Is a roommate on the lease decides to move out required to pay rent if they do not find a subletter?

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Is a roommate on the lease decides to move out required to pay rent if they do not find a subletter?

My college roommates and I currently rent a house. Before we singed the lease we  got a person that none of us really knew (also a student) to tour the house and sign the lease. They agreed to live in an extra bedroom. Several of us were not there over the summer but still paid rent (including the roommate in question). When it came time to move in for the school year said roommate could not get her bed in the house and her parents were unhappy with the house so she decided not to live with us. Is she required to pay rent? She has not for the past 2 months, and our landlord is pressuring us to pay.

Asked on October 2, 2010 under Real Estate Law, Minnesota

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

A lease is a contract and your roommate is in breach of it.  Therefore, you and the other roommates can sue her in small claims court for any amounts the you must pay on her behalf because she moved out.  Additionally, you can mitigate your damages (lessen what you owe your landlord) by getting another roommate to take her place ASAP.  However, you are still required to cover the full amount of the rent.  When you signed the lease, all tenants became legally responsible for it. This is under the legal theory of "joint and several liability". This means that if one tenant doesn't pay their share of the rent any of the other tenants, either individually or collectively, are responsible.  Since your ex-roommate is a student I don't know what you will get out of her (maybe she can go to her parents). However, if you do go to court and win, you will be granted a judgment against her. Then a notation of the judgement could be placed on her credit report.  Why don't you inform her of this and see if that prompts her to come up with some money. In the meantime, pay up any past due rent, otherwise you all face eviction and potential liability for any rent that your lanlord loses on account of all of this.


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