If 3 people sign a lease, is the lanlord allowed to deplete each of their security deposits if 1 tenant fails to pay a few months?

While in school 2 classmates and I rented a house and agreed to split the rent 3 ways, and we all equally signed the lease. At the midpoint of the lease 1 of my roommates left with no notice and stopped paying rent. After 2 months of missing his payments from the one roommate, the landlord told me and my other roommate that the security deposit was depleted. We then split rent in 2 for the duration of the lease. After moving out the landlord says we owe roughly $200, and is now threatening to sue me for the cost because he claims that was the cost to get the house back in shape, even though the house was thoroughly cleaned before leaving. From what I understand, if there are 3 people on the lease he should come after all 3 of us, not just me. If I allow it to go to court could he win if he has only pursued me without contacting the other 2 roommates, and if I know the house was in good shape after leaving am I responsible to pay? In addition, is he allowed to withhold my security deposit if there are 3 people on the lease? If so, would I have to sue the other roommate who left before the lease was out?

Asked on July 26, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Pennsylvania


Andrew Goldberg

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

The answer most likely is yes. The likelihood is that you signed the lease jointly rather than individually. Therefore, the 3 of you are jointly responsible rather than individually or singularly responsible for the monthly rental payments. The only exception to that would be if the language of the Lease specifically said you were individually or singularly responsible.

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