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Last month I moved into a shared house. There are 6 people living here. The primary leaseholder told me he had told another tenant to move out because he was always late on the rent. I never met this tenant or had a say in him moving out. Now it’s close to next month and we still don’t have a replacement. The primary leaseholder said we (all the current tenants) would have to cover the rent for the vacant room.

In my written agreement with the leaseholder, it only mentions my room's rent (I never even knew the rent amount for the vacant room until recently). Nonetheless, I don’t want to become enemies with him or he’ll tell me to move out too (my agreement is month-to-month). This is why I am looking for interpersonal skills advice rather than legal advice, because involving the law would definitely make him resent me.

I find it strange that we can't find a replacement given the low vacancy rate of the city and I think the primary leaseholder is just screening people to a very high degree of scrutiny and isn’t advertising on social media. The primary leaseholder had asked for everyone’s help finding a replacement, which I had been trying to do, but he never provided information or pictures so I would say naturally the responsibility falls on him.

I can think of a lot of logical reasons to give but I know in situations like this logic isn't good at convincing people. How to communicate with my landlord that I won't pay extra rent without inspiring their resentment? The primary lease holder is one of the roommates and I see him each day.

The primary lease holder (who pays the rent to the landlord) says he can't afford to cover the whole missing rent. If this is true he should thought more carefully about kicking the roommate out. I sympathize with this and am willing to negotiate, like if he pays 50% of the missing rent and the rest is divided between the rest of the roommates.

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    Are you on a sublease? Do you need to communicate this to your landlord or to the primary lease holder? – Kaspar Scherrer Oct 31 '18 at 10:46
  • @Cashbee primary – user22765 Oct 31 '18 at 11:08
  • Does the lease you signed state a specific amount of rent that you, specifically, are obligated to pay, or have you signed the lease on equal terms with all other roommates? And can you expand on what being the "primary leaseholder" means in this case? – Upper_Case Oct 31 '18 at 18:06
  • What country is this in? – Benjamin Gruenbaum Nov 4 '18 at 14:48
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In my written agreement with the leaseholder, it only mentions my room's rent

That answers your question. You don't pay the extra rent for the extra room. When asked why you respond with:

My agreement only pertains to the room I'm renting. I think it's unfortunate that the room is empty and I'm trying to help by showing it.

When the primary lease holder says something like:

I can't afford the rent for the extra room!

You respond with empathy:

It sounds very frustrating plus it sounds frustrating to have to deal with and then kick a roommate out. I hope we find a solution soon! If you want we can talk about it and how to find a room mate quicker. I'm here for you!

If the primary lease holder or landlord directly asks you for money you respond with:

I absolutely understand why you're asking me. I'm going to have to say no.

It's not rude, it explains you understand and it's direct. If they argue you can respond with:

Well, I have agreed to pay amount X for room Y so I am going to keep doing what we agreed on when we signed the contract.

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Since the leaseholder removed the other roommate unilaterally, without asking for your opinion, it doesn't seem appropriate for him to ask you to pay for the results of his action. He keeps control for deciding who goes and who stays, therefore he should be responsible for the consequences. You have only his word that he did everything that he could to get the other roommate to pay (I'm assuming that he did make an effort, but who knows).

If he had consulted with all of you beforehand, that would have indicated that he felt you all had a "stake" in the process. And in that case, you might all have helped him to encourage the other roommate to pay. It might not have worked, but the fact that you were all involved would have given you some responsibility for the results.

You might mention to him that you would have liked to have been consulted over whether the other roommate should have been evicted. If he objects, telling you that it isn't your place to decide such things, then you can say "if I have no control or responsibility over a decision, then I cannot agree that I should be held responsible for the consequences of it".

He may very well still take offense. You need to decide if it is worth this risk, or it would be better to just pay the money and stay in goodwill with him.

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Gather history and precedent Ask other room mates what they plan to do this month. Also, ask if this kind of situation has occurred before and what happened then. Does the total rent paid by sub-tenants like you, add up to the rent for the whole facility or is it significantly more, thus earning the leaseholder a commission/income?

Action If this is happening for the first time, or it is rare, you might first ask the other room mates if they are willing to discuss this further with the leaseholder or if they are willing to pay. If they are willing to discuss together, you people can approach the leaseholder. If they are not willing, you might discuss with him privately. Remember to bring up the extra income part if it exists.

Why discuss If you leave your room, he might be in for more financial trouble and you could let that be known to him politely. There is a good chance he will pay "your" portion of excess rent himself. If that happens, keep it to yourself and do not tell other people. Even if you still pay your excess portion, you'd have put up some resistance and caused some discomfort to the leaseholder for troubling you

Consider Is there a possibility that the area vacant now is used by all/some room mates as extra space? That could be some justification for extra payment.

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