Can I sue my ex fiance for the months that he didn’t pay rent on our lease?

My ex fianc and I signed a lease just over a year ago. Both of our names are on the lease and we both were paying half the rent each every month until 6 months ago. I made him move out of our apartment because I caught him trying to cheat on me with my friend. I notified my landlord and he couldn’t drop my rent, so I have been paying the full rent since then on my own. My ex finance’s dog also did damage to the apartment rug which I recently had repaired. My ex fiance contacted my landlord asking for his half of the security deposit back. Is he entitled to get it or anything back? Am I allowed to sue for the months he hasn’t been paying rent?

Asked on June 22, 2016 under Real Estate Law, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

IF he had voluntarily moved out and not paid rent, you'd have a good case for suing him for his share of the rent under the contract (the lease) he signed; in that case, the law would let him escape his obligations. But you write that *you* "made him move out." The law does not let someone unfairly or justly benefit from their actions; you caused him to no longer live in the premises or get the benefit of renting it; that being the case, you cannot recover rent from him when you are the reason he was not there and not paying. (The fact that he may have cheated on you is irrelevant in regards to the rental and the lease.) In the law's eyes, you don't get to have the benefit of having him gone, having the unit to yourself, and having him pay rent all at once.
He is entitled to his share of the security back, again, because his absence from the unit was caused by you.


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