Can I sue a co-tennant for breaking a lease even if the landlord released him from financial responsibility?

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Can I sue a co-tennant for breaking a lease even if the landlord released him from financial responsibility?

I was co-tennant with a boyfriend on a lease. Then 4 months into it he left and I had no other choice but to stay and pick up the fianancial responsibility. We signed an addendum to the lease with the landlord that states the co-tennant is no long financially responsible for the new lease. Can I take him to small claims court for his responsibility for the original lease? The addendum also states that he is keeping 50% of the deposit based on the co-tennant breaking the lease. I live in California and have already served him papers. Do I have a case?

Asked on August 14, 2012 under Real Estate Law, California

Answers:

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

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

As against the landlord the lease probably states that you and the co tenant are jointly and severally liable to pay.  A co tenant can sue the other co tenant upon breach if the breach caused actual damages to you.  Paying their rent is actual damages.  But here is the problem you face: the addendum that YOU signed releasing him from liability.  The portion as to the deposit seems improper since you did not breach you paid the rent to the landlord as per the lease (the full rent correct?).   I would pay for a conultation with ana ttorney.  Good luck. 


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