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Co-signed Lease Issue

Discussion in 'Roomate & Joint Leases' started by JP Ouyang, Dec 1, 2018.

  1. JP Ouyang

    JP Ouyang Law Topic Starter New Member

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    I have a question about a roommate situation. I co-signed a two-year lease with two other people that ends July 2019. One roommate moved out and got a replacement for himself (the one who moved out still has his name on the lease though). The replacement was not allowed to be added to the lease, but was rather listed as an "occupant" and it is my understanding that he has no legal obligation to pay for his residency (although he does in fact pay). I also moved out and found someone to take my spot as an occupant. However, I have recently learned that they have left (after two months), and now the one remaining roommate is expecting me to pay for rent and find another replacement. Am I any more responsible to pay the rent than the other roommate who moved out whose name is still on the lease? The occupants that we found for ourselves were never specifically listed as taking the place of any particular person. I also wouldn't mind terminating this whole lease.
    I'll also add that the reason that I left was because the one remaining roommate wanted to get more people to live in the house (more than 3), but I didn't want to live in a crowded house, so I moved out and got a replacement for myself so the roommate could get more people if he wanted to. I thought that he would have gotten more people to live there, but it turned out that he never did...
     
  2. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    If you SIGNED a lease your obligation is to the landlord.

    The only way to escape your contractual obligation is to read your lease in an effort to determine what the lease dictates in a situation you now find yourself.

    If the lease is silent, the outcome will be determined between you and the landlord.

    If you cannot agree, resolution will only be found in a court of law.

    If one wishes to escape a lease without a financial fleecing and the inability to rent decent housing for decades, one usually has to pay the landlord's tribute, or die.
     
    hrforme likes this.
  3. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    Here's how it works. You signed a lease, your are bound by it until July 2019. The person who replaced you is your subtenant. You are responsible for paying the rent if he doesn't. You are responsible for any damage he leaves behind.

    Your co-lessee is also bound by the lease until July 2019. He is also responsible for the rent and damages of his subtenant.

    You and your co-lessee are jointly and severally liable for all rent and damage until July 2019.

    Your landlord has no obligation to look to both of you equally. In other words he doesn't have to collect half from you and half from your co-lessee. He can pick whichever of you would be easier to collect all of the money from. Whichever of you ends up paying can seek indemnification from the other.

    As for terminating your obligations under the lease that is strictly up to your landlord. It's not your option. You either pay your share of the rent until July 2019 or you pay the landlord whatever amount gets you a written release of further obligations.

    Above is why roommate arrangements are such incredibly bad ideas.
     
  4. JP Ouyang

    JP Ouyang Law Topic Starter New Member

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    What I am wondering though is this: how is payment from me enforced? He's already paid the rent and he is expecting me to pay him back. So at this point, the landlord doesn't care, so how can he legally enforce that I pay him?
     
  5. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    He can sue you for indemnification. Once he gets a judgment he can have your pay garnished and your bank account levied. The judgment goes on your credit reports and will cause you no end of inconvenience for years to come.

    On the other hand, there may be a limit on how much he can win from you. It's called mitigation. The aggrieved party is required to take steps to minimize his loss.

    Once your subtenant moved out, the remaining tenant would have been required to seek a replacement as soon as reasonable possible. If he just sat back for months without doing that you could raise lack of mitigation as a defense and reduce what you might owe.
     
  6. JP Ouyang

    JP Ouyang Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Thanks for your response! He actually let two rent cycles go by before telling me about this, and he told me that I had to pay for those two months of rent. But I'm also wondering about this: would the person that I got to replace myself be regarded as "my" subtenant? She didn't sign on as being under me per se. It seems to me that the vacancy that is now there is the responsibility of all three people on the lease (myself, the guy who left first, and the tenant still there). Can he exclusively blame me for this? In order for him to blame me, wouldn't there also have to be some proof of how we agreed to split the rent?
     
  7. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    Each of you CAN claim whatever you want and it doesn't mean beans until somebody takes somebody to court.

    Rental agreements can be oral and they can be implied and constructed by a court based on performance.

    As far as the LL is concerned, as long as he gets his money, he doesn't care what the arrangements of the occupants.

    Summary: Three on the lease. Two left. Both got replacements for themselves. Neither of the replacements signed a lease with the property owner. They both left. Both of you are each responsible for your subtenants. Now the last one on the lease has to pay all the rent or get evicted so he's looking to you to pay the other two thirds.

    Why isn't he pursuing the other signer for his third? Oh, I don't know, maybe he can't find the other signer, maybe the other signer told him to pound sand and doesn't care about getting sued, or maybe the other signer just doesn't believe that there is any risk of consequences for ignoring the issue.

    What are you prepared to do? What do you think the last signer will do if you don't pay? Are you willing to risk a lawsuit?

    The bottom line is that you are on the hook for anything you can negotiate for a written settlement to avoid court. There's no way to predict what a judge might award on this.
     

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