If a co-tenant moves out early, can they be sued for 50% of both rent and utilities for the remainder of the lease?

UPDATED: Apr 1, 2012

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If a co-tenant moves out early, can they be sued for 50% of both rent and utilities for the remainder of the lease?

Can a roommate who jointly signed a lease and then vacated the rental early still be held accountable for utilities if utilities are addressed in the lease as being the tenant’s responsibility? The utilities are in the name of the tenant who left early but I am now paying 100% to avoid shutoff. I believe he is held accountable for the rent as well as I am but does this also apply to this situation?

Asked on April 1, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Pennsylvania


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Yes, I believe that you are correct in your assumptions.  You can sue the room mate for half of what ever he was supposed to pay and you are paying until the end of the lease.  The problem is that you can only sue him after you have paid the bill.  With the lease it is easy to estimate the monthly costs but the rent only becomes due and owing on the first.  There is probably a clause that allows suit on the whole but if it will apply to you remains to be seen.  The utilities are different every month.  Good luck.   

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