How come I am the only one being charged for damages on an apartment when my roommate was also on the lease?

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How come I am the only one being charged for damages on an apartment when my roommate was also on the lease?

Approximately 2 years ago, my roommate and I were evicted becasue she did not pay her share of the rent. She even slept through the court date, although I attended. The amount we owe is around $1,000. However it is only on my credit report. We were both on the lease as primary tenants. I even took pictures when I left, showing how I painted over my walls, cleaned my carpet, etc. and how her room was left with spray paint on the walls, trash everywhere, etc. Is this legal? I refuse to pay it until she pays half, but they aren’t even asking her for money, just me. Should I take her to court? Get the apartment involved?

Asked on December 22, 2010 under Real Estate Law, Missouri

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Tenants on a lease are deemed to be both "jointly and severally liable".  This means that  in a situation such as this, that either or both tenants can be sued.  Unfortunately for you, your landlord has chosen to seek damages from just you (probably because you are such responsible type of person, they feel that the chances of getting payment from you is greater).

What you'll need to do is to pay the $1,000.  After that, you'll have to sue your former roommate in small claims court.  This will cost you money but you will still probably come out ahead.  As for your credit report, once this has matter has been legally resolved, you can submit an explanation that will appear on your report.  It may be of help.


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