Roommates move other roommate’s stuff for multiple reasons. Depending on your situation, if your roommate moved your stuff solutions include:
- Create or add to a roommate agreement things covering moving each other’s stuff.
- Keep your stuff locked in your room or a cabinet, so your roommate can’t move it.
- Depending on your lease, your landlord, dorm RA, or housing manager may be able to intervene and help you.
Read on for detailed solutions on what you can do.
1. Dealing with Roommates Who Moved Stuff When Cleaning
One of the most common types of roommates who move stuff are the ones who do it when cleaning up or arranging the living space.
You thought of the living room and kitchen in your apartment as shared space, but your roommate has his or her ideas, and your stuff isn’t a part of the plan.
Or, your roommate assigns your belongings to a different location than what you wanted.
This kind of roommate might take your books off of a shelf and put them in a drawer because he wants to put a potted plant on the shelf instead.
Or, she may take down the framed photo you hung on the wall after your summer vacation and put it behind a potted plant or returned it to your room.
Or maybe the person habitually puts your coffee mugs in a kitchen cabinet when you like to leave them on the counter. You want them right next to the coffee pot where you use them every day.
Essentially, the problem is a fussy roommate who wants to control the look and feel of your common living areas.
Your roommate definitely does not have the right to come into your room and move stuff or do anything else without your permission in your private space. The only exception would be responding to an emergency.
Here’s what to do
However, if your roommate is moved stuff around in common areas while cleaning, you may be down to three basic solutions:
- Getting the person to change by talking to them or getting them to sign a roommate agreement
- Keeping your belongings in your room or locked up elsewhere
- Changing your living arrangements
Some people can be convinced to change their behaviors if you approach them in the right way. This type of roommate may be convinced to sign a roommate agreement covering moving stuff and solving the problem.
Other people are inflexible.
If your roommate is inflexible, your choices may be to accept their idea of housekeeping or figure out new living arrangements.
2. Dealing with Angry Roommates who Move Stuff
Some roommates move stuff because they are angry about something. This could be something in their personal life or something in your life together as roommates.
Often, a roommate who is angrily moving stuff around feels they are doing more than their fair share of the housecleaning. In this case, moving your stuff is a passive-aggressive way of showing their resentment.
If this is happening, having an agreed-upon cleaning schedule and policies about where stuff goes may resolve or at least lessen the problem.
A regular household meeting when everyone talks about anything bothering them at home can also ease fiction So it may stop a roommate from moving your stuff for passive-aggressive reasons.
3. What to Do When a Roommate Moved Your Stuff to Hog Space
Some roommates move stuff around because they want to hog the space for themselves.
For example, one roommate complained about a new person moving in, bringing a big assortment of kitchen appliances, pots and pans, kitchen knives, and other kitchenware with him.
He then rearranged the entire kitchen to accommodate his stuff, moving the other roommate’s belongings into the dark, back corners of the kitchen cabinets.
Other roommates move in new living room furniture and shove other people’s stuff to the side or out the door.
These types of roommates are inconsiderate people. Try talking to them in as friendly a manner as you can and see if they can be more respectful of your needs and boundaries.
Getting the person to sign a roommate agreement that specifies who has the right to what space in common areas is another possible solution.
While hogging space is thoughtless and inconsiderate, it is not against the law and probably not a violation of your lease.
If you can’t convince your roommate to change their ways, you may be forced to put up with the situation. Otherwise find a new living arrangement if your roommate moves your stuff to hog space for themselves.
4. How to Handle Roommates who Moved Stuff and Controls the Lease
Roommates sometimes feel they can move other roommate’s things if they control the living space because they are the only name on the lease.
If one roommate’s name is on the lease and others are not, then the person on the lease most likely does have more control over common areas like the kitchen, living room, shared bathrooms, laundry areas, and the garage.
If your roommate is the only person on the lease, or they are the manager or owner of the building, they probably have the right to move your belongings around, move them out of common areas, and decide on the decor in those rooms.
Other renters are subletting from the lessee, so they may only have control over their bedroom and any other space rented for personal use, such as an area in a garage used for storage.
However, this does not give the lessee the right to do whatever they want with other roommate’s possessions.
If one roommate is subletting to another person, the person doing the subletting has the obligations of a landlord toward the subletting tenants.
This includes proper notification before evicting someone, moving their belongings out of the person’s room, or disposing of them.
Tenants with a history of paying rent, whether they are on the lease or not, have certain state and local rights to use the property and store their belongings there.
As long as you are paying rent and have not been evicted, a roommate moving your personal belongings around in your room or moving them out of your room is most likely not legal.
