If 1 of my 4 roommates broke her lease 3 months early, is she still legally responsible to pay her share of the bills?

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If 1 of my 4 roommates broke her lease 3 months early, is she still legally responsible to pay her share of the bills?

Individual leases with the agreement that we would all pay on the utilities.

Asked on May 8, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Indiana

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If the leases are individual--each one of you leased directly from the landlord and is contractually liable only for his/her rent--then she would not be liable to you for any rent, only to the landlord. However, if there was an agreement among the roommates that you would each pay an equal share of the utilities, you can enforce that agreement--even if it was an oral, as opposed to a written agreement--and hold her liable for her share of the bills, even if she is not liable to you for the rent. The question is, exactly *what* was  the agreement? If it was that no matter what, all roommates pay until the expiration of all the leases, you can require her to pay for the remaining three months. If it was that anyone who uses utilities must contribute to them, then she would not pay, if she is not using. If she will not pay voluntarily, you will have to sue her to try to recover the damages; and if there is an ambiguity in terms of what the agreement actually said, you would need to prove that in court.


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