Am I legally obligated to pay a lease breaking penalty when I am not the person choosing to break a lease?

I signed a 1 year lease with a roommate. Then 2 months into the lease she decided she wanted to move out and break the lease. Breaking the lease requires paying a penalty amounting in 2 months’ rent. I stated I did not want to break the lease to the landlord and the roommate. However, the roommate is asking me to pay half of the penalty. I feel that I am not obligated to pay any amount of the breaking of lease penalty. Am I justified in not having to pay the penalty? Or what can I do to protect myself from paying the penalty.

Asked on November 3, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Pennsylvania


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If there is a penalty clause in the written lease agreement that you have for the rental that you are occupying, carefully read it in that its terms and conditions control the obligations owed to you by the landlord and vice versa in the absence of conflicting state law.

If your roommate is the one who wishes to end the lease and not you, then she should be the one paying the entire penalty to end the lease. If you want to remain in the unit, perhaps you can get a replacement roommate and remain as an option.

Good luck.

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