How to get your roommate to pay rent

Flatmates Team


It’s rent day … and someone’s late! This is one sticky situation we all want to avoid, but it does happen and it can certainly make life in your share house uncomfortable.


Resolving the issue of non-payment of rent can take time and patience. And, given that tenancies and rental agreements differ, a little know-how doesn’t go astray either.

That’s why we’ve put together this quick guide to getting your roommate to pay the rent.

How to get your housemate to pay rent if they are subletting from you

If you sublet a room to your flatmate, then the key consequence of their not paying rent is that you’ll likely wind up covering it until they find the cash: not cool.

The best way to tackle the problem, first and foremost, begins with a conversation.

1. Ask them to pay the rent — by a deadline

Ideally you’ll be able to catch your flatmate when your paths cross at home, at which point you should politely but firmly point out that the rent is late and ask them what’s going on.


Most of us don’t just forget to pay rent: if we miss a payment, it’s because something’s gone off the rails financially. So, don’t just demand. Take the time to understand — what’s caused the non-payment and when your flatmate expects to have the money.

Equally important, once you’ve heard their explanation, is to detail the impact of the non-payment on you. If you’re covering the rent for them, say so. If you literally cannot make rent on the property until they pay, tell them. It’s important that your flatmate understands the implications of missing a payment.

2. Remind them of your written agreement

You have a written rental agreement, right? Right. So don’t forget to mention this in your conversation. The reality is non-payment of rent is a breach of that agreement (provided it specifies how frequently rent will be paid and on which day each month).


This means there are potential legal implications for any flatmate who misses a rental payment. Of course, there may be the one-off occasion where someone’s late with rent and we’re not all calling our lawyers the second a rent payment is overdue. The point here is to clearly remind your flatmate that they’ve made a legally binding agreement and need to stick to it, for everyone’s sake.

Finally, agree on a date by which they can commit to paying the rent and let them know that you’ll put the request, including this agreed date, in writing, so that you have a paper trail that shows you’ve tried to resolve the problem.

If you don’t have a rental agreement, then what the hell are you doing? Always get your agreement in writing. If an official lease agreement is not available, then you can use our Flatmates agreement.

3. Make a plan for next time

Okay, realtalk: for most of us, rent is a big chunk of our expenses. If we can’t make rent and need to catch up, that makes it even harder to make the next rent payment.


It’s all too easy to see how missing a rental payment can become a pretty vicious cycle. For that reason, it’s probably worth at least broaching the topic of the next rent payment with your flatmate. If they’re in financial strife, they may be best to seek help in the form of government assistance or independent financial advice, for example.

4. Put the payment request in writing

The next step is to follow up that conversation with the written request. It’s best to send this over email, so that you both have a copy of the message. Make sure you include the following:
- Mention the date on which rent was due.
- Mention the date on which you spoke to them about it.
- Briefly explain the reason your flattie gave for non-payment.
- Explain how non-payment has impacted you or the household more broadly.
- Identify the date by which your flatmate has committed to paying the rent.


Depending on the nature of your relationship with the person, and the way your conversation went with them, you may or may not want to hint at what might happen next if they fail to meet the payment deadline.

At this point, you and your flatmate should be in genuine agreement and they should be feeling the pressure to pay. So with any luck, they’ll meet the payment deadline and you’ll be back on track.

If not, you may need to seek mediation or even consider eviction if you can’t resolve the issue.

How to get your housemate to pay rent if you are both on the lease

If you and your flattie are both on the rental agreement, then the stakes of their not paying rent are potentially higher for you, since the entire rental agreement may be terminated if rent — or portions of it — remain unpaid.

That said, your flatmate is also likely to feel pressure from your rental agent, as well as you, to pay. And that can help to move things toward a resolution more quickly.

In any case, the unhappy reality is that if you’re both paying your individual shares of the rent directly to the agent, you may not realise the rent has been missed until you’re getting a reminder email from the agent. Yikes! Where do you go from here?

1. Talk it over

Obviously your first step will be to talk to your flatmate about the problem, following a similar plan to the one we mentioned above.


Understand the problem they’re experiencing and remind them that, long term, you could lose your rental if they can’t pay — and you’ll both have trouble getting a lease after that.

2. Make a plan

Make a plan with your flatmate to get the outstanding rent paid and to make sure they can meet the next rent payment without any troubles, as explained above.


That’s easy to say, but harder to do. Again, financial assistance from the government may be a possibility, and independent financial advice may also help.

3. Speak to your real estate agent or landlord

Once you’ve got a handle on the reason for non-payment and a plan for payment, get your rental agent on the phone (or go to their offices) and explain the situation to them.


You might like to make this call on speakerphone with your flatmate, so that you all know what’s said, decided and agreed on. Commit to following up the call with an email to the agent that reiterates what’s been agreed and committed to.

4. Follow up in writing

Have your flatmate write an email to the agent that repeats the date by which they’ll pay, at the very least.


Make sure they CC you so you know what’s going on in any exchange that follows. This isn’t being nosy; this is about keeping a roof over both your heads, so it’s important to be involved.

5. Keep communicating

From this point on, make sure you keep in contact with your agent and your flatmate. Often, agents’ biggest pressures are property owners, but given the improvement of rental laws in many states and territories in recent years, you’re unlikely to face strong repercussions in the short term for non-payment of part of the rent.


In fact, in many cases, part payment (that’s where you continue to pay your share of the rent) is a solid first step toward buying a little time for your flatmate and keeping things as sweet as possible with the agent and owner.

Of course, your flatmate will need to pay up, so if that becomes an issue you might discuss your options with the rental agent: could you find another person to take over the non-payer’s room and share of the rent, for example? Or would you rather end the lease altogether and find somewhere new? Knowing your options and keeping the agent in the loop is likely to be crucial to either staying in the rental, or getting a positive reference from them if you move on, so don’t neglect this step.

How to avoid rent payment issues

Prevention really is better than cure when it comes to issues like paying rent. And the key to avoiding these types of problems is to have a written agreement in place, that all parties sign before the flatmate moves in.

This applies even if you’re subletting a room to someone: a written agreement will make sure everyone is aware of their obligations up-front. Their signature then commits them to meeting those obligations.

With that done, any breaches of the agreement, or times when the obligations aren’t met, should be pretty clear-cut. That puts you on a solid footing when it comes to bringing any problems to your flatmate’s attention — and, hopefully, resolving them without too much hassle.


Flatmates Team