What can I do if my co-renter on the same lease has moved out and refuses to pay the remainder of their share of the rent?

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What can I do if my co-renter on the same lease has moved out and refuses to pay the remainder of their share of the rent?

Asked on January 12, 2013 under Real Estate Law, New York

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

The fact is that a lease is a contract and your roommate is now in breach of it.  Accordingly, you can sue them in small claims court for any amounts the you must pay on their behalf (just be sure to bring all relevant documents and the like with you to prove your case).  Further, you can "mitigate" your damages (lessen what you owe your landlord) by getting another roommate to take their place. 

That having been said, you are still required to cover the full amount of the rent up to and through the epiration of the lease. When you signed it, each of you became legally responsible for it, either collectively or individually; this is known as "joint and several liability". Accordingly, if one tenant does not pay their share of the rent, then it becomes the responsibility of the other tennt(s). 

You should be aware that, if you do go to court and win a judgment against them, you can then place a notation of the judgement on their credit report.  So why don't you inform them of this and see if that motivates them to come up with some money. Otherwise, you can move forward and seize their non-exempt personal property, garnish their wages (which could prove embarrassing with their employer), etc.


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