Helllo. My question is similar to those asked in “Roommate Wont Pay Rent Or Bills” and “Non-paying Sublease”, but not close enough that I can figure out if I have a legal course of action.
I live in a 2-bedroom condo that my mother owns. My housemate pays her rent check to me, and I pay the full rent to my mother. I am responsible for arranging any repairs, but my mother reimburses me. I have no written contract with my mother, and my housemate has no written contract with me. (Yes, I learned my lesson and next time I will have a written contract.)
My housemate and I orally agreed when she moved in that she would pay $400 rent a month and ½ of utilities. We agreed that SHE was moving in, and could have guests. She also gave me an agreed upon $200 deposit.
She has paid rent through the last day of July. I neglected to give her the amount of her half of the bills… for over a year. I know that was a mistake on my part.
She never asked the amount.
Last Thursday I sat down with her and let her know she owes me $625 and asked for her to tell me when she would pay me back. I gave her photocopies of the bills and a printout of how much she owed for each one. I also told her that from now on her fiancé could only stay over 3-4 nights a week (I had not set any limits before – even let him live with us for 3 months in the fall without increasing her rent or % of the utilities). Except when we let her mother live in our living room for 6 weeks (I was the one who had to ask her to leave), her fiancé has spent 2-7 nights a week at our home. Since my housemate got a puppy and they found out his place doesn’t allow dogs, he is here whenever he isn’t working… sometimes even when she is off with her mom.
When I came home a few hours later she announced she and her fiancé had decided to move in together. I was a bit surprised and frustrated, and confusing jobs with renting, asked her “is this your 2-week notice then?” and she said “I guess so”. She then told me she was going to pay me her part of the utilities in the fall, as she had the money. I responded “okay”, and basically turned and left the house (I was leaving for a trip anyways, but I was also really mad and didn’t want to say something I would regret since we were friends).
I wrote her Friday morning telling her I actually needed 30-day written notice before she moved out, which to my understanding is the law in California. I also said she would need to pay rent for those 30 days. I also reminded her that her fiancé could no longer stay over more than 3 nights a week.
When I returned on Tuesday ALL of her belongings were gone and she left no forwarding address.
I wrote her another e-mail, and text-messaged her to check her e-mail.
She replied “You gave me a verbal notice to get out in 14 days so I got out over the
weekend. We had a verbal agreement no written contract. Since you gave me
the notice to get out I am not responsible for any of August rent. I do
know the law as well. At this time I do not have the money for the
utilities and since you agreed to let me pay them as I can that is what I
will do. It is your own fault since you did not hand me the bills in a
timely fashion which was your responsibility. You have my deposit and so
you can use that to cover whatever damages you feel that I am responsable
As a side note, her only income is that she receives money monthly from a lawsuit regarding her father’s death, and financial aid during the school year. Her mother has been getting about $1,600 in unemployment a month since February, and lives with her boyfriend for free. My housemate is going to San Diego in about a week. She eats fast food almost every day, and spends about $5-30 a day shopping with her mother.
1) Under California law, does my housemate owe me (or my mother?) rent for 30-days from the day I found she had moved out? 14 days because of my blunder? Or does she owe nothing because we had no written contract? Or do the days start from the written notice I am yet to receive? I am confused on all of this, especially since it looks on paper like she had a sublease and I have the lease.
2) Under California law, and given that I said “okay” after she told me she would repay me as she had the money, can I require that she repay me her portion of the utilities by a specific date? (I would like to have her pay it by Sept. 1 of this year). Or do I need to just allow her to pay me as she feels she can afford to?
Thank you for any advice you can give me.
Have a wonderful day, or night, depending on when you read this =).