If I co-signed a 1-year lease for my nephew and it was renewedwithout my signature, am Istill liable for all the damages/fees?

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If I co-signed a 1-year lease for my nephew and it was renewedwithout my signature, am Istill liable for all the damages/fees?

When my nephew’s lease was renewed after 1 year, however I was never asked to sign anything again. Am I liable just for the first year or all years he lives there? When he was evicted (non-payment and loud parties), he extensively damaged the property. We received a bill for over $5,000 from a collection agency, which is the first we heard about it. That was after the security deposit was taken out. It was not only for damages to the property, but fees for breaking the lease. Would a lawyer help in this situation? My nephew doesn’t the money, and doesn’t seem to care. This affects our credit.

Asked on March 1, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Maryland

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

As a general rule, someone can NOT be obbligated on a contract against their will or without their consent, so you should normally not be responsible for the renewal term if you did not agree to it. However, if the original lease contained any terms or provisions causing it to automatically renew unless a party to it specifically chose to not renew the lease, those terms are enforceable; therefore, check the lease to see what you may be responsible for. Definitely get a lawyer and have him or her help review the lease with you, to determine you liability; the lawyer then help you recover any money you are due or take other appropriate steps. You very likely would have a cause of action against your nephew, to sue him if you wanted. Good luck.


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