Can I be held liable if my roomate is behind on rent and I am not listed on the lease and have not entered to any agreement with the landlord?

UPDATED: Jun 26, 2012

Advertiser Disclosure

It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right legal decisions.

We strive to help you make confident insurance and legal decisions. Finding trusted and reliable insurance quotes and legal advice should be easy. This doesn’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own.

Get Legal Help Today

Compare Quotes From Top Companies and Save

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Can I be held liable if my roomate is behind on rent and I am not listed on the lease and have not entered to any agreement with the landlord?

I moved in with my roommate 4 months ago; we had the agreement that he would pay the rent if I paid utilities since he had already been at the address for a few months. Now he has fallen behind on the rent and the landlord is threatening legal action. Can I be held liable also if I am have not signed any type of lease or agreement?

Asked on June 26, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Tennessee


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If there is a written lease and you are not on it--but your roommate is--then the landlord may not hold you responsible for the rent. In this situation, your roommate is the tenant, not you; you are a subtenant of the roommate. The landlord may only hold tenants--not their subtenants, not their children or signficant others, etc.--responsible under the lease.

However, bear in mind that if the rent is not paid, the roommate may be evicted. If the roommate is evicted, you will be evicted, too, since your right to possession is derived from your roommate's right; when the roommate no longer has the right to reside there, you will also have no rights to remain in that premises.

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 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.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption