the individual’s tenancy status and the applicable laws. In this blog post, we will explore different scenarios and provide guidance on potential courses of action.

Scenario A: Housemate as Co-Tenant: If your housemate’s name is on the lease, evicting them can be challenging. The first step should be to have an open conversation and attempt to reach a mutual agreement for one of you to leave. If finding a resolution becomes difficult, seeking help from a community justice centre for mediation can be beneficial. Alternatively, you can apply to the relevant authority, such as the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT), to terminate the tenancy of your co-tenant. However, this option requires demonstrating “special circumstances” to convince the Tribunal to grant the eviction order. In some cases, if the conflict remains unresolved, all housemates may have to consider ending the entire tenancy, which can be costly.

Scenario B: Housemate as Head-Tenant: If you are a sub-tenant and wish for the head-tenant to move out, it can be challenging unless they willingly agree. As the head-tenant, they hold the authority to choose their cohabitants. However, if the head-tenant violates the Residential Tenancies Act—for instance, by neglecting repairs or failing to provide rent receipts—you have the right to report the issue to the NCAT. While the Tribunal can order the head-tenant to rectify their actions, they cannot compel them to move out based solely on a sub-tenant’s complaint.

Scenario C: Housemate as Sub-Tenant with a Written Agreement: As a head-tenant, evicting a sub-tenant requires following the correct legal procedures. If the sub-tenant does not have a fixed-term agreement, you must provide them with a 90-day written notice to vacate. If a fixed-term agreement is in place, you cannot request the sub-tenant to leave until the agreement expires. However, you can give them a 30-day written notice to terminate the agreement at the end of the fixed term. In cases of agreement breaches, you can issue a 14-day written notice. If the sub-tenant disregards the notice, you must apply to the Tribunal for eviction orders before involving law enforcement. Attempting to lock out a sub-tenant without proper legal authorization can result in significant fines.

Scenario D: Housemate as Boarder/Lodger: Boarders and lodgers are not protected by the Residential Tenancies Act, which means eviction can occur with minimal notice. Although the legal position may be unclear, it is advisable to provide the boarder or lodger with the appropriate amount of notice as stated in any written agreement. In the absence of an agreement, they should be allowed to stay until the rent payment period ends. Additional information on this matter can be found in the Boarders & Lodgers Kit.

Resolving conflicts and tensions among housemates can be a challenging task. Evicting a housemate depends on their tenancy status and adherence to the applicable laws. It is essential to approach such situations with open communication and a willingness to find mutually agreeable solutions. Seeking mediation services or legal assistance can provide guidance and support throughout the process. This short note does not constitute legal, financial or accounting advice and should not be relied as such. For legal advice, contact us on 02 8014 5818.

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Tags : Housing, Conflicts, Litigation, Contract Law, Tenant and Landlord

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