Can a landlord sue me for my father’s unpaid lease because I help him pay his bills?

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Can a landlord sue me for my father’s unpaid lease because I help him pay his bills?

My father has a lease on an apartment. Then 4 months ago, the plumbing did not work and he was forced into a hotel for 3 weeks. He then refused to pay the rent for the next 2 months to recoup his losses. Meanwhile, because of his age, I write the checks out for him from my bank account where he deposits money in every month. The landlord I called and said the sheriff will be serving me papers. Can the landlord sue me?

Asked on May 10, 2012 under Real Estate Law, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

No--if there is written lease, only the signatories to the lease are responsible under it. Therefore, if there was a written lease and your father was the only tenant on the lease, only he could be sued by the landlord. The fact that you may have written checks, or paid bills or rent, does not make you liable under the lease. If the landlord does try to sue you, you should be able to get the suit quickly dismissed by, in your answer, denying that you are a party to the lease, attaching a copy of the lease for the court's reference, and at the same time moving to dismiss for failure to state a cause of action. (A contract--and that's what a lease is; a contract--only binds the parties to it.)


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