But these rights probably don’t cover a roommate who moves your stuff around within the common areas of an apartment or house.
Subletting may or may not be allowed under a lease. Some roommates sublet space without approval from the landlord or property owner.
If an illegal subletting situation comes to light, all tenants may get evicted, so it’s worth knowing the specifics on your lease if you can find out.
5. What to Do When Roommate Moved Stuff and Both of You Are on the Lease
If both parties are on the lease, then you have a co-tenancy situation. Generally, in this case, all parties have the right to use all areas of the shared living space, although they may disagree on how to do that.
As a co-tenant, you have the right to hang a picture on the living room wall or put cushions on the couch. But your roommate still has the right to move them.
Compromise with your roommate, or acceptance of their ways, are probably the only solutions if you want to go on living together.
A person’s bedroom and separate bathrooms are generally considered private spaces under the control of the person renting them. Your roommate definitely should not have entered those spaces and moved stuff around, it could be considered trespassing.
6. Stopping a Roommate from Using and Moving Your Stuff
Many roommates also complain about other roommates who use their belongings and move their stuff in the process.
You may have a roommate who helps himself to your shampoo and then leaves the bottle on the shower floor instead of the shelf where you like to keep it.
Or maybe you have special kitchenware, like a set of knives or your favorite pots and pans your mom gave you. Your roommate helps himself to the use of these items and then puts them away somewhere else.
You have three options in this situation:
- Talking to the person and asking them not to use your stuff.
- Agreeing to share the use of particular items and also where to store them after use.
- Putting your stuff somewhere inaccessible to the other person.
Someone who routinely uses your belongings without your permission has personal boundary problems. It may be difficult for them to change.
If they do not change their behavior after you talk to them about the situation, keeping your stuff out of their reach is probably the only solution.
Roommates who use other roommates kitchenware are often a problem. Keeping your kitchenware in your bedroom is one albeit inconvenient solution.
A better solution is to install a cabinet lock, or a hasp and padlock on one or more kitchen cabinets. Then store your kitchenware there under lock and key, as long as you are on the lease.
If you are not on the lease, keeping your kitchenware in your room is probably the best solution, even if it is inconvenient.
7. What to Do If a Roommate Moves You and Your Stuff Out
Some roommates move stuff out of the house when they are upset about something, thinking they have the right to evict another tenant.
In one extreme case, a roommate moved another person’s belongings out of the apartment after an argument about someone new moving into a vacant room.
Not only did she move the roommate’s stuff out, but she changed the locks on the doors. Doing this is not legal.
Roommates Moving Your Stuff Out in an Eviction
Each state and some local municipalities have laws about when a tenant can be evicted. Still, it is the responsibility of a landlord to remove a tenant, not one of the other tenants.
Evicting someone requires advanced notification in writing, usually between 30 and 60 days. In most cases, local and state laws also specify what the legitimate causes and situations for eviction are.
It doesn’t matter whose name is on the lease; if a person has a history of paying rent, they have legal rights regarding eviction as a tenant in most situations.
One roommate does not have the right to throw the other person or their stuff out of the house or change the locks.
If your roommate is moving you and your stuff out unjustly, seek the assistance of an attorney or legal help center specializing in eviction. You also have the right to re-enter the property, as described below.
Roommates Moving Stuff and Changing Locks
If your roommate moves your stuff out and changes the locks, you are generally within your rights to get a locksmith to let you in and give you a new key. Be sure to provide a copy of the key to your roommate, even though the person locked you out.
You will need to show ID to the locksmith proving your address at the location. Be prepared to pay the cost for the service. However, you may be able to recover the cost later from the roommate who changed the locks on you.
Also, if you break a window or jimmy a door to get back into a house where you are paying rent, you are not likely to face any consequences besides the responsibility of fixing any damage you caused.
If your roommate moves your stuff out and changes the locks, talk to the owner of the property about the problem. The property owner may refer you to a manager who is responsible for locks and keys where you live.
Unless the roommate who moved your stuff out is the landlord, and you were given the proper eviction notice specified by state law, they have no right to move out your stuff, evict you, or change the locks on the doors without giving you a copy of the new key.
Your landlord will probably take action on your behalf. The landlord is ultimately liable for a lawsuit for illegal eviction if your roommate is locking you out or tossing your stuff out the door and denying you access to your home.
8. Is it Okay to Move a Roommate’s Abandoned Stuff?
Your roommate may have moved your stuff because they thought you abandoned it. Or, you may be wondering about moving the belongings of a former roommate who abandoned some of their possessions.
