Can a co-tenant on a lease be held liable if the lease was renewed without the co-tenant present and his signature was forged?

Asked on July 28, 2015 under Real Estate Law, Georgia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

No, someone is NOT liable for or under a contract (and that is what a lease is: a contract) if he or she did not agree to it, and that includes not being liable if his/her signature is forged. Of course, the landlord may not believe that the signature was forged and may try to hold the co-tenant liable under the lease; if the landlord takes legal action (e.g. a lawsuit for unpaid rent) against the co-tenant, the co-tenant would need to provide evidence (e.g. credible testimony; travel receipts showing that he/she was not present the day the lease was supposedly signed; handwriting samples and possibly an expert's handwriting analysis) that he or she did not sign. If the court believes he/she did not sign, he or she would not be liable.

The co-tenant should report this to the police: what was done is a crime--depending on the exact facts, for example, a type of identity theft and/or fiancial fraud. Reporting it to the police will help establish a credible record that this was not his or her signature. The co-tenant could also sue the person (the other tenant, presumably, though your question does not identify who did this) who forged his/her name for any costs or losses he or she suffers due to the forgery.

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