Is a co-signer on a lease still responsible for rental payments if they move out?

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Is a co-signer on a lease still responsible for rental payments if they move out?

After 10 1/2 years together, my boyfriend and I are parting ways. He co-signed the lease to rent our apartment has been responsible for 1/2 of the rent. He has stopped paying (2 months ago) leaving me in quite a bind. Is he legally obligated to maintain his agreement to pay 1/2 of the rent each month given that he did sign the lease?

Asked on July 6, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Wisconsin

Answers:

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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

A lease is a contract and your ex-boyfriend/roommate is in breach of it.  However when you both signed the lease you both became legally responsible for all financial obligations. This is known as the legal theory of "joint and several liability". In such a case as this, it means that if one tenant doesn't pay their share of the rent any other tenant(s), either individually or collectively, are responsible for doing so. So while he is responsible for all remaining rental payments, if he does not make them you must. That having been said, you can sue him in small claims court for any amounts the you paid on his behalf. If you do go to court and win, you will be granted a judgment against him. Then a notation of the judgement could be placed on his credit report. Additionally, with a judgement you could garnish his paycheck, bank account, and/or other non-exempt assets. Why don't you inform him of this and see if that prompts him to come up with some money now.  


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