If you sign a lease with someone, can they sue you for not paying the rent or would the apartment complex have to sue me?

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If you sign a lease with someone, can they sue you for not paying the rent or would the apartment complex have to sue me?

Myself and a co-worker signed a dual lease for 1 year on a 2-bedroom apartment. I had not known him for that long but he seemed OK. But he is a drug addict and he collects weapons. So I moved out and will no longer pay the rent. He now says he is going to take me to small claims court. But I don’t think he can because I don’t legally owe him any money. I owe that money to the complex. Can you please give me some clarification? And hopefully some peace of mind.

Asked on May 3, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Louisiana

Answers:

Madan Ahluwalia / Ahluwalia Law P. C.

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

So, good news and bad news.  First the bad news: the contract between you and your roommate is probably legal and binding, and he can sue you for breach of contract for failing to honor your agreement.  It's called privity of contract. Now, for the good news: it sounds like you have a valid defense to the contract.  No reasonable person should have to live in a situation like that, and sounds like his actions constitute "constructive eviction" of you from the apartment, since the conditions were intolerable.  Your roommate may very well take you to small claims court--and you should be prepared to show up and defend yourself on grounds of constructive eviction.  Best of luck!


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