Some roommates go away for an extended time, move out without giving formal notice, and leave some of their stuff at their old home, planning to get it later.
Maybe you were living with a roommate and then started staying at your girlfriend’s house most of the timeow your roommate is moving your stuff and wants to rent the space to someone else.
There are state laws about abandoned property and what someone can do with another person’s belongings that are left behind when a person moves.
The landlord must:
- Notify the person in writing, reminding them about the property. If you don’t have a mailing address, email is usually an acceptable form of notification.
- Wait an amount of time specified by state law for the owner of the property to respond to the notification.
- Keep the belongings safe until this time has passed.
- Dispose of the property only after taking these actions.
How long you have to wait before disposing of abandoned property varies from state to state and ranges from as little as 10-days to 60 days or more. Check your state laws before getting rid of a roommate’s stuff, and if you are unsure, I recommend just waiting 60 days to be safe.
9. Getting the Landlord to Move a Roommates Stuff
If you are sharing a house with a roommate who leaves their stuff behind, but you are not the landlord, tell the landlord about the issue.
It is the landlord’s responsibility to notify the owner of the property and to store abandoned property safely for the required amount of time.
In cases where one tenant sublets to another tenant who abandons property. The person doing the subletting is considered the landlord and is responsible for notifying the owner of the abandoned belongings and storing them as needed.
Selling, giving away, or throwing out someone’s property without giving them the required notice to retrieve it, can be grounds for a lawsuit for illegally disposing of personal property.
So, if the belongings have any value, it’s best to go through the steps of notifying a former roommate before you move their stuff out and get rid of it.
10. How to Talk to a Roommate Who Moved Your Stuff
If your roommate moved your stuff, talking to them at the right time and place may be the best solution.
People are often willing to change their behavior if they are asked in the right way or given the right motivation.
Ask the person out for a coffee or have a meal together. Give each of you plenty of time to say what you feel, listen carefully, and be willing to compromise in some ways on a solution you can both accept.
If you already tried talking to your roommate about them having moved your stuff and it didn’t work, ask yourself:
- Did I approach the person at a relaxed and friendly time?
- Was I clear about what I wanted from the other person?
- Was I willing to listen and compromise on a solution?
Sometimes we think we have communicated with someone, but we didn’t make the effort at the optimum time, place, or with the right attitude.
In this case, the solution may be within you. If you change how you are communicating with the roommate who is moving your stuff, you might solve the problem.
11. How to Create a Roommate Agreement about Moving Stuff
A roommate agreement covering moving stuff around in the home is another solution to this problem.
If you don’t have one of these documents, now might be a good time to bring up the idea with your roommate and create one together.
A roommate agreement is a written agreement about the responsibilities of each roommate in the living situation. It can also include specific consequences if someone does not do what they agreed to do or does something not allowed by the agreement.
You can download free roommate agreement templates online or make up your own agreement. Be sure that all roommates sign and date the deal and that it does not say anything that violates your lease or local laws.
Include a clause about what is okay to move and what is not okay to move without the owner’s permission.
If you already have a roommate agreement, consider adding a clause about moving stuff. Use the agreement as an opportunity to discuss mutually acceptable rules about moving other people’s stuff.
12. What You Can Do if Your Roommate Won’t Stop Moving Your Stuff
If a lease does not bind you, and other solutions aren’t working, moving out or asking your roommate to move are other options for resolving this conflict.
If you live in a dorm, and your roommate is obstinate about moving your stuff and controlling the décor in common areas, talk to the resident assistant (RA) or housing manager assigned to your living unit.
In some situations, this person might be able to help you work out a solution for better sharing of your living space. Also assist one of you in moving to a new unit.
13. What to Do if Your Roommate Moved Your Furniture Around
Some people suffer from roommates who moved their furniture around, and then continue to do it a lot, sometimes late at night. There are several reasons people do this.
Some people are compulsive, and compulsive behavior can include furniture moving. It’s a way of dealing with anxiety or issues about control.
Dealing compassionately with a person like this involves trying to talk to them gently and help them find a different way of dealing with their problem.
If this doesn’t work, maybe you can at least get them to agree not to move furniture at certain times when it disturbs you. Better still not move certain pieces of furniture you use a lot.
Other people move furniture as a form of entertainment or a fashion statement.
This type of activity can drive others in the house crazy, and if your roommate likes moving furniture, what are your options?
Unless you are the landlord and the furniture is yours, it’s not illegal for your roommate to rearrange the household furnishings in common areas.
Your only recourse is to talk about the situation and try to work out a compromise, move, or ask your roommate to find another place to live.