When we go to court can I show my receipts so that I will not be legally responsible for the amount owed by my roommate?

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When we go to court can I show my receipts so that I will not be legally responsible for the amount owed by my roommate?

My roommate and I have been subpoenaed to go to court for on overdue balance for our apartment. My roommate and I both have our names on the lease but the amount that is owed is all her debt. I have all of my receipts for the payments that I have made and they are all current.

Asked on February 14, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Tennessee

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If you are being sued by the landlord, then you can be held liable for the unpaid portion of any rent, even if your roommate "should" have paid it. That's because when two (or more) people are on a lease, either/any of them may be held liable for the full amount of the rent (unless, that is, the lease specifically breaks out how much each one owes). So, say you have $1,000/month rent; you paid $500, so the landlord is owed another $500; the landlord is allowed to sue you for the remaining $500. Or if you gave your roomate a $500 check but she didn't turn any of  it over to the landlord, he could sue you for the full $1,000. (The above is per month, in my example.)

You, in turn, could sue your roommate for amounts which she owes under the lease, because she did not contribute or pay her share (or kept your portion for herself).


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