What is considered to be a “suitable” replacement tenant?

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What is considered to be a “suitable” replacement tenant?

4 of us co-signed the lease. We broke up the rent based on the amount of living space, and have a written (but unsigned) document showing individual amounts. Roommate leaving does not want to continue to pay rent. We (the remaining 3) told this roommate of thierobligation to pay rent until we find a suitible replacement. If the roommate finds a “suitible” replacement that we find “unsuitible,” does that release roommate from paying rent? We are trying to be fair, but we also do not want to live with a complete stranger to accomadate this roommate changing plans mid-year and moving out.

Asked on November 2, 2010 under Real Estate Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

For this purpose, "suitable" is mostly concerned with willingness and ability to pay the requisite amount (so enough income or assets) while also not putting the existing tenants at risk--so, for example, no one who is dealing drugs from the apartment. In additition, abiding by any terms or conditions of the lease or buildinng, such as, for example, no pets, if it's a no-pets rental. Also reasonable to impose as conditions are things such as: no smoking, if everyone else is a nonsmoker; no pets, even if that's not in the lease, if anyone has an allergy or health issue;  a compatable gender, based on any issues about bedrooms (e.g. if any are being shared); no resident children, if the premises is not set up for them (in other words, you need one new tenant--you don't have to take a whole family in); the person doesn't look to run a business out of the rental if it's primarily a residence; i.e. objective criteria going to how the person lives. Subjective criteria, such as whether or not you personally like or know the prospective renter, would not be reasonable to consider in this context (in particular, you can't make it a requirement that the person is not a "stranger"); and no one may discriminate in housing on the basis of protected categories, such as religion or race.


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