Getting rid of a flatmate

Their dishes are mouldy, they have loud sex and you’re pretty sure they’re stealing your toothpaste – but are you sure you want ask your housemate to leave? Make sure you know your rights (and theirs) first.

grumpy girls

"I hate you." "I hate you too."

I just can’t live with them anymore!

Living with people is hard work. But getting someone to leave is socially awkward and legally complicated, so think about it carefully before you scream at them: ‘YOU’RE RUINING MY LIFE, PLEASE GET OUT. NOW!!!’

However, if they’ve threatened or harassed you, you should contact the police or local council.

What do your other housemates think?

You can’t chuck someone out if none of your other housemates want them to leave. Carefully broach the topic with the people you live with to see if they feel the same. If everyone finds your horrible housemate difficult, getting rid of them becomes a whole lot easier. But be careful that you’re not just picking them as a scapegoat.

“Blaming Phil for everything kind of made us feel united against a common enemy,” said Dean, a student from Cardiff. “Eventually he left. If anything though, we got on worse afterwards, we all had to face up to not being perfect ourselves.”

What are the alternatives to asking them to leave?

Asking someone to leave is often a last resort. It may be worth considering these other options first.

  • It could be that you’re stressed out. If you’re exhausted and on edge, everything and everybody can rub you up the wrong way. Maybe take some time to focus on yourself and see if that makes Roger’s disgusting toenail clipping piles less annoying?
  • Most issues can be resolved by telling your housemate what’s bothering you. Try not to scream your head off, but instead suggest things you could both do to make living together easier – whether it’s a cleaning rota, or a no-noise-after-midnight rule. You can always get someone impartial to help you both negotiate.
  • Move out yourself. This might seem unfair but, legally, it’s often easier for you to leave by choice than to evict someone else.

There’s no other option – How do I tell them I want them to move out?

This is going to be an awkward conversation, and there’s not much you can do about that apart from being prepared.

Don’t launch into an attack, saying ‘you do this’, and blame them for everything. Instead say what you feel has gone wrong in the house in general like: ‘we’ve all been arguing a lot, and we think that it would be better for everyone if you moved out.’

They’ve agreed to move out, hooray! How does that affect our tenancy?

First, check your contract.

If you have separate tenancy agreements it won’t affect you if anyone leaves, but they’ll have to pay their rent until someone new is found.

If you have a joint tenancy, the landlord will want all of the rent paid even if someone’s left. They can evict everyone if it’s not. If you line up a new housemate quickly they’ll be no gap in the rent. But your landlord has to agree first, and you may have to pay for a new contract.

They won’t leave. Can we get rid of them anyway?

If you have a joint tenancy they have as much right to stay as you do unfortunately. It’s worth asking your landlord for help. If your housemate isn’t paying their rent or being really disruptive they might happily chuck them out. If you’re unlucky though, you could all be asked to leave.

If you have separate tenancy agreements you can appeal to your landlord to evict them and this won’t affect your tenancy at all. Again, this decision is down to your landlord.

If there’s a lead tenant who has made an agreement with the landlord and everyone else is a subtenant to them, the lead tenant acts like a landlord and can force their subtenants to leave.

Complicated isn’t it? If you really want someone to leave and they don’t want to, get advice from Shelter first.

Next Steps




Updated on 29-Sep-2015