Can one debt cancel out another?

UPDATED: Oct 15, 2012

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Can one debt cancel out another?

My mom is dating a man that let her borrow $2,000. They went before a notary to sign a document that says that he would lend her the money and she would pay him back $100 monthly for 22 months. He wants to sue her to pay the money because she doesn’t want to pay the money. The reason she doesn’t want to pay the money is because he lived in her house for 9 months and didn’t pay her anything for rent or utilities. So she wants to counter sue him for this. My question is, if he sues her for not paying the money, can she countersue him saying that technically he owes her because he lived in her house for 9 months for free?

Asked on October 15, 2012 under Bankruptcy Law, Georgia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Your mother can only countersue for utilities or rent IF there was an agreement between them, in place prior to him moving in, that he would pay these items. If there was, she can enforce that agreement and force him to pay; but without an agreement, he does not have to pay her. You cannot let someone live rent and utility free with you then, after the fact, tell them that they owe you money; people can only be obligated to pay by their agreement to do so, entered into before the obligation is incurred.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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