Oral contract? Am I responsible just because I was the last one to leave?

UPDATED: May 28, 2009

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Oral contract? Am I responsible just because I was the last one to leave?

My ex-landlord is taking to me court on back rent, here is the story:I moved into an apartment with a friend that he and his girlfriend co signed on. The girl moved out and I took her place. My friend moved out five months later. I never signed a single thing, lease or otherwise. I stayed there another couple months and moved out. The landlord and I had a vague oral agreement I would pay month to month, but I didn’t pay the last month.Am I legally responsible for breaking the lease? At the very least I can sue the original lease holders if I’m found guilty, correct?

Asked on May 28, 2009 under Real Estate Law, Pennsylvania


B. B., Member, New Jersey Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 13 years ago | Contributor

I'm not a Pennsylvania attorney, and the law varies a bit from one state to the next, and I suspect there are more facts to this story, which might make a difference.  But the law in most states would only see a month-to-month tenancy. That would mean that you would be liable for no more rent than one month after the month you moved out, plus any unpaid months for when you were actually there for all or part of the month. For example, if you had last paid rent for February, months beginning on the first, and moved out in mid-April, you would owe for March and April, because you were there, and possibly for May, if you didn't give notice before April 1.  Of course, in most states, the landlord would have to make an honest attempt to rent the place to a new tenant, and if one came in for May, you wouldn't have to pay for it except the difference if the rent was lower.

See a local attorney, for an explanation of how this is likely to work out on all the facts of your case, in your state.  One place to find a qualified lawyer is our website, http://attorneypages.com

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 AttorneyPages.com 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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