CAN MY LANDLORD SUEME FOR DAMAGES ALLEGEDLY CAUSED BY ME, IF SHE NEVER DID A WALK-THROUGH?

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CAN MY LANDLORD SUEME FOR DAMAGES ALLEGEDLY CAUSED BY ME, IF SHE NEVER DID A WALK-THROUGH?

Ii rented an apartmentwith my former GF. We were both on the lease. I moved out 5 months but continued to pay rent. Now that the lease is up and I am being sued for alleged damages when I didn’t even live there. Am I still liable because I am on the lease? Also, she never did a walk-through when we moved in, so how can she prove we did the damage?

Asked on October 16, 2010 under Real Estate Law, Massachusetts

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

There are two different issues here:

1) Can a landlord hold a renter liable for damages during the term of the tenancy/lease, even if the tenant did not actually live there? Yes. It is no concern of the landlord or the law where you actually reside. Legally, during the term of your lease, you are responsible for damage caused by you, by family members, or by guests--basically, by anyone under your control or whom you allowed in the apartment.

2) Factually, can the landlord prove the damage was done by you or someone under your control? That depends on the circumstances and the evidence you can each muster. If the landlord did not do a pre-tenancy walk through, that weakens her case, though she can probably reference any inspections she did during the prior tenant's occupancy or the checklist of damage from the prior tenant as evidence of the state the apartment was in.


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