What to do if my lease ended last month and my roommate did not pay her half?

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What to do if my lease ended last month and my roommate did not pay her half?

She moved to the next state over and left me with the last two months utilities and late fee’s and misc charges that she should have paid. I have clear proof that she should be paying for it, including statements from the landlords. The landlord wants me to pay the entire remaining balance and take her to small claims court. I would be taking her to court for roughly $1100. I know where she lives now and would be able to serve her with papers. Is this worth going to small claims court over?

Asked on September 27, 2012 under Real Estate Law, South Carolina

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

The landlord is right in that he or she can hold you responsible for the full amount due: if you don't pay, the landlord could both sue you and report the default to the credit-rating agencies.

You legally can sue your friend for the money, but it may not be worthwhile if she is in a different state. To being with, you most likely will not be able to sue her in small claims court--small claims courts do not, as a rule, have jurisdiction over out-of-state parties. (You can check to see if your small claims court will have jurisdiction, however.) That means you'll need to sue in regular court (e.g. county court), which is more complicated and expensive. Second, even if you do sue and win, enforcing judgment (that is, getting the money) from an out-of-state person can be very difficult if he or she doesn't pay voluntarily--that is, if the roommate isn't worried about having a judgment against her or a default on her credit record, you might not be able to get the money; or if you can, it will take some expense and considerable effort on your part.


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