What to do if one of my son’s roommates died and the landlord wants him and the other remaining roommate to pay the full rent?

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What to do if one of my son’s roommates died and the landlord wants him and the other remaining roommate to pay the full rent?

Previously it was $600 each times 3 people. Now it is $900 each for 2 people. Can he get out of the lease? He’s in college.

Asked on January 29, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Assuming that this was the typical situation, where the roommates all jointly sign a lease for the full amount of rent, then no, your son may not get out of the lease because a roommate died, and yes, the landlord may expect the two remaining roommates to pay full rent. When two or more people jointly sign a lease, they each make themselves responsible for the full amount of the rent. If one or more of the roommates cannot or does not pay--including due to death--the landlord may seek the full amount from the remaining roommates. It does not matter to the landord what the roommates' internal arrangment about splitting or apportioning rent was--all that matters to him is that each person who signed the lease is potentially liable for the full amount.

Your son and his remaining roommate should look for someone to sublet from them--if they can add a third roommate, they can reduce the cost to each of them. Even if they have let someone sublet at a reduced price (e.g. for $400/month), they will be in better shape than at present.


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