Can my landlord make me share room with a stranger because my original roommate broke the lease and left?

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Can my landlord make me share room with a stranger because my original roommate broke the lease and left?

I share a room with someone at my apartment and they are breaking the lease with the landlord and leaving. The landlord is looking to find anyone to fill their spot. When I signed the lease and decided to share a room, I did so because that person was my long time friend. I do not want a stranger sharing a room with me. If I had known I would have been sharing a room with someone else I wouldn’t have signed the lease. Can the landlord do this? Is there anyway for me legally to get out of the lease due to the current situation?

Asked on April 13, 2011 under Real Estate Law, District of Columbia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You need to look at the terms of the leases. If you and your roomate were both on one lease to the landlord, then the landlord cannot make you share with another person--though he can now hold you responsible for the entirety of the rent due under that lease (you in turn could sue the breaching roommate for his/her contribution).

On the other hand, if you and your roommate each had your own lease and you lease did not provide for exclusive possession of the space--and in fact possibly indicated you would have a roommate--then the landlord can find a new roommate. You need to look to the lease to see what your rights and responsibilities are and exactly what you rented.

Note though that it's very likely that either you have to share or you have to pay the full amount--it is very unlikely that the situation and lease(s) are such that you can occupty the space without a roommate while only paying part of the total rent.


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