What is a roommate’s financial obligation if they move out?

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What is a roommate’s financial obligation if they move out?

I moved out of an apartment but found a new roommate to replace me. I left and gave the key to the landlord, but the new roommatedecided she didn’t want the apartment. I tried to help my old roommate find a new place, new tenants for the old place (which I did), or just a new roommate to replace me. She dismissed all of my help and found her own roommate. However this new roommate never signed a lease, never paid any rent, and left. Landlord is trying to get $3,000 from me solely. Can I sue to get at least half of the remaining balance?

Asked on February 24, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Massachusetts

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

First understand that a lease is a contract between you as a tenant and yor landlord.  You can not break the contract unless the law allows (under certain conditions) or if the parties agree to it.  Did your landlord agree to let you out of the lease?  It had to be in writing where a new lease is issued without your name on it.  I am guessing not.  I am guessing that the only lease for the apartment was the one with you and your old room mate, correct?  Then under the law you are the ones that are responsible for the rent.  Yes, if you were both on the lease you can pay the remaining money (which you may want to negotiate) and then sue your old roommate for half.  Make sure there are no outstanding utility balances in your name as well.  Good luck. 


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