If my roommate refuses to pay her portion of the rent and wants to move before the lease is up, can I take her to civil court?

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If my roommate refuses to pay her portion of the rent and wants to move before the lease is up, can I take her to civil court?

My roommate could not be added to the lease due to her criminal history but her mother signed the lease for her as a co-signer with myself. My roommate is now claiming she has placed her rent in an escrow account. Can I still take her to court if I get evicted?

Asked on January 6, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Florida

Answers:

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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

You can take whoever is named on the lease with you to court, however, you still bear responsibility for the full rental payment. The reason is that, when you signed the lease you both collectively and individually became legally responsible for it. This is known as "joint and several liability". This means that if 1 tenant doesn't pay their share of the rent then the other tenant is liable for it. 

That having been said, in answer to your question, you can take your roommate (i.e. the person named with you on the lease) to court and sue for any money that you are out-of-pocket on their behalf. If you win, you will be granted a judgment. You could then have the notation of the judgement placed on their credit report. You can do this whether or not you are evicted.

So why don't you inform this girl and/or her mother all of this and see if that prompts either of them to come up with some rent money. Otherwise, you can use the judgment to garnish their wages and/or other personal assets, such as bank accounts (make them aware of this as well).


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