Is a landlord required to pay back money lost to the original tenant in a sublease situation?

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Is a landlord required to pay back money lost to the original tenant in a sublease situation?

I found someone to take over my lease and he promised to pay me back in a month, but never did. He also never paid the security deposit to the landlord. I am no longer obligated to the lease, but I’m out $2600. If the guy is evicted, is the landlord obligated to pay me back the money I paid them for the rent in the time after I moved out? No one has been able to get a hold of the guy to get the money he owes us.

Asked on July 13, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Wisconsin

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

First, it's an important distinction: was this a sublease or an assignment? If it was an assignment, he took over the lease from you--that is, you were off the lease, the new person was now the tenant--and you should not have been responsible for any rent or other costs after the assignee (the person taking assignment) took over; you also should  have received your security deposit back from the landlord when the assignee took over, less any amounts lawfully withheld by the landlord for damage you did to the apartment during your tenancy or for unpaid rent.

However, if it as a sublease, so the other person was renting from you, you were still responsible for the rent and the security deposit to the landlord. While the subleasee may be responsible to you, you would need to look to him or her for compensation--i.e. you'd need to sue the subleassee, if that person did not honor his or her obligations.

Second, regardless of whether it was an assignment or sublease, if there was an agreement between you and the new person and that person violated you, you could sue them for what they owe you. You would not have recourse against the landlord, however, from any agreements to which the landlord was not a party.


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