I have co-signed a 6 month lease for my sister’s apartment and I want out without it affecting my credit rating or dealing with eviction?

So far I’ve been stuck paying her rent and I’m ready to give my 30 day notice as her guarantor. The owners of the building will not consider letting her take it on solo even if she pre-pays a few months rent. What is my best course of action for a smooth exit?

Asked on March 22, 2012 under Real Estate Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Does the lease (which is a contract) allow you to terminate your obligation early on notice? If it does, you can terminate as the lease allows, but if the lease does not allow early termination, you are obligated to the landlord until its end--the law does not allow a guarantor or cosignor to exit his/her responsibilities early unless the lease or contract itself permits that.

If your sister is not paying the amount(s) she should, you may be able to sue her to recover these amounts from her; as a party to the lease, you have rights under it against other parties who do not honor their obligations, as well as, potentially, rights under theories of unjust enrichment (she's getting a benefit without paying for it) and promissory estoppel (if you only co-signed because she promised to pay, that might make the promise enforceable). If you are interested in exploring this option--seeking compensation from yur sister--consult with an attorney.

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