Scenario 4: You want your housemate to leave and…

What happens if tensions or personal conflicts develop within a shared household to such an extent the house can no longer operate? What if housemates find they cannot get along because they’re incompatible? Can one group of housemates insist that another housemate leaves? Can you evict a housemate?

Please note there are additional scenarios in the section on Domestic Violence in this guide that might be more useful if you’re a victim of domestic violence.

(A) They are a co-tenant

If a housemate’s name is on the lease, generally it is difficult to force them to leave. You should try to resolve the problem by discussing it and coming to an agreement for one of you to leave. If you find it difficult to reach a solution, you can get help with mediation through a community justice centre. If one or more of the co-tenants agree to leave, they should transfer their legal rights to the remaining co-tenants or to the new tenants. See Looking for a New Housemate.

Another option available to you is to make an application to NCAT seeking an order to terminate the tenancy of your co-tenant. The Tribunal can make an order ending the tenancy of your housemate, if it thinks it is appropriate in the ‘special circumstances of the case’.

If the problem can’t be resolved, a third option might be for you and your housemates to end the whole tenancy. This means everyone has to move out, which can be expensive. See Scenario 2.

(B) They are a head-tenant

If you’re a sub-tenant and you want your head-tenant to move out, you’re going to have a tough time unless they agree. The whole point about being a head-tenant is that they can choose who they want to live with, not the other way around. If the head-tenant has breached the Residential Tenancies Act, for example, by not doing repairs or not giving you rent receipts when you’ve asked for them, then you have the right to take them to NCAT. The Tribunal can order the head-tenant to stop breaching the Act, but it can’t order the head-tenant to move out when a sub-tenant makes the complaint.

(C) They are a sub-tenant with a written agreement

If you are a head-tenant and want a sub-tenant to leave, you must give them the correct written notice. If the sub-tenant does not have a fixed term agreement, you will need to give them 90 days written notice.

If you have agreed on a fixed term, you cannot ask your sub-tenant to leave until the fixed term expires. You can give 30 days written notice to end the agreement at the end of the fixed term. If your sub-tenant has breached the agreement, you can ask the sub-tenant to leave by giving them 14 days written notice. If this is the case, it doesn’t make any difference whether they’re on a periodic or fixed term agreement.

If the sub-tenant ignores the notice, you must apply to the Tribunal for orders of termination and possession before a sheriff can evict them. It is illegal to lock your housemate out without the Tribunal orders and you could face a fine of up to $22,000 if you try it.

You cannot ask a sub-tenant to leave simply because they have asserted their rights, for example, by asking you to organise repairs. If the Tribunal concludes that the notice of termination is ‘payback’ to the subtenant for seeking their rights, the application for eviction may not be granted.

(D) They are a boarder/lodger

The Residential Tenancies Act does not protect boarders and lodgers. Though the legal position may be unclear, from a practical perspective boarders and lodgers can be evicted with very little notice. If you have a written agreement you should make sure you have given them the correct amount of notice. If there is no agreement about notice, you should let them stay until the day rent is paid up to. For more information, see Boarders & Lodgers Kit (see Useful Information).