How doI pay for a debt that someone else shares with me?

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How doI pay for a debt that someone else shares with me?

My roommate and I entered into a 6 month lease. After a few months I had to leave because he and I weren’t getting along. He was going to stay and get a friend to move in. He decided not to stay and just left the apartment with out telling any one. So they sent us to collections for the unpaid lease. He refuses to pay anything. I don’t know how much the debt is and I’m afraid to talk to the debt collector. Can I make him pay his part? If I pay my half am I still responsible if he doesn’t pay his?

Asked on December 9, 2010 under Bankruptcy Law, Oregon

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

The lease needs to be read.  I am about 99% sure, though, that it probably says that you are jointly and severally liable for the money under the lease, meaning that you will be responsible for the entire amount - yours and his.  Yes, you can resolve it by paying it all - or negotiating with the debt collector - and then suing him for his half of the rent owed.  I would indeed speak with someone on the matter and bring to his the lease to be read.  I know that it is hard to deal with debt collectors.  You feel so vulnerable and out of control of the situation.  So maybe go and see if a tenant's rights organization or a free credit counseling place can help to make the initial call.  It will not go away.  Good luck to you. 


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