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How to evict a housemate

By George Hadgelias

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all just get along?

Sadly, when you’re living under the same roof as someone else it’s not always that easy, and share houses are the source of endless tales of nightmare housemates who leave a trail of filth wherever they go, or worse, refuse to pay their rent.

Sometimes if tensions escalate or conflicts can’t be resolved, you’ll want to get a housemate out of your house as quickly as possible.

So how do you evict someone who’s living with you?

Not surprisingly, it’s not always an easy process, as co-tenants and sub-tenants effectively have the same rights to continue living in the house as you do.

But there are some options that can help resolve the situation.

Talk it through

The easiest course of action, of course, is to have a frank but civil discussion between all housemates. You may even be able to resolve the issues amicably and agree to continue living together, which will negate a lot of extra hassle and paperwork. If not, in an ideal world the housemate in question will accept the situation is untenable and agree to move out.

Problem solved. You’ll now need to notify the landlord and put in a request to vary the lease to remove your housemate’s name from it, as well as adding any new tenants who fill the soon-to-be-vacant room.

It’s worth remembering that if it’s purely personal differences that have you at each other’s throats, your co-tenant is under no obligation to go anywhere and is entitled to see out the agreed rental term. If they can tolerate living in a tension-filled home, there’s really not a lot you can do.

Seek mediation

If you’re unable to resolve the situation yourselves, getting assistance through a mediator is also an option.

Sydney’s Redfern Legal Centre suggests seeking help at a community justice centre in order to facilitate a discussion between both parties, which may include your housemate agreeing to move out.

Issue a notice to vacate

If you’re the head tenant and your housemate is a sub-tenant, effectively you’re their landlord, so if they’ve breached their tenancy agreement in any way, you should be able to issue a notice to vacate – attainable from your state’s consumer body – citing those reasons.

Depending on the cause of the breach (and the state you reside in), the sub-tenant will have a certain amount of time to vacate. For example, in Victoria it ranges from an immediate eviction to 120 days.

If your housemate doesn’t comply with the notice, you can apply to have the matter heard in court.

Get a termination order

In most states, you can legally apply to your state’s civil and administrative tribunal (i.e. NCAT or VCAT) for an order terminating your housemate’s tenancy.

The tribunal can make orders including forcing tenants to comply with their rental agreement, as well as terminating their tenancy, but you’ll have to prove or convince the tribunal member that the circumstances warrant it.

Even then, it’s unlikely to deliver you a quick fix.

In New South Wales if your housemate is a sub-tenant on an open-ended agreement, they’ll likely still have 90 days to vacate the property even after you secure an order to evict them.

Take it to court

If a termination order doesn’t work and all other avenues have been exhausted, you can apply to have the matter heard by your state’s tribunal.

It will cost you a small fee and you’ll be required to attend a hearing, where a tribunal member will make an enforceable decision on the tenancy.

Should your housemate still refuse to comply, the tribunal can order the sheriff to forcefully evict them.